Missing in action?

As Mick has noted, Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, has been accentuating the positive following the publication today of the IMC report, and the BBC has a round-up of some of the other reactions.. other reactions here.. notable by his absence however, is the NIO Security Minister, and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, Shaun Woodward.An interesting, if subtle, difference in emphasis in the comments noted from Secretary of State Peter Hain, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern..

Peter Hain –

It shows that the IRA is moving in the right direction and is closing down – no murders, no recruitment and no bank robberies.

There is enough progress in this report to make the process of talking meaningful – not an executive up and running tomorrow, but the beginning of a process of genuine and purposeful engagement.

For the good of the people of Northern Ireland we need to strive to get to where we want to go and not get mired in where we’ve been.

Tony Blair –

A fair summary of what the IMC has said is that they draw attention to their belief that there has indeed been a strategic decision by the leadership of the IRA to give up the armed struggle.

What they have also said, however, is that they are concerned about violence and criminality.

Let me make it clear once again, all criminal activity has to cease. That is absolutely crucial.

But it would be quite wrong if the right honourable gentleman (Rev Ian Paisley) was suggesting that there had not been very significant progress or that the statement that the IRA gave last July was not highly significant

Dermot Ahern –

Firstly, it raises the challenges to the IRA leadership in relation to the outstanding issue that all forms of criminality must cease in order to allow partnership politics to take place in Northern Ireland.

Secondly, the IMC report challenges the loyalist paramilitary groups to follow the path set by the IRA in their significant moves last year.

But thirdly it challenges not only both the governments but also the political parties to reassert the primacy of politics and to engage with others.


  • Peteb,
    Given the extremism of the DUP, as evidenced by their reaction to the reports, it would be unwise to float Shaun Woodward in the media.
    Can you justify this post please?

  • Pete Baker


    Yes, I can.

  • Its a snidy politically motivated thread, come clean. Let’s hear it , it you’ve nothing to hide?

  • Pete Baker


    Accusations of “snidy politically motivated threads” seem, unfortunately, to be considered de rigueur among some commenters here.. I’d remind you of the one basic rule on Slugger – Play the ball

    I’ve been highlighting Shaun Woodward’s shifting position since it became apparent, the thread is simply a reminder of that shift.

  • peteb,
    but that isn’t playing ball is it, that’s digging for dirt, hoping to embarras the man, and to take a political advantage by his absence.
    I’ve already explained in my first post today that having him around today would make the a delicate situation more difficult. That is why he is missing in action.
    I guess its hard to be impartial.

  • Pete Baker

    Reluctant as I am to re-engage in this, s-l, I can’t let that statement stand unchallenged.

    “digging for dirt, hoping to embarrass the man, and to take political advantage by his absence”?

    The comparing of public statements by a politician can hardly be considered “digging for dirt”.

    If those statements are contradictory, and they are, then he should be more than embarrassed – although I’m sure he’s touched by your concern.

    Pointing out those contradictions isn’t taking political advantage [another assumption on your part], it’s pointing out the contradictions in the public statements by a politician – in this case an NIO minister who happens to be both the NIO Security Minister and the chair of the Organised Crime Task Force.

  • peteb
    Its just that we’ve had a number of threads on this topic. Oh well if I haven’t proved my assumption, then I’ll withdraw it.
    Alls well that ends well.

  • Pete Baker

    To prove an assumption, s-l, first of all you need to state it rather than imply it, then you need to supply that all important evidence that is being called for elsewhere.. something that the direct comparison of public statements does provide.

    That’s what the repeated highlighting of Shaun Woodward’s statements is about.. sorry if you think that it’s been over-emphasised.. but I think that such contradictions are important to highlight.. whatever quarter they come from.

  • harpo


    I hear from sources in NI that the united front against accepting that the Provos are fully and only democratic has arisen because of the discussions that have been held with the loyalists regarding decommissioning.

    It works like this:

    The loyalists feared that PSF would be deemed to be democratic by the governments despite them not really eliminating all criminal activity. So in their talks with the IICD the loyalists sent the message to the governments that unless the Provos were held to the established requirement of eliminating all criminality, that the loyalists would walk away from further talks.

    Thus the relatively hard line being presented by the governments is due to the demands of the loyalists. The message is ‘if you want out guns, we want a Provo RM that is fully disarmed and that has given up all criminal activity’.

    Thus the government is stuck with a dilemna. If they weasel around the IMC findings and pronounce the Provos to be fully democratic (when they really aren’t) and put pressure on unionists to accept that the Provos are democratic, the loyalists walk away and there is no disarming or disbanding.

    But if the governments demand full payment from the Provos, the loyalists agree to disarm.

    The loyalists are driving the process now. And they have the ultimate bargaining chip. Their weapons. If HMG wants their weapons, the loyalists are demanding that the Provos be made to pay the full price.