IRA tanker slowly on the turn…

Good reviews for the IRA in the wake of yesterday’s IMC report. The Republic’s Justice Minister, one of their toughest critics, said it was “honouring its pledge to stay away from terrorist activity, training and targeting”. Peter Robinson’s remark is also noteable for it’s measure and precision: “the IRA’s transition into an exclusively peaceful organisation was not yet complete, since its command structure was needed to maintain discipline”. A short statement that could cut several ways!

Update: DUP now have Robinson’s statement in full.

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  • spice girl

    things are looking good, this kind of momentum is what is needed coming up to the talks!

  • Pete Baker

    It will be interesting to see how the IMC fit their argument, of the need for the “command and control structure” of the PIRA remaining in place, into their upcoming assessment of the murder of Denis Donaldson…

  • Rory

    Does anyone imagine that it might be possible to demilitarise a powerful guerilla army after 30 years of intense warfare without a command and control structure to oversee the process?

    What would they rather – a brief statement from the leadership: “Er, that’s it guys. You can all go home now and do your own thing. Hang out with your homies, chill, whatever. But try not to do any shooting ‘n’ stuff. O.K.?”

  • heck

    am i the only one who finds the concept of this unelected quango ruling on the fittness of elected representatives patronizing and offensive?

    democracy means the people decide not lord aldershite.

    given britain is involved in an illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq with the loss of 10s of thousands of innocent lives I object to one of its “peers” lecturing loyalists or republicans about violence.

  • fair_deal


    The maintenance of a command and control structure is a double edged sword.

  • Jo

    The inner contradiction of decommissioning:

    10 men, previously convinced, that violence will provide a solution decide to look at alternatives

    Their leader produces an alternative to violence.

    8 of his followers agree. One does not and wants to keep his guns.

    The others, to avoid a falling out, agree to disagree with him.

    Morally, the 8 plus the leader should give up their guns. Practically, by so doing, they leave all vulnerable to Comrade X who remains armed.

    What is the solution?

  • Rory

    a double edged sword., Fair Deal. What do you mean by that? If I take it to mean that you see it as still allowing an IRA structure of sorts in place, then I accept that this is so. I also insist that it is absolutely essential that it be so in order for demilitarisation to happen. Without such a structure that is able to command the loyalty and respect of its rank and file it would be quite impossible to issue orders for volunteers to stand down, for weapons to be dumped and for the army arsenal to be decommissioned.

    The US now readily admits that its greatest mistake in Iraq (apart from the invasion itself) was disbanding the Iraqi standing army so allowing its soldiers to disperse into whatever loyalty groups commanded their support and greatly assisting the continuing revolt against the invaders and their puppet regime. And that was a defeated army.

    There continue to be those in Ireland I see who look for every sign of republican military activity, every possibility of a breach in the cessation of hostilities with eager anticipation and are so bitterly disappointed when they find that IRA discipline holds and that the peace agenda is being assiduously adhered to that they must find that also to be threateningly ominous.

    It is relatively easy to start a war, damned arduous to sustain it over three decades of great sacrifice but it is positively heroic of the IRA command and control structure the way they have managed to bring the war to an end and to bring their rank and file along with them. If any body was deserving of a peace prize today they should head the list.

    But I don’t suppose, Fair Deal, that you will be adding your name to the sponsorship list anytime soon.

  • fair_deal


    A command and control structure that sends and gains obedience to a positive order ie stop can get the same for a negative one ie attack? How does a normal society develop by maintaining abnormal structures?

    As regards your analogy IMO Iraq was going to be a mess regardless of whether or not they kept the army. The present problem with the Iraq army is that Shias dominate it but the previous army had the same problem but with the ethnic groupings reversed. The allies sent an invasion force not an occupation force, completely misjudged the reaction to their intervention and someone forgot to notice the identity patchwork beneath the broad banner of Iraq had been held together only by very brutal techniques.

  • Jo


    “There continue to be those in Ireland I see who … and are so bitterly disappointed when they find that IRA discipline holds.. they must find that also to be threateningly ominous.”

    Well, such people exist – and with such people the dissident republicans can interact and work to undermine progress. Paisley used an attack on Tullyvallen Orange Hall in the mid-70s to pull out of Craig’s Convention Coalition planning.

  • Bushmills


    The above statement is totally incorrect. Craig and Trimble departed from the UUC over the issue of power-sharing. Paisley didn’t “use” the Tullyvallen Massacre in the way you claim, or in any way for that matter.

  • Bushmills

    The truth of the matter is that the Ulster Unionists, the DUP and virtually all of Craigs Vangaurd collegues were not prepared to go down the road that Craig and Trimble advocated (with hindsight they were wrong to take that view).

    I would like to see a reference to support your assertion: I’m not being combatative in asking, I’m genuinely interested because its the first time I’ve heard the theory advocated…

  • Jo

    I am unsure of the reference. It may have been from my own research into the NI press of the time. There was definitely a specific reference to Tullyvallen by Paisley.

    Obviously had he been willing to follow Craig (and typing that makes it appear how unlikely that could be!) he wouldn’t have used it as a pretext. Those searching for reasons not to go for powersharing would be only to happy with even a small bomb at the Killyhevlin…

  • Fraggle

    “How does a normal society develop by maintaining abnormal structures?”

    Some consider Northern Ireland to be just that. We’re still waiting for the normal society to develop too.

  • Billy


    “There continue to be those in Ireland I see who look for every sign of republican military activity, every possibility of a breach in the cessation of hostilities with eager anticipation”

    I don’t agree with everything that you write but you’re spot on here.

    Paisley has frequently called the PM a liar. He has effected called the distinguished members of the decommissioning body liars and/or fools.

    The IMC contains the former head of Scotland Yard anti-terrorism branch. Yet Paisley doesn’t believe him either – effectively calling him a liar.

    As David McKittrick says, Paisley and DUP loyalty is a “very conditional loyalty”. It’s about time that the UK govt realised that Paisley is only interested in preserving his own legacy as the “man who didn’t sell Ulster out”. He will continue to put obstacles in the way of a devolved administration (power sharing) for as long as he is in charge.

    I just hope that,when Paisly goes, the pragmatic DUP members come to the fore and we can start to make some progress.

  • lib2016

    “I just hope…..the pragmatic DUP members come to the fore….”

    Nov 2004 was the last chance for that. From now on the process has to proceed with or without them and that message can’t be sent too strongly.

    If they want to play a part in Strand 1 then that would be nice but it really doesn’t matter. It’s what 70% of us voted for that is being implemented now.

  • Bushmills


    Why single Pailsey out? The Ulster Unionists and all bar one of Craigs colleagues wouldn’t go with him over the issue. It suits liberal Unionists to portray Paisley as this great obstacle but the truth is that Paisley and the DUP were largely an irrelavance up until circa. 2002.

  • Rory

    Fair Deal

    A command and control structure that sends and gains obedience to a positive order ie stop can get the same for a negative one ie attack? How does a normal society develop by maintaining abnormal structures?

    Yes a command structure can order “go” as well as “stop”. But without one, as with the absence of traffic lights, we would have chaos with none wishing to stop and I do not see how that would contribute to the “normalisation” of society. Unless of course you consider chaos to be normal in the north of Ireland, a view which many might share. But not I.

  • Jo

    I single Paisley out because unlike the others he is still around. What’s to say he has not gained the ability to say, see past a deliberate effort by dissidents to sabotage talks? Will or can he be statesman enough to ignore such a hypothetical act and make the deal to marginalise such people? We will see shortly if he is a prisoner of his own past.

    (I wouldnt mind if he is, its just he keeps the rest of us in the same cell. :))

  • Bushmills


    Are you seriously suggesting that we should as a community be grateful for the continued existence of the Provisional IRA. Sure why not give Slab Murphy and OBE for services to peace in the community! The continued existence of the IRA command and controls structure is incompatable with Sinn Fein participation in government as far as I am concerned. A structure that can be deployed for peace one day can be deployed for war the next.

    PS. I don’t think you single out Paisley because he still around, I think you do it because you just cant help blaiming all the ills of Northern Ireland on him.

  • Jo


    For my position, please see my first post.

    I am sure Paisley will have his Reward in due course.

  • Bushmills


    Yes in due course I have no doubt he’ll make an excellent First Minister.

  • Jo

    ..for about a fortnight. 🙂 Then the craic will begin.

  • Bushmills


    Couldn’t be any worse than his two predeccesors in the job! One a compulsive liar, the other, the best pal of UVF thugs.

  • Jo


    2 previous First Ministers? Did I fall asleep for a year there someplace?

    “the best pal of UVF thugs”

    Remind me, as I’m such a youngster. 😉

    Which cleric/politician met with which Loyalist paramilitary leaders in 1974 during the UWC strike to work to bring down, through violence and intimidation, a powersharing government?

  • Bushmills

    Empey acted as First Minister when Trimble semi-resigned and then needed APNI and NIWC to re-designate to dig himself out of that hole.

    Which cleric met the Loyalists, why not ask Trimble, he was there as well!

    Which party is now directly linked to an armed and active UVF, despite banging on for years about the need to decomission?

  • Bushmills

    Oh and by the way Jo. Sunningdale collapsed because the Unionist population wouldn’t wear it. Yes there was violence, but the vast vast majority of the protests were peaceful.

  • George

    “Sunningdale collapsed because the Unionist population wouldn’t wear it. Yes there was violence, but the vast vast majority of the protests were peaceful.”

    The main reason there wasn’t more trouble was that the security forces didn’t try and take the barricades down and the unionists were armed.

    If the security forces had taken the same line as they did in Derry a few years earlier there would have been total mayhem.

    The battle of the bogside became a peaceful protest once the security forces stopped attacking the barricades.

    By your logic, the battle of the bogside was peaceful.

  • Billy


    So Paisley didn’t bring a group of journalists to a north Antrim location where a couple of hundred “loyalists” were present with firearms and/or firearms certificates. Did he not say that these men would “fight for Ulster”?

    Did he not attend the wake of John Bingham – UVF commander and notorious sectarian murderer?

    Did McCrea not share a platform with Billy Wright – whose identity as LVF leader and sectarian murderer was known to all?

    Have we not recently discovered that a leading member of the DUP in the 80’s was also in the UVF?

    The DUP did not object to Hugh Smyth of the PUP being elected deputy mayor of Belfast.

    I am a moderate Catholic and have never voted for Sinn Fein. I can understand Unionist concerns about the IRA.

    However, I despise this “holier than thou” approach from the DUP towards Nationalists/Catholics and latterly the UUP.

    The DUP have used “loyalist” terrorists when it suited them and the lack of condemnation from leading DUP members to the murder of innocent Catholics is a matter of public record.

    This is a 2 way street. The Unionist community are entitled to evidence (from the Decommissioning body, IMC etc) about IRA activity.

    However, you need to realise that most Catholics (even very moderate ones such as I) do not trust the DUP. I don’t want the DUP having control over my amenities unless there is a cross-community or govt veto to prevent them discriminating against Catholics/Nationalists.

    Nationalists need to earn the trust of Unionists AND the DUP need to EARN the trust of Catholics/Nationalists. Their behaviour in the past provides a strong basis for Nationalists to be wary of them.

  • Bushmills


    Who controls your amenities is entirely a matter for you (sorry couldn’t resist it!).

    I am on record as saying the McCrea incident was an example of idiocy. It most definately should never have happened. As to Seawright he was expelled from the DUP for his anti-Catholic remarks.

    I appreciate that you may have concerns about trusting the DUP. All I would say about that is that I think in recent times their record on paramilitarism is clean, as far as I am concerned (Gary Blair aside).

    The DUP is I think in a much stronger moral position, unlike the Ulster Unionists who are institutionally-linked now to an armed and active UVF, which shows no signs of decommissioning or ending its campaign of violence.

    The focus thus far has been on Sinn Fein, because they want a place in the government of Northern Ireland – a position that the PUPs will never occupy.