Enda Kenny to Gerry Adams: “no party require[s] an army council in a time of peace”

Having survived an attempted leadership coup last week, Enda Kenny was in Belfast today.  The BBC reports that the Fine Gael leader again ruled out any possibility of his party forming a coalition government with Sinn Féin because the Provisional IRA army council has not been ‘stood down’.  Gerry Adams is “hugely” offended.  From the BBC report

The Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has again said he would not share power with Sinn Fein because the IRA army council has not been stood down.

Mr Kenny is in NI for a series of meetings with business and political leaders including Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams has dismissed as “hugely offensive” the remarks by Mr Kenny.

The Sinn Fein president said his party would not consider sharing power with Fine Gael as nationalists did not trust them on the “national question”.

So there!

An earlier RTÉ report also noted

Mr Kenny said he would be telling Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin of his deep concern that in the Republic there was only one army (that was fundamental to the Constitution) and there was no need for any party to have an army council.

This was one of the reasons, along with Sinn Féin’s economic policy, why he would not be willing to go into government with Sinn Féin (as he said in a Late Late show interview earlier this year).

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  • socaire

    Why u say 29, chief?

  • fourwinds

    Cormac who are you to say that Co. Down isn’t in Ireland? Completely ridiculous. Some of you southern “patriots” are hilarious.

  • socaire

    Do you think that the English Conservative Party doesn’t have an Army Council?

  • Munsterview


    Cannot recall that 89 case, do you happen to know who the parties were or in what context the ruling was made?

  • tacapall

    There is no Army Council anymore – What could they do as there is no more IRA anymore, the grass roots are well enlightened as to the intentions of the career soldiers.

  • wee buns

    An Army Council has it’s meal in the middle of the day, non?

  • Munsterview

    I will not directly comment on this issue from a current standpoint, it is for Sinn Fein as an organization to define what their relationship with other sections of the Republican Movement are if they consider this required.

    Currently it is and will remain a non problem for Sinn Fein voters.

    As for Kenny and Co, they will have a problem while any politically organized Republican force exist on this Island, as indeed Republicans should be concerned about the backward forces that Fine Gael represents.

    I can however make a few general observations that may be taken at face value by those who are curious about the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA as they are not what they are perceived to be in popular opinion.

    The Irish Republican army is a bottom up organization, that is how the Volunteer movement was conceived from it’s foundation. It was an open military organization and could afford to and be seen to be, as the hidden hand was the ( Irish Republican Brotherhood) IRB. It would be fair to say up to 1918 the Volunteers and later the IRA was what the IRB wanted them to be.

    The IRB also took over Sinn Fein post 1916, other than the name and some general policies much of the old policies were gone into the dustbin of history as they were now moot.

    Many of the new Sinn Fein male members were IRA to begin with but as the old Nationalist Party collapsed, branches just voted to resign from the Party and then passed a resolution to seek Sinn Fein affiliation, which was readily fore-coming.

    By the 1918 elections the IRB did not have a presence in the majority of new Sinn Fein branches, the reorganized IRA interfaced with it, the IRB where possible tried to influence the election of branch officers who were both military and political but even then the organization was growing too rapidly and had too diverse opinions from newcomers for the IRB to exert the previous coherence.

    At the assembly of the first Dail behind closed doors A Sacral Ceremony took place during the process of which the Head Centre and Central Council of the IRB handed over their Guardianship of the Republic to the Elected Assembly and then stepped back again into the shadows.

    The IRB continued as an organization, through it’s members in the IRA and Sinn Fein and other front bodies continued propagate and assist in establishing the Republic and prosecuting the War of Independence.

    Sinn Fein was the primary democratic expression of Republicanism; while the IRA could seek to influence Sinn Fein’s decisions, that is all they could do. Far from Sinn Fein being in the pocket of the IRA, from these early years a tradition of Independence was maintained by Sinn Fein.

    At branch of Sinn Fein level Army issues simply did not arise. At regional and National Exectuive level the convention for dealing with such issues was the IRA would make its views or request known, these views would be taken into consideration but only as interested party views where there were mutual or parallel interests involved.

    It did not follow that an IRA request would be automatically accommodated, no more than a request from Cumman Cabharach or Ogra Sinn Fein.

    Contrary to poplar views while there was dual Sinn Fein / IRA membership it was always far less than it was purported to be and very much a minority situation.

    It will be difficult for those outside republican culture to accept but I have known situations where Sinn Fein members resigned from the party rather than accept an instruction that they had been given as IRA members to vote a certain way.

    All branch officers knew what was afoot and there could then be a general resignation leaving a mess for the top of both organizations to sort out. Things very seldom came to that impasse; any Republican in a position of authority that did not have the nonuse to see this happening had proven themselves unsuitable for their position by allowing things to get that out of hand to begin with and had their wings quickly clipped.

    This arrangement has existed for close to one hundred years, all security authorities in the South, in the North and in the UK know how the decision making mechanisms in Sinn Fein operate. They also know that Sinn Fein is accountable only to its own structures and answerable to the voting public at election time.

    Questions regarding the Army Council, the Army exectuive are but a convenient current club to knock Sinn Fein and Republicans over the head with : if it was not that it would be something else.

    As to reassuring the Unionists etc, they can horse-trade on any objectives they seek as per normal politics but the days when they produce hoops for Republicans to jump through are long gone !

    As a Northern Clergy man remarked to me some years back, if the Republican Leadership committed collective suicide on a monday morning, by tuesday evening the Unionists would then have made disposing of the bodies an issue!

  • erasmus

    Again I would point out that Cormac McArt’s views on what constitutes ‘Ireland’ are not shared by the broad mass of people in the south.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    I say it is of no consequence in relation to myself because nothing I said reflected any of those views. You’re just imposing your own experiences on what you think are my views. You use yor posts, not to engage in discussion, but to tell us stories of your life and times.

    Plus, it allows you to escape from answering the germane questions – what was so wrong with Kenny telling Adams an army council is a no-no?

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Erasmus – I’m only pointing out what is enacted in An Bunracht; that the legal name of the state described as the republic of Ireland is Eire, or, in the English language, Ireland. So it would be appropriate for people to refer to it as such, rather than the 26 (sic) counties, the free state, southern Ireland, the south, etc.

    Northern Ireland, while part of the island of Ireland, is not part of the Irish state.

    The above ARE shared by the broad mass of people in the south. I don’t understand what’s so difficult about this.

    In all fairness, maybe I’ve confused you. Please let me know what you think my views are so I can refute or disprove them.

  • Munsterview


    Kenny had just come through a situation where eleven of nineteen members of a front bench he had personally hand picked as party spokespersons on various issues declared that they had no confidence in him as leader.

    Out of seventy in a parliamentary party, over thirty had no confidence in him.

    Just consider the full implications of this for a moment : this is the man who aspires to be the next head of Government, over 60% of his shadow cabinet that had seen him up close and personal weekly around a polished table and got to know the man and his views in a way his media handlers never allowed the public to do, decided that Enda was not fit to lead the Fine Gael party, never mind the Country!

    George Lee in his resignation exposed that would be Emperor Kenny had no clothes.

    More Enda had the best part of a week to talk George out of resigning and could not do so.

    He had used George as a Poster Boy to bring in the crowds to venues who otherwise would not cross the road, never mind travel to see the parade of the same old Fine Gael talking heads, most of whom like Enda himself are approaching normal retirement age!

    As admitted in the weekend papers, the Fine Gael back room boys and Enda’s camp had been preparing for this heave since the abrupt and shocking departure of George Lee.

    Flannery and Co were faced with a massive credibility problem in attempting to repackage Kenny after the heave and no amount of Vatican election style shredding votes could change the fact that over 60% of his front bench and over 40% of his party had no confidence on him to lead the Fine Gael party, much less country.

    There was not one single thing that Flannery Flannel could have done in the Twenty-Six counties to rehabilitate him, wherever he went he would have been badgered and pilloried by the press on his creditability. They had to change the agenda, and fast.

    The little wheeze that his handlers had in place : send him North, have him meet other Political Leaders, get this image out on the media, a leader meeting other leaders …….. Kenny is a Leader too etc!

    It was nothing other than a clinical media stunt and public relations exercise! It was also a gratuitous insult to Northern Politics and politicians, given the real user reason for his Northern flying visit.

    The other ingredient to the trip, change the agenda from Kenny to a safe National issue, so another purpose, pick a row with Republicans!

    It played to the Old Blue Shirt gallery in his own party.

    It re assured the Unionists that here Fine Gael was still a ‘kick the Shinners’ party.

    It gave the media another controversy that took Endas competence or otherwise off the headlines.

    It damaged the peace process by making tolerated issues once again contested ones : in short to get Fine Gael’s internal row off the front pages, Enda was willing to go North into a fraught political situation and set the Unionists and Nationalists arguing on issues where both had agreed to let sleeping dogs lie for the sake of political progress.

    What Kenny did was Fianna Failure stroke politics of the first order……. except Fianna Failure would not go that far !

    Who thought that we would ever see the day when Big Ian would tour Glasnevin with Bertie and the son of Eamon McThomas as guide, or that he could sit in the visitors gallery of the Dail as an applauded guest?

    Since The Six Counties was from the outset an artificial creation with artificial permanent built in majority, an artificial solution had to be found that gave some semblance of democracy. That could only be done, in the light of a quarter of a century of political upheaval and historical baggage, by ignoring not just the ‘ elephant in the room’ but whole bloody herds of them !

    For Kenny to go into this fraught political situation and blunder as his usual form on important issues down here is one thing, but to go up to the North and deliberately set out to stir up Dumcree type controversy just to get the issue of his lackluster leadership off the front pages, is dirty, low down, gutter, stroke politics, at their worst.

    The sad truth is that North or South Kenny do not have much more to offer than stroke and stunt politics. Some weeks ago I posed the question : do Fine Gael have a function in Irish Politics other than making Fianna Failure look good ?

    Whatever their intent, under Enda’s Leadership that is all they have achieved in opposition during one of the momentous periods in Irish Politics. Time and again in Dail debates when Lenihan, Ahern and co are brass necking it as usual the thinking of what a shower is universal among the viewers.

    Then Kenny gets on his hind legs, the cameras zoom in on the Fine Gael front bench, and the previous thoughts of what a shower of wasters is instantly replaced by the grim reality that….. it….. could …… all….. be …… worse!

    That is Endas Legacy and Leadership and no amount of ‘Flannery flannel ‘ or other back room wheezes can change that simple fact!

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Thank you for eventually answering. Though you really need to keep your answers short and to the point. It was hard going trying to find yours.

  • Munsterview

    If I and people like me were not censored for a quarter of a century to make Ireland safe for the Brown Envelope Brigade under the guise of silencing the Boys Of The Old Brigade, then so much background would not be necessary !

  • Cormac Mac Art

    I can’t do anything about that, Munster. But such an approach blunts your effectiveness as a commentator, while at the same time giving you the image of a self-identifying martyr. By all means give such background (I for one find it fascinating) but deal with the immediate question immediatly. Otherwise its all waffle.

  • Munsterview

    I have consistently made this point : as a historian taking part in seminars and such like events on a regular basis, to begin with I was shocked at how much post grads were unaware of when dealing with political issues of the seventies and eighties.

    If this is the situation with educated, trained elite’s, can one presume that the general public are any more informed ? Of course those who were involved or interested in politics and who lived through these times are, but most of the public are not.

    As a person with some experience in PR and ‘spin’ one of the first lessons to learn was to-days newspapers and headlines are but wrapping for to-morrows fish and chips!

    This is a worrying situation from two perspectives, first this allows the great Fianna Failure……….. ‘that was then and this is now ‘ ……… mantra to set the agenda where every disaster and blunder is presented as exceptional, an isolated event and not a series of joined up dots that they consistently are.

    The second relates to young political activists in the North in particular, those around the twenty-five year age group were fourteen at the time of the ceasefire in 1996. I know my thinking at that age and that of my comrades North and South : they do not have personal experience of ‘The Troubles’ they need to be constantly informed of just what the reality of a war situation is.

    This is especially so where there is institutional bloody mindness as with the Magillian Political Prisoner issue : it is easy to harness these issues to street politics and to then use these street politics to widen the agenda into areas that these groups would not otherwise have poplar support for. It is also easy to kick start these events with an emotive issue, it is much harder to stop such action once it has started, especially if it cannot be controlled by the initiators.

    Contributers such as my self with informed experience in these areas can post in two ways, we can post concise and pithy as you suggest and exchange with other informed readers only. This is elitism and one of the reasons of my disenchantment with the Officials in the first Provo split although politically I was far closer in views to this Organization that the new circles I moved in.

    The other way, is to contextualize things as much as possible with the necessary background that an event may be taken in detail and in the round. While your knowledge of most events covered may be a given, please bear in mind also that knowledge or interest of Irish politics is a relatively recent event for the general unionist populace, or as is more correct, to wider circles outside the usual political anoraks who now respond regularly to issues raised!

    So Cormac, a little patience if you please, this is not self indulgence, I have something better to do with my time!

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Now, that I enjoyed reading. It related to what was in the last postings, and was further informative.

    All I’m saying is to back up from the lenthy remsceala and answer the immediate issue straight away. Because while you are one of the more interesting posters here, you (like Alias) tend to write very densely. Sometimes pithy IS best.

    But this remains freindly advice, not condemnation!

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Ellis Vs. O’Dea extradition case. I think it was 1989.