On the still vexed question of CRJ

Ciaran Barnes at Daily Ireland notes that “the Criminal Justice Inspectorate has known since the 2000 Criminal Justice Review that it might be called upon to provide independent inspection of community-based restorative-justice schemes”. However he also notes the SDLP’s implacable resistence to government funding, so long as minimum rather than maximum standards are required, not least when certain publicly cited questions remain over the actions (or rather inactions) of some of its personnel. Consultation closed on this in March, and the government has been tooing and froing to tighten them ever since. There is nothing in the public domain as yet, and as far as we know no one has been given any direct breifings on what the concrete outcomes might be.

Nevertheless, there are unofficial hints at some limited shifts in the British Government’s current thinking. It is understood for instance that the direct system used for complaints against probation officers is now be applied to CRJ. But there are other outstanding questions.

In a recent letter to Tony Blair, the SDLP leader Mark Durkan, quoted Sinn Fein’s Catriona Ruane in the Mourne Observer of 28th January 2004:

“Community Restorative Justice … is proving a minor success… In the coming months Sinn Fein plans to set up similar initiatives throughout South Down in order to offer a viable alternative to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.” [Emphasis added] Mourne Observer 28 January 2004.

This idea of CRJ as a politically sponsored alternative policing system has bedevilled the debate ever since.

In particular the SDLP argues that in the absence of Sinn Fein’s support for the police, there is no guarantee that CRJ schemes are not de facto answerable to wholly unaccountable paramilitary groups. In these circumstances, they argue, people will just be too scared to complain. Even the most stringent vetting systems will break down in communities too afraid to deal with the police.

Another point they raise is the plight of the exiled, kids mostly, who have effectively been kicked out of Northern Ireland in general. The latest government proposals leave their situation unresolved.

It is thought at the guidelines still only deal with criminal matters. Yet some restorative justice groups claim that 85% of their work is non-criminal. Further the SDLP claims that CRJ does not accept a ‘legitimate definition’ of what constitutes a crime. Neither do the proposed Government guidelines provide such a definition.

,

  • JD

    The news that SDLP leader Mark Durkin has written to Tony Blair demanding that no funding be given to community restorative justice groups is not surprising but a little wearying. For the last year or more, the SDLP has been waging a vigorous vendetta against Community Restorative Justice Ireland and its affiliated groups in the community. We cannot understand why this should be so, given that we have many times invited the party to put one or more representatives on to our Board (we are a registered charitable company) and we try and work with their local representatives at community level.

    Nonetheless, without a shred of evidence, they denounce us in strident terms as “paramilitary vigilantes.” They have circulated a “dossier” around their party activists and other opinion formers which consists entirely of newspaper cuttings of their own entirely unsupported allegations. Theirs is a campaign of denigration which seems to have some obscure party political motive. They also seem to be under the strange illusion that we are in imminent danger of getting government funding.

    Let us once again recite some of the facts.

    CRJI is an open, transparent, wholly peaceful community mediation service. It’s worth has been publicly recognised by Lord Clyde, the criminal justice oversight commissioner, and the Criminal Justice Inspectorate has declared its willingness to inspect our work. We are independently evaluated and achieve high satisfaction levels. We have an independent complaints system and all our trained volunteer mediators now carry photographic identification. There has been not a single authenticated case of any violence or intimidation emanating from our members.

    As for government funding, the Northern Ireland Office has instructed – or as they prefer to say – advised all public bodies to refuse us funding. Amongst others, the Housing Executive, the Probation Board and the Community Safety Unit have all refused us funding on the basis that we have not signed up to the NIO protocols designed to regulate community restorative justice schemes. The main reason is that the finished “Guidelines” have yet to be produced. Almost five years after the Criminal Justice Review proposed that they be drawn up, and after repeated rebukes from the oversight commissioner, the NIO produced a draft last December. There has been a process of consultation and every few weeks we are told that the final version is imminent. Still no sign of them.
    The people involved in our organisation are all to aware of the need for a proper Police service as do the majority of the population and we await the day when we can have a positive relationship with the police, in confidence, in freedom and in safety.
    However we are not willing to move to a position that puts us in opposition to the vast majority of Nationalist population in order to facilitate the SDLP in its endeavour to ingratiate its-self with the British Government. Our priority has always been the safety of our community and this will remain so in spite of political interference.

    Yours truly,
    JIM AULD
    Director CRJI

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks JD!!

  • John Maynard

    I believe that Eddie McGrady once asked if SDLP voters will be exempt from CRJ ‘justice’.
    Jim Auld’s letter appears to confirm that they should be.
    How will that work exactly?

  • heres hoping

    This is of course related to the pressure that the sdlp feel within the nationalist community for breaking the consensus that had been in place on policing up to Weston Park. The SDLP had hoped that jumping on policing would have stopped their decline at recent elections it hasn’t and they are now using CRJ in an attempt to put pressure on Sinn Fein to jump on policing. Their logic is to starve CRJ of funding which in turn will leave a vacumm in nationalist communities in regards to communit safety and anti social behaviour and ultimatley put local pressure on Sinn Fein to sort it out by supporting polining.

  • Reader

    JD: (Quoting Jim Auld) However we are not willing to move to a position that puts us in opposition to the vast majority of Nationalist population
    Does that mean that CRJ only wishes to handle interactions between nationalists?
    And has anyone put any numbers on this “vast majority”?

  • JD

    John your question is baffling, where did you read that into Jim Aulds letter.

    As has been said numerous times on this site and other mediums. CRJ is a community based mediation service that is totally voluntary. There is no question of clients who avail of the service being asked about their political affiliation it simply does not or will not happen.

  • JD

    Reader,

    CRJ offers their services to whoever wants them, but it would be accurate to say that the vast bulk of CRJ cases are from within the nationalist community.

  • heres hoping

    Reader the numbers of the vast majority is the 174530 to 125626 at the last election.

  • Pete Baker

    “..have all refused us funding on the basis that we have not signed up to the NIO protocols designed to regulate community restorative justice schemes. The main reason is that the finished “Guidelines” have yet to be produced.”

    That is a somewhat disingenuous argument from the previously privately funded CRJI – by Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies charity, to the tune of £936,000.

    The delay in the guidelines is as much to do with the declared refusal of CRJI to sign up to those guidelines if co-operation with the police is part of them.. as it was supposed to be according to David Hanson in a statement to the commons in Novemeber last year

    “The guidelines will unambiguously specify the involvement of the police and other statutory criminal justice organisations in the operation of the community-based schemes.”

    A point that was repeated by Hanson in January..

    ..when Noel McCartney, a spokeman for CRJ said

    “CRJ has stated publicly that even if the protocols were agreed today, because of the contentious issue of policing in republican and nationalist areas, CRJ would only work with police once the political parties and the Government resolve the policing issue.”

    And worthwhile noting that the draft guidelines severely fudged the issue when they were published

  • There are some key issues at the crux of the argument against CRJ which I will highlight using some quotes:

    – if it is an independent organisation, why does it get involved in political debate? E.g. “For the last year or more, the SDLP has been waging a vigorous vendetta against Community Restorative Justice Ireland.” The SDLP is a democratically elected party, and has every right to challenge such self-appointed bodies- highlighting issues is not a ‘vigorous vendatta’, is is merely the exercising of a mandate to ensure the safety of the community from vigilantism. Also, observe the following: “…in order to facilitate the SDLP in its endeavour to ingratiate its-self with the British Government.” Not exactly the hallmark comments of an ‘independent, apolitical’ body- they sound more like the musings of the Sinn Féin press office.

    – its modus operandi is wholly based on the position Sinn Féin takes in relation to endorsement of the PSNI, or lack thereof: “we are not willing to move to a position that puts us in opposition to the vast majority of Nationalist population…” Does that mean that if Sinn Féin decides to endorse the Patten structures, the ‘majority of the Nationalist people’ will magically start supporting the police and thus CRJ will do so also? If it is independent and has the good of the community at heart, then surely it should choose to work with the police based solely on whether such a move would benefit the victim- not because of Sinn Féin’s electoral success.

    “Our priority has always been the safety of our community and this will remain so in spite of political interference.” Why shouldn’t democratically elected politicans hold CRJ to account, and call it on its (many) shortcomings? Surely such ability to criticise would be consistent with the outlook of the “open, transparent, wholly peaceful community mediation service” Mr. Auld describes? Or should we all remain silent, as Sinn Féin says it is good, so we should all agree?

    “We cannot understand why this should be so, given that we have many times invited the party to put one or more representatives on to our Board.” Sinn Féin has been invited to join the Policing Board- does Mr. Auld apply the same principle that Sinn Féin should thus approve of that body simply because it has been invited to join it?

    “They have circulated a “dossier” around their party activists and other opinion formers which consists entirely of newspaper cuttings of their own entirely unsupported allegations. Theirs is a campaign of denigration which seems to have some obscure party political motive.” Again, politically motivated comments against a party which is exercising its mandate. Where is CRJ’s mandate? What a party does is its business- if the electorate disapprove, then they can choose not to vote for them. If people do not support CRJ, what choice do they have? None.

  • An Bearnach

    This is really very simple. Anyone with any sense doesn’t want political policing and doesn’t want to be policed by human rights abusers, whether they wear a uniform or not. But that is what we are getting.

    Restorative justice is in itself a good idea, but the CRJ organisation is a Provo creation, unlike any other such project in the world. Caitriona Ruane let the cat out of the bag about the Provo strategy of alternative policing via the CRJ organisation. She has never denied it, nor has Sinn Fein.

    The CRJ organisation is stuffed from top to bottom with Provos. The CRJ group in the Short Strand took part in the Provo picketing which forced the widow of Robert McCartney out of the area. One of the leading members of the CRJ witnessed the Provo attack with sewer rods on Jeff Commander by members of the gang that murdered Roberty McCartney. He has refused to make a statement to the police despsite being asked to do so by the family.

    The same applies in South Armagh, where the so-called Community Safety Groups are stuffed with Provos and their family members. All their actions are predicated on one simple thing – keep the PSNI out.

    People are not fools – they know that when they approach CRJ or CSG they are getting Provo Lite. Many people reckon it is no harm at all if young people indulging in anti-social behaviour are spoken to by a couple of known killers late one evening. They don’t even need the baseball bats or the 9mm any more. It is only Sinn Fein (apart from Caitriona) which is trying to preserve the fiction that these are unconnected community groups.

  • lib2016

    Wouldn’t it strike you as being strange that these people are voted into representative positions if they don’t represent ordinary nationalists?

    Nationalist and republican activists tend to be Sinn Fein. It’s been pointed out regularly on this and every other NI board and there’s no mystery about it, except to those who are wilfully unable to accept the popularity of Sinn Fein.

  • John Maynard

    What happens to those of us wilfully unable to accept the justice of Sinn Fein?

    Can we still go the PSNI – or would that upset ‘the community’?

  • lib2016

    As the ombudsman has pointed out the PSNI are controlled by MI5 ie the secret police. Let’s have no more nonsense from unionists about living in a ‘liberal democracy’.

    We’re living in a colony – one which can’t survive for much longer.

  • John Maynard

    The ombudsman has pointed out that she will not be able to obtain information from MI5, as she currently can with the PSNI.
    Not really the same thing at all.

  • lib2016

    The RUC were out of control to the point where Jonty Brown has pointed out that he had more to fear from Special Branch than from the IRA. The ‘reform’ has entailed putting the PSNI under the control of the British secret police. Looks to me like really the same thing, but then they (secret police, I mean) do all look alike to me. Are they all in the Masons too, do you know?

  • Pete Baker

    John

    I think the Ombudsman actually said that there was no guarantee that she could obtain any requested information, for an investigation, from MI5.. but that, to date, they had not refused any such request made by her office.

    The argument being that there should be an ability to insist on that information if requested.. but I’d doubt such an ability is going to be granted.

  • John Maynard

    I also don’t see how it relates to the topic in hand, other than as a useful distraction.
    The PSNI will not be “under the control” of MI5.
    The PSNI will, however, lose control of intelligence gathering to MI5.
    Surely this makes the PSNI *more* ‘acceptable’ by SF’s terms?

    The unacceptability of MI5 – which will have no policing function – is another matter entirely.

  • The same applies in South Armagh, where the so-called Community Safety Groups are stuffed with Provos and their family members. All their actions are predicated on one simple thing – keep the PSNI out

    A total lie!!

    The Community Safety Groups are non-party political and since their inception they have always been so. We have SDLP voters, UUP voters, anti-Republicans and Republicans.

    The Community Safety Groups take their membership from the local community and are very popular.

    The Gardai work with us, the Fire service work with us and we work for the benefit of the community.

    We have been approached by the people in North Louth, Tyrone and North Armagh. They all want to start their own groups.

    The Community Safety Groups are not a replacement police force, no matter how much the SDLP in Newry and Mourne would like to think so.

    The SDLP may believe that they can discriminate against these groups but they will find out very shortly that they can’t.

  • Chris-

    “The Gardai work with us, the Fire service work with us and we work for the benefit of the community.”

    So why not the PSNI? If these groups are so pluralist, then why would the position of one political party guide with whom they interact, given that they apparently contain such a rainbow of members?

  • So why not the PSNI?

    That issue has never arose

    If these groups are so pluralist, then why would the position of one political party guide with whom they interact

    It doesn’t El Mat, like a typical stoop you presume too much.

    given that they apparently contain such a rainbow of members?

    They do

  • JD

    El Matador,

    Possibly because the rainbow of members also feel that the policing issue in the north is unresolved. When will the SDLP realise that they may have made a tactical error in trying to use the communities fears over crime and criminals to sell them something which is less than they deserve and which is still more interested in what republicans are at, than any criminal. The necessary changes to policing in the north are being gained,but not yet achieved, long after the SDLP gave up asking for them.

  • An Bearnach

    Chris Gaskin needs to realise that, just as not all members of CSG and CRJ are actually Provos, all those who object to them are not SDLP. These groups could do a really good job, even if they are stuffed with Provos – and they are. On the Dromintee/Jonesboro CSG in South Armagh, it is fairly easy to see that the whole thing is made up of volunteers from the local unit plus their inlaws plus a few GAA worthies. No harm in that – in fact, if it keeps the volunteers from beating people up or shooting postal workers this time around, very good. The real point is how we stop known human rights abusers from abusing human rights as in Short Strand. Can we please have a CRJ Ombudsman, a CRJ Board and a CRJ inspectorate plus a CRJ Oversight Commissioner.

    Chris clearly doesn’t agree with Caitriona Ruane on the purpose of CRJ/CSG. Dissent is good.

  • Chris-

    “That issue has never arose.”

    JD-

    “Possibly because the rainbow of members also feel that the policing issue in the north is unresolved.”

    So which one is it?

    Plus, if JD’s analysis is correct, then why would a group which contains such a wide range of members support the political outlook of one party vis-a-vis their involvement with the PSNI? After all, practically every party in Ireland, north and south, supports the new policing structures- it would be quite bizarre were these non-SF-aligned members of community groups Chris claims exist (UUP voters, SDLP voters, anti-Republicans, etc.) to stage some sort of metanoia regarding the police as soon as they signed up for one of said groups?

    Chris-

    “It doesn’t El Mat, like a typical stoop you presume too much.”

    I presumed nothing. As Jim Auld said: “we are not willing to move to a position that puts us in opposition to the vast majority of Nationalist population.” Therefore, so long as Sinn Féin remains the largest nationalist party and maintains its opposition to the Patten structures, then CRJ will boycott engagement with the PSNI.

    Apart from that, I wonder how Mr. Auld came to the conclusion that the ‘vast majority’ of nationalists oppose engagement with the police. If he is basing it on SF electoral support, he neglects to realise that they hardly have a ‘vast majority’, that not everyone votes for them because they oppose PSNI engagement, and that basing an organisation’s modus operandi on the success of one political party and its outlook regarding policing is fundamentally flawed if said organisation wishes to portray itself as being independent and acting in the best interests of the community.

  • Reader

    heres hoping: Reader the numbers of the vast majority is the 174530 to 125626 at the last election.
    There was no such question on my ballot paper. How about a survey instead?
    And if 174530 is a vast majority, how many nationalists are there altogether?

  • El Mat

    The Community Safety Groups are not connected to CRJ, they are an entirely different group with different functions.

    An Bearnach

    On the Dromintee/Jonesboro CSG in South Armagh, it is fairly easy to see that the whole thing is made up of volunteers from the local unit plus their inlaws plus a few GAA worthies.

    A lie, clear and simple!

    I am a member of the Dromintee CSG and I know exactly who sits on that grouping.

    You are a liar!

    That grouping, like all the other groups in Slieve Gullion have a varied membership from all parts of the community.

    Chris clearly doesn’t agree with Caitriona Ruane on the purpose of CRJ/CSG

    Again for your purposes, The Community Safety Groups are not CRJ. They are not linked and they carry out totally different functions.

    However don’t let something like the truth get in the way of your malicious lies!

  • Looking at those figures, it works out at about 300,000 nationalist people who voted. That means that there must be at least another 300,000 or more who didn’t vote, which undermines claims about what the ‘Nationalist poplulation’ want with regard to policing. Compounding this is the fact that ballot papers asked which candidate one wishes to choose as one’s local MP; not ‘do you want CRJ to engage with the police?’ It is a complete fallacy for CRJ claiming to be representing the wishes of the ‘vast majority’ nationalists when there is not a shred of evidence to prove this.

    Aside from this, surely CRJ should be representing the best interests of all of the community, not just nationalists, and as such should choose whether or not to engage with the police for that reason, not on the strength of whether they believe the nationalist electorate wants them to- they’re not supposed to be a political party, although one could be easily mistaken in thinking that they are.

  • El Mat

    What proof do you have that the majority of Nationalists do support the RUC/PSNI?

  • Of course, we must also remember that out of those nationalists who did vote, over 2/5ths chose the SDLP, another dent in the already disingenuous claims about the wishes of the ‘vast majority’ of nationalists.

  • Mick Fealty

    To be fair El Mat, those who did not vote are effectively giving their assent to the decision of those who do. Chris has a point when he talks about substantial Nationalist support for Sinn Fein’s position – however uncomfortable that is for some.

    However, that doesn’t mean that those proposals should not come under rigorous public scrutiny since, if they are got badly wrong, they may have considerable impacts on Human Rights of the whole community.

  • Chris-

    I am not aware of such an organisation. I assume you mean the PSNI, as legally constituted thus. Please stick to the facts.

    I do not believe that I claimed that the majority of nationalists support the PSNI- unless there were to be a plebiscite on that issue alone, then it would be rather unfair to make such a claim on behalf of the several hundred thousand nationalists in the north (of course, I reckon it would be pretty safe to assume that nationalists on the island as a whole support the new policing structures and reforms). After all, the making of such assumptions is the basis of my argument against Mr. Auld’s claims.

    Notwithstanding that, on the doorsteps and sepaking to nationalist people (of whom some vote SDLP, other vote Sinn Féin, and others don’t vote al all) I have found that there is ready acceptance that major changes are being made in policing, and although many are cautiously welcome, there is pretty much agreement (except amongst the provo hardcore) that things have changed dramatically and that the PSNI can be utilised to the full extent available.

    And one other point, it isn’t a case of supporting the PSNI per se- that’s what unionists did with the RUC for years, and look where that got us. It is about supporting the new structures and reforms, which will bring about better accountability and practice, something which is to the benefit of the whole community.

  • The PSNI is nothing more than the RUC in a different uniform. The same RUC officers who were abusing Nationalists in my community 10 years ago are still doing it today in a new uniform.

    This nonsense that most people support the cops or accept them is just that, nonsense!

    I have been on the doors in every election this last few years and unlike SDLP election teams we canvass every door two or three time per election.

    They don’t accept that enough change has occurred for them to give their support.

    The SDLP’s refusal to live in the real world is one of the reasons for their current position of being redundant!

  • Mick-

    People’s choice whether to vote or not has to do with electing politicians. CRJ has extrapolated from this a belief that they should therefore not engage with the PSNI. It is quite a leap to take from a significant vote for Sinn Féin, to claiming the vast majority of nationalists oppose engagement with the PSNI (a position which arguably not even SF supports, given their view that it is ok to talk to the police to secure your no-claims bonus, and that Gerry Kelly held talks with them to secure the safety of the community not two weeks ago), to as supposedly independent organisation using such a claim to dictate the methods it uses to bring recourse to the people it claims to wish to help.

    People voted (or stayed at home) for many reasons- to single out one of them as a definitive reason, and then base your organisation’s methods on that rather spurious claim, leaves you rather open to perfectly reasonable claims that you are merely a puppet organisation of Sinn Féin. This is enhanced by the comments of Ruane, who categorically stated that Sinn Féin would be seeting up CRJ schemes as an alternativeto the PSNI.

    The question is not around the concept of restorative justice in itself, which is a worthy cause. It is around how this brand of restorative justice is operated, its political affilaitions, and the personnel who are involved.

  • Chris-

    Your use of the debate surrounding policing to accuse the SDLP of being ‘redundant’ etc. simply shows that you are more concerned with political point scoring than dealing with the issues at hand. I wonder if the 120,000+ voters who chose the SDLP would appreciate your ignorance of the mandate which they handed to the SDLP- why would you claim it is ‘redundant’ given that it is only one year old?

    It’s not a zero-sum situation- a party does not have to top every poll to avoid being redundant. I would have thought you would have realised this given the several decades of trouncing which Sinn Féin suffered at the polls at the hands of the SDLP.

    “The same RUC officers who were abusing Nationalists in my community 10 years ago are still doing it today in a new uniform.”

    Where are the Police Ombudsman’s reports confirming this?

    Anyway, back to discussing the role of CRJ and its lack of engagement with the PSNI…

  • Where are the Police Ombudsman’s reports confirming this?

    They are currently being investigated by the Ombusdsman.

  • “They are currently being investigated by the Ombusdsman”

    Well as a former scholar of the law, I’m sure you would recognise that it is inappropriate to make such claims in public fora until investigations are completed, lest it would prejudice the inquiry or contradict what the office actually finds.

    But then again, SF has a record of cherry-picking what it chooses to endorse with regard to the Police Ombudsman anyway- one only has to look at the Jean McConville case to see this. Additonally, why is SF happy to use this strand of Patten to hold the police to account, but not other strands such as the PB or DPPs- another case of cherry picking to suit a political agenda?

    Mick- sorry to digress.

  • I’m sure you would recognise that it is inappropriate to make such claims in public fora until investigations are completed

    I have not mentioned names or incidents so it is not inappropriate.

  • Ah- so it is ok to make unsubstantited claims about unnamed cases before they have been adjudicated upon. Fair enough.

    I notice you missed my other points about Patten and the Police Ombudsman. Never mind.

  • JD

    The Ombudsman office is not part of the policing structures, that is what gives it its independance, apart from the fact that the NIO still decides its budget allocation.It is therefore entirely consistant for SF to deal with ombudsman but not with the policing structures.

  • DK

    What would the position of CRJ be if someone it was helping also turned to the PSNI. Would they back out & refuse to co-operate?

    Main problem seems to be accountability. I don’t think that CRJs need to be linked formally to the PSNI, but the members need to be at least recorded and complaints handled by a central CRJ ombudsman if they act illegally or incompetently. But then, why not just use the same ombudsman as the PSNI & save on money. Ideally, think that the names of members of CRJs should be published – it’s the only way that they can be accountable, if we know who they are.

    Note that the loyalist restorative justice groups (NIA) are prepared to link with PSNI

  • JD-

    Both were provided by Patten to hold the police to account in different ways- the most effective way of doing this is by using both to their maximum capacity. Addionally, SF refusal to participate in the PB and DPPs is based on the fact that policing and justice have not yet been devolved- there is no functioning Executive to which such devolution could happen, so this provides ample cover for SF to avoid biting the bullet (and perhaps provaricate on the formation of a government) whilst in the meantime unionists are over-represented on these bodies thanks to SF’s boycott.

    Separately, if the PO is independent and worthy of SF’s cooperation as you say, why has SF dismissed its independent and transparent report into Jean McConville, instead throwing its weight behind a short statement by a covert and clandestine organisation which uses a pseudonym to convey statements and information, and which doesn’t exactly have a glorious or open record with regard to the dispensation ‘justice’?

  • An Bearnach

    Chris Gaskin needs to get a grip on reality. The Dromintee Community Safety Group leaflet that came through my door contained a handy list of names. So tell me there are no Provos on the list, Chris. Tell me the two people (not on the list) who came to my door collecting money for the CSG are not Provos, Chris. The situation in Meigh is even more ludicrous. What do I do if I have a dispute with a local gang boss, Chris? Who do I turn to?

  • So tell me there are no Provos on the list, Chris

    Obviously I am not going to start naming people on an internet forum but for starters me, I am not a Provo.

    Tell me the two people (not on the list) who came to my door collecting money for the CSG are not Provos, Chris

    I don’t know who you are therefore I can’t say who came to your door.

    The situation in Meigh is even more ludicrous

    How so?

    What do I do if I have a dispute with a local gang boss, Chris? Who do I turn to?

    If I was you I would turn to a doctor!

    If you live in the same area as me, which you claim, then you don’t have a gang boss so you have nothing to worry about.

  • Chris-

    “I am not a Provo.”

    Are you, or are you not a member of the political party generally recognised as provisional Sinn Féin, as distinct from what was generally known as official Sinn Féin (now the Workers Party), or Republican Sinn Féin (who split from your party, or, as they would have it, your party split from)?

    “If I was you I would turn to a doctor!”

    He wouldn’t be the first who has had to visit a doctor after a run-in with the local provos. You probably don’t recall what happened John Fee not so long ago after he dared to criticise the IRA for launching mortars near the homes of South Armagh residents, putting their lives in danger.

  • Are you, or are you not a member of the political party generally recognised as provisional Sinn Féin

    No, I am a member of a party generally recognised and which calls itself Sinn Féin.

    We both know that the term ‘Provos’ refers to a Volunteetr from the Provisional IRA. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is futile and laughable!

    John Fee

    Is that the same John Fee who critised his own Agriculture Minister during Foot and Mouth and who invented the story about men in masks transporting cattle in Dromintee? Is this the same man who Brid Rodgers very publically slapped down for it? The same John Fee who the electorate dumped? The same ‘sociable’ John Fee from Cross who stood down because he wasn’t made deputy Mayor?

  • Chris-

    I am not suggesting that you would use the term ‘provo’ to describe yourself. However, do you except that in popular usage, the term provo/ provie would universally be understood to refer a member of the republican movement with split from Cathal Goulding’s lot in 1969, just as that movement would be known as the stickies (even thought they wouldn’t call themselves that) and RSF are known as dissidents (even though they too would not use that term)? Indeed, academics would often use the term ‘provisonal’ to differentiate your movement from that of the other two I mentioned. It’s not intended as a slur- I am simply stating a fact.

    “Is that the same John Fee …Mayor?”

    Perhaps so. What’s your point? What relevance has all that to the point I made? Was his savage beating justified?

  • El Mat

    I don’t accept you meaning for ‘Provo’. If you asked 10 random people on the streets of Newry what the term ‘Provo’ meant to them I have no doubt that 9 out of 10 would say a member of the Provisional IRA.

    Perhaps so. What’s your point?

    Just checking that we are talking about the same person.

    Was his savage beating justified?

    I don’t know why he was given a beating or if he even recieved one.

  • Oh, and if you’re suggesting that the IRA which split from the officials in 1969 carries the moniker ‘provisional’ but not the Sinn Féin which likewise split and reconstituted at the same time, could you explain why? Go raibh maith agat.

  • Chris-

    “If you asked 10 random people on the streets of Newry what the term ‘Provo’ meant to them I have no doubt that 9 out of 10 would say a member of the Provisional IRA.”

    http://www.sinnfein.org/index2.html

    Clearly whoever runs this (unofficial) site is quite a fan of a party he/ she refers to as Provisional Sinn Féin. Is that the same party I understand you to be a member of?

    By the way, if the party you are a member of is not provisional, then does that mean it does not constitutute part of this ‘provisonal movement’ we oftimes hear of?

  • ‘provisonal movement’

    No, ‘Republican Movement’ is what you hear!

  • And what of my other questions..?

  • What other questions?

  • “Oh, and if you’re suggesting that the IRA which split from the officials in 1969 carries the moniker ‘provisional’ but not the Sinn Féin which likewise split and reconstituted at the same time, could you explain why? Go raibh maith agat.

    Posted by El Matador on Jul 21, 2006 @ 03:57 PM”

    If your party split from Sinn Féin in 1969/70 (the party which had existed since 1905) how did people differentiate your new party from Sinn Féin? Basically, it was identified as provisional SF, but as it gained recognition due to the demise of the stickies in the north (milarily and politically) your party simply became known in most circles as ‘Sinn Féin’.

    The same situation exists with regard to the organisation which split from the IRA in 1969 to form the Provisional IRA, later generally known as simply the ‘IRA’ given the other IRA’s ceasefire and disintegration.

  • The most authoritative source I can find to support the concept of a provisional Sinn Féin is the Encarta Encyclopedia:

    http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761565347_2/Sinn_Fein.html

    Of course, if you look at any number of articles on the editable Wikipedia, you will find the same. However, Encarta is pretty much definitive and cannot be edited by punters with an agenda.