Take care with the follow up – and ease up on Sinn Fein

In the Irish Times Frank Millar noted the abiding area of controversy about policing, that the shock of the murders may have temporarily buried – the earlier deployment of special forces

“Labour and the Conservatives combined at Westminster yesterday to affirm their support for “the operational independence” of the Chief Constable of the PSNI, and to assert this would be in no way diminished by the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Stormont Assembly….He will, if he sees fit, enjoy the same rights as any other Chief Constable in the UK to request further technical backup if so needed.”

Should the security guards have opened fire? How great was MI5’s failure and what does it say about the prospects for catching the killers? All of us are back in our old roles as armchair generals as well as ideological analysts. There seems to be a consensus that mass swoops are not the answer. While Woodward will be commended for upholding the limited military back-up role, I’m sure of one thing : that in their response so far, Sinn Fein have stepped up to the plate. Taunting them any further with their supposed inadequacies won’t help. I have my own reservations about Jonathan Powell, but Tony Blair’s former chief of staff who formed something of a friendship with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. is surely right, writing in the Guardian.

“The only thing that could change the emptiness of these acts is the way in which we react. What turned the Easter Rising in 1916 into a mass movement for independence in Ireland was the reaction of the British government. The bloody way in which it was suppressed, the mass imprisonment of innocent people and the imposition of conscription helped propel the Irish nation into opposition and spelled the end for constitutional nationalism. It is always the repression of terrorists that leads to sympathy and support for them. And terrorists know that provocation will work.

The leaders of Sinn Féin will have a difficult task. They have to keep the Republican movement unified. They must condemn the murders as they have done, and they must call for justice, but we should not make their task more difficult by jumping up and down on their historic sensibilities. This is a time for people to pull together, rather than trying to reintroduce old divisions.”

  • On the latest Irish republican savagery, and in particular, Mr John O’Dowd’s witterings.

    In June 97, IRA assassins shot two RUC officers in the back of the head. The guilty have not been caught. The community did NOT give them up.

    In 2009, Mr Munster bleats that anyone with intelligence on this should go to the emasculated PSNI.

    Should they also inform on the killers of Constables Graham and Johnston?

    Was it wrong to kill those policemen in 1997? If not, why not?

    The idea that we must not be too hard on Sinn Fein, as expounded by the writer here, is drivel. We have been too soft for too long. We have rewarded one set of evil killers and now some bleat that it is all too awful that another set follow the template.

    Irish republicanism is a savage creed, steeped in blood and the death of innocents.

    Constable Carroll, like so many other courageous police officers, lost his life trying to save life.

    All those who support the Belfast Agreement, who argued it was right to release killers from jail, allow bombers to sit on a Policing Board, and accept convicted murderers in the Assembly, should feel shame this day.

    There is no such thing as good terrorists, they are all bad. When you reward them, you get more of them. Go figure.

  • Scaramoosh

    Here, Here.

    In their rush to express their feelings, many are guilty of both seeking to gain political capital from these deaths, and of seeming to reason that really we would all be better off with a full scale return of the troubles.

    Adams may well be a loathsome individual, and many may never forgive him his past (denied), but it should not be forgotten that somewhere down the line he underwent a road to Damascus conversion, and saw through the futility of murdering people. That he did, proabbly saved many people their lives.

    Of course one can only expect him to now come out with wooly rhetoric justifying why his IRA’s campaign of violence, was different from that being perpetrated by the current lot…he has no choice.

    What he does have is a democratic mandate, and seeking to put the boot into him and McGuinness over these deaths, is as futile an exercise as the deaths themselves.

    As to those that measure the path to Irish Unity, by the number of dead men sent to their graves – these are backwoodsmen, propelled forward in their heinous acts by a mixture of ego and wounded pride. And whilst their activities may indeed rock the Sinn Fein boat, and create tricky moments for Adams et al, in due course they will actually serve to benefit them, in that they will once and for all present nationalists with a choice of either the ballot box or the armalite.

  • Gregory

    “Should they also inform on the killers of Constables Graham and Johnston? Was it wrong to kill those policemen in 1997? If not, why not?”

    That is a good point, the idea of morality & justice with a best before or best after date, is moral relativism, when the needle is in the red.

  • heck

    Can I be the only one who is put of by this faux moral outrage that his spewing forth on this blog. Of course one must be sad over the deaths of these young men and have sympathy for their families. And of course no one wants to see a return to the war of the 70’s and 80’s but catch your selves on. The moral jerk off is designed to score sectarian points. If unionists and Brits were really so offended by these killings they would work harder to make the peace process work and help SF maintain its support in the nationalist community and not have that support drift away to the dissidents with coat trail exercises such have having British Army regiments parade through the center of Belfast.

    Consider the comments from Scaramosh “Adams may well be a loathsome individual, and many may never forgive him his past (denied), but it should not be forgotten that somewhere down the line he underwent a road to Damascus conversion, and saw through the futility of murdering people” I don’t want to get into whataboutery but this statement could just as easily have been written about Blair and Powell and their murder of hundreds of thousands in Iraq (without the “Road to Damascus conversion” )Or Gregory’s comment about the killing of Graham and Johnson could just as easily have been added the name of Pat Finucian,

    Yesterday someone was really offended because the soldiers were killed while ordering pizza before they went to Afghanistan. Really!!! One their way to blow the citizens of some third world country to kingdom come. What we had at Aldergrove was one group of killers killing another group of killers.

    I can’t be the only one who sees this outrage as the response of pavlovian dogs whipped into a frenzy of moral outrage by the state when the state is attacked and later told to act as cheerleaders when the state is doing the killing. Witness the media response to inbred Harry Windsor going on some hurray Henry jolly to Afghanistan to kill a few wogs to prove his manhood.

    Yes Gregory the idea of morality and justice with a best before date is moral relativism. So is a sense of morality and justice based on who is doing the killing. The state killing people is much worse than a few isolated killers in NI.

    If the peace process is about building a society which abhors all killing and respects all traditions then I will support it. If it is about cementing NI to the British state I will not. I was in Belfast last week and saw a bill board at the top of the limestone road will picture of a jet bomber and inviting people to join the RAF and blow people up. With this not drawing any comment I can only be offended by the selective moral masturbation I have seen in the last few days.

    Of course the recent killings are bad but grow up and if you are really so outraged then get down and make the peace process work.

  • Glensman

    All those who are arguing for a stiffening of the line on SF don’t really have any grasp of the Republican movement.

    In ’98 the GFA was signed and SF gave conditional support to a new Police Service under the Patton proposals- since then Unionists and the British government have gone out of their way not to implement the GFA or Patton’s proposals- Republicans were betrayed.

    (Likewise full disclosure of collusion and state murder through the inquiries)

    Likewise after St. Andrew’s. The Movement thought it had come away with an Irish Language Act and Devolution of Policing and Justice. Again Unionists have reneged.

    Just how are SF supposed to hold together the Republican movement on a path to lasting peace when they are made to look like a toothless tiger. Continued bad faith on the part of Unionists and the British administration will lead to furhter fracture of the Republican Movement and strengthen ‘Dissidents’.

  • Dec

    Taunting them any further with their supposed inadequacies won’t help.

    It seems to me the question (and answer) is fairly straightforward: do you care more about the past or the present and future?

    btw considering the cheerleading and whooping David Vance engages in every time an Israeli rocket hits a Gaza appartment block, his moral outrage should be treated with the appropriate measure of caution.

  • Wolf Tone’s great great grandchild

    Are but what was their roth when the Englishmen saw
    Two dead khaki soldiers in Erin Go Bragh?

  • fin

    Of course Constable Frank O’Reilly was the last Officer murdered before last night, his death coming a few short months after the murder of 3 very young children in Ballymoney.

    I only mention this because several of the usual suspects have predictably lost the run of themselves on here, with posts around the UVF ‘taking out’ some republicans, demands for a list of what weapons were decommissioned by the IRA, internment, sackcloth and ashes speeches that SF leaders must make, and all the usual codswallop.

    Thankfully and quite bravely the Leaders of the DUP and SF have said the right things and stood together on this and hopefully will continue to do so.

    The police are in a difficult situation, and walking a fine line, it calls for coordination between community leaders in nationalist areas to ensure the PSNI have freedom to operate there and do their job (and SF needs to work behind the scenes to ensure this happens) and the PSNI need to ensure that anything they do in connection with these murders cannot be perceived as ‘heavy handed’ and bring the 14 year old rioters out, and give the extremists and opportunity to fingerpoint.

    Unionist politicans, again behind the scenes need to talk with militant unionists and say NO to retaliation, and yes an invite for a round of golf in Dublin with MacAleese to reaffirm that would be a good idea. Its an opportunity for the UDA etal to regain some standing by proving that their weapons are indeed beyond reach.

    All in all this site has been disappointing insofar as what has happened over the last few days merely brought out the tribal drums and the urge to return to the statusquo was palatable in some, but NI has moved on a great deal, especially in recent years and its not going back, extreme republicanism will never get a declaration from Britain of a withdrawal in the morning and extreme unionism is never getting back to 1st and 2nd class citizenship. But the environment is slowly been created, where politically, republicans can work to achieve a united Ireland, and opposite unionists can work to maintain union with GB.

    Finally, condolences to all directly affected by the events of the last few days.

    Finally, Finally, if you don’t have anything constructive to say, that moves everything along, than just shutup.

  • 6 County Prod


    So the current events are caused by Unionists? Wise up man!

    I think David Aaronovitch in the Times has summed it up pretty well. The desire of some former IRA members to hate and kill has taken control and they have grovelled around ‘in the shit’ to find an excuse to resume their campaign of murder and mayhem. They are psychopaths.

  • circles

    Nice one heck, i appreciated that post – fresh air smells so much sweeter when you’re neck deep in bullshit.
    Hopefully it will provide the knee jerkers with just one second’s pause before lunging with mouth a-foam for their keyboards once again.

  • buster

    heck-I’m sure, after reading your oh so right-on rant that it wouldn’t take an awful lot to “offend” you. Your lazy, smug, spoilt-brat commentary (the result, no doubt, of living in a liberal democracy and all that confers) comparing the delusional, cowardly, psychopathic scum responsible for perpetrating the recent cold- blooded murders (and attempted murders of the “pizza collaborators” to borrow from Aaranovitch)and the UK armed forces (engaged in an attempt to defeat the effects of radical Islam and the possible impact on our way of life-or perhaps the recent events in England and Scotland didn’t register with you?)operating in Afghanistan beggars belief.

    I’d be interested to read the CIRA, RIRA etc etc rules of engagement, evidence of any democratic mandate and an explanation of the legal basis and derivation of thier use of indiscriminate deadly force?? No I didn’t think so……

    I think you’ll also find that the current incumbent democratic (that pesky word again) legislature in place in Stormont is collectively bending over backwards to “abhor all killing and respect all traditions”-reference the joint statement Robinson/Orde/McGuiness-and that the huge majority of people who voted for the GFA are trying to make the process work.

    Given recent events it is hardly surprising that a lot of people are outraged and sickened by what has happened-maybe the expression of that in all it’s forms on this blog doesn’t suit you-tough. Your pathetic attempt to use these murders as an excuse to expound your vitriolic views on the UK military is desperate. Can you not just leave it this time?

    Grow up yourself and remember tossing yourself off is not generally regarded as a spectator sport.

  • Gum

    After Frankie O’Reilly was murdered, Ian Paisley Junior announced on UTV live that he had seen evidence to suggest that Republicans had somehow thrown the bomb that killed him. This was malicious and devious nonsense and was shown to be such only a day or two later.

    In this instance, it is right to condemn what is an evil act, but it is again wrong to use it for political ends. The glee evident in some posts on Slugger recently over how things have become difficult for Sinn Féin is tangible.

  • Glensman


    Your response, unfortunately just goes to show the lack of understanding that some unionists have for the Republican Movement.

    When treaty after agreement after deal is broken or delayed by unionists/NIO then Republicans will obviously become more and more fed up of the ‘Process’.

    Please keep in mind that the Process was sold to us as a means of achieving our objectives through peaceful means.

    11 years after GFA (which was by no means a Republican document) massive swathes of the states commitment towards Nationalists has been dropped or ignored. I point you towards the Patton reforms and the promised ‘open, public’ inquiries.

    Is it any wonder that the ‘Dissidents’ are gaining support at the expense of SF??

  • 6 County Prod,

    It is interesting to understand how anyone, but the most deluded republican, could consider the murders of Lurgan RUC police officers anything other than the act of psychopaths. And yet, as this board illustrates, the usual suspects blame UNIONISTS for republican savagery. And isn’t it also curious that when republicans get “fed up” – they resort to cold blooded murder? What we have here is CIRA/RIRA emulating the PIRA template from 1969. If it is wrong for them to do so (and who would argue otherwise?) then it was wrong of the Provos. If we demand the killers of Constable Carroll be brought to book, why is it OK to allow the killers of Constables Graham and Johnston to walk the streets free from justice? The Provos trained the hitmen, the community deny to hand them over.

    The answer, which some find so uncomfortable when it is exposed, is that the “peace process” differentiates between Good terrorists and Bad terrorists. In truth they are all the same but truth has nothing to do with local politics.

  • daisy

    Consensus doesn’t last long on Slugger, does it? Tribalism is never far from the surface. The comments made here are sickening, from both sides.

  • frustrated democrat

    David Vance

    The problem we have is that we are trying to move forward here and no matter how much you detest terrorists it does not mean that they didn’t exist and still do exist. So you can beat your chest as much as you like it will not solve the problem, nor will guns or prisons.

    Sometimes we have to do things we do not like (or even abhor) to get to where we want to go and this is one of those occasions.

    I can appreciate the difficulties of Adams and Magennis – how to to keep unionists and hard line republicans happy inside the same statement. Now if you can put your mind to that conundrum and give them some advice on how to walk that narrow line you will be serving all the people of Northern Ireland and keeping people alive.

    So you can contribute by shouting from the side lines and keep your priciples as pure as the driven snow or you can get your hands dirty and temporarily set aside your principles for the greater good of all, the choice is yours; I know what I will be doing; no matter how much I disagree with republicans our relationship is symbiotic, we need them to succeed in their current endeavours for us to succeed in building a better Northern Ireland.

  • x

    Of course it might help Jonathon Powell’s analysis if he had got the historical facts correct, conscription was never used, innocents weren’t rounded up – yes the long drawn out executions of the leaders did have a devastating effect but the ineptitude of Redmond and the likes, the movement of the church to Sinn fein and the deaths on the western front all came together to bolster Sinn Fein.

    But in essence unfocused raids or verbal attacks wont help now – focused police work with genuine support from the republiucan community will stop this – but that support didn’t come in the Quinn murder and I doubt it will come in these murders either

  • I was surfing when I passed by your website. I must admit that I really enjoyed the quality information you offer to your visitors… Will be back often to check up on new stuff you post here!

  • heck


    to translate your response

    British kill people -good/ brave boys/ engaged in an attempt to defeat the effects of radical Islam and the possible impact on our way of life

    irish kill people- evil cowards/ scum bags/

    I get your view.

    By the way there was no radical islam in iraq before W and honest tony decided to kill hundreds of thousands. That’s what lead to the bombs on the london underground

  • “There was no radical Islam in Iraq before W”

    Really? Ever hear of Ansar al Islam? No?

    Read this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansar_al-Islam and then this al-Islam Final.pdf+Ansar+al-Islam&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=uk

    If you are this uninformed about Iraq, I think we can treat your insights concerning Northern Ireland with a little caution.

  • Wilde Rover

    David Vance,

    “There is no such thing as good terrorists, they are all bad. When you reward them, you get more of them. Go figure.”

    And a little something from a thread earlier in the year.

    “I do not agree with what Irgun did and I consider their acts to be terrorist.

    Posted by David Vance on Jan 07, 2009 @ 12:36 PM”

    Presuming you are not a hypocrite, you do not recognise the legitimacy of the state of Israel?

    Is your new slogan Go Hamas?

  • Glensman

    Frustrated Democrat has expressed, much more eloquently than I, the point that I was trying to get across- only from a unionist perspective.

    If people keep up the sackcloth and ashes bullsh*t the Republican Movement will continue to fracture and more and more men of certain skills will side with CIRA/RIRA/ONH…

  • “Men of certain skills”??

    Oh, you mean TERRORISTS. I see, very impressive argument.

    Wilde Rover,

    Be thankful the IDF do not operate here or the IRA thugs and gangsters would not be around to posture as politicians.

  • David,

    I wish you would give such a robust response to the fellow-traveller on your own website. But shouting at people in other camps is easier than dealing with the sneaking regarders in your own, isn’t it?

  • buster

    But heck-I am Irish, whatever could you mean?

  • Wilde Rover

    David Vance,

    “Be thankful the IDF do not operate here or the IRA thugs and gangsters would not be around to posture as politicians.”

    You may be right.

    So we can conclude from your comments that you believe that the father of Tzipi Livni, who was a member of Irgun, was a “psychopath” involved in a gang of “evil killers”.

    I do not take this view, but then again I would never dream of attempting to stifle your anti-Zionist opinions.

    If you wish to align yourself with the Jihadis then of course it is your right.