Threatening the existence of the Assembly is a victory for terrorism

Oh God, not another fundamental breakpoint founded on the highest principles, whether they’re about welfare or the IRA! Come on, get real. This kerfuffle over “IRA structures” will pass. For all their simulated outrage over the IRA or welfare, no politician – none of the leaders anyway – want to close Stormont down.  Electoral politics are also in play on both sides of the border. We should discount it. No clear advantage can be gained by any party threatening to withdraw or pull the plug. They would simply be repeating history by handing the initiative to anarchy and violence. They actually know that but think it impresses their supporters by  positioning themselves as principled defenders of the  GFA and St Andrews.  The tortuous language of the police – where on earth do they teach them to speak like that? – doesn’t help. But we can still manage to work out the difference between “continuing to exist” and “not being involved in terrorism”.

What are “IRA structures” anyway?  The old gang meeting in a back room?  Local vigilantes asserting an old authority, still ready to stand on the necks of drugs/ fags/ red diesel /racketeers to which the great movement degenerated long ago, or rival racketeers themselves?  The omerta preservation society? Settling old scores is activity bent on preserving local communities as inward- looking ganglands.  Some of the late capos are even popular as we’ve seen by the size of the funerals. No doubt some of them are community leaders adept at winning some bits of local development via the elected Sinn Fein. But the harsher side fatally compromises the small gains.

Rough justice for the murder of Robert McCartney may have unleashed a sequence of fresh struggle for control over the underworld which is never far below the surface in working class areas. We read about this phenomenon in disturbed communities the world over, from Colombia via Sicily to the Philippines. In parts of Putin’s Russia like Chechnya, the thugs are in officially charge. Are we really saying that the same applies in miniature in our working class areas?

How do political hysterics help tackle this detritus of the Troubles? Sinn Fein are obviously closer to the old warriors on their side than the DUP are to most of the loyalists who are in many cases – not all – their bitter rivals. But I bet none of them genuinely believe Sinn Fein is party to these recent killings. In his Belfast Telegraph article, Ian Paisley asks a useful question even if he purports to knows the answer.

Does anyone seriously believe that a gun and a strategy and a decision to murder such a prominent republican with IRA personnel used, would not include in the decision-making process the organisation’s head of intelligence and head of operations and that those individuals would not pass such information on to the political people they work with?

Myself I can’t see why “the political people” would want to touch it with a barge pole. But of course I don’t know. Nor does Mr Paisley. Nevertheless he would be prepared  to threaten the future of the Assembly.

There are uncomfortable conversations to be had beyond those between basically comfortable people. In the old IRA command centre of the Derry gasworks  and more importantly  in private elsewhere, Sinn Fein and the PSNI need to talk real together to begin  serious efforts to break down the wall of silence. There are many  old members who sang like canaries when the pressure was on.  it’s time to sing again. Perish the thought but there may even be votes in it.

The wall of silence is a fundamental problem.  Nobody seriously  believes Sinn Fein can just snap their fingers and  command compliance. If they could, that would surely mean the IRA were fully in business. Can’t unionists grasp this obvious point? Yet at the very least  Sinn Fein need to stop lecturing the world on the success of the peace process when it is so badly flawed in their own heartlands.

However unpalatable the thought may be, a small number of internal killings do not amount to a reason for threatening the existence of the Assembly. The DUP should encourage not  merely snarl their suspicions. After all they know very well what it’s like to fail to control those they think of as their own people.

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  • OneNI

    I have always thought the UUP should have gone into opposition – but for the reasons of creating a more accountable and democratic system. For Nesbitt to bring them out over this is laughable

  • chrisjones2

    “No clear advantage can be gained ” ….but that’s not the only issue. If we accept it as you suggest what happens after the next murder and the next and the next

    We are 15 years on and on all sides still they are at the old murder thing and the rackets

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The idea of the UUP being competent enough to hold anyone to account is even more laughable

  • murdockp

    The dissolution of the assembly is a victory for common sense.
    These lunatics should not be allowed to burn through any more of our precious taxpayers revenue the rest of us worked bloody hard to earn.

  • submariner

    The Elephant in the room here is as usual the rank hypocrisy of the unionists who are screaming blue murder whilst at the same time standing shoulder with loyalist terrorists and their political representatives. For those who have either forgotten or just ignored it these are the same terrorists whose leadership ordered the murder of Bobby Moffet without a peep of protest from the same people who are now apoplectic.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Of course our ‘precious tax payers revenue’ will continue to be spent in much the same way whether ‘those lunatics’ are in power in the assembly or not. One of the criticisms of the assembly is that, despite what the carefully cultivated and frequent press releases might say, local ministers don’t actually make that much difference to how their departments operate.

  • Thomas Barber

    Especially when you consider the UUP had no problems keeping links with the PUP in the assembly when the UVF were still engaged in violence and criminality after their ceasefire.

  • Dan

    So, in order to keep the unloved Assembly, decency, integrity and honesty are to be set aside whilst a political party continues to maintain a terrorist army, and engages in the wholesale theft of public money though various scams and rackets?

  • Andrew Gallagher

    Yes. We don’t abolish Westminster or the Dail because the political parties in them happen to be objectionable. The solution to crap political parties is not to abolish democracy, it’s to get off your backside and vote for better political parties.

  • Dan

    Objectionable is one thing, criminal and corrupt is another…and the system of government which we have tried to exhaustion here has failed. It’s always been a long way from democratic, but it was given chance after chance to succeed…but alas, it hasn’t worked, The veto nationalism has on real democracy in NI needs To end.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    “Criminal and corrupt” sounds like a perfect description of Haughey.

    It’s not the system of government in NI that’s broken, it’s the society that it represents. Democracy is not just a system of institutions, it’s a state of mind. Just like money, it only works so long as people continue to believe in it. If you vote for parties that don’t believe in democracy, don’t be surprised when your democracy doesn’t work.

    And there are two vetoes at work in NI. The veto unionism has on “real democracy” needs to end also.

  • Zeno

    “The solution to crap political parties is not to abolish democracy, it’s to get off your backside and vote for better political parties.”

    I’ve never voted, but if democracy is ever introduced I will certainly reconsider. Any vote now is wasted. The boys from Eton run the country and even your elected MP doesn’t get to vote on anything really important, like for instance, the Bank Bailout.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    As long as unionism has a veto, nationalist must also have one (and vice versa). Want to solve that problem ? Start at home.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    Sitting on your backside waiting for someone else to “introduce” democracy is exactly why we don’t have democracy. Democracy is a participative form of government. Participation is a prerequisite of democracy, not the other way around.

    50% of the electorate in NI don’t vote. Imagine what could happen if they did?

  • murdockp

    so the high percentage of the population in republican areas receiving DLA and motability cars is just a blip. casement park is good value for the tax payer eh? segregated education is good value? this list just goes on and on and on….

  • Zeno

    “50% of the electorate in NI don’t vote. Imagine what could happen if they did?”

    The 700 thousand won’t give this farce anymore credibility. It’s voting that got us where we are today. Powerless.

  • Zig70

    I read Brian’s bit about SF being closer to the working class warriors and wondered if that was cultural blindness.

  • chrisjones2

    “Yes. We don’t abolish Westminster or the Dail because the political parties in them happen to be objectionable.”

    But its been a while since any of them was “associated” with or acted as apologists for (on the very best construction) organised criminal gangs who murder citizens

  • chrisjones2

    Yah….there’s money to be made

  • NotNowJohnny

    I think you have moved on to an entirely different debate here …… Segregated education was in operation prior to devolution ….. as was DLA ….. the dissolution of the assembly won’t mean that large numbers of people in working class areas will stop claiming DLA ….. or that segregated schools won’t continue to exist. Perhaps the point you are making now is that dissolving the assembly will ensure that poor value for money projects will be a thing of the past here?

  • NotNowJohnny

    It is worth remembering that for 50 years nationalism had no veto on democracy. And that that form of democracy had 50 years to succeed and failed badly.

  • Andrew Gallagher

    “It’s voting that got us where we are today. Powerless.”

    The cry of dictators everywhere. Democracy doesn’t work, so let’s abolish democracy. The people should be told what’s best for them. By someone that YOU approve of, of course…

  • Andrew Gallagher

    It’s not that long. Official IRA?

    Sinn Fein are in government because people vote for them. If that’s a problem then go to west Belfast and convince them to vote for somebody else. I don’t like them any more than you but there is a reason why they are popular. Abolishing democracy does not solve at problem.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    SF could turn this on its head by declaring that the ‘wartime omerta’ no longer applies (or as of 2005) and encourage the general public to report all hints of criminality relating to this ‘so called IRA’ (as it would be in their eyes) whether it be racketeering, fuel smuggling or whatever.

    Encourage everyone to grass these people up and thereby show the world how the two groups are not related.

    Not a lot to ask is it if indeed there are no links between the two and especially if the criminal activity of one has no support from the other?

  • Robin Keogh

    They have already called for people to come forward to police anumber of times if they have info on any lawbreaking

  • Croiteir

    Not only that but events such escorting the UDA around Larne in case there was any trouble, let us face facts the police are not really interested in loyalist paramilitaries

  • Dan

    …and that will be SDLP’s excuse, as usual, for standing shoulder to shoulder with those who continue to use their own private terrorist army to murder Catholics on our streets….

  • Zeno

    That’s not what I said. Democracy is supposed to be government of the people by the people. We don’t have that. Let the people govern themselves as they did originally. Choose leaders by lot or sortition as it was known.
    Abolish political parties and have a government that works for the benefit of the greater good. That’s democracy as it was intended.
    Voting doesn’t work because the people who tell the best lies get elected.
    When in power they spend their time blaming the opposition or the previous government for everything. If they aren’t good at spin in 5 years time we get another lot who will simply continue the cycle. That’s what voting gets you. By voting you are condoning the nonsense.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    I get what you’re saying but from a northern point of view that means didley squat.

    We need heads on pikes and we need them now.

    From your point of view (as southerner) SF are a working class socialist orientated party trying to carve out a better existence for working class nationalist people. (Fair enough).

    From a northern unionist point of view they are the head(s) of a semi-dormant tiamat that is waiting in the wings, sharpening pikes so that we (prods) will be murdered in our sleep.

    1641 to you is a random number, to us it is a ‘lesson’.

    If you want to dispel this lesson then do the proper thing, assist the police with every act of skulduggery since 2005.

    Give me a list of every act of SF compliance since then and we have business.

  • Zeno

    “From your point of view (as southerner) SF are a working class socialist orientated party trying to carve out a better existence for working class nationalist people.”

    The beast has two heads.
    In the North they are Tories. Possibly even to the right of the Tory party.
    They signed up to borrow £700 million from the Tories, to put 20,000 people out of work.
    They want to cut Corporation Tax to 12.5% and fund it from cuts in government spending. Socialist parties do not rob the poor to make the rich richer.

  • Jag

    Looks like UUP will announce their withdrawal from Executive at 12.30 today. I think that’s the right career move for that party and provides a patina of credibility to their platform ahead of the Assembly elections in 10 months.

  • Lorcs1

    Next steps? Could SF, DUP and SDLP keep the assembly trundling along?
    Will it collapse? If it does will that trigger early elections? or will we have direct rule until next May/June?

  • Redstar2014

    Well Mikes going to lead his motley UUP crew out of the Stormont farce presumably to help get the spotlight of Unionists allegedly stealing millions, sorry I mean in response to the ” news” there’s some Provos still knocking about .

    And they say comedy is dead…….

  • Kevin Breslin

    I severely doubt they will withdraw at that time.

    For the Fantasy Politics people out there:

    Hypothetically, next in line by D’Hondt for a seat would be the DUP, I’d wager in this event Mervyn Storey would take Social Development and Regional Development on a interim basis.

  • Kevin Breslin

    ,We need heads on pikes and we need them now.

    “Pound of Flesh” arguments only encourage witch hunts.

    Hundreds of people can be falsely accused of these crimes if the priority is simply that someone MUST take the fall.

    These are organised criminal gangs who operate in a clandestine and discrete manner, the vast majority of people within so called “nationalists, republican or Catholic areas” haven’t got the slightest clue.

    These sort of gangs exist within so called “loyalist, unionist, Protestant areas” too, don’t you know?

    These anti-democratic community policing gangs/groups are far too parochial to cross the community divide, the thoughts of republican vigilante criminals “saving” loyalist communities from drug dealing parasites or vice versa hasn’t been in their M/O as yet.

    By and Large there is no large-scale republican military “insurrection” and there is no large-scale loyalist “defenderism”. These gangs fill the vacuum of that. Gangs and individuals trying to empower themselves through drug exploitation, Gangs and individuals trying to stop them with extreme force.

    Would it not be better rather than point fingers at one political ideology or the other, that working class people from loyalist and republican groups organize to educate, campaign and marginalize these parasites through peaceful, democratic means and expose these vigalante groups for what they really are.

    Addicts. i.e. Addicted to violence.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I can’t imagine anything better for Dissident Republican propaganda than for Sinn Féin to leave Stormont and for the SDLP to go with them, and either leave the DUP to their own defenses, or watch the place collapse.

    Pretty much the sense that Give My Head Peace went with when the IRA in the Hole in the Wall Gang show gave the Lifetime achievement award to the Republican cause award to Ian Paisley.

    Malcontent Unionism can be their own worst enemy on this one. Every time it accuses the SDLP as supporting violence in their community, they are their own worst enemies.

    Indeed Mainstream Unionism through Faulkner and O’Neill, Trimble, Paisley and Robinson are even the victims of the malcontents.

    Trimble and Paisley both made arrangements with Sinn Féin and the SDLP through Good Friday Agreement and St. Andrew’s Agreement … if they can’t take responsibility for a lack of safeguards then they are incompetent beyond the pale.

    If the Malcontents want to get support for ripping up the Good Friday Agreement and trying to impose their own version of their narcissistic, chauvinistic, selfish social contract then they can get a mandate and see how little votes they have outside their own reflection.

    NotNowJohnny is right, Mainstream Unionist parties had 50 years of being in charge.They couldn’t even stop loyalist violence never mind republicans. Some would argue a large minority didn’t want to stop loyalist violence.

    That’s Not an Excuse … it’s PROOF that the wishlist of majority Unionist rule doesn’t even have the capacity to stop violence, terrorism or segregation at the levels power-sharing has achieved today.

    What benefit to the peace-process is there to ban Sinn Féin from the Assembly? Banning a party from the Assembly is an attack on democracy, no matter who it is.

    Malcontents will still be Malcontents, Ordinary Sinn Féin voters would be discriminated against.

    If you want to blame politicians for administrating government despite the threat of violence.

    What would satisfy your malcontentedness on this basis –

    Forget Direct Rule … Ruled the State with the highest level of violence in the backdrop.

    Forget Irish Rule … Troubles spilt over the border

    Forget Power-Sharing Rule … SDLP/SF/DUP/Alliance/UUP haven’t stopped the Dissident threat.

    Forget the TUV/UKIP/NI21 … Jim Allister cleverly covers up the fact that as a DUP Assembly man he shared power with Sinn Féin when the SDLP and UUP lead the coalition, the others Basil, David and John were of course part of the UUP under Tom Elliot’s leadership when he was in the Executive.

    Only elected politicians who never claimed any power during periods of violence are the ones who never were in power … Stephen Agnew and Claire Sugden.

    Care to explain why the other 106 shouldn’t be banned for complicity?

    No one is pushing for exclusion from Assembly or the Executive at this stage … any accusation thrown at the SDLP can be thrown at Alliance, the UUP and DUP at this stage.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Or here’s a thought create policies of compromise that don’t get vetoed.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Two malcontents arguing with one another pretty much agreeing the same thing. The Assembly doesn’t work.

    If you want agreement, start with each other.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well looks like I am wrong.

  • barnshee

    If the asembly members and their spads are put on the dole a considerable saving will accrue

  • Andrew Gallagher

    I’ll agree with Kevin that scapegoating is not going to help. But the other AG does have a point – Gerry calling for people to help the police is not credible so long as he continues to tell barefaced lies himself. How many crimes has Gerry admitted to? How many former colleagues has he informed on? Conspiracy theories aside, none. It would be the end of him. So why should anyone in the movement take his exhortations seriously? The unsubtle subtext is “do as I do, not as I say” – he might as well wink to the camera as he talks.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’ve no idea what your point is here

  • barnshee

    What should people on benefits get more than the average wage ?

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    I think you’ve misrepresented my point.

    The fact that there are loyalist criminal gangs does not affect my point at all. Equally i’d like to see them get their comeuppance too though i’m aghast that i have to stipulate that.

    I haven’t asked for a great deal I.e. asking a main coalition party to assist in law and order and thereby dispell some notions that many people hold to be true.

    I’m not part of the #GERRYADAMSATEMYHAMSTER in this particular instance but my comments were hardly unreasonable I.e. help the police unequivocally regarding all post 2005 IRA criminal activity as we are told that this ‘other’ IRA are not ‘their’ IRA.

  • Zeno

    I’ve no idea. Why are you asking me?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The point is it is better to get the people who carried out these crimes rather than be pushed by the desire just to get someone. What if the culprit fell off a bridge, died and so never faced a jail cell? The truth is just as important as putting someone behind bars.

  • Croiteir

    Lets face it – the existence of Stormont is a direct result of British terrorism

  • Steve Larson

    The DUP.

  • Steve Larson

    Add in the UUP as well.

  • Steve Larson

    Loyalist Paramilitaries won’t jump without the go ahead from their handlers.

  • Steve Larson

    You seem to have blocked out much of the past if you think that things now are even a 1/50th like it was. 15 years on and the change is incredible.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    And while they’re getting them why can’t SF draw a clear line between them and post 2005 IRA?