"Our vision for Northern Ireland is our vision for Wales"

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Wales, Peter Hain’s speech to the Labour Party conference hasn’t exactly generated a lot of coverage beyond a niche market. The Belfast Telegraph reported before the speech was delivered.. and there’s not much more beyond what he has said previously – apart from the comparison with Wales.. but the BBC reports Hain’s somewhat bizarre claim, made after the speech, that releasing the inventory of decommissioned PIRA weapons would “risk the security of Northern Ireland, or national security”.. That’s not what John de Chastelain said and he seems prepared to release that inventory when his mandate is completed.[pdf file]

  • James Orr

    Perhaps the allegedly decommissioned IRA weapons are the same as the alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – ie there aren’t any ? 😉

    J

  • seen

    Senior civil servants are for the chop according to Labour.

    About time.

  • fair_deal

    “I am not going to risk the security of Northern Ireland, or national security in any way by compromising intelligence sources, therefore no, we will not publish those estimates,”

    Another Hain faux pas. He seems naturally gifted at digging holes.

    The government says it has acted on a host of security measures because there is no threat from PIRA.
    The government and Irish government are telling all of us the PIRA statement can be taken at face value.
    The two governments are saying the PIRA has decommissioned all its hardware.

    If all this is true there is no threat to national security.
    If all this is true the PIRA will not act against any informer as it would be a clear breach of its July statement.
    If all this is true it has no guns bombs etc to hurt anyone (although that didn’t save Robert McCartney).

    Unionists should examine seeking this information under the Freedom of Information Act and test the national security protection in court if possible.

  • Brian Boru

    Fair_deal are you calling Rev.Good a liar? And John de Chastelain? And the Finnish general and American arms expert? Can it really be that everyone is plotting to deceive you?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Can it really be that everyone is plotting to deceive you?”

    A bit like everyone apart from SF lying about who robbed the bank BB? And there’s no evidence for that either apparently.

  • cladycowboy

    I don’t know if there is regarding the investigation but with the disarming there are several eye-witnesses of good repute backing up the claim. Closed case usually.
    Would the potential eye-witnesses in the bank heist need photographs to back up their testimony?
    The guns are gone, now you all move on…

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”there are several eye-witnesses of good repute backing up the claim. Closed case usually.”

    Where were these weapons located?

    ”Can’t tell you that.”

    How many were destroyed?

    ”Can’t tell you that.”

    Were they actually destroyed and if so how?

    ”Can’t tell you that.”

    How long did this process take?

    ”Can’t tell you that.”

    Any photographic evidence?

    ”No you’ll just have to trust me.”

    Case actually not closed.

  • maca

    How relevant is any of that information Gerry?
    If they gave answers would you even believe them? Probably not, sure if they are liars now then they’ll be liars even when they answer all your questions.

  • peteb

    maca

    That’s a side-track, introduced by b. boru.

    The issue picked up on by fair-deal was the reason given by Hain for his refusal to publish the estimates of PIRA weaponry.. not the acutal inventory of weaponry decommissioned.

  • maca

    My post was directed at Gerry LC’s last post, he doesn’t seem to believe the IICD/witnesses. For me the case is pretty much closed, the questions are just a refusal to accept what has happened.

  • peteb

    True, maca.

    I wasn’t remonstrating with your good self, just attempting to indicate that the side-track which GLC, all too willingly, travelled along had little to do with the previous discussion.. or the original post.

  • cladycowboy

    ‘How many were destroyed?’

    off the top of my head, oh, 1,246.

    ‘How do we know they only have 1246,the liars!’

    got us all there big Ian, maybe you know more than us..

    ‘How long did this process take?’

    Oh a few days..

    ‘did you stay awake during this? Could they not have taken some guns from the ‘about to be decommisioned pile’ back to their dumps whilst you slept slothlike?!’

    Paisley’s case will never be closed. The rest of the world has taken it as case closed, so shall i.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”If they gave answers would you even believe them?”

    The stock Sinn Fein answer to every allegation levelled at them is ‘show me the evidence.’
    Now, when they claim to have disposed of their arsenal, they suddenly go all coy on allowing anyone to prove it.

  • maca

    Gerry. Never mind SF. Do you believe the IICD & the witnesses (plus your security forces for the wpns intel)?

  • maca

    Pete
    “just attempting to indicate that the side-track…”

    If we didn’t side-track it just wouldn’t be SLugger! 🙂

  • fair_deal

    Brian Boru

    Can you please deal with what I actually said not what your fevered imagination thinks I said. I made no mention of Goode, Reid or the IICD members.

    A series of government actions and statements say there is no threat. Now hain says there is a threat and on that basis refuses to release useful information. What is it?

    My desire is to maximise the information that is publicly released – the more information the more confidence – as a great enlightment philosopher said mehr licht.

    Maca

    Transparency on the process, independent witnesses and photographs would have dealt with the trust issues. There was a rational reasoning behind what was asked for by the DUP They also compromised on these matters – they wanted film footage, to appoint the independent witnesses and wanted the independent witnesses to take the footage. However, they accepted photographs by an IICD member and to nominate one of the independent witnesses. Despite this flexibility the RM went for the preposterous ‘victim’ card on the issue.

    Neither was Paisley the first Unionist to tell them that greater information was required. In one of his blunter moments trimble told then that unless they were willing to be more open there wasn’t much point in doing it.

  • cladycowboy

    Has any DUP members ever seen video footage or photographs of these hidden arms?
    I assume not. They believe they exist though. Why are photos needed to prove something has ceased to exist but not to prove that they exist? Its not joined up thinking. They believe,like i do, that these weapons exist because reliable sources have told us. These sources now tell us that they no longer exist. Either we trust these people or we don’t. If you don’t trust them then you’ve no reason to believe that the IRA had any arms hidden at all

  • fair_deal

    The dead bodies, injuries and bomb damage proved plenty of grisly evidence for their existence of terrorist stockpiles not ‘sources’.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Gerry. Never mind SF. Do you believe the IICD & the witnesses (plus your security forces for the wpns intel)?”

    My whole point here is that SF demand evidence and deny all knowledge of the bank heist despite the 3 govts, both police forces & all the other political parties being 100% sure it was the work of the provos. They then expect us to take their word on trust.
    As to ‘do I believe the IICD & witnesses’ — De Chastelain’s initial summation was that ‘all IRA weapons had now been put beyond use.’ This statement was obviously nonsensical — even P.O’Neill himself couldn’t say this for certain, so it does rather predjudice his entire summation.
    I’m sure the witnesses were sincere in their belief of what they saw, but it doesn’t alter the fact that there has been no inventory, no locations of arms dumps, no timetables, no photographic or filmed evidence and no account of the method of destruction.

  • cladycowboy

    and the lack of dead bodies now tell us what?

    The IRA could have been operating with 50 weapons or less but we all conjure up visions of huge arms dumps because ‘sources’ have told us such. There is no evidence that the common man possesses independently that can prove there are huge arms dumps, only speculation based on security sources. Why trust them once and not another time?
    Wasn’t the Collins IRA down to its last few weapons before the ceaefire was called, maybe the present day IRA was at the same stage, its as good as idle speculation as any, i mean the killings had decreased prior to the 94 ceasefire,evidence surely!

  • cladycowboy

    As we’re on weapons and pictures, i’m sure the IICD could put out a dodgy photo that purports to show weapons being decommisioned.
    I mean it only took a few grainy pictures of sandcastles for the DUP to believe that there were WMD factories in Iraq and back the British govt assault. Seems they believe what they want to…

  • Henry94

    GLC

    My whole point here is that SF demand evidence and deny all knowledge of the bank heist despite the 3 govts, both police forces & all the other political parties being 100% sure it was the work of the provos. They then expect us to take their word on trust.

    That cuts both ways. If you are willing to believe the government and the IMC on the Bank then what basis do you have for not believing them on weapons?

    For republicans it’s much easier. We believe P O’Neill in both cases.

  • PeterBrown

    Whilst there are those who as Gerry himself was told wouldn’t be satified with post decommissioning a mass suicide on the green grassy slopes of the Stormont Estate I have been surprised by how sceptical the middle ground of unionism is about this. Their concerns would be allayed considerably by the publication of either a) IICD’s inventory (which is arguably a statutory requirement after the completion of all decommissioning) or b) the governments estimates and by that I mean both v1.0 and 2.0 because the biggest coup the DUP have pulled off is IICD’s admission that the estimates were recently revised and then decommissioning took place in line with the new estimate. If it was lower than v1.0 then there will be serious questions about why the revision took place.
    I for one don’t doubt that that there has been substantial decommissioning but is it all they have? Until this is confirmed there is mileage in the DUP’s arguments.

  • slug

    Henry. It’s just as easy for unionists: be sceptical of all P O’Neill statements.

  • maca

    Gerry
    “My whole point …They then expect us to take their word on trust”

    I see your point. And personally I don’t trust SF at all. But does that even matter because we’re being asked to believe the IICD & witnesses & the Governments? The British & Irish intelligence services have their estimates of the IRA armaments. Check the Jane’s Intelligence Review for an idea of how much weapons they had, this is drawn from the security estimates.
    Of course there might be a handful of extra weapons in the hands of individuals which the security services, the IICD and perhaps even PO’Neill ‘himself’ is not aware of. But does that make the act of decommissioning meaningless? If so you are setting the bar impossibly high and no matter what evidence is given you’ll never be satisfied.

    “there has been no inventory”
    The Jane’s Intelligence Review is taken from security estimates and should be accurate.

    “no locations of arms dumps”
    Why are the locations important, all you will see is concrete. What proof is that?

    “no timetables”
    The job is done, do you really need the exact date & time?

    “no photographic or filmed evidence”
    Would you believe it anyway? What will a few photos tell you, just that “some” weapons were destroyed. It won’t tell you that every single weapon was destroyed.

    “and no account of the method of destruction.”
    Why not trust the expertise of the IICD? They claim the weapons have been “rendered either unusable or unobtainable”. Don’t you think the IICD have the skills to make such a judgement?
    It has also been previously mentioned in reports that the weapons bunkers would be completely concreted over after the weapons have been destroyed. The locations may not be published but no doubt the security services know the locations.

    Final point, either you trust them or you don’t. we can never be 100% sure that every single weapons is accounted for and no amount of photos or weapons lists or explanations of the process can change that.

    FYI:
    1,000 rifles
    2 tonnes of Semtex
    20-30 heavy machine guns
    7 Surface-to-air missiles (unused)
    7 flame throwers
    1,200 detonators
    11 rocket-propelled grenade launchers
    90 hand guns
    100+ grenades

    Source: Security estimates/Jane’s Intelligence Review

  • Betty Boo

    Besides party political gain gambling the main issue here is lack of trust.
    Everyone has reasons not to trust the other. You haven’t trust each other for more then 35 years of suffering.
    The idea of giving each other time and space seems to me an appropriate one.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Maca let’s look at this logically. SF have apparently secured ‘complete decommissioning’ ‘a historic move’ blah blah — but they’re deliberately being very coy about the details.
    By not allowing the DUP to appoint a representative and swearing the witnesses to secrecy, they have left Paisley just enough wriggle-room to bluster his way out of returning to the assembly. Thus SF can blame the DUP for refusing to share power in an assembly which they don’t really care about anyway. The net result, however, if things go to plan, is an increased SF mandate on both sides of the border, a few more concessions such as on-the-runs, international acclaim as peace-makers and a handy disposal of potentially incriminating weaponry to boot.
    Whether you, me or big Ian believe the IICD or not is a moot point — the whole thing works beautifully in SFs favour — what they (deliberately) have not been able to do is fulfil one of their own mantras; ‘build trust’, nor does it suit their long-term aims to do so.
    SF out-manouevered Trimble to the point of electoral extinction — the DUP will have to be a whole lot smarter to avoid rendering the unionist community rudderless and irrelevant.
    Furthermore, all parties in the republic should be taking careful notes — the SF propaganda machine is heading your way and what was once a British headache could rapidly turn into an Irish nightmare.

  • Ringo

    Gerry –

    Sinn Fein got more than a little help in the UUP’s downfall, due mainly to the DUP’s refusal to participate until the UUP, not Sinn Fein were ‘smashed’.

    Few of the rest of us take the ‘building trust’ rhetoric seriously, and we don’t expect you to either. Republicans had no need to meet unionist expectations. Unionists have no leverage over them, and never will until they start dealing with them in a real political situation.

  • fair_deal

    and the lack of dead bodies now tell us what?

    Tell that to the Rafferty family in Dublin

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Unionists have no leverage over them, and never will until they start dealing with them in a real political situation.”

    I quite agree Ringo — the DUPs next move should be to give the big man his pipe and slippers, wait for the IMC report, and assuming it’s favourable, call the shinners bluff and go into govt. The onus will then be on the RM to behave itself while simultaneously delivering govt that will justify (to it’s supporters) participation in a Brit assembly and still respect both the unionist culture and the principle of consent.
    For their part, the DUP should completely distance itself from the loyalist paramilitaries, tone down the OO rhetoric and at least attempt to justify the existence of NI to nationalists.
    SF have learnt that making the transition from intransigent hard men to supposed peacemakers gets them places — the unionists need to do the same — if the DUP can’t move into the new dispensation, the UUP should employ a frontman who’s up to the job.

    ”Few of the rest of us take the ‘building trust’ rhetoric seriously”

    Just a side issue — many of the republican/nationalist posters on slugger appear to have little trust in SF, rather similarly to the unionist posters who have little faith in the DUP. Is this the start of a storming comeback for the centre ground?

  • Brian Boru

    “Brian Boru

    Can you please deal with what I actually said not what your fevered imagination thinks I said. I made no mention of Goode, Reid or the IICD members.

    A series of government actions and statements say there is no threat. Now hain says there is a threat and on that basis refuses to release useful information. What is it?

    My desire is to maximise the information that is publicly released – the more information the more confidence – as a great enlightment philosopher said mehr licht.”

    Well, one interpretation that could be put on what Hain is saying is as follows:

    Revealing security-force estimates could compromise sources, possibly endangering the lives of M15 agents. I do not mean that their lives would be in danger from the PIRA. But rather at the hands of the RIRA or CIRA, who may conceivably have – as De Chastelain said – have managed to get their hands on a few of the weapons before the PIRA could decommission them.

  • Brian Boru

    And I agree it would have been nice had the inventory de Chastelain has been published now, rather than – as agreed – at the end of full decommisioning by the Loyalists. But supposing the PIRA had agreed to its publication. The DUP still wouldn’t be satisfied. No sooner would it have been released than Paisley would be already picking holes in it e.g. “We heard the estimates said 1200 rifles were in the IRA’s possession, but only 1100 were decommissioned! OMG!” etc. There will also be another hoop to jump through. The real agenda is keeping the Taigs out of power and the police.

  • cladycowboy

    fair_deal

    ‘and the lack of dead bodies now tell us what?

    Tell that to the Rafferty family in Dublin’

    I’ve nothing but contempt for the perpretrators of that crime. However, your attempt to blur events with emotive point-scoring is a non-starter as this murder occured months before the IRA disarmed so the original point still stands. As pointed out by others though it seems the silence of DUP points to them accepting the conditions of this progress.