Two worries for Sinn Fein from Massereene…

Over at Brassneck, I pick on Gonzo’s theme of the strategic mess this implies for Sinn Fein’s vacillating half full/half empty approach to Republican dissidents.… I quote from my own article:

This moment finds the party curiously unmanned. However criminal the act, according the Sinn Fein orthodoxy of 15 or 20 years ago, these men would have been consigned as ‘legitimate targets’ by Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams. Now, they are permanently based Northern Ireland as part of a deal negotiated by themselves and the DUP.

The panic that ensued in the party when the news leaked out that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment had been deployed to support the PSNI in its anti terrorist operations is evident from a particularly aggressive piece of rearguarding from South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey on Thursday.

Two things will worry them. The audacity of the strike suggests that someone of experience was behind this attack. And somewhere, in the breaking down and splitting of dissident factions, there is what the IRA call an ‘active service unit’ not simply capable of striking, but of doing so undetected by MI5 moles.

, ,

  • dewi

    Terrible news and condolences to all bereaved.
    I wonder if SF are waiting for a claim of responsibilty before making a staetement.

  • “Dave, you think the first murder of British soldiers in 12 years happened because of news that broke on Thursday… Read the detail man!” .. Mick

    Mick, we don’t know the detail.

  • Henry94

    I don’t think the legitimacy of the targets is a question that is helpful at all. Dissidents can win the argument on that ground simply on the precedent.

    Nor is it going to be constructive to ask nationalist leaders to support the use of British special forces in policing. That’s another win for the dissidents.

    The focus must be on the agreement as a way forward. If we lose sight of that we will could lose everything. The question for nationalists is a simple “do you support the peace process and the Agreement?” You attitude to dissidents, these murders and policing will all resolve themselves if you give a positive answer to that question.

    Because the dissidents have only one feasible objective and that is to bring down the agreement by using violence to drive a wedge between the communities. Back to square one is where they want to take us all. They are the enemies of us all and they must fail.

  • Yokel


    Ok lets make the assumption its dissident republicans and not some attack by some other (who else is their left other than Al Qaeda).

    What Mick’s point is (I assume) is that there was no way this attack was dreamed up two days ago. Dissidents have known for a while that increased resources are being brought to bear so its unlikely that it was simply a ‘lets get out and do something lads’ initiative on the back of Orde’s announcement.

    The nature of the killings looks like the assailants had a bit of skill not just in the planning but also the execution of it.


    The target was well chosen because, lets be honest, there will be plenty of members of the republican community who wouldnt normally give the dissidents the time of day who wont have any issues with the killings at all. That is our biggest problem locally, and it exists on the loyalist side as well, its the passive mindset of old enemies that Sinn Fein is playing its part in maintaining as much as other political parties.

    You can bet many a unionist is sitting there thinking ‘we were told these guys were not up to this kind of thing, so I wonder if the Provos were involved’. Suspicions will run deep.

    We cant have it both ways here if this place is to move on.

  • dunreavynomore

    Yes Mick
    this presents S.F. with problems. they like to portray the British army off the streets as equating with them having been pushed out of Ireland altogether by the ‘good ira’
    Adams’ statement that the attack is ‘counterproductive’ is interesting in its refusal to come down real hard on the shootists as gerry knows well that plenty of his supporters will be ambivalent about this.
    S.F’s authority in republican areas will also be diminished as, make no mistake, that authority rides to a large degree on the backs of the ira and if there is now an active ira killing british soldiers on irish soil (as opposed to the good ira killing civilians) then s.f have problems (especially when just yesterday they were laughing at the idea that the ‘dissidents’ posed any threat.)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Henry, well said and soberly put, I was thinking along the same lines.

    My thoughts are of the families of the victims in this unexpectedly audacious attack. I expect there will be some kind of enquiry into how this happened. I was in a police station last night night – to enter it you have to first enter a holding area so that they can check you out before entering the grounds of the police station proper. I wonder why the army did not have this in place for the pizza delivery.

    The next thing we’re going to hear is Jim Allister calling on the DUP to pull out of the executive because Sinn Fein will not condemn the murder of the soldiers. This is exactly what the dissidents want and there is a real potential for destabilization here.

  • dewi
  • “there was no way this attack was dreamed up two days ago”

    That’s in the realm of speculation, not detail, yokel.

  • Gaz

    “Sinn Fein has a responsibility to be consistent. The logic of this is that we support the police in the apprehension of those involved in last night’s attack.”

    Is anyone else slightly baffled my this remark? Surely it should be a little more than just ‘logical’ to support the police.

  • regardless of how they worded they are still supporting the PSNI and against what happened last night.

    fair play to them, just a shame it took so long to come out.

  • cynic

    God, we are back to the bad old days with Gerry ranting that ‘elements in the British establishment’ are trying to destroy ‘the process’.

    Even with two lying dead and others injured you have to spout this drivel. Look Gerry, the British created this process and spent years herding SF into it. We all know that. Even the thickest SF voted has gradually come to realise the truth.

    So just for once, condemn murder outright without equivocation. Your reaction to this has more capacity to undermine the process than anything dissidents or phantom spooks in the British establishment can do!

    It’s also noticeable that you support the police in investigating this but that there was no call on republicans to give up those involved. Why not?

  • alan

    ‘Keep your nerve’ McGuinness message to nationalist and republicans. Also very interesting his praise for Robbo’s statement. Difficult issue for SF but so far seems they are getting tone right

  • dunreavynomore

    Sinn Fein’s statement could be summed up as ‘this is not helping us so we are against it’, not that it is intrinsically wrong. McGuinness is just after saying on the BBC T.V. that, paraphrased ‘there are people out there trying to make life difficult for me.’ Isn’t there a psychological condition whereby people assume that everything that happens is about them personally.

  • “The British Government has a duty to uphold the new political arrangement and the peace process. … There are elements within Unionism and within the British system who do not want the peace process to achieve its objectives. … Irish republicans and democrats have a duty to oppose this and to defend the peace process. Sinn Fein has a strategy to bring about an end to British rule in our country by peaceful and democratic means.”

    Who set the objectives for the ‘peace process’? Who agreed them?

  • alan

    Wonder who coined the title ‘micro groups’? Is this the new word for dissidents?

  • “Look Gerry, the British created this process and spent years herding SF into it. We all know that.”

    Do we? There were many players in the process and the ‘creator’ may have been a staunch Irish republican …

  • picador

    “Sinn Fein has a responsibility to be consistent. The logic of this is that we support the police in the apprehension of those involved in last night’s attack.”

    “The police also have a responsibility to give leadership and to behave at all times in a transparent and accountable manner. The British Government has a duty to uphold the new political arrangement and the peace process.”

    Gerry is being less than whole-hearted in his support for the PSNI here. It’s that clear SF feel betrayed by Orde on the SRR deployment.

    SF are caught between a rock and a hard place on this one. A small but significant element of their constituency is ambivalent towards the dissidents.

    Until P & J is devolved SF will feel unable wholeheartedly row in behind the police for fear of pushing people – in particular alienated young men – towards the dissidents.

  • Anyone with an eye can see that when the going gets tough for Sinn Fein, the dissidents up their attacks. This was very clear during the the five months period without government when the dissident campaign stepped up to increase pressure on Sinn Fein’s opponents in the DUP and Brit Gov. Last night it was to do with the Special Forces announcement.

    For all the animosity between Sinn Fein and the dissidents there has been very little in the way of targeting Sinn Fein, who are supposed to be traitors.

  • David

    The Statement from Gerry Adams posted above left me cold – no mention of sorrow at all for the two people murdered. I read it twice to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything, but no, instead of ending the statement by offering his condolences to the families of those who have been murdered, he goes into a rant about ‘elements within Unionism and within the British system’.

    What wonderful political representatives we have.

  • Thoughts with the families.

  • David

    The Statement from Gerry Adams posted above left me cold – no mention of sorrow at all for the two people murdered.

    Sure they weren’t republicans. When has Gerry Adams ever felt any remorse or greivance about anybody but republicans.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    The main beneficaires of this attack apart form those who carried it out will be the TUV and those other Unionists who do not want the current peace process to work and who will no doubt try to use these events to turn back the clock.

    It is reassuring that Gordon Brown is determined to press on with the politcal process and particlualry with the implementation of Police and Justice to ensure Norn Iron continues on the path to long term peace and stability and the SOS sensible comments that delaying the implementation of Police and Justice would giving assistance to dissidents needs to be borne in mind.

    The party politcal point scoring as reflected in this thread title but should be igonred as ALL parties should concentrate on the bigger picture.

  • Brian T

    Those who call for all eyes to be on the “bigger picture” would seem to be unconcerned with murder on the streets.

    Two people are dead, God rest their souls, and others seriously injured. ‘Business as usual’ is no answer.

    The crucial issue is that the murderers are from and of the republican community within which they will be known.

    If the presently reported Sinn Fein reaction is anything to go by there will be a lukewarm response to any effective attempt to bring the murderers to justice within republicanism.

    Should that be the case increasing numbers of unionists will wonder what kind of “peace process” they and their political representatives have bought in to.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Those who might be tempted to try to use this incident to undermine the political/peace procsss by speculating “increasing numbers of unionists will wonder what kind of “peace process” they and their political representatives have bought in to” need to try and focus on the bigger picture to try and ensure these dreadful actions are not repeated – any other approach may well play into the perpetrators hands.

  • Gregory

    The idea of a peace process *and* viable terrorism, is conceptually sound.

    Terrorism requires toleration *or* indifference, as a poor relation, not support.

    It is about personal investment in the stability of the state, and I think you will find that many do not consider that an option.

    A recession doesn’t help, of course.

  • Rory Carr

    SKY News for some strange reason have been quizzing those politicians available to it for interview on the appropriateness of Brown’s offer of a knighthood to Senator Edward Kennedy in the light of this attack blissfully ignoring the timing both of the proffered ennoblement and the attack.

    Most, like William Hague, brushed off this crass journalistic attempt to dig up controversy but Chris Huhne (wouldn’t you know it would be a LibDem?) responded that Ted Kennedy was known to have been active in raising funds for the Republican movement in the past.

    Cue a swift letter from the Senator’s lawyers no doubt followed by an even swifter abject apology from the hapless Huhne.

  • Henry94


    ‘Business as usual’ is no answer

    Maybe business as usual is the only answer. If this was a one-off then it was as pointless as it was callous. It should have zero political impact.

    If on the other hand it marks the beginning of an active campaign then the only people who can ensure that it fails are the nationalist community. The Sinn Fein statement must be seen in the context of the need to win the argument over and over again that the agreement is the way forward and that violence is a dead end.

    It was the right statement in my opinion. It wasn’t republicans who came up with the phrase “an acceptable level of violence” but if the dissidents can be contained by lack of support and good policing then the political system should ignore them

  • Erin go Bragh

    The soldiers are deemed as “legitimate targets,” therefore such an operation would be justified from a Republican perspective.

    It also highlights the stupidity of the British authorities such as:

    1) Who ordered the pizza?
    2) Why was it allowed access?
    3) Where the gates not manned before / during / after the attack?
    4) Did the pizza have any side orders (joke)?

    The media and “new” Sinn Fein coined the ridiculous phrase, “dissident.” Let’s not ignore the fact that it was Sinn Fein that turned its back upon traditional Republican ideologies:
    -Supporting the British Occupation via the Executive
    -Supporting / acknowledging the PSNI
    – Resorting to politics, rather than armed struggle…

    Therefore it was only a matter of time before “True” Republicans mounted a backlash…

    As for Sinn Fein, well it does not take a genius when looking at Irish history to predict the outcome of those Republicans whom sided with the British Authorities once in power… (Michael Collins)

  • cynic


    If a Republican was the creator I wonder who he was working for?

    The whole SF stance on this shows just how far they still ahve to go. These murders were ‘unproductive’ – I assume unlike those that brought them to office? We are told that there is no hieracrhy of victoims but now we have ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ murders?

    I say all this as someone who wnats this process to work and believes it is time for us to move on. But we ALL need to move on.

    SF’s equivocation may keep them a few more votes in some areas but it damages the process and confidence in the institutions.

    The more cyncial unionists will also see a nasty political calculation that killings by dissidents weaken the DUPS and therefore increase SFs chances of being top party next time around. But of course the Party they would never factor in that view, would they.

  • Gregory

    “but if the dissidents can be contained by lack of support and good policing then the political system should ignore them”

    That sounds British, roll on Cyprus & Kenya,

    The ‘real’ armed struggle, was a waste of time, effort and human lives,

    So, SF if they are smart, will not say anything, because it would be too depressing.

    Those of us with a moral compass, can reflect without a master of ceremonies, who in their day, were exactly the same

  • “But we ALL need to move on.”

    Cynic, we were asked to sign up to a ‘treaty’ that left the constitutional question in a tug-of-war scenario; moving on isn’t really possible.

  • Gregory, the moral compass won’t function in our little imbroglio.

  • Gregory

    “But we ALL need to move on.”

    Why do we ALL need to do that?

    It is silly to ask everybody to sing Jerusalem, or to move towards it.

    The last thing we need is for somebody to tell us, we are all in this together

    Because we are not all in this together, not by a margin, the SDLP are a waste of space, SF are a disaster,

    That kmowing constituency, where is it to go?

  • NCM

    So 12 hours later and no group in particular has claimed responsibility? Are they waiting to see how the public responds first so as not to claim responsibility for an unpopular attack? [Perhaps shooting the pizza deliver guys wasn’t exactly their finest hour…?] It will be interesting to see how this part of the story develops… will it be a known group (like CIRA or RIRA), Óglaigh na hÉireann, or some newly minted umbrella organization? Or is claiming responsibility just passe?

  • cynic

    “left the constitutional question in a tug-of-war scenario”

    So what? It’s left to be settled by constitutional means ie a vote. And we all know what that means. And the vast majority of us accepted that situation through the ballot box.

  • cynic

    “that knowing constituency”

    Knowing or self-deluded? That is the question.

  • cynic

    Yes, inst it funny how SF once revelled in the title ‘Provisional’ but then suddenly became THE Sinn Fein and anyone mentioning Provisionalism was suddenly an enemy or dissident.

  • Treedee

    It is a disgrace that some are arguing that all should just bimble along and ignore what has happened, all for the sake of the “peace process”.

    People being murdered is not peace. How long do we wait for the “process” to be completed? Will it ever be or is there a sacrificial level of violence, as long as it’s themuns that’s doing the dying?

    Terrorism’s history shows that if you ignore its acts the acts simple get more spectacular to ensure your attention.

    There is only one solution: cut the cancer of violence out of society. If some chose not to support robust action they are the ones to be ignored.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    People being murdered is not peace. How long do we wait for the “process” to be completed?

    You will have to ask the DUP that question – they are the ones holding it up by not implementing Police and Justice.

  • ed

    perhaps since no republican organization has claimed responsibility its time to introduce the idea that its unionists that shot them.

    After all they still have all their guns and they have never been above shooting police and soldiers

  • Erasmus

    Interestingly Gery and Martin may now find themselves in a situation not dissimilar to Michael Collins and Kevin O’Higgins.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s got to be the shortest lived conspiracy theory in NI history ed… Reals have contacted the Sunday Tribune…

  • Comrade Stalin


    I’d love to hear why you think that the devolution of policing and justice powers would have prevented the shootings.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    Exactly the same reason as the SOS thinks that the best way to defeat the dissident threat is to cement the Peace Process. Unfortunately, for mainly party political reasons (e.g. Smash SF)Unionists have been in denial over this – hopefully now they will begin to take a more responsible position in line with the Nationlaist parties and the 2 governments.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Exactly the same reason as the SOS thinks that the best way to defeat the dissident threat is to cement the Peace Process.

    So it’s a bit like this :

    Dissident 1 : “Let’s go and shoot up a few Brits.”
    Dissident 2 : “Yes .. no wait, we can’t. Policing and justice powers have now been devolved to Stormont, which has cemented the peace process. We must cast away our weapons and join hands with our British fellow countrymen in a bold, brave new world!”

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    It will be a bit like you say but probably a bit more like the scenario below.

    Dissident 1: “Let go and shoot up a few Brits”
    Disisdent 1: “Dissident 2 – where the feck have you gone?”