Paramilitary politics

The Irish News’ front page story has the above image[subs req] – a trio who the paper describes in this manner, “President Mary McAleese’s husband Martin [] standing between an alleged member of the IRA’s army council and a loyalist widely regarded as the de facto leader of the UDA’s inner council.” That would be Sean “Spike” Murray [also to be found on the Parades Review team – Ed] and Jackie McDonald. The report, on the launch of a new interface group, Belfast Truth and Reconciliation Network, names some of the others present – Orange Order deputy chaplain Mervyn Gibson, Holy Cross priest Fr Aidan Troy, senior republican Bobby Storey and the UDA’s John Bunting. There’s another photo from the event below with former UVF prisoner Tom Roberts and the UPRG’s Frankie Gallagher et al.

From left to right, former UVF prisoner Tom Roberts, Gerry McConville of the Falls Community Council, Martin McAleese, Frankie Gallagher of the UPRG and Sean Murray.

According to the report former IRA, UVF, UDA and INLA leaders were all present.

As well as the front page report there’s another inside the paper and it’s from there that the following quotes are taken.[subs req]

Martin McAleese

“Now that the constitutional issue is fully settled by the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement, now that the arms are no longer used and hearts and minds are widely engaged in peacemaking as never before – this is a golden moment bursting with opportunity.”

Sean Murray

“When the political process was stalled it was groups like ourselves who encouraged dialogue and engagement between the two communities. With the return of devolution the feel-good factor is at its zenith. We need a common strategy to tackle social deprivation, poor educational achievement and a host of other issues which have blighted the working-class communities which have been divided by peacelines for 30 years. We want to develop a joined vision which will make the peacelines redundant, devoid of fear and hatred. We want to develop the vision of a shared future. We believe we can only start to tackle these issues when we are speaking with one united voice for people on either side of the peaceline.”

And Frankie Gallagher

“Loyalists must now learn how to make the ballot box work. Weaponry is no longer a viable option. All loyalists must continue our struggle to get to the position where we realise that by exercising our democratic right to vote, the ballot box is the most powerful weapon.”

And how many actually elected representatives were there? None that I could see mentioned.

Although the Irish News also reports that senior officials from the Northern Ireland Office and the Republic’s Department of Foreign Affairs were present..

But, of course, these individuals would, no doubt, fall into the category of “those who have influence”.. even if the Chief Constable is sceptical..

This is the zenith of the feel-good factor, remember..

And here’s a couple of other previous posts which those interested can peruse.