IMC, IRA and the DUP

The IMC report has now been published and already discussed in several other blogs below. The IMC has stated that members of the IRA were involved but that the IRA leadership did not sanction this act and as such it was not an IRA crime.This may (and only may) be correct. It does; however, appear to ignore many of the things which are widely accepted about the IRA. The IRA was known to have a decentralised command structure and always gave its individual units considerable autonomy. One of the things pointed out in the recent programme on Enniskillen was that an extensive operation such as the Enniskillen murders would have required central approval since it involved multiple different IRA units.

The murder of Paul Quinn was very likely a punishment attack. As such I very much doubt that it required sanction by the whole IRA leadership. In that it is of course similar to many of the murders committed during the troubles. Murders such as those of the two corporals, Derek Wood and David Howes during Kevin Brady’s funeral in West Belfast were clearly crimes of opportunity and as such would not have received prior formal sanction. I doubt it required the approval of the whole army council to agree to the murder of Douglas Dearing in Rosslea. That does not, however, make these episodes any less IRA murders.

The actions of the DUP after this report will of course be very interesting. Gregory Campbell has already issued a carefully worded statement claiming “The IMC concludes that the PIRA was not organisationally involved but the only conclusive way for the republican movement to disassociate itself from such activities is to completely stand down the organisation by disbanding the PIRA Army Council.”

As with the IMC’s comments this may be technically correct but it is a million miles away from DUP statements of old as has already been noted by Jim Allister who also slammed the IMC decision. It is fair to note that the IMC comments (careful to minimise the problem as they may have been) do lay the blame for the murder with members of the IRA. That is in contrast to Gerry Adams and Conor Murphy’s previous denials of any republican / IRA involvement (referenced here by Pete Baker). The IRA have of course not been adverse to denying involvement in murders in the past such as that of Jerry McCabe.

I suspect it is going to be difficult at least in the short term for the DUP to keep to its current position Simply calling for the end of the army council and refusing to devolve P+J may be perceived as too little a response whatever the IMC say. I do not know how loud the clamour from the DUP grass roots will be over this but I cannot imagine they will be happy with a few comments from the likes of Mr. Campbell.

Of course amidst all the politicking one fact needs to be remembered: Paul Quinn was brutally and evilly murdered by a gang of criminals. Those people have not yet been brought to justice. I would say that that cannot be allowed to remain the case. However, as we have seen with the murders of Thomas Devlin, Lisa Dorrian and Raymond McCartney (to name but three recent victims) the murders of young people from Northern Ireland frequently seem to go unpunished let alone murders from the more distant past. Let us be honest: murders like that of Douglas Dearing or the Enniskillen bombing etc. cannot now be allowed to upset the whole peace process apple cart. Why would anyone think that more recent murders will necessarily be taken any more seriously? Let us remember that murders in Northern Ireland have a woefully low rate of conviction. Maybe just maybe this murder of Mr. Quinn (being in the RoI as it happens) will be different.

This author has not written a biography and will not be writing one.