“the dissidents themselves are actually attacking the direct local accountability institutions”

BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport has been properly sceptical before of the suggestion that “having a local Justice Minister might dampen down any dissident violence”. And, following the weekend car bomb attack on the Policing Board headquarters, on today’s Stormont Live he put one of his “stupid” questions to Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly.

“Would it really make that much of a difference? Because the dissidents have now directly targeted the Policing Board – which is a symbol of local politicians keeping the police accountable. And, really, if we were to have, say, an Alliance Justice Minister that would just be more of the same. So the dissidents themselves are actually attacking the direct local accountability institutions we already have.”

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  • joeCanuck

    Would it really make that much of a difference?

    I very much doubt it, Pete. But that is no excuse for a self respecting (?) State to not have control over its own internal affairs.

  • joeCanuck

    Should have been “State (?)”.

  • fair_deal

    Putting the line about dissidents out there is so unconvincing it actually hinders rather than helps.

  • BonarLaw

    Joe

    like,say, Wales?

    The Welsh devolution settlement didn’t grant primary law making powers in policing and justice matters. Does that exclude it from your definition of “self respecting”?

  • Brian Walker

    The real suggestion isn’t that the dissidents would be so impressed by the transfer of powers that they’d just give up. Indeed they might even try to step up the attacks. There are echoes here of 1973/4. But they need a narrative. Devolution would deprive them of an emotional point that might impress the impressionable, that Sinn Fein’s poltical route is getting them nowhere. Seems obvious.

  • granni trixie

    Although this may be viewed as opportunistic claims, you can see also that this
    rationale for the devolution of P&J, is that a locally accountable justice system leads to a fairer society,making ‘dissidents’ redundant. But I think that seeing off the dissidents can only be taken as a long term otucome of the devolution of P&J.

    What is more important in the present situation, is that lessons are learnt from our past patterns as more and more elements were drawn into an increasingly complex problem.

    By my analysis, the physical force tradition took over a nonviolent,legitimate movement; loyalists reacted to IRA violence with violence,using it as an excuse to express their sectarianism.Internment affected mostly the Catholic population and increasingly policing and the army by their behaviour hardened attitudes against them and became a significant part of the problem.

    This is why, rather than burden a new Ministry with unrealistic expectations, I think all levels of society must hold back, not reacting as before to create the same old pattern whcih has served us so badly. The present threat could be the making of us. There must be no going back.

  • joeCanuck

    BonarLaw,
    Personally I couldn’t care less if if the Assembly ceased to exist or if P&J remained under central government control. Presumably Wales didn’t care that much seeing how closely England and Wales have been intertwined for a 1000 years or so. But it does matter to a lot of other people, and I suspect they just aren’t republicans.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Mark D. doesn’t twig very quickly or more likely he is simply putting the Unionist arguement to SF and doing his job.

    But this has been explained to him and others who want to hear by the SOS, the Irish Justice Minister and Mr Orde.

    Sundry Unionists of course claim they dont understand for purely ideological reasons but as long as those who actually have the power i.e. the British and Irish governments do, then it doesnt really matter as with the Police Reserve Unionists will always have ‘reasons’ to try and hold up progress – that is what they do.

  • Sean

    Granni Trixie

    By my analasys physical force republicanism took over from a non-violent organization BECAUSE of ongoing and unabated attacks by unionist terrorists coupled with obvious state sanctioned sectarianism

  • fair_deal

    “Devolution would deprive them of an emotional point that might impress the impressionable, that Sinn Fein’s poltical route is getting them nowhere. Seems obvious.”

    As nothing after easter 1916 has managed to make any impact upon their thinking it is foolish to think a transfer of power would. Your analysis is mono-directional and fails to grasp that a decent propoagandist can pretty much make anything fit into the way they want the world viewed.

    Devolution won’t impact on the ability to impress the impressionable.

    The dissidents have their narrative for SF – they are administering british rule – devolution of P&J can be made to reinforce that. Post-devolution dissident propagandists will be lining up to make SF eat every unpopular police decision or action. SF are left with three basic choices – back the police putting them at risk of being on the wrong side of a section opinion or at least a particular community – criticise the police – this has two drawbacks if nothing happens on the back of your criticisms you look weak, if so,mething does it politicises policing and undermines power-sharing – a mixture of both which leaves everyone peeved off.

  • Danny O’Connor

    As I see it these dissidents have no mandate,the excuse used by the provos for nearly 30 years was that they represented the will of the Irish people when they voted as a whole for unity.That was then – this is now .The Irish people north and south voted overwhelmingly in 1998 for the new constitutional arrangements put in place by the Good Friday Agreement .The people have moved on in the intervening 80 years,so,there is no desire among the people of Ireland for more bloodshed,and it is they who are sovereign.
    History is past we are trying to build a better future for Protestant,Catholic and Dissenter.
    What sort of Ireland do they want.I certainly don’t want to live in an Ireland where A Catholic is too afraid to join the police service for fear of being murdered by so-called republicans.
    If these people really were republicans they would accept the will of the people-but they don’t-so they aren’t.Call them by their real name-terrorists.
    If they are going to play that particular card,they should have to face the same consequences as al quaida and others.

  • LURIG

    If that bomb at Clarendon Dock had gone off the main victims would have been the residents of a nearby apartment block and the punters in Pat’s Bar. How ironic would that have been? Killing drinkers in one of the few places that people from both communities could go during the Troubles and know they were pretty safe. There were always quite a few Protestant fellas who came down to Pat’s to play their traditional instruments. Like Omagh it would have been the softest harmless target that you could imagine. These dissidents have NO support in the Nationalist community, they don’t care who they target as they proved at the weekend. Some of my family and friends go to Pat’s at the weekends and today I could have been attending their funerals. I have had that horrible thought and feeling since Saturday and it’s just too scary to contemplate. That would have been ANOTHER real blow for Ireland; killing innocent Catholic & Protestants. Wolfe Tone and McCracken would have been so proud…………NOT! The car was abandoned in the New Lodge I believe? Well at the bottom of the New Lodge Road there is a large painting of a Presbyterian who took part in the 1798 Rebellion, Dickson I think his name was. These dissidents should stand in front of it and see the irony of their actions.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fair_deal,

    RE. “SF are left with three basic choices – back the police putting them at risk of being on the wrong side of a section opinion or at least a particular community – criticise the police – this has two drawbacks if nothing happens on the back of your criticisms you look weak, if so,mething does it politicises policing and undermines power-sharing – a mixture of both which leaves everyone peeved off. ”

    It sounds as if you wrote that before the STA. SF have been dealing with all stuff pretty compentently.

    As mentioned above Unionists will use all sorts of arguements of convienence to justify themselves trying to prevent progress or to suggest that such progress wont improve things – it seems they have to be force-fed everything by the British.

  • Danny O’Connor

    The choice was to support either 28 days or 42 days,abstain which would have been pointles ,28 days was the lesser ,what did the SF MPs do-oh yes thats right -nothing-they didn’t vote against either.

  • Danny O’Connor

    By your somewhat twisted logic SF supported 42 days by not voting against.

  • [i]Danny thats right, the sdlp voted for 28 day detentions for …..ahem, terrorists.

    and you wonder why the sdlp is irrelevant?[/i]

    You are a liar. The SDLP voted for the amendment to the 90 days detention bill to reduce it to 28 days because it was the only way to stop 90 days. Then the party voted against the amended 28 days bill because it didn’t support any detention without trial. Sinn Féin, on the other hand, obviously didn’t care about 90 days detention because they didn’t vote at all.

  • Brian Walker

    fair deal, the point is not what the dissidents themselves think but what the their potnetial supporters think – not the fish so to speak, but the sea they swim in. I agree that devolution it puts SF on the spot – but they seem to relish the prospect of being there. Your list is too negative for me. You’re nearly suggesting the dissidents can’t be defeated or deterred.

  • NCM

    LURIG, these are the same folks who steadfastly argued that they shot the pizza delivery guy to free Ireland.

    It is ironic that perhaps the thing that would harm the RIRA/CIRA/etc. the most would be if one of their bomb attack attempts actually WORKED.

  • wild turkey

    ‘If these people really were republicans they would accept the will of the people-but they don’t-so they aren’t.Call them by their real name-terrorists.
    If they are going to play that particular card,they should have to face the same consequences as al quaida and others. ‘

    Danny, i admire your astute and incisive analysis. and i agree with your above statement.

    Current physical force Irish republicanism, whatever its past efficacy and noble ambitions , is now a tired and vacuous exercise in political handjobbery.

    Hope this makes sense DO’C because as I type Lennon is singing ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ on the headphones … and to all a good night

  • Danny O’Connor

    NCM one did in Omagh.

  • NCM

    Yes, Danny, I know, and that wasn’t particularly helpful to the RIRA etc., was it?

  • Danny O’Connor

    NCM ,I agree,but it must never happen again,and all steps should be taken to make sure that it does not-however unpalitable some of those steps might be,it is better than the deliberate slaughter of the innocent people of Omagh – which town could be next? That is why these people must be stopped.

  • LURIG

    I didn’t lose anyone close to me during the Troubles but very nearly did on Saturday night in Pat’s Bar. That just knocks the stuffing out of me but makes me extremely angry as well. Now I know a small bit how the relatives of those who WERE killed over the past 40 years feel. I can now understand why these people feel very let down, betrayed and how they carry their loss around like a cross. It must be the hardest thing on this earth to do?

  • NCM

    Danny, my point was that the RIRA etc. are their own worst enemy, and that a big “success” would harm them more than all these failed attempts. I almost wonder if they know this and are deliberately sabotaging their own operations so as to look tough and gain supporters without royally screwing themselves through another Omagh. Just some groundless speculation. This isn’t saying they are somehow humantiarian in their outlook, but perhaps more rational than they might first appear. Either that or they’re just more inept than anyone wants to admit.

  • LURIG

    NCM

    ……….or just well infiltrated and full of touts.

  • NCM

    Yep, that too. Again, ironically, these guys are showing the utter futility of continued armed conflict every time they try to carry it out.

  • fair_deal

    Sam

    “SF have been dealing with all stuff pretty compentently.”

    Yes Ardoyne this year went swimmingly and the recent SOCA comments didn’t require poor old John O’Dowd to be sent out to try and clean them up.

    BW

    “You’re nearly suggesting the dissidents can’t be defeated or deterred.”

    Nope simple that P&J won’t do either.

  • fair_deal

    “to justify themselves trying to prevent progress ”

    Yawn. Saying that P&J will not impact on dissidents is not the same as saying never to P&J.

  • kensei

    fd

    Yawn. Saying that P&J will not impact on dissidents is not the same as saying never to P&J.

    It’s greta oyu have the finger so on the pulse of Nationalism, fd, and how it might play in Republican communities. It’s just amazing it totally supports exactly what you want!!!!!!!11oneoneone

  • kensei

    fd

    Nope simple that P&J won’t do either.

    Helps provide tools, though. Actually the best thing would be an SF minister and have them crack down, but, oh! that’s crazy talk.

  • QUB Law student

    The dissidents would probably love P&J devolved. Be handy if any had a Mummy and Daddy who were prominent QC’s as it would mean just a caution for serious offences.

  • Peter

    QUB Law student

    How many different names have you used to bring up a broken window in the middle of the Holylands last year? Do you expect a prison sentence or what? Where did you grow up that you think a caution is a lighter punishment than usual? Most of all, what the hell has this got to do with dissidents trying to blow up the policing board headquarters? Do you think many of them are prominent QC’s?

    To all that took the bait,

    Im sure pete knows the arguement for devolved P&J is to stop any more support moving towards dissident republicans. There are quite a few in this country who can handle explosives that are not so sure the GFA is working. Why stall on progress and alienate those that can cause damage in the future? These people gave up on violence because they gave the democratic process a chance, it will not be hard for them to decide it is not working. I will still disagree with them but why stall on every piece of progress in order to antagonise them? I am sure there are enough children out there that can be manipulated into thinking the current system needs changed when it is so clearly failing to improve peoples lives and make challenging decisions.

  • fair_deal

    The broad approach is simply wrong. It is all based on a high politics argument. Granted this has been the approach used throughout the process but it is an approach with ever diminishing returns.

    P&J needs to be looked at in its own right. Confidence in devolution was harmed by over-selling and presenting P&J as a counter-dissident move looks to me like people are repeating that mistake.

    kensei

    “have them crack down, but, oh! that’s crazy talk.”

    History is on your side on that one with regards the behaviour of ex-IRA men when in power in the republic. They gladly instituted the policies they condemned the British for (arguably went further). However I was told recently past behaviour can’t be considered relevant.

    However, it is hard to identify comparable willingness in northern nationalism – SF haven’t shown they are up for a crack-down or any sort. The SRR returning was part of a crack-down and they won’t back that.

    Peter

    1. There is an implied threat in that analysis
    2. Giving additional powers to an Executive that has failed more than it has worked is not progress. Potentially doing to P&J what has happened to education wouldn’t be progress.

  • Dave

    “History is on your side on that one with regards the behaviour of ex-IRA men when in power in the republic. They gladly instituted the policies they condemned the British for (arguably went further).”

    This is a completely bogus argument. The Irish government were defending the Irish state from subversives who did not recognise its legitimacy and who were acting to overthrow it, whereas the Shinners would be defending the British state from subversives who do not recognise its legitimacy and who were acting to overthrow it. The Irish government were defending the inalienable right of the Irish nation to self-determination by defending the sovereign territorial entity by which that right is exercised (i.e. the state), whereas the Shinners have formally agreed that their supporters they have no such inalienable right and are defending the state that continues to deny it.

    In regard to the ‘dissidents’: they will not be influenced by any improvements in the quality of British rule since their declared purpose is to end it, not improve it. Admittedly, ending British rule was also the declared purpose of the Shinners before they were led to assist in its administration. However, it should be remembered that it is actually the Shinners who have dissented and the ‘dissidents’ who have refused to renounce their right to national self-determination. Therefore, devolution of P & J will not alter the goal of these groups. It may reduce support for them among those who are content with the internal settlement but those who are content with the internal settlement would not have been true supporters anyway.

  • Dave

    In regard to those so-called dissidents: they are very bit as infiltrated by touts, agents, and informers as the Shinners are. Even if they continued to bomb to a decade or so, they’d simply be led to consolidate British rule just as the Shinners have been.

  • kensei

    fair_deal

    P&J needs to be looked at in its own right. Confidence in devolution was harmed by over-selling and presenting P&J as a counter-dissident move looks to me like people are repeating that mistake.

    It’s about competing narratives. Dissidents will still state that SF are just adminstering British rule, but currently SF do not have another story. They know the one they want to tell – they got powers off the British and out it in Irish hands. They have mechanisms to hold people to account and to deal with crime. There are also issue sof momentuim and confidence. You might not be concerned you are causing SF merry hell, but denial is worse.

    P&J powers can also be used directly to deal with the threat too. The arguments against it are weak; witht he money issue sorted it boils down to Nationalism wants it, so unionism shouldn’t.

    History is on your side on that one with regards the behaviour of ex-IRA men when in power in the republic. They gladly instituted the policies they condemned the British for (arguably went further). However I was told recently past behaviour can’t be considered relevant.

    However, it is hard to identify comparable willingness in northern nationalism – SF haven’t shown they are up for a crack-down or any sort. The SRR returning was part of a crack-down and they won’t back that.

    Past behaviour can’t be considered relevant, and it is important not to repeat the mistakes of the past. But I think you’d find that SF would be much more willing to crack down if they actually had the position. It’s not like that they have any love of the dissidents, and cracking down on various hoods would probably be a popular policy throughout urban nationalism.

  • kensei

    Dave

    It might be preferable they didn’t, you know, bomb and shoot for a decade. Don’t be flippant.

  • Dave

    Kensei, de Valera could call the forerunners to the Provos traitors and mean traitors to Ireland, but when McGuinness calls the predecessors to the Provos traitors, he can mean only traitors to the United Kingdom. de Valera can be taken seriously, whereas McGuinness was treated with ridicule and contempt when he made his statement. I suggest you read Anthony McIntyre’s response to that.

    Anyway, the Irish government were acting in defence of the Irish state, particularly as a result of said forerunners alliances with Nazi Germany. The run up to the executions was a raid on the Irish army’s ammunition fort wherein one million rounds of ammunition was stolen; raids on financial institutions were large sums of cash were stolen, and murders of Irish police officers. The actual threat that concerned the Irish government at that time was a planned invasion of Ireland by the Nazis wherein they were to use IRA touts to guide them, wherein the Irish government drew up a plan with the British government that it would invade Ireland if it seemed likely that such an invasion by Germany would occur. The treason from the IRA as Nazi collaborators was very real, and merited that response – hence the mass internment of them, mass imprisonment of them, and other security measures to deal with the quislings. It’s a shame that the Irish government didn’t use that opportunity to kill more of them.

    If you think there is any valid comparsion or that a Shinner as justice minister would influence the so-called dissidents, then you’re deluded. You may as well dress Gerry up in a British soilder’s uniform and have him sing Rule Britannia.

  • Dave

    Typo: “… when McGuinness calls the [b]successors[/b] to the Provos traitors, he can mean only traitors to the United Kingdom.”

  • Ian

    When unionists refer to ‘community confidence’, they seem to be concerned exclusively with confidence within the unionist community.

    Has it not occurred to them that nationalist community confidence in the justice system might actually be impeded by the delay in devolving P&J powers? And that swift progress on that front would help to enhance such confidence in the nationalist community?

    The IMC seem to think so, judging by their most recent report. I thought their assessments were deemed to be a critical factor in forming unionist policy? Or was that just when they were giving them an excuse to procrastinate?

  • kensei

    Dave

    Why are we are world war 2, exactly? Pro treaty executions a wee bit too close to the bone? For the record I don’t think it will “influence” dissidents and it wasn’t what I said. Try again.

    Regardless, it’s irrelavent to your flippancy over potential deaths.

  • Peter Fyfe

    fd,

    Yes, I know there is. It is the same threat that is used in situations of conflict throughout the world. There would have been no need for a peace process if everybody had just decided violence was wrong. We know for certain there are some who will return to violent means when they don’t get their way, it would be silly to suggest otherwise. Many people had to be persuaded about the pros and cons in their own situation before they would support the process. Some will have put their need for Irish unity before much else, these are the people I am talking about. They will not be hard to convince to join the dissidents if they never had much regret about killing others. Their will be many others who wish to work for peace no matter what their past is. Those who do not need much convincing are probably already in bed with the dissidents, then there are those who are wed to the SF project and shall never return to violence. In between there is a group of people who are not sure which way to turn. They did not realise that over a decade after the GFA, unionists would still be stalling on full devolution. They had not thought of the high levels of anti-social behaviour in working class areas, they had not considered how poorly the new Police force would tackle this issue. They did not know they would still be waiting on the truth about Bloody Sunday. It is this middle section that must not be alienated from Sinn Fein or at least local politics because many of this group have skills in destruction as a result of the times they grew up in. It is not a threat in their name I present you with but some common sense. It was those that voted for the agreement that called for the eventual devolution of P&J and thats why it should be devolved. How can we defend democracy when we so often choose to ignore it?

  • fair_deal

    Peter Fyfe

    Your analysis has an assumption of threat only being from one side – by the same logic a loyalist parmailitary could decide the traffic was one way and buy out – it’s why the threat rationale is an unwise one to base policy on.

    Also a policy cannot be constructed for the whole of NI simply to possibly please a theoretical and unsubstantiated subset of ex-provos. The eventual devolution of P&J will happen – no executive party has said never.

    kensei

    “SF would be much more willing to crack down”

    Post Massarene with the notable exception of McGuinness they weren’t going for strong language let alone calls for tough action – this despite no love lost. Also no suggestions from them what would work other than a repetition of their pre-existing political demands.

    There is also the practical issue and it goes back to over-selling. The operational independence of the police and the independence of the judiciary mean devolution of P&J is to a degree an illusionary transfer of power.

  • Dave,

    There is one thing you are ignoring. The Good Friday Agreement (and thus, as you say,the acceptance of British rule in Ireland in the form of power-sharing) was accepted by the Irish people in referenda in both states on the island. I think that was what Martin McGuinness was referring to when he said they were traitors. Of course it means, the very basic level, traitors to British state in Ireland but its more nuanced than that in reality.