clearly at odds with your position as stated

Earlier today I noted the NIO Security Minister Shaun Woodward’s attempt to clarify his comments on the Provisional IRA and organised crime, and I compared his clarification with what he had actually stated in December. The BBC now report that the Policing Board Chairman, Desmond Rea, has made public his response, “on the issues of organised crime the board is clear that PSNI and the other agencies advised that all paramilitary groups were still involved in organised crime. This is clearly at odds with your position as stated during the briefing and in your earlier statement of 13 December 2005.” Perhaps Shaun Woodward would also like to clarify what he said in this interview?

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  • Pat Mc Larnon

    It is time for people to stop talking out the side of their mouth on this topic (Woodward) and for and ending to private briefings and selective leaks (Kincaid and the Policing Board.

    Lets have an up front press conference where Kincaid or even Orde himself can give evidence of the type of IRA behaviour being alluded to. He can tell us just how many suspected IRA men are in custody or have been charged in connection with these alleged activities since the IRA order for volunteers to desist from all activities.

    Or are things being left deliberately ambiguous so that as usual a lot of accusations can be made without the need for any proof.

    BTW, just as no one seems top have noticed, another protestant youth was shot by a unionist paramilitary gang in East Belfast last night. The usually ubiquitous Jim Rodgers was silent; UUP leader hasn’t said a thing and the MP for the area was catching up with his Celebrity Big Brother fav Pete Burns.

  • Pete Baker

    To clarify,

    From what I can gather, the confidential briefing to the Policing Board appears to have been given as part of the normal procedure of briefing the members of the Board.. and involved not just the assistant chief constable, but apparently contributions from Customs and the Assets Recovery Agency.. and clearly the NIO Security Minister, Shaun Woodward.

    Nothing underhand in that, if Sinn Féin were on the Policing Board those confidential briefings would still take place.

    As to the leaking of the details from the briefings.. in the circumstances of a British Government Minister mis-representing, at least, to the public the information that he is actually receiving I’d say that, to borrow a phrase, it is in the public interest for that to be leaked.

    It’s that mis-representation by Woodward, and his attempted clarification, that is the issue for me.. at least for now.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Blind faith in the PSNI, how very unsurprising.

  • Pete Baker

    No Pat, focussing on the issue – the apparent u-turn by Woodward.

  • oceallaigh

    “It is time for people to stop talking out the side of their mouth on this topic (Woodward) “……..
    Well said McLarnon

  • middle-class taig

    Pete Baker

    You do, however, appear to be adopting a position entirely uncritical and unskeptical of contentious briefings by PSNI officers. Simultaneously, you appear eager to identify a governmental u-turn which, frankly, you have to really reach for in order to discern.

    You also seem unfazed by the idea of un-nuanced and apparently tendentious pre-emption of the IMC report, and hostile towards the more nuanced posture of a British minister who must, on any possible yardstick, and without questioning anyone’s integrity, be considered more likely to be objective than the PSNI Special Branch.

    Reading Slugger over the last few months, one ends up wondering if there is anything certain posters are not prepared to swallow from the boys in dark green. One also ends up wondering if there is any issue, no matter how inconsequential, in relation to which certain posters might be prepared to accept that the motives and activities of Sinn Fein and the IRA might be anything other than entirely malign.

    My much more important concern, however, and again without impugning anyone’s integrity, is that I’m yet to be convinced that any of the members of the IMC have the personal courage or professional inclination to examine critically the intelligence put before them and give the IRA, qua organisation, the clean bill of health which most people who I have spoken to, and who live in areas where the IRA is strong, would insist that they deserve. I think that most people would understand, and feel satisfied, if the IMC were to refuse to rule out free-lance criminal activities by former members of the organisation. However, this is a time for bravery in our public servants.

    If my reading of the situation is correct, honesty on their part can help bridge the political gap. If Kincaid “don’t got the book-keeper”, then Lord Aldernice and his colleagues should call it as they see it, not as he sees it. I must confess, however, that I have resigned myself to the expectation that they will to plough the Kincaid furrow, safe in the knowledge that neither they nor he will ever be asked to substantiate.

    Interested in your thoughts.

  • Pete Baker

    mct, the only un-nuanced statements have come from the NIO Security Minister, Shaun Woodward.. and they are available via the original post for comparison with his latest clarification. All the other statements quoted relate to all paramilitary groups.

    As it is I’ve already addressed the issue of the confidential briefings.. and how they will continue should Sinn Féin join the Policing Board.

    If you believe that Woodward hasn’t reversed his position.. then argue that. That remains the issue that I’m focussing on.

  • JD

    MCT,

    Good post, I share your analysis and concerns.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Hugh Orde has now come out and backed up the assessment of Kincaid, which means all the sceptics (including moi) are wrong.

    I was relieved that Rea came out to set the record straight re the PB briefing after all if these things are allowed to go unchecked confusion would appear to reign. So Rea is correct in getting the PB version of events into the public domain within 24 hours.

    However, (now that was coming), after the assessment of the PSNI over 18 months ago that the details of 400 republicans that had been stolen by the RIR from Castlereagh were not in the hands of unionist paramilitaries, the PB (including Rea) did not digress.

    Even just before Xmas when the PSNI scuttled around Belfast telling people that their details were in fact in the hands of unionist paramilitaries Rea was again strangely silent. In fact there has been no attempt by the PB to explain to the public the inconsistency of the PSNI first declaring the patently false and then 18 months later admitting their untruthfulness.

    Although Rea had previously been a member of the quango that supposedly held the RUC to account (and what a fine job they did) one would have thought that give the propaganda the current PB would have been more proactive in questioning the PSNI. Not a bit of it knoighthoods aren’t handed out willy nilly you know.

    So the PB can be seen to be achieving what it is supposed to do. When possible issue immediate statements, when those statements are lending weight to criticism of republicans. When republicans lives are at riskand the PSNI version of events is shown to be untruthful over a periobd of 18 months,well, say nothing.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • PaddyCanuck

    “If you believe that Woodward hasn’t reversed his position.. then argue that. That remains the issue that I’m focussing on.”

    First things first, I do not accept “YOur” emphasis, or your pedantism, and do not accept that woodward has changed his position.

    The real issue is that anti GFA actors within the security forces are trying to exclude republicans from government. They have an effective de facto veto on the process here, and they are denying all the people of the six counties their democratic rights.

    Whether it is Operation Torsion, Operation Brussel Sprout, or the leaking of information to the press at critical junctures by Kincaid and others, these actions are all designed to weaken the political process, and to deny nationalists and republicans their rights.

    No doubt MCT is right about the collection of establihment yes men that make up the IMC, they will uncritically swallow all the conjecture and inuendo that the boys in green, and MI5 and FRU feed them, just as you do.

    It is about time woodward and other british ministers stood up to the rejectionists, however unfortunatley, I believe they will probably fail us all again. Lets hope I am wrong.

  • peteb

    No doubt, indeed, PC.. no doubt… indeed.

  • Henry94

    If the IMC reflect the PNSI view as usual then it will be impossible to make progress with the DUP. In effect having brought down the institutions the PNSI will have stepped in to prevent their restoration.

    It would be hard to a imagine a more depressing and difficult situation.

  • Can I make a non political point. Pat is the only one who’s addressed the facts that Pete’s pitched up. Accordingly his post makes by far the most compelling reading.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Pete,

    Maybe you can tell me of a single incidence of IRA members beening lifted, charged or convicted, as members of the PIRA, or of any other offence carried out in their capacity as IRA members since the IRA statement?

    Do not plead ignorance, because any incident would have been plastered every newspaper in the land.

  • The Dubliner

    Pedantic semantics do not alter either the substance or logical correctness of Shaun Woodward’s statement that “There is clearly a distinction to be made between the activity of individuals and the intention of organisations.”

    Now, let us suppose that Shaun Woodward is incorrect and that no distinction can be made between an organisation and the actions of its members. It then follows that all criminal actions by members on an organisation are criminal actions by that organisation. Since the PSNI is an organisation and members of that organisation have committed criminal actions, it then follows that the PSNI is a criminal organisation.

    According to the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, between November 2000 and March 2003, her office deemed 260 of the cases involving criminal allegations against the PSNI that it investigated to be so serious that it referred them to the DPP to prosecute. 30 criminal convictions of PSNI members followed and 50 cases are still pending.

    Clearly, Sam Kincaid has condemned the PSNI as being a criminal organisation by his own logic.

    Now, the leaking of the confidential report is very serious indeed, for it shows that elements are scanning confidential documents with the intention of determining which ones can be damaging to the largest nationalist party in the north, Sinn Fein, and duly leaking those confidential documents to the media. That is a transparent example of political policing. It is also another criminal act by ‘elements’ that will not be investigated, thereby showing double standards about engaging in criminal acts.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pedantic semantics do not alter either the substance or logical correctness of Shaun Woodward’s statement that “There is clearly a distinction to be made between the activity of individuals and the intention of organisations.”

    What logical correctness is there ? It often appears that IRA members do their own thing anyway, and then the leadership claim it as their action if it is “favourable” or deny it if it is unfavourable, in the way that they did wrt Gerry McCabe or Robert McCartney. How is the difference defined ? An organization is after all merely comprised of the individuals which are members of it. In a secret organization it is pretty difficult to tell what is “authorized” and what is not .. ?

  • TD et al:

    The world and his wife knew the road ahead was going to be paved with precisely this danger. The senior SF people I spoke to earlier in the Autumn were asking anticipative questions about precisely this problem.

    The Minister now is putting emphasis on intention, which is a tacit admission that Kincaid, despite all the (unrecanted from all bar Pat) ad hominem attacks on him here, was literally correct in his analysis.

    Now the Minister may be right in suggesting that the IRA’s intention is to stop all criminal activity. In which case if it is also true that individual members of the IRA are still breaking the law, then that, surely, is a matter for the IRA?

    If you want an example of how IRA inaction in the face of the indiscipline of some of its members can damage its credibility and reputation, then look at the way it handled the McCartney case!

    I understand that Sinn Fein’s official position is that they don’t trust the cops. Fine. When the IMC was established in response to David Trimble’s worries about whether the IRA was actually keeping to its ceasefire, Sinn Fein and the DUP ridiculed it. The former because it would draw its conclusions from the state’s intelligence services, the latter because they projected it as a useless contribution to the ‘Save Dave’ campaign.

    But now the situation is different. Both are tacitly dependent on the IMC producing the right report to let them get to the next level of the political game. Though neither is singing it from the rooftops, the IMC is the chosen referee for this next phase, not the courts. That won’t happen if there is a shred of doubt that the IRA is as good as its word.

    If the ref says ‘good try but not good enough’ it is for the players in the game to clean up their act, not the ref to leave the field. It is in the interests of the IRA to ensure its own problems do not stand in the way of the transition it has committed itself to. Backing out now is not really a viable option.

    PS, we haven’t covered it here yet, but I noted Emily O’Reilly’s comment last weekend that Irish public life is overly inclined towards secrecy. We should value whistleblowers whatever our politics, especially if they serve to keep our own politicians clean and above reproach!

  • JD

    “If the ref says ‘good try but not good enough’ it is for the players in the game to clean up their act, not the ref to leave the field. It is in the interests of the IRA to ensure its own problems do not stand in the way of the transition it has committed itself to”

    Absolute nonsense Mick, in my view, opponents of SF are screaming that they want IRA to leave the stage, now you are saying that the IRA must remain active in order to ensure that every last former IRA man or SF voter never again brings home suitcase of fags from his/her holidays. It cannot be both, possibly it mighjt be immenantly more sensible to move the process forward, turn to the people who will cling to any excuse to prevent movement and tell them that it is time to
    do some heavy lifting.

  • PaddyCanuck

    “If you want an example of how IRA inaction in the face of the indiscipline of some of its members can damage its credibility and reputation, then look at the way it handled the McCartney case! ”

    What sort of action were you looking for Mick, should they have topped the culprits? Or kidnapped their fasmily members and forced then to own up?

  • The Dubliner

    “What logical correctness is there ?” – Comrade Stalin

    I’ll paraphrase the logic in Woodward’s statement so that you may grasp it: “The sum is seperate from its parts, such that universals cannot be defined by individuals.” It means that the because some members of the RUC/PSNI colluded in the murders of lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, it does not mean that all members, nor the RUC/PSNI as an organisation, colluded in their murders. Nor does it mean that the PSNI is a crimimal organisation because some of its members are involved in crime.

    “An organization is after all merely comprised of the individuals which are members of it.” – Comrade Stalin

    Then you conceed that the PSNI is a crimimal organisation. Are you sure you’re not a shinner?

    The IRA can simply issue a ‘cease and desist’ order to its members, but it has no means to enforce such an order. Unless, of course, illogical unionists are demanding that the IRA takes the law into its own hands. 😉

  • JD:

    Look, I’m not going to add my voice to those who are trying to tell the IRA what they should or should not do. They are independent actors and will make their own decisions in their own good time. I’m just arguing that for further progress there has to be indisputable clarity on the issue of criminality.

    I’ve no doubt that when the time comes all political parties will finesse the odd indiscretion, and the heavy lifting will get shared out appropriately. But all the parties to this ‘agreement’ need to be seen to anti up to their committments in a way that allows the real political game to get started.

    Surely that’s the implication of allowing an ad hoc body to adjudicate (on the basis of secret intelligence) over whether the IRA is keeping up its end of the bargin?

  • BogExile

    ‘…demanding that the IRA takes the law into its own hands.’

    Well they have a wee bit of previous form for extra judicial executions.

    It’s interesting that when it suits them the shinners and apologists on this thread can characterise the IRA as well meaning but essentially toothless with regard to asking its membership to stop making unauthorised withdrawals.

    I’m a bit more sceptical about this. If the IMC did indeed support the widespread belief that paramilitary killers have mutated into equally squalid gangsters (killers without even a warped ideology – yikes!) PIRA might think not just of leaving the field but blowing the fucking thing into its constituent sods.

  • The Dubliner

    BogExile, look at it this way: the Police Ombudsman’s received 2,800 complaints against police officers during 2004-2005.

    The majority of complaints were: allegations that police officers had failed to do their duty and allegations of assault. Complaints of intimidation and harassment represented 37% of the total. 58 complaints involved the use of CS spray. 4 complaints were incidents in which people died. Of those 2,800 complaints, Nuala O’Loan sent 149 cases to the Director of Public Prosecution, and sent 57 cases to the chief constable with the recommending that officers face disciplinary action.

    Now, that’s not bad going in just one short year for what is indisputably the biggest organisation with the largest number of complaints against it alleging criminal activity in the north. No other organisation in the north even has a fraction of that level of criminality surrounding it.

    And let’s not mention its history of collusion with unionist death squads in the wilful sectarian murders of hundreds of Catholics, nor its history in the direct murder of Catholics by its members, shall we? Let’s not. Otherwise we might accidentally put the issue of ‘criminality’ back where it rightfully belongs.

  • Betty Boo

    “…all paramilitary groups were still involved in organised crime .” Desmond Rea

    “A paramilitary organization is a group of civilians trained and organized in a military fashion.
    Paramilitary, like paramedic and paralegal, comes from Greek para (“beside”). Paramilitary means auxiliary military, that is, something not quite military performing military duties. “ From Wikipedia.
    Does the IRA still constitutes a paramilitary organisation, since they don’t perform military duties as an organisation?
    Just a thought.

  • BogExile

    The Dubliner:

    Thanks for the statistical information which is available from the Police Ombudsmans website which is an acknowledged exxample of an independent agency which rightly imposes checks and balances on agents of the state.

    I can tell you that the sum and parts of the complaints statistics compare favourably with just about every police service in the UK. And let’s not even talk about the Guards who are free to operate without anything like the oversight of the PSNI.

    You see where I’m going.

    To compare the exhaustive framework which exists to report on, analyse and protect (appease?) citizins against police illegality in this state with other paramilitary organisations is so bonkers you must have got the rationale out of a christmas cracker.

    We don’t even know the extent of human rights abuses by former and current SF/IRA. People who disappear from police custody normally have some legal redress. People who disappear from republican custody normally end up near Cullyhana with their bodies mutilated and two in the nut for good luck.

    And the means of redress? Well, you might try appealing against paramilitary excesses. I think the McCartneys have been down this road. The moral relativists at IRA HQ generously offered to murder the chief suspect. I don’t see Nuala O’Loan saying, oh yes, this police officer is suspected of murder. tell you what I’ll just nip off and shoot him.

    Your argument is intellectually and morally pants.

  • TD:

    The activity of the “PSNI/RUC/whatever you want to call” is governed by a public complaints procedure. Just in the way that the massive hike in reported crime in West Belfast may indicate higher rate of reporting of crime, rather than a massive crime wave, high levels of complaints against officers may be an indication of the health of the reporting system.

    It’s hard to know without drilling further down into the context. But it’s also hard to use these figures to stand the premise you’re presenting us with.

  • BogExile

    The Butler did it! The sooner we get back to our own home grown incompetent, dissembling over promoted parish councillors running the affairs of state the better.

  • The Dubliner

    Mick, the figrues are found on the website of the Ombudsman’s Office and available to all.

    BettyBoo, try to acquiant yourself with the actual issue under discussion, there’s a good girl. It is this:

    Pedantic semantics do not alter either the substance or logical correctness of Shaun Woodward’s statement that “There is clearly a distinction to be made between the activity of individuals and the intention of organisations.”

    Now, let us suppose that Shaun Woodward is incorrect and that no distinction can be made between an organisation and the actions of its members. It then follows that all criminal actions by members on an organisation are criminal actions by that organisation. Since the PSNI is an organisation and members of that organisation have committed criminal actions, it then follows that the PSNI is a criminal organisation.

    According to the Police Ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, between November 2000 and March 2003, her office deemed 260 of the cases involving criminal allegations against the PSNI that it investigated to be so serious that it referred them to the DPP to prosecute. 30 criminal convictions of PSNI members followed and 50 cases are still pending.

    Clearly, Sam Kincaid has condemned the PSNI as being a criminal organisation by his own logic.

  • The Dubliner

    Mick, in case you missed the gist of it (through lack or sleep or whatever): the members of the PSNI are engaged in criminal activity. (See the figures from the Ombudsman’s Office for the extent of that criminal activity and the criminal convictions against members of the PSNI resulting from it.) Now, if the argument holds true that there is no distinction between the actions of members of an organisation and the organisation that those members belong to, then it follows that the PSNI is a criminal organisation.

    In case folks are really thick. Here it is in simple syllogistic format:

    An organisation whose members engage in criminal activity is a criminal organisation.
    The PSNI is an organisation whose members engage in criminal activity.
    Therefore, the PSNI is a criminal organisation.

    Clearly, a distinction (by whatever expedient) must be made between an organisation and the activities of some of its members, or we accept the false premises as true and therefore must except the conclusion as true. In this example, that the PNSI is a criminal organisation.

  • Betty Boo

    Feeling peckish today, TD?

  • TD:

    I wasn’t doubting the veracity of the figures. I’ll let the readership be judge of the veracity of your syllogism.

    But can you please drop the personal asides to other posters? It’s both condescending and it distracts from the core of the argument.

  • James

    Mick

    “I’ll let the readership be judge of the veracity of your syllogism.”

    The Dubliner has it spot on. He’s making the same point as Woodward, that we always need to make a distinction between the actions of individual members and the organisation as a whole. That’s a conflation that political opportunists will exploit if given half a chance. And we’ve seen enough of that already.

    Otherwise, as he quite rightly pointed out we’d have to conclude that the PSNI was a criminal organisation too.

    So more sense please, and less of the non sense.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Err, Dubliner, Sam Kinkaid didn’t set out any argument on Tuesday night therefore there is no ‘logic’ to extend. He merely stated that all paramilitary organisations remain involved in organised crime and there been no change in this in a year.
    Applying the logic you applied to the PSNI would, however, confirm Ian Paisley jnr’s point about the IRA…
    The only ‘logic’ applied so far in this debate involves making a distinction between the action of invidividuals and the intention of organisations. This argument was advanced by Shaun Woodward, in retrospect, to give Sinn Fein cover. It was not used by Sam Kinkaid, or by the chief constable for that matter.
    In your determination to have a go at the police, I’m afraid that all you’ve managed to say is that they’re no better than the IRA. Is that really what you meant to imply?

  • Mick Fealty

    James,

    Please feel free to hammer home the criticism as hard as you like. The comments page is precisely to serve that purpose. But, whilst you are taking advantage of that freely offered platform, there really is no need to show such discourtesy in return.

  • The Dubliner

    Mick, apologies for the uppidy asides.

    Now, if it helps the “others” at all, it’s called Aristotle’s drawn-out “Barbara” syllogism. And it is valid. Object X that has property Y belongs to category z, object W is object X and has property Y, therefore, object W belongs to category z. 😉

    P.S. Shore, kindly reading the comments presented. (Politeness added to appease Mick)

  • Shore Road Resident

    I’ve just spent more minutes that were justified juggling individual, organisation, criminal involvement and criminal intention into X, W, Y and Z and I still can’t explain – even using syllogism (with which I am familiar as a programmer) how that leads to state that:

    “Clearly, Sam Kincaid has condemned the PSNI as being a criminal organisation by his own logic.”

    Clearly, Shaun Woodward has employed a rationale that could make that point – however, Mr Woodward intended his rationale to imply that the IRA is not a criminal organisation. So he’s got himself tied up in a logical knot, and I’m afraid that you haven’t so much untangled it as picked it up and swung it around.

    PS: I’d venture to suggest that fobbing people off with academic terms and concepts won’t work too well around here.

  • Sean

    There are two elements to the ongoing debate.

    First, the IRA is an organisation that ordered its membership to “to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means.”
    and “not engage in any other activities whatsoever.”

    It also an secret organization that does not disclose its membership, nor confirm or deny the membership status of individuals.

    So what sanctions the IRA could apply to a member suspected but not convicted of criminal activity?

    The only apparent sanction that the IRA could use which would comply with the first statement to deny membership to the individual.

    Does anybody have any other suggestions?

    What are the standards of proof to be used when asserting that the IRA or any organization is a criminal organisation?

    Personally I believe in the established standard of innocent until proven guilt in a court of law.
    (with all the usual established judicial safeguards and assuming that the Northern Irish judiciary are capable of delivering justice), therefore several people convicted of serious crime and IRA membership would indicate that that IRA is still engaged in criminal behaviour.

    Participants in this debate seem to reject as standards of proof:
    the assessment of the British goverment (Haines)
    the assessment of the IICD (an quango set up at the request of and designed to reassure Unionists)
    but rely on the hearsay reports of a senior PSNI officer’s commentary.

    Is that the burden of proof required now??

  • bamber gas coin

    I would say the Dubliner definitely won that round and I find Mick`s use of the word syllogism to be “objectionable “.