“Informers should be seen not just in a military frame but also in a propaganda one”

Jim Gibney argues that whatever comes out about informers like Roy McShane, the newly revived institutions are where the Republican struggle now lies:

The all-Ireland power-sharing administration which is functioning today at Stormont is a far cry from a one-party unionist state where military, economic and political power was in the hands of unionists only. That administration owes its origins to the combined pressures and expectations of republicans and nationalists. These expectations are the motor for further change ultimately leading to a united Ireland.

But, he also notes that:

“Revealing informers is about trying to demoralise republicans and nationalists; trying to place doubt in their minds that the struggle they are involved in, which has achieved so much change, is not worth the sacrifice involved.”

Much of this territory is amenable to suggestion or indeed as Gibney says fantasy. Its outworkings are real enough though . The impact of the cluster of informers that have been outed over the last few years several of whom had a critical role in internal security of the IRA would seem having an impact on the morale of some former volunteers.

One observer at Brendan Hughes’ funeral noted an unusual distance between Gerry Adams and some of the prominent IRA men who attended. If that’s anyway accurate, then it would seem the tactic is beginning to bite.

The question is, if the St Andrew’s Agreement was supposed to be a ‘fresh start’, why are the British continuing to apply pressure in this way? The answer may lie in the clandestine activities of those ‘unknowns’ in South Armagh who were behind the killing of Paul Quinn.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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