Adams digs in

The big political question now is whether Sinn Fein will use the Massareene murders to try to force an end to the British army’s back up role. The attack seems to have reinforced rather than weakened their opposition to it. On the Today programme this morning Gerry Adams extended his warning before the attack that deployment of “unaccountable “ army groups was risking republican support. In the 8.10 slot. he began by denying it was “an easy thing” for Sinn Fein to express sympathy for the dead soldiers immediately .

“..the British army is not wanted by republicans, patriots and democrats. This is not to justify what has occurred .. I have to be the best judge of how I address the republican community.. The Chief Constable made a huge mistake in bringing in undercover British army units. (In the past), they were totally unacceptable as they led to the same sort of suffering endured by the families ( of the dead soldiers).. We cannot hold shady nondescript units of the British army to account .. Some of my constituents cannot even get inquests held into deaths carried out by these units.. (The future requires ) no knee jerking, and whether the British government will go back to the old securocrat agenda which is subverting the rule of law ..”

Interestingly, Panorama reporter Peter Taylor was among those today who have endorsed Hugh Orde’s view that the attack had “nothing to do” with the SRR deployment. He added. “It does mean the credibility ( of violent republican groups) is increased among the relatively small section who believe Adams and McGuinness are taking them in the wrong direction.”

It remains to be seen if Sinn Fein’s objections to the army undercover role remain largely rhetorical or whether they make a bigger issue of it. If they do, that would throw up doubts about whether policing and justice can be devolved soon and could therefore introduce a new phase of instability for the whole settlement. Might it be possible for the PSNI to re- acquire an undercover surveillance role and the funding and training to sustain it? ( I can hear the cries of appeasement already).
If the past is a guide, the medium term public response will be greatly determined by how the follow-up is conducted.

Daily Telegraph
“…less than a dozen of those dissidents may have been directly involved in the plot that led to the murder of the soldiers, and they may also have been involved in previous attempted attacks.MI5, which still spends 15 per cent of its resources on counter-terrorism in Northern Ireland, has been warning for months of the rising risk from Irish republican dissidents.

According to intelligence the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, another dissident republican group, are now divided into at least half a dozen smaller groups which have increasing access to sophisticated weaponry.That includes semi-automatic rifles, machine pistols and bombs using pressure plates, similar to ones used against British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

After successful stings in the Balkans and Lithuania, much is known about the arms procurement of the groups. But the fact remains that, to adapt Danny Morrison’s vividly cynical phrase, “they were lucky once” in Antrim and may be so again. The very limits of their capacity and support, their refusal to talk and their nihilism may be their best defence.

David McKittrick in the Independent quotes a dissident republican recent source.

“We have no political wing because we feel that strategy failed republicans in the past. Politics and military cannot operate side by side…”We will not be leaving bombs in town centres. Irish republicanism couldn’t take another Omagh, nor would anyone want to revisit that period in history. As far as we are concerned, our targets are those in the security forces.”

  • Dave

    I think we Gerry has been sent out by his handlers to act all ‘old-style republican’ once again so that they don’t lose any support to those who still don’t accept the legitimacy of British rule in Ireland. His party had the lead role in negotiating all of this at St. Andrews, of course, just like his party signed-up to the legitimising the state of Northern Ireland, so as long as he signs on the dotted sign on the important constitutional and legal agreements that consolidate British rule (and, of course, assists in its administration and with its intelligence services), all he has to support his claim to be a furthering a republican and not a British agenda is sham rhetoric.

  • Earnan

    He has to walk a fine line.

  • KieranJ

    If the soldiers stay, there will be more body bags returning to England, Scotland and Wales.

    It is as simple as that.

  • CW

    “As far as we are concerned, our targets are those in the security forces.”

    And Polish pizza delivery men as well, who have now joined the RIRA’s list of legitimate targets.

  • Mike

    “..the British army is not wanted by republicans, patriots and democrats”

    Oh yeah?

    Well as a democrat, and a patriot, I want the army to have a presence here just as in any other part of the United Kingdom, and point out that Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom is supported by the democratic wishes of a majority of its people.

    Adams might want to reflect on the fact that while he once supported murder to overturn those wishes (as his erstwhile comrades in the RIRA still do), he and his party in 1998 supported the Good Friday Agreement which stated that Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom remained as this was the legitimate wish of a majority of its people, and also said that once security normalisation was complete, the army would remain here at its normal peacetime levels (as it now does).