From Army Council to…

“… a change management group”. Brian Rowan on the transformation of the IRA.

We don’t see the Army Council meeting, but if we care to look, we can see the change in its thinking and its doing.
All we have to do is open our eyes and our minds.
The conflict is over, and the IRA is being ordered away by those it will listen to – those who led it in war and then into a developing peace.
The IRA is listening to its Army Council.

  • Yokel

    It’s going.

  • Watcher

    Rowan is incorrect. Common sense would tell us that there was no Army Convention January 26.

  • Whenever the IRA Army Council met it must of agreed to Sinn Fein offering to support Police at their conference in January.

    When it happened is irrelevant, just thank God these senior Republicans are conductiing themselves in a statesman like, responsible manner and continue to promote the peace process from a vantage point that has stiffled any rogue Dissident Republican attacks!!

    It is good to know that support of Sinn Fein’s political policies are supported right throughout the Republican movement and across the wings.

    The IRA Army Council are the glue that holds the peace process together and we should not be in such a rush to lose a body that can contain, to a certain extent, dissident Republican activity.

    To remove this buffer would create a vacum and undermine the whole peace process before a long period of devolved power is achieved and the notion of Stormont as a shared poltical forum is established.

  • jake

    as i understand things, this man brian rowan was a recent candidate (unsuccessful) in the assembly elections and stood on a pro-peace process platform, pledged to explain to the unionist/protestant electorate how the ira had really changed – that’s fine but i was astonished to discover that after the election he resumed his job as a journalist as if nothing had ever happened – my understanding of journalism is that one of its core principles is that reporters must separate and keep private their private political views from their journalism, that they must always be observers and never be players – yet here we have a man who quite openly was a player who now is trying to persuade us that he has become an objective, unbiased observer once again – having stood on a very clear electoral platform how can we possibly believe that his journalism is unaffected by his now widely known political views – it is quite extraordinary and a measure of how badly irish journalism has deteriorated that rowan can resume his duties with the belfast telegraph and not a word has been said! let me put this in perspective – say rowan had stood on an pro-republican dissident ticket and then after the election resumed his journalism, how long would he have lasted? the truth is that he would never have been re-employed as a reporter, and quite rightly so – but standards must be the same for all and here this is manifestly not the case.

  • observer

    I have to agree with Jake regarding the position of Mr Rowan. If he had been elected he would now be part of the gravy train that is the Assembly and he wouldn’t be having to worry about his next deadline. He sure as hell wouldn’t be worried about the army council or anything else to do with the security situation. He wanted his cake and didn’t get to eat it. He took a gamble and it didn’t pay off for him. It can’t be a failure without a cost. His objectivity is tainted for ever and no self respecting politician will ever confide in him in case he should run against them at the next available election. Could you really imagine the likes of Noel Thompson running in an election and not getting elected. Do you think for one minute that the BBC would let him host Hearts and Minds after the election? I don’t think so!! It shows how standards have dropped so much in the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life. I don’t believe that anyone else is touching his stuff.

  • The Third Policeman

    Now I could be wrong here because I don’t know much about this Rowan lad but arn’t you lot mixing up journalist and commentator? I mean I’d hardly call Brian Feeney of the Irish News impartial, but then sure he doesn’t have to be because he dosn’t report the news, he just gives his opinion on it. Is that not what Rowan does? I’m just guessing here because I really don’t know anything about him.

    Also sure isn’t it a good job the PIRA has such a powerful Army Council? It certainly is adapting to the ceasefire a lot better than the likes of the UDA anyway.

  • seanzmct

    Martin Bell ran as an anti-sleaze candidate in a British General Election and got elected.He is now back to being a journalist again and no-one has queried his bona fides. This is because he had a reputation for balance(in so far as it is ever entirely possible have such in political journalism).

    Brian Rowan is an excellent journalist who ran for the Assembly out of a sense of genuine cross-community civic duty rather than any hardline sectarian ideological commitment.His previous reputation will enable him to continue in his profession and I hope he does so for many years.

    It is hard to imagine that an extreme Republican or Loyalist ideologue would ever be a journalist of Rowan’s standing in the first place.

  • jake

    brian rowan is not a commentator like brian feeney but a journalist – in the belfast telegraph he is described as a security writer, ie he reports on security matters – before that he was the bbc’s security correspondent – the world and his wife knows he is a journalist/reporter not a commentator;
    when martin bell decided to stand for parliament he publicly left the bbc, cutting all ties – rowan has kept his ties and job with the belfast telegraph – martin bell has not returned to journalism but is a UNICEF ambassador for britain!

  • seanzmct

    No not okay. Martin Bell returned to journalism after his MPship and remains a card carrying journalist who can conyinue with the job if and when he sees fit. Should he be banned from journalism simply because he became involved in electoral politics?

    Readers of the Belfast Tele can monitor the writings of Brian Rowan and will be well able to judge if his foray into politics has sullied his ability to write credibly on security issues. I suspect that their general response will be positive.

  • jake

    sorry seanzmct, you’re wrong – martin bell is not a journalist now and has left the profession entirely – check your facts in future! – he is a UNICEF ambassador and briefly set up a lobby group for independent parliamentary candidates – you fail to acknowledge as well the most important and salient fact about his foray into politics which was that he cut his ties to the bbc when he stood as an mp whereas rowan stayed with the belfast telegraph – incidentally even if bell returned to journalism, which he didn’t, that doesn’t make what rowan did right, just that there are two people, bell and rowan, who will always be tainted! so wise up!

  • Aquifer

    Is it useful to talk about independent journalists when we have tribal newspapers? ‘Independent’journalists have to report the oozings of our sectarian gangmasters as important and reputable. At least when media has a slant we can take it or leave it. We left ‘Ireland Alone’ or whatever that paper was, but could keep reading the News Letter or Irish News as there is enough good content to carry the ethnic payload along.

  • The Dubliner

    Art Hostage, the Army Council (a grandiose term for a gang of squalid sectarian murderers in the same ilk as loyalist scum) can be said to have made a positive contribution to ‘peace process’ by ending their sectarian murder campaign in the much the same manner that Jack the Ripper can be said to have made a positive contribution to the welfare of London’s prostitutes when he stopped killing them.

  • Miss Flood

    In standing for election to the Assembly Brian Rowan’s journalistic credentials hit the buffers. His participation was a barefaced and self-serving piece of opportunism that disgraced his profession. He should now transfer his talents to a more appropriate organ, say the Sunday Sport or Daily Star. What a prick!

    Miss Flood

  • Henry94

    I don’t se why being a journalist should preclude someone from running for office and going back to work if unsuccessful. If he had not run he would still have had the same views so it is not the fact of being a candidate that makes him subjective. No more than the act of voting.

    I don’t believe in journalistic objectivity in the first place so I don’t see the need to protect it. Just get the facts right.

  • circles

    In a similar vein should teachers be banned from running for office? What about doctors who have a larger than average influence on the local community? What about practicing clergy men – surely they shouldn’t get involved in politics,usre what about the separation of church and state? What about solicitors – how can they impartially serve the law if they’re affiliated to a political party?

    Or maybe some of the righteous indignation here has more to do with what owan has actually written. I mean if he had reported on the fire brigades rescue of a cat up a tree would there really be so many twisted knickers on this post of him having compormised his journalistic integrity??

  • mickhall

    What the capitalist media do very well is appear to be objective and independent, thus it is claimed all the journalists who write/broadcast for it are independent minded and objective. When in reality they are all as subjective as the rest of the human race.

    One only has to look at the headers of the TV news or the press over the arrest of the royal navy sailors to understand this, right across the political spectrum, the UK press has said the sailors were kidnapped and are being held hostage. Whereas throughout most of the rest of the world they were arrested and are being held under arrest until such time as a solution can be found between the two nations to get them home.

    Indeed it is both nieve and ridiculous to expect human beings not to be subjective and this is especially true within journalism as those for example who write on politics have strong feelings about it.

    The best way to judge the neutrality of organizations like the BBC is the manner they cover international sporting contest. You got it, not an objective bone in any of their bodies. For if there were they would have a representative or supporter of both teams within the commentary box or with the panel at half time.

    What you get with political coverage is parameters the journos must not step out side, if the wish to keep their jobs that is, for example peace process good, all who oppose it, whether Unionist or republican bad, so if possible keep them off the air etc and on no account employ anyone from the anti group.

    Hence Brian can go back to his job at the beeb as he has not broken this unspoken rule. We should not forget it was not that long ago when MI5 had an office at the Beeb both in the north and London; and all staff had to be vetted by the security service.

    Whilst these spooks often blacklisted leftists and republicans members of the KGB were not only employed on staff but often filled our airwaves. Does anyone really doubt that something similar still goes on.

  • No one seriously doubts that the IRA is changing. The question is whether it is changing into a purely democratic entity or whether it is mutating into a politico/mafia hybrid. The evidence thus far supports the latter view.

  • kensei

    “No one seriously doubts that the IRA is changing. The question is whether it is changing into a purely democratic entity or whether it is mutating into a politico/mafia hybrid. The evidence thus far supports the latter view.”

    Voices in your head don’t actually count as evidence.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Watchman: “No one seriously doubts that the IRA is changing. The question is whether it is changing into a purely democratic entity or whether it is mutating into a politico/mafia hybrid. ”

    Given how long they have allowed Loyalism to fester, one owuld think this is the sort of organization Unionists are most comfortable with.

  • A chara Kensei,

    Maybe I just imagined Florida gun-running, Colombia, the spy-ring, the bank job, the McCartney murder, the intimidation of the McCartney family and friends, organised crime, etc. Yeah, it was some dream.

    Dread Cthulhu


    Folks, if you want to argue with me, tell me how all the things I’ve mentioned above could be committed by an organisation that really was in transition to exclusively democratic means.

  • Henry94

    The Watchman

    If we are agreed that an organisation is in transition then it will still retain some of its previous attributes while developing new ones. As the newer attributes become established the older ones fade away.

    The IMC reports indicate that the IRA are not involved in crime. You list looks old which is in itself a good sign that your claim is wrong.

    To be harping on about the Florida guns after the fact of decommissioning shows an unwillingness to face the new realities.

  • Henry94,

    So who has been intimidating the McCartneys? Tooth fairies? And what about the report of the NI Select Committee on organised crime? Republicans have nothing to do with that then? Gosh, these tooth fairies are powerful.

  • kensei

    “Maybe I just imagined Florida gun-running, Colombia, the spy-ring, the bank job, the McCartney murder, the intimidation of the McCartney family and friends, organised crime, etc. Yeah, it was some dream. ”

    The latest of which is now over 2 years ago; some of them haven’t been proven, though apparently that doesn’t matter and some of them are the work of individuals rather than the organization and acknowledged as such.

    You aren’t seriously naive enough to believe disengagement wasn’t going to be messy, are you? The direction has been all one way and continues to be.

  • seanzmct

    Jake. No need for verging on personal abuse.

    However,speaking of “checking facts” and “wising up”, I have just today read an article in a national newspaper written by the self-same Martin Bell whom you assert has given up journalism.

    Brian Rowan is a professional journalist who has risen in public estimation by his desire to make a civic contribution on a non-sectarian electoral platform.

    Does it not occur to you that Bell’s journalistic experience helped equip him with
    skills that fitted him for his ambassadorial role? And, the reverse would apply if he went back into full -time journalism- as he is perfectly entitled to do. So,for “tainted” let’s substitute “enhanced”.

  • Henry94

    The Watchman

    And what about the report of the NI Select Committee on organised crime?

    What about it? Have you a point to make? Don’t just wave the report around. Tell us what gems you have found in it. And explain why you believe that rather than the IMC.

    So who has been intimidating the McCartneys?

    Somebody not very good at intimidation?