The loose end

The Belfast Telegraph has called upon the Sinn Fein leadership to to complete its transformation with the disbandment of the IRA Army Council.

  • ejh

    I doubt that Sinn Fein are quite as close to the Belfast Telegraph (or as interested in their opinions) as they are to the other institution you mention.

  • Briso

    >Before he goes to work, however, he and the
    >party leader, Gerry Adams, must realise that >they have some vital issues to resolve.

    I see, so Maskey should boycott the policing board until the IRA Army Council announces its disbandment?

    Wierd…

  • Yokel

    The Army Council will be going in due course.

  • overhere

    You would think the Belfast Tele would be calling for the decommissioning of the loyalist papras or is that not an issue more pressing than the disbandment of the Army Council

    Usual blind spot from the Belfast Tele

  • smcgiff

    Disarming the IRA army council is an important symbolic requirement – fine.

    But where’s the column inches devoted to the call for loyalist paramilitaries to disband and disarm? That it would be loyalist communities that would most benefit is an irrelevant irony. Better than symbolism, if the UDA followed the IRA’s lead it would bring about tangible benefits

  • Yokel

    Smcgiff

    Whether we like it or not thats part of the price SF pay for electoral success and political power.

    Thank you nationalist voters say the loyalist paramilitaries……

  • Disband the Orange Order too; quid pro quo.

  • “The Belfast Telegraph has called upon the Sinn Fein leadership to to complete its transformation with the disbandment of the IRA Army Council”

    Why would they do that- sure it would mean handing actual control of the party over to the ard chomhairle 😉

    As rightly said though, the BT should be concerning itself more with the clear and present danger that loyalist paramilitaries pose.

  • P O’Neill

    So what happens after the disbandment of the Army Council – the disbandment of the Army Executive? People calling for the likes of this know nothing about the structure and organisation of the IRA. SF could no more disband the Army Council or the IRA than Peter Hain could abolish the British monarchy.

  • joeCanuck

    Never takes whataboutery too long to raise its head.

    I agree that the Army Council should go.
    I’m not an IRA supporter, but I could appreciate the need for its restraining hand during this transition period. But now that the PSNI are recognized as the rightful authority, the need has gone.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Disband the Orange Order too; quid pro quo.’

    As an organisation there is nothing illegal about the OO. That they are an anachronistic irrelevance is beside the point.

    If a group of people want to march around in bowler hats and umbrellas on a sunny afternoon who are we to object! Now, that’s not to say they should be allowed to harangue residents that don’t enjoy the walking comedy show. 🙂

  • ejh

    Well come to that there’s no reason why the Army Council shouldn’t continue to exist if all they do is go up the Felons’ Club for a beer and a game of battleships.

  • circles

    yawn – so someone at the tele makes another stab at the spokes of the process using this tired old straw.
    still I am looking forward to the eventual calls for Adams to shave off his beard and stop speaking in that deep voice, for Martin McGuinness to straighten his hair, and any other hoop that some eejit might produce to be jumped through.
    It all provides a bit of a laugh – just a pity the Tele can’t be arsed enough to look at the real issues. As they say though – what else can you expect from a pig but a grunt?

    (was that a bit harsh?)

  • joeCanuck

    ejh

    I understand what you’re saying.
    Does it really matter since the IRA are no longer a threat? I think it does matter in the context of confidence building measures.

  • Bog warrior

    Circles

    No it wasn’t, fair comment i’d say.

  • overhere

    Fair comment circles is ringt

    “confidence building measures. Joe Canuck” pull the other one, what exactly are the “army coucil” going to do that so frightens you. Send you off with a flea in your ear.

    If I had to choose between the AC and the loyalist paras I know who I would choose.

    As for “whataboutary” an easy quip to make without actually dealing with the issue of loyalist armed paramilitaries

    Have to agree with circles above you would think the Belfast Tele could act in a less lazy journalistic fashion and help their own community instead of parading the usual sterotypical ould drivel

  • darth rumsfeld

    so, my squirming shinner friends, what is the army council for, if not to direct the actions of an army?

  • Ignited

    The IRA army council will disband as this would fit with the strategy of Sinn Fein and the IRA. Is it important? In theory yes. But the Republican movement will do what it has to to achieve its goals and if that means it has to sacrifce the ‘true government of Ireland’ then their attitude will be so-be-it as they have already acknowledged and participated in the governments in the RoI and the UK.

    In the post-9/11 world the sectarian murder campaign is not an option for the PIRA. The real threat is what concessions SF will get for getting the IRA army council to disband? Typically the DUP seem to be concentrating on superficial decorating that actually constitutional implications.

    Disband the OO? LOL I don’t think that is comparable in anyway. I could do some whataboutry and say disband the GAA but I wouldn’t sink that low 😉

  • circles

    darth bumsfelt – what is your point?
    Is the existence of the AC in your opinion at the present moment in time a threat to the peace?

  • joeCanuck

    I’ll throw it right back at you, overhere, (and circles too),
    If the AC are no threat whatsover and have no longer got an army to direct, then what exactly is the problem with them disbanding if it makes the majority population feel more safe?
    We’re talking (well I am) about perceptions.

  • overhere

    Joe looks like we are going to end up playing tennis here as I could just say, where is the clammour in the media, politations and indivuals on blog sites asking for the decommissioning of loyalist paras?

    Disbanding/decommissioning which in your opinion is the more important to engender an perception of trust ? hmmmmmmm let me think

  • Yokel

    Parcifal

    I’ll raise you the Hibernians…all GAA facilities or teams named after republicans and in turn you get the OO, the Black Perceptory.

    I’ll trade the Apprentice Boys for all SF’s US fundraising and publicity efforts in the USA….

    Face it lads the Army Council will be going, end of.

  • kensei

    “so, my squirming shinner friends, what is the army council for, if not to direct the actions of an army?”

    You wouldn’t believe it but they throw, like, just the best parties.

  • Dec

    Quite right that the Belfast Telegraph ignores distractions such as Loyalist spy rings operating in the PSNI, and concentrates on the real crucial issue of the day.

  • joeCanuck

    Overhere

    Agree about the tennis.
    Obviously the d/d is by far the more important.
    Equally, the unionists/loyalists certainly do need to get their act together to do the same. When they do, would you also feel a little bit better when they stand down their inner councils or whatever they call themselves nowadays?
    Not that it really matters but I’m not a “supporter” of either camp. I just hope, from a distance, that full “normality” will soon emerge.

  • overhere

    I agree Joe that decommissioning/disbanding off all paramilitary grouping should be a priority of all in NI.

    But from over here (and like yourself I am a supporter of neither group) when the loyalist paras refuse to decommissioning saying that the weapons are there to “protect” their communities, it leads me to question, who are they really protecting, the community or themselves as they seem to be on a continual feud. How does the non decommissioning stance make the Nationalist community (again getting back to perceptions)

    If the Army council stood down disbanded could an “old boys club” be formed in something like the British Legion ?

    The strange thing is the more I think about the whole issue of the Army Council as an issue a suspicion lingers in my mind that someone either overhere or overthere in the undergrown is simply poking a stick at an anthill in the hope that something will explode.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Darth

    “so, my squirming shinner friends, what is the army council for, if not to direct the actions of an army?”

    The last directive they passed out to the army was to stand down, decommission, and desist from any actions that might threaten peace, stability and law & order.

    The issue of symbolism has been raised here, but this symbolism cuts both ways. Effectively the IRA is now in the same position it was in before 1970 – ie a handful of ould fellas who never meet, presiding over an arsenal that you could fit into a suitcase, of rusting light weapons from the last campaign. To civic society they present no threat. To political stability they present no threat. To unionism they present no more of a threat than Emmanuel Goldstein presented to Orwell’s society in 1984. (And frankly, it’s up to unionism to deal with it’s own psychosis, and to get over it’s need for an IRA.)

    However, they DO have a significant use in terms of countering the threat from dissident republicans. You see, to you and me, that whole “real government of Ireland” craic might be laughable, but the kind of guys who join dissident republican groups take it seriously.

    So, in terms of the symbolism, the psychology, the historical reading, of the dissidents, the army council’s claims to be the last, true keepers of the flame, have got to be taken seriously.

    So my point is: in terms of republican mythology the army council still has a residual authority, and this authority might still have a purpose in underpinning the peace. They don’t have to actually do anything – in fact, it’s imperative that they do not – but by simply being, they can do our society some service.

    If they disband, however, then some other ragbag of lunatics with no stake in the peace can declare themselves the new army council, and then we might really have the potential for difficulties down the road.

    Is this a price worth paying so the Tele can have a trimphalist headline? It’s not like unionism’s IRA obsession won’t simply evolve into an ever more metaphysical psychosis anyway.

  • Would disbandment of the Army Council not be tantamount to the disbandment of the Government of the Irish Republic (from a provisional republican perspective), thus exploding the doctrine republican legitimism and retrospectively undermining any right to have carried-out armed actions in the name of said republic (cf. IRA actions not being a ‘crime’ in the view of provisionals)?

    Of course, one could argue that most of the above has already happened, what with dropping of Leinster House and Stormont abstentionism, disarmament, etc., with the standing down of the Army Council being merely the last piece in the transitional jigsaw.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Overhere

    “The strange thing is the more I think about the whole issue of the Army Council as an issue a suspicion lingers in my mind that someone either overhere or overthere in the undergrown is simply poking a stick at an anthill in the hope that something will explode.”

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. Still a lot of hidden hands in this society who are dead set against peace – remember, Northern Ireland is not an open, democratic society just yet, and there’s a huge hidden state here that has spent the last decade or more, raging against the coming of the light.

  • overhere

    If there is someone in the undergrowth stirring things up I cannot for the life of me figure out why.

    Ok 4 main parties are all in agreement on setting up Assembly.

    Those outside the parties include

    McCartney: lost badly at the last election and I suppose licking his wounds. Could possibillity have influence within the Tele.

    Dissident Republicians: Again lost in the elections and I suspect would have no influence within the media.

    Loyalist Paras: I believe thwey would go for the more “direct approach” of causing chaos

    Rogue elements within the UK Government Dept:possible but for what ends

    So the only thing you can ask is If this new coalition of SF and DUP fails who gains, and as always you would have to try and follow the money. At the end of the day money and power are always bedfellows.

    Reading Imperium by Robert Harris so my thinking is immersed in Cicero, Pompea, Caesar and the Roman Forum

  • Reader

    overhere: Those outside the parties include
    … the owner of the Belfast Telegraph. I wonder if this current issue is really very little to do with the north after all.

  • Cato

    The Belfast Telegraph is not to be taken seriously. It long ago became a parody of a newspaper and yet still manages to go further downhill almost by the day.

  • Skintown Lad

    “still I am looking forward to the eventual calls for Adams to shave off his beard and stop speaking in that deep voice, for Martin McGuinness to straighten his hair, and any other hoop that some eejit might produce to be jumped through.”

    i don’t think handing over illegal weapons, supporting the police and the rule of law and disbanding a committee which organised a now abandoned violent campaign are hoops dreamt up by eejits, if that is to what you are referring. these are obviously basics which all democratic countries require. i can’t understand why republicans have a problem with that. how can anyone say they are ridiculous demands for a mature society?

  • Aldamir

    If SF republicans no longer believe the “Army Council is the real government of the real republic” stuff, then even more reason to disband it.

  • smcgiff

    Skintown Lad,

    It’s not that the demanding of the disbandment of the IRA army council is not reasonable.

    It’s the blindspot for the much more serious Loyalist paramilitaries that’s the issue.

  • Skintown Lad

    smcgiff, i was replying to circles who seems to think it is “hoop” dreamt up by “eejits”. the fact that he does so is relevant to the other argument to which you refer, namely the issue of the loyalist paramilitaries. the point is that the overwhelming majority of the unionist community want the disbandment/disarmament/disappearance/handing in/banging up/complete capitulation/wearing of sackcloth and ashes of the loyalist paramilitaries. that is why they get no votes. in this context there seems no point continually making a point that the vast majority of the population already accept. the unionist view is that the loyalist paramilitaries are criminals and should be processed by the rule of law, which is now via the sinn fein-endorsed PSNI.

    the same cannot be said for the issue of the disbandment of the army council of the ira. the contempt with which circles views the issue (and the other “hoops”, like decommissioning) is symptomatic of the fact that this is far from an accepted point. the issue is live. a quarter of the population apparently refuse to take it seriously and hence there is a point to be driven home, i.e that a normal society cannot have a paramilitary structure lurking in the background. for my own part, i understand and partially accept the points referred to above, namely that the existence of the army council, however benign, ironically helps maintain an order to the peace. but that argument can only be considered if someone like the telegraph make the issue live in the first place. and that issue is not so trivial as to be rubbished by people like circles.

  • Sean

    the point is that the overwhelming majority of the unionist community want the disbandment/disarmament/disappearance/handing in/banging up/complete capitulation/wearing of sackcloth and ashes of the loyalist paramilitaries. that is why they get no votes. in this context there seems no point continually making a point that the vast majority of the population already accept. the unionist view is that the loyalist paramilitaries are criminals and should be processed by the rule of law, which is now via the sinn fein-endorsed PSNI.

    Pull the other one it has bells on it!
    If they were so keen to get rid of them they would be got rid of! The fact that they can’t get any votes is neither here nor there

  • Skintown Lad

    sean, you misunderstand the nature of today’s loyalist paramilitaries if you think paisley, empey or any other politician could “get rid of” them. they are in it for the money and the glamour. groups of men who have no ambition beyond their own pockets are unlikely to be inclined towards the greater good.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Skintown Lad

    “the point is that the overwhelming majority of the unionist community want the disbandment/disarmament/disappearance/handing in/banging up/complete capitulation/wearing of sackcloth and ashes of the loyalist paramilitaries.”

    Then why don’t the political representatives of unionism bring whatever pressure they can to bear on these loyalist groups? Why aren’t they seen to provide leadership on this issue? What evidence is there for an outsider looking in to substantiate your point?

    The lack of votes for loyalists only proves that unionists decline to give a democratic endorsement to loyalism – but there’s a huge gulf of tolerance between this and actually opposing it.

    “in this context there seems no point continually making a point that the vast majority of the population already accept.”

    What do they accept – that loyalists SHOULD desist? Not good enough – nationalists are entitled to expect that unionism will be proactive in tackling its more recalcitrant wings. Where is this proactivity? (The kind of proactivity that, within nationalism, has brought the IRA to its present status as an historical organisation.)

    “the unionist view is that the loyalist paramilitaries are criminals and should be processed by the rule of law, which is now via the sinn fein-endorsed PSNI.”

    Then why aren’t unionist politicians proactive in driving this issue forward? We know from their approach to SF over the decades that they are familiar with the concept of political leaders bringing political pressure to bear on the violent extremes – why aren’t they doing likewise when it comes to loyalists?

    It isn’t good enough to simply say: “it’s up to the PSNI to deal with loyalists”. Yes, the PSNI have a huge role to play, but arguably political unionism has an even greater role – a role that involves political pressure to decommission and disband, and the marginalisation of the sneaking regarders of murder and violence.

    What ever about the reasons political unionism has never previously played that role – why isn’t political unionism playing it now?

    And why should a bastion of one-eyed unionism like the Tele be taken seriously when it harps on about the reading group that calls itself the Army Council, whilst studiously avoiding causing any discomfort to the still-armed, still-active, still-targetting and still-killing loyalist groups?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The only reason for buying the Belfast Telegraph is to look at the pictures they randomly scatter throughout the paper, of the lovely young scantily clad ladies posing for the camera.

    I would like to see the IRA army council disbanding, but in practice it is a pretty meaningless, cosmetic move. It’s not like the people sitting on the council will all go their separate ways and not speak to each other anymore. You can be sure that if there is a will among republicans to resume their “war” then it won’t take long for these people to reform and re-establish the council, just as has been done in the past. Instead of pursuing these cosmetic measures I think we should concentrate on keeping the politics moving.

    I agree with other posters who have asked about the lack of emphasis on loyalist paramilitaries. The media and the politicians do not spend enough time putting pressure on loyalists to disband. Indeed, perversely (and it I see was repeated in this Slugger discussion) some people think that because the loyalists don’t receive any votes there is no pressure on them to disband. That’s odd. In any normal country our politicians would be uniting to rally the community to push the hoods out. Unionists, if they really consider themselves democratics, need to be thinking about this seriously.

  • Skintown Lad

    i agree with you billy. they should do more. i don’t, however, take the fact that the politicians haven’t done so to be any sort of endorsement of the paramilitaries. rather it is because they question whether it will have any effect, since the majority are not in it for their country but for themselves. still, that doesn’t excuse them having a go.

  • sean1

    IRA’s AC disbanded today noon.

    Happy everybody ….cause that’s the best your gona get.

    And then what.