“Revived IRA” still in business. What are we to make of it?

I’ve been in the news business for more years than I care to remember but I still can’t be sure which stories take off and which stay firmly on the ground. Sunday newspapers like the old Sunday News were often vehicles of choice for stories that were flyers for internal squabbles, loyalist v loyalist or republican fragmentation of one kind or another, often extremely nasty. I wonder if we’re seeing a similar phenomenon about the supposedly defunct IRA? I’m too far away to make a judgment. Jim Cusack has been a remorseless observer of paramilitary doings for many years. On the face if it, this reads like straightforward story on an inside page not by any means hyped, no wider conclusions drawn. But it pulls me up short. This is an account of an organisation with some of the old reflexes in full working order, even though the overall command structure may not be operating. This story isn’t unique but the significance of accounts like this mounts with every official assurance that the IRA is out of business. People who point this out are often called wreckers or pedants – I plead not guilty m’lud. The account specifically contradicts some of the generalised findings of the 19th IMC Report of 3 September (extracts below). Can anyone come up with an alternative explanation? I’d like to hear it. Will this story languish or take off? What are the police doing about it ? Impossible to say – yet. Many people don’t want it to be true while others will rub their hands. Both are pretty tiresome. Newsrooms, please follow-up with more than one call to the PSNI. From 19th IMC REPORT

2.8 Has PIRA abandoned its terrorist structures, preparations and capability? We
believe that it has. The so-called “military” departments have ceased to function
and have been disbanded. It has been put to us that these structural changes
have had a profound and debilitating effect on the organisational capacity of PIRA.
We share that view and consider that the organisation’s former terrorist capability
has been lost. PIRA is not recruiting or training members and the membership
continues to decline, and there is some issue as to what membership means in the
absence of activity. In so far as gathering information or intelligence may continue
in any limited way – not in itself improper if it does not involve illegal methods or
intent – we believe that it is mainly for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of any
threat from dissident republicans.

2.9 Is PIRA involved in other illegal activity? We do not think that it is. Members
have been instructed not to engage in violence and we do not think there have
been any recent acts of PIRA violence or intimidation, either internally as a means
of imposing discipline or towards people outside the organisation.12 We are
satisfied that it is not involved in exiling or in any form of sectarian activity and it
has made clear to members that such activities are not acceptable. We are
satisfied that PIRA as an organisation is not involved in crime and has instructed
its members not to be involved in criminal activity. Some individual members
remain criminally active but the organisation does not support those involved.

  • jone

    Hmmm…maybe it’s sloppy subbing but the conflation of the supposedly revived IRA with two straightforwardly CIRA attacks in Fermanagh and Craigavon makes me slightly dubious.

    The nub of the story seems to be one anonymous ‘local source’ who says it was an ‘East Tyrone operation’…add a little journalistic stardust and Hey Presto the Provos are back in business.

    Add to that a headline hedged around with quote marks and a subhead beginning with the word ‘Rumours’ and I’m even more dubious.

    On the wider point it’s interesting how few stories from the Sundays have legs into the following day. I wonder why? It’s famously the worst job in journalism spending a Sunday shift trying to follow up all the flyers in the papers…the Sunday Times in particular sees page leads crumble in to bollocks with the most basic of journalistic attention.

  • frank

    Jim Cusack and his anonymous sources.


  • I wonder if the Sundays have the same importance these days as they once did, Saturdays editions of the ‘broadsheets’ seems to have taken over much of their past role. I have noticed the Sundays have become pretty thin gruel.

    This story looks more like a page filler than a possible flyer 😉

  • Ann

    It’s a story of rumour…which about says it all.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    It must be true – the Sunday World ran it too!


    The fledgling Sunday newspaper industry is VERY desperate and fighting an even more competitive and cut throat market every week so sensation is the seller. Big ‘IRA/UVF/INLA/UDA’ headlines catch the eye and you can guarantee that there will be some BOLD PRINT Da/Cal/Uncle Andy/Big Mervyn story every week. It’s all piss and wind, smoke and mirrors. Who knows what the truth is about this place any more? After the Stakeknife/Mount Vernon revelations most of us are very cynical about these headlines AND don’t know who or what to believe. Sorry but YAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNNN! I am so bored about this 1980’s bullshit! It is SOOOOOOOO yesterday’s news! I get the impression that some journalists will NOT be happy until we are back in the sectarian 1970’s scenario. Please f*ck off and report something relevant Jim!

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    I wouldn’t dismiss it too quickly… No doubt hyped up a bit but not exactly unbelievable…

  • cynic

    Couldn’t be PIRA …they don’t have any guns anymore, do they?

  • I wouldn’t dismiss the claims as simply rumours by a hard-pressed hack.

    Tyrone has always been the center of IRA activity in the North, going back over a century now.

    Remember Tom Clarke, the best known “father of the Easter Uprising,” who connected it to the Clan na Gael, and its emigrés in America.

    Then there was the famous East Tyrone Brigade which was needlessly mowed down at Loughgall.

    Republican traditions still survive there, and I am sure that there are some who are awaiting a new rising, or some new revenge for the apparent sellout of the last one.

  • El Paso

    Less to this than the latest Ryanair threads. What’s Slugger coming to…at all, at all?

  • cynic

    “What’s Slugger coming to…at all, at all? ”

    ……. to the essentiual truth…that local politics is boring and the NI version triply so

  • El Paso

    Maybe it’s time Slugger hauled himself from his little rut and made this an All-Ireland blog. There’s no such thing as Norn Iron “culture” and the politics is laughably parochial.

  • wee slabber

    I get the impression that there are journalists out there who made their names as “experts” on paramiltary groups. They now find this “expertise” washed up and redundant. How many splash Sunday headlines actually become solid stories? Save your money on a Sunday, unless you can recycle the paper in a bio-friendly way!

  • Luirg and El Paso make some good points, times change and a new generation who have different experiences of life come on the scene and many understandably have little interest in the fine detail of the long war.

    El Paso is right,[Imo] slugger would benefit from becoming an all Ireland blog, there are already people from the south who post articulately here who at first could lead the wider debate. I suppose Mick hesitates because he fears many of the unionist regulars might up and leave seeing it as a republican plot.

    I wonder if that would be so, as most unionists on here seem to me pretty sophisticated and can more than stand their corner, surly they would benefit from an all Ireland perspective, as it would allow people in the south to hear their views expressed in an open forum. Besides surly even in an all Ireland slugger the north would still be a prominent part of the debate?

    I would be interested in how unionists feel about this.

  • barnshee

    “I wonder if that would be so, as most unionists on here seem to me pretty sophisticated and can more than stand their corner, surly they would benefit from an all Ireland perspective,”

    great idea

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m never a fan of any piece that relies totally on a series of unnamed and varied ‘sources’. I’m also at a loss to why he has tacked éirígí to the end of it as they have nothing to do with the rest. Seems like a mish mash of speculation, rumour and half-baked ideas cobbled together and lacking in any real substance.

  • Brian is right; it would be small bother for the newsrooms in town to follow this up with a call to the PSNI press office or a few councillors or clergy in Dungannon. Then, if there’s nothing in it, there’s nothing in it.

  • El Paso

    Of course Brian could always make a few calls of his own…and then let us know how he got on. Or stick his head out the window, the way Sarah Palin keeps an eye on the Ruskies. Just a thought.

  • If the Free Staters want to moan on about Beef Tribunals and Bertie Bowls and the like, can’t they get their own blog?

    This one is for monaning on about our own dreary steeples, thank you very much!

  • If the Free Staters want to moan on about Beef Tribunals and Bertie Bowls and the like, can’t they get their own blog?

    This one is for moaning on about our own dreary steeples, thank you very much!