Suzanne Breen’s take on destabilisation, denunciation and condemnation

This morning’s BBC NI news website has a summary of how the editorials in local newspapers reacted to the murder of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr on Saturday.

On the way out of Belfast International Airport this morning, I picked up a free copy of the Irish Daily Mail which contained a comment piece by Suzanne Breen. [Update – Nevin’s turned up the original article on Nuzhound. Thanks.]

Headlined “Destabilising any normality in the North is the aim” Breen offered her analysis.

Ronan Kerr was the softest of targets for republican dissidents. Having graduated as a PSNI officer only three weeks ago, he was taking no security precautions despite living in nationalist Omagh. His car was parked outside the house, not in a garage. There were no CCTV cameras to alert him to the fact that someone had tampered with it. He didn’t check underneath as veteran police officers learned to do during the Troubles. Planting an under-car bomb has always been low-risk for republican paramilitaries.

She went on to list the three main groups who might have been responsible before turning her comments to Catholic PSNI recruits.

Kerr’s murder will send shockwaves among young Catholic PSNI recruits, some of whom still are unfortunately under the illusion they can choose such a career without moving home and cutting ties with their own community. Although Catholics leaving or not joining the PSNI out of fear would be a ‘success’ for dissidents, they are targeted primarily because they are easier to kill.

Breen suggested that political and community solidarity won’t make a difference to the dissidents.

Neither the passionate denunciation of Sinn Fein leaders, nor the condemnation of wider Irish society, will affect the dissidents one iota. For decades the Provisional IRA campaign was hugely unpopular in the nationalist community. All the pleas from SDLP and Dublin politicians, and all the massive peace rallies, didn’t stop the murders.

Concluding the piece, she returned to strategy.

[The dissidents] strategy is hit-and-run sporadic attacks aimed at disrupting normalisation in the North, drawing the security forces into an openly combative role, and aiming – as they Provisionals once did – to destabilise any settlement short of Irish unity.

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  • The Word

    I don’y anyone could take Suzanne’s analysis seriously. To mention Irish unity in the same breath as this killing serves only to demonstrate that Suzanne’s been talking to people who simply don’t know what they’re at.

  • HeinzGuderian

    *They’ve* been trying to destabilise Northern Ireland since 1922…………………

    Loving the new shinner tactic of administering British Rule,to try and do it…………………

  • Depressing reading all round.

  • Henry94

    For decades the Provisional IRA campaign was hugely unpopular in the nationalist community.

    So was the British campaign. The whole war was unpopular but nobody was able to find a way out of it until the peace process. It must be emphasised success for the dissidents, the very best they can hope for, is to drag us back darkest days of our lives. It is an objective so insane and so utterly wrong that we can’t tolerate it in any way in the nationalist community. We must shun them and shun their mouthpieces.

  • The Word

    What is it about republicans that they think that nothing can really be happening unless somebody’s getting killed?

    I met a man today who I used to work with. We recalled another, now deceased, colleague who was a bit paranoid in that every time he tried to buy something he was always on the lookout for the conman or the unethical merchant. Of course, anyone knows that there are never as many around as he’s going to find. Living on edge like that has consequences for your stress levels, and suggests that the world is full of bad people, when the reality is that there are a few, but you won’t even notice them if you have your own peace of mind. There are rewards for those who trust in others. Indeed trusting is a sign that you are already blessed.

    I would say to all militant republicans that you need to step back from this and evaluate the reality of your militancy in the context of the unionist not only trying to obstruct you as you see it, but also in the reality that he knows in your very actions that he is at risk in any united Ireland. Unionists will need guarantees and the greatest guarantee is the acceptance that peace is the way, that the soldier has outlived his usefulness, and needs to repent of his ways, and that paranoid little men aren’t allowed to display a sense of inferiority that makes them feel that the only way they can get their way is by asserting that there is something in him that is not in the rest of the “male population”, when quite clearly there is.

    At this stage it comes down to talking. Events, dear boy, as Brian Feeney might say, as he strokes the egos of Sinn Fein and tells us of the badness of the Unionists. I think we’ve mixed up kids dangerously close the levers of power in this society and they must start listening to wisdom.

  • Master McGrath

    I tend to entirely agree with Suzanne Breen’s views here, mostly because they are a fair representation of the historical facts.
    Catholics joining the Police are targets simply because murdering them is designed to ensure that the sectarian divisions of the past remain and strengthen as divides within society.
    The fear this engenders will not be easy to deal with by Catholic recruits to the Police but it is by no means an innovative tactic by criminals with the mindset that these people have.
    It is being played again as a card this time because it has worked in the past and the expectation is that it will work again. It is also designed to put the Shinners in a difficult position for while the mood is with them doing the condemnation bit just now they will not want the problem of dealing with the obvious comparisons to the rights and wrongs this time round of murdering policemen and women with the fact that PIRA did it for years as a way of furthering their ends.
    Which just turned out to be the strengthening of the Northern Ireland states position within the UK framework and its recognition by the Government in Dublin.
    What a measure of success for those tactics!!

  • The Word

    “It is also designed to put the Shinners in a difficult position for while the mood is with them doing the condemnation bit just now they will not want the problem of dealing with the obvious comparisons to the rights and wrongs this time round of murdering policemen and women with the fact that PIRA did it for years as a way of furthering their ends.”

    Then there’s the danger that it doesn’t do any such thing other than to present opportunities to Sinn Fein to play the peacemaker, allowing the people to retrospectively justify their violence, as in some way more noble, because they are now more noble, and this results in further pressure on the SDLP.

    The violence never helped the SDLP. It simply weakened the gene pool.

    But this is as much as I will allow myself to go in these arguments when a young man has just died. At this point these events are very much to be regretted.

  • Denunciation and condemnation were politically loaded terms in the past, in the main, only addressed at one community while other atrocities where skimmed over or practically ignored (McGurks Bar prime example).

    All the same forces are no longer at work as they once were, now, there are just small groups with deadly capability spoiling for a fight that no one in the Nationalist or Unionist really want to revisit; there is no longer a comparrison to be made of one side versus another –violent dissidents are out of touch with their own kith’n kin.

    Violent dissidents even detract from any valid points to be made by those Republicans disallusioned from SF politics and the GFA.

  • Coll Ciotach

    I tend to agree with Suzanne Breen. The fact is it is easier to target those you know best.

  • son of sam

    There is much in the Word s analysis.If this sad event has proved anything , it illustrates the extent to which the S D L P has been marginalised at least in media terms.Having a consistent view on violence is no guarantee of electoral support any more.These are blogs that may be developed further after the mourning for young Ronan.

  • Alias

    “Kerr’s murder will send shockwaves among young Catholic PSNI recruits, some of whom still are unfortunately under the illusion they can choose such a career without moving home and cutting ties with their own community. ” – Suzanne Breen

    Which would suggest that the reforms have failed to deliver a system of British policing that is accepted by Catholics in NI. If they still feel that way then the condemnation emanating from that section of NI seems somewhat engineered.

  • DC

    I think some people have short memories here.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/18/suzanne-breen-ira

    Breen’s life would be in danger if forced to hand information on Real IRA to police, rules judge in victory for press freedom

    That’s the trouble with collective lawmaking at times – the rights of individuals can slip through the net in favour of protection of abstract entities – this time round it was the ‘fourth estate’ (aka journalists) – over other less deserving individuals it would seem; in my view the law fell down on the wrong side of the common man and woman that time round, you know the unprofessional types.

    But it doesn’t stop there, how many bankers do you know that are on remand or in custody as a result of technically bankrupting the Irish nation? There might have been one arrest, Sean Fitzpatrick, was he ever charged?

  • aquifer

    Good analyis

    RIRA and the rest want the British Army back on the streets like the good old days when men were men and black polythene bags were for body bits.

  • Master McGrath. ‘they will not want the obvious comparison of dealing with the killing of policemen….’ True, and SF haven’t yet managed to bat away that problem as condemnation from Marty now only keeps reminding listeners of his past. They haven’t got copyright on republicanism, although to listen to Gerry and Marty , you’d think they had it patented.

  • wee buns

    It seems to me that to raise questions about causes & motives in the aftermath of an atrocity seems to cause offense, even when the act is being condemned

    But of what use is moralistic thinking & talking?

    It just strengthens existing prejudices and stifles discussion of the causes and implications of terrorism.

    There’s obviously a significant symbolism in this killing. While it’s great to see the leaders standing in unity, the GAA beside the PSNI, it is a mistake for the leaders to embark on a ‘crusade’ against terror and Breen is correct that no amount of denunciation and condemnation will put an end to such attacks.

    The intention surely is not simply to destabilise peace, but to retrieve (AS THEY SEE IT) a homeland that earlier generations were unable to defend. It’s not an act of blind rage, but a considered action that takes account, however perversely, of social-political context. This is what has to be addressed!!

    Youth who do no abhor violence and who want to be true to their parents beliefs, will be drawn in.