“It’s worrying if they have lost control..”

I had asked how that ongoing “bid to exert control in nationalist areas in particular” was going, and in The Observer today we get a partial answer.

The British government was briefed on the warning about the dissidents’ growth in north Belfast last week. British sources told the Observer that the loss of control in areas such as Ardoyne was a worrying development, particularly with the Ulster loyalist marching season looming. The shops at Ardoyne are a major flashpoint between nationalist protesters and Orangemen and their supporters at two major parades in the city in June and July.

“The Irish were told that they [ex-IRA members and Sinn Féin activists] would be unable to police their side of the line in Ardoyne this year. In previous years mainstream republicans helped keep the peace in places like Ardoyne. It’s worrying if they have lost control because the dissidents will seek to exploit the marching season,” the British source said.

That’s without addressing the questionable desire for an apparently now purely political party to control, or even to police, such communities in the first place..

, , , , ,

  • percy

    bit of pragmatism required here, no doubt we’ll get to the poisonous foundations one day.

    Right noo there’s a problem of what to do in the present and how to contain things.

  • Kensei

    That’s without addressing the questionable desire for an apparently now purely political party to control, or even to police, such communities in the first place..

    Tedious wordplay. Stewards at marches or football matches might help control or police behaviour without it being a threat to the fabric of society, and if protests are going to occur it is beneficial for everyone if people can exert positive influence in order to keep it safe.

    If people are to provide any sort of leadership, then they need influence within communities. It’s nothing particularly scary, if as you put it they are purely political . If leadership of some communities is passing to hands that are not purely political, well then I find that much more worrying.

  • picador

    Pete,

    Did you enjoy that wave of hijackings on Monday last?

    When the sectarian mobs come onto the streets during the summer – and I noticed them gathered at the Ardoyne interface a couple of nights ago – will you enjoy that?

    Be careful what you ask for.

  • “That’s without addressing the questionable desire for an apparently now purely political party to control, or even to police, such communities in the first place..”

    Why didn’t you try to address it then? It’s an important point, which might reveal something of the motivation behind recent events.

    There is not an inkling of shame in the article or your post in considering that the community in Ardoyne is something to be “controlled.” Whether you are the PIRA, RIRA, CIRA, Community Restorative Justice Ireland, the RUC, Catholic Church, Stormont Assembly, at no point has this idea been seriously questioned. To ask why the area is resistant to authority is absurd.

    The graffiti for a long time was simply ‘FTRA’. It’s authors were probably around twelve years old, and beginning to take their own side, against the British, but equally against the older generation of republicans. It’s not such a surprise if a few years later they are ‘more republican’ than the provos, which would justify why they should take the control and respect/fear that went with their position.

    One approach might be working with the community, particularly those who have been silenced, towards a point where it decides its own future in the same way as the wealhiest parts of Belfast, against the same level of suspicion and surveillance.

    Kensei, your analogy with stewards at a match is interesting. That works because people agree that, as a large number, if they all want to quickly manoeuvre into the same place, they need to be herded a little. That’s not an analogy for life.

    If dissidents who rejected the GFA, leaving the PIRA, should and I’m sure can be stopped, the younger members deserve a different approach. One that makes it clear that nobody is going to ‘control’ their community.

  • Bleá Cliathach

    I’ve seen something like whats happening coming for a fair while now. DUP intransigence and outright sectarian hostility to the nationalist community will continue to feed the disidents. PR needs to get a grip on things and follow a simila aproach to Sinn Féins and stop DUP members from making rabble rousing comments

  • Kensei

    Damian

    Kensei, your analogy with stewards at a match is interesting. That works because people agree that, as a large number, if they all want to quickly manoeuvre into the same place, they need to be herded a little. That’s not an analogy for life.

    Unless you are anarchist, it is precisely the right analogy for getting political goals accomplished.

  • Dave

    “During disturbances in Greater Belfast last Monday organised by republican dissidents, two leading figures in the Provisional IRA told Irish government representatives they could no longer control elements in Ardoyne opposed to the peace process.”

    If those “elements” were “opposed to the peace process” then what means did the Shinners use to “control” them? Clearly, they weren’t Shinners if they were opposed to the policy of normalising British rule. Did the Shinners ‘control’ them with threats of violence? It certainly can’t have been ‘respect’ for Shinners that controlled them.

    It’s worrying for the British government since the policy of normalising British rule depends on the ability of Shinners to successfully integrate the formerly disenfranchised into the reformed political system in NI. If the Shinner shepherds lose that vital control over the sheep, then the Shinners lose their usefulness to the British government, and MI5’s efforts will be for naught. While MI5’s control over the Shinners has allowed that agency to redefine Shinnerism as ‘a successful militant struggle for the right to assist in the administration of British rule’, the dissidents may just be naughty enough to point out that Republicanism has a very different definition and ideal.

    And, of course, if the Shinners do begin to lose their usefulness to MI5, then I’m sure they will use it’s out-a-shinner-tout policy as a means of to reminding the Shinners that they had better regain any slippage in control double quick.

  • picador

    The shops at Ardoyne are a major flashpoint between nationalist protesters and Orangemen and their supporters at two major parades in the city in June and July.

    Re-route contentious parades away from the flashpoint.

  • Mark McGregor

    This is just scaremongering by the provisionals. Their concern is community based groups especially those like CFAD not only attracting community support in Ardoyne but now growing and being replicated in areas across Belfast. Community based, grassroots, republican initiatives that do not accept the SF narrative on the legitimacy of the RUC/PSNI.

    Along with criminalising every form of republicanism that doesn’t comply with the Stormont gravy train, it seems these community initiatives will be next on the SF criminalisation list.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Community based, grassroots, republican initiatives that do not accept the SF narrative on the legitimacy of the RUC/PSNI.

    Mark, until they stand in elections and win votes, nobody is in a position to assess precisely how many people reject the SF narrative on policing or, more specifically, accept the perspective of the people who have styled themselves as true republicans.

  • Scaramoosh

    The entire dissident project seems to be centred around the manipulation and exploitation of teenagers. When one of their current supremos was caught red handed at a firing range in Stamullen, he was in the company of a 14 year old!

    That they are now engaged in manipulating dysfunctional youth in the ghettos of Belfast, only serves to highlight their lack of strategic vision, and the hopelessness of their cause.

    What next? Conscripting the drug gangs of Limerick and Dublin into their squalid little army?

  • Bleá Cliathach

    “The entire dissident project seems to be centred around the manipulation and exploitation of teenagers. When one of their current supremos was caught red handed at a firing range in Stamullen, he was in the company of a 14 year old!”

    I’d say “the manipulation and exploitation of teenagers” as you put it is how any armed force works including the british army

  • Pete Baker

    Ken

    Tedious, flawed, analogies. The stewards involved in crowd control at such events are the responsibility of those organising those events.

    The reported claim here is that a political party has lost control in that community now – ahead of any planned protests.

    pica

    A straw man argument, as I’m sure you know.

    Damian

    “There is not an inkling of shame in the article or your post in considering that the community in Ardoyne is something to be “controlled.””

    Why should I have an inkling of shame about that? I’m not the one advocating it.

    “Why didn’t you try to address it then?”

    I’ve highlighted it as a concern. If you want to further explore the issue in the comments zone feel free to do so. Or you can even blog it elsewhere.

    Not every post needs to bring everything to a neat conclusion, you know.

  • Pete Baker

    Mark

    Are you back to supporting the vigilanteeism of CFAD? – “CFAD abu!” [comment 23]

    Do you now support the vigilanteeism of others, then?

    That’s rhetorical, btw..

  • Kensei

    The reported claim here is that a political party has lost control in that community now – ahead of any planned protests.

    And it remains tedious wordplay. When people say republicans “control” a community, what do they mean? Do they go into everyone’s houses and install mind control devices? No, they do not. In the past you could offer up the threat of violence. I am sure for a small percentage that may be the case. But I have a fairly large family in Ardoyne, and it’s not why people support SF or otherwise.

    SF had influence because of a mixture of people having sympathy with their goals, SF dealing with issues that exercised them, they were well organised and the people came from those communities (and being related or otherwise connected to them and that goes for IRA men too), and they got some results. I would not underestimate the last two factors. There was a certain pride in it. One of the English political magazines did an article a few years back on here and remarked how the West Belfast electorate would spontaneously come out with the same arguments as the leadership. Raised on a diet of New Labour stiffing its support at every turn, they didn’t grasp it was because SF was actually close to its electorate.

    As for a lack of dissent, it is easy to quiet down whilst you are moving forwards, and people who will brave almost any physical threat will back down in the face of censure from their peers.
    There was always a section of people uncomfortable with the direction SF were heading in — I’m related to some of them — and policing and the wins the DUP have had recently may have pushed things to a point where actually, there are quite a few voices saying I don’t like this. That makes it easier for other people to speak up, opposition to be organised, and a break down to occur. Fragmentation was bound to happen at some point, but its worrying all the same.

    Reducing the relationship between SF and grassroots Republicanism to wordplay and soundbites on “control” is doing the subject a deep disservice, Pete.

  • Reader

    picador: Re-route contentious parades away from the flashpoint.
    Usual recipe. To prevent republican violence, give them another concession.
    The problem is that the Parades Commission has been spectacularly effective in meeting its long term objectives by rewarding participants for playing nice, not by rewarding them for threats. Do you really want to wind the clock back 10 years by going back to the old ways?

  • picador

    The decision to allow not one but TWO parades to pass by Ardoyne on the Twelfth is lunacy. The return parade in the evening should NEVER have been allowed – a concession to thugs who throw blastbombs and balloons filled with urine at young schoolgirls – and SF are dead right to refuse to put themselves in the line of fire in order to enforce it.

    One parade in the morning should be doable.

    As for the Tour of the North on a Friday night – forget about that too.

    I hope the honorable member for North Belfast and Minister for Finance will use his influence responsibly.

  • Reader

    picador: and SF are dead right to refuse to put themselves in the line of fire in order to enforce it.
    Well, if the Community Workers aren’t going to provide value for public money then the money can always be spent on PSNI overtime instead.
    But, after years and years of mocking and barracking unionism for not supporting the Parades Commission, it’s ironic to see republicanism walking away from the challenge now. I suppose it’s because Drumcree, and the old ways, were such a success for republicanism that Gerry used to boast about it.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Hello Damian

    Hope you are keeping well.

    I like your point; these communities do not deserve ‘control’ suggesting they should do what they are told. These communities deserve politics to work for them. They need to be shown the advantages of democracy and how we can improve peoples’ lives without somebody being killed first. The assembly is failing to do this. All we get is DUP rhetoric of how they are getting one over on Sinn Fein. What improvements are there in Ardoyne, Ballymac or Dunclug? I don’t see many in Dunclug. I am sure you know yourself that several well known people from the area have died as a result of heroin abuse in the last few months. This is not exactly going to increase optimism. Has the DUP done anything since coming to power to offer any optimism to young nationalists? I personally don’t see much difference to the party who had local councillors protesting in Harryville at people going to mass. It possesses the same vindictiveness for anything Sinn Fein support and as such destroys their support base and plays into dissidents who will manipulate kids. I am not arguing for the control of these areas to be placed with sinn fein. I would say however when many of these kids see the sinn fein way is not working they are a lot more likely to consider the dissident way than switch to the SDLP way. I know of many young people in Ballymena who would laugh off voting for the SDLP as they are seen as being ineffective. I do not think this is true of our local SDLP MLA but struggle to convince people who don’t have an interest in local politics. This I see as a failure of the SDLP in addressing young people in the area. When trouble rose in Ballymena last summer, a rasharkin man and if I am right a carnlough man, though he may be from somewhere else were the ones to be seen confronting certain people. Why not the SDLP man who has served the local community for as long as I can remember? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to see Declan fist-fighting just to try and offer an alternative to Sinn Fein’s blame game. In the upcoming Euro elections, people in these estates must be begged for their vote. The SDLP must go door to door and let the people know what they do for them and what can be achieved if the people vote for them. That is how we can show we don’t want them controlled but we want to work for them. I would go as far and say I would help if I thought it would improve the area and give some hope. So where I would agree with you that people should not be seen to ‘control’ these areas I do see a need for nationalist politicians to show there is a workable alternative up and running.