Alex Kane on terrorist rebranding

I discussed the police response to dissident republicanism below. Alex Kane’s latest News Letter column sees him analysing the whole approach to terrorism. He points to Dr Martyn Frampton, of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation’s recent extensive report on the dissidents (mentioned previously by Pete Baker)

Frampton concluded: “If the British state wishes to defend and preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland it must accept that the dissidents will not be joining that process.

Consequently, to invert the old adage, those who will not join, must, eventually be beaten.”

Kane refers to the recent suggestions of significant sympathy for dissidents (again covered recently by Pete).

Alex Kane goes on to say:

To be honest, none of this comes as any surprise to me. Back in 2005 I wrote about the continuing threat from those republicans who regarded Sinn Fein as the real dissidents — for accepting continuing partition and a role in the government of Northern Ireland.

And in July 2007, a few weeks after the DUP and Sinn Fein had concluded their pact, I warned that the dissidents would step up their campaign “in a bloody effort to prove that there cannot be peace while the British remain in this part of Ireland”.

So what’s the official response to the much greater threat posed by the dissidents?

Well, for starters, neither the secretary of state nor the chief constable has ruled out talking to them.

Which, of course, suits the dissidents, one of whom told Brian Rowan: “We think that a war will create the conditions for credible dialogue aimed at British withdrawal.

“Internal settlements are not what Irish republicans fought, died and went to jail for.”

In other words, they are preparing to bomb their way to a negotiating table around which the British have already placed the chairs.

Alex has also discovered the latest part of the strategy for dealing with the dissidents: if you cant / wont beat them; rename them.

Stranger still, the NIO has decided that if it rebrands the dissidents as residual terrorist groups it will somehow diminish them in the eyes of potential supporters and make them sound less scary for the
rest of us!

They believe that calling them dissident republicans gives them a status that they “intrinsically lack”.

According to a spokesman “it was important to try and get the language right”.

What nonsense. It doesn’t matter what you call them: all that matters is that they get pounded into oblivion.

Alex is, as always, equally clear about loyalist terrorists:

But what about the non-residual terrorists: like the UVF?

Last week it was Brian Ervine who said they needed help to turn their members into social workers, cultural attaches and politicians.

This week it was the turn of Presbyterian moderator Norman Hamilton, saying it was time “to bring together the political and civic leadership … to find a way forward for the men, their families and the area in general”.

Isn’t it interesting that the needs of the “area in general” are placed behind those of the UVF members?

You’d think that after 22 years as the minister of Ballysillan Presbyterian Church Dr Hamilton would have already brought together the people concerned.

Mind you, Presbyterian moderators tend to remind me of buses: if you happen to miss one you know that there’ll be another one along fairly soon – even if you have no idea in what direction he will be heading.

But hey, Norman seems to be enjoying his time in the media spotlight and I can’t imagine that his scatter-gun approach to socio/political matters will do any lasting damage: or good, for that matter.

The UVF serves no purpose. It has never served a purpose.

The very fact that it bullied, murdered and ruined loyalist communities explains why the PUP, its political mouthpiece, never made a signifcant electoral breakthrough.

Indeed, the pro-Union electorate has always refused to support the
paramilitary-linked parties which claim to be representing their interests.

Furthermore he sees no difference between the terrorists:

They have no interest in democracy and no interest in detaching themselves from brutal tactics and blinkered thinking: unless and until their demands are met.

But there is one aspect of the etymology of “residual” which does apply to them: they are both scum.

Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger.

While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.