Villiers timetable seems trimmed to get everyone back to work asap…

What a difference a week makes? Last week it was all merry-go-round politics, now there’s some bones on a talks structure that seems to suit both Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt. As noted early on on the Slugger Report, Robinson’s tactic was always going to play for time.

One, because of the difficulty of having your electorate witness clearly that the guys you had vouched for as no longer being in the killing game are still at it. And two, because whilst Robinson may not be as popular as the deputy First Minister is generally better at technocratic negotiation.

Spinning out the timeline, allows the emotional impact of the first to fade and to focus resolutely on what is required to keep the institutions up and stable. Stopping the business of Stormont gives him something to play with in those negotiations.

Last night’s Newsline contained a useful briefing on the matter…

In addition Liam Clarke in the Belfast Telegraph notes:

The review of paramilitary activity is shorter than anticipated; the thought had been of an ongoing process and a clampdown. This was ruled out by the Irish government and the British weren’t hard to persuade of that view.

However, the clampdown may follow. If this body produces a report as bad or worse for the IRA and other paramilitaries than the Chief Constable’s assessment, then it is easy for unionists to order a clampdown. If it concludes that the IRA retrained some weapons as the last monitoring commission did, or that more were imported as is widely believed, then it is hard to believe that there will not be an attempt to get them.

These demands will follow the report. If it is held that IRA structures, or even networks of veterans, are involved in racketeering that will be impossible to ignore. What’s more, the involvement of the NCA as well as MI5 and MI6, means that this will be largely paid for by central government.

As Mr Robinson put it: “She has shown she is prepared to take seriously the issue of paramilitary criminality. That is an important matter and it is good that there is a commitment to providing funds to enhance that.”

Some reporting of paramilitary activities would be better than none at all. And as Michael HC McDowell highlighted in his piece for the Belfast Telegraph, “pulling punches” to preserve the Executive should not be allowed.

It should also be noted that paramilitarism is the problem at hand, not just that of the IRA. Gloves off for one, generally translates as gloves off for all.

The charges of hypocrisy will be hard to field if there is not some concerted attempt to deal with the actual problem rather than seeing it as an internal issue for the parties at Stormont.

For now, though the timetable seems trimmed to get everyone back to work asap. Clarke notes:

The report will also come out at about the time the talks are supposed to finish. As Ms Villiers put it: “This assessment will be published by mid-October and will be available to inform the parties’ discussions and conclusions in the cross-party talks.”

That could cause a row if Sinn Fein or the DUP don’t like the assessment or any action which follows. That could be another crisis, but it is hard for Sinn Fein to walk out in protest at a security assessment.

Quite.

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  • Redstar

    Excellent stuff. Unionists can untwist their knickers, Marty and Robbo can make up, Shinners can even impose even more cuts ( Brits forced it on us!!!) and the pointless sham /gravy train can continue.

    Career politicians simply doing what they do -and the masses will vote for it

  • Mister_Joe

    It will be all smoke and mirrors. Where will the Independent assessors get their information? Why, from the CC of course and he has already delivered his verdict. The “real” meat will be whatever is to be said about the UVF and UDA. The CC hasn’t spoken about them but they certainly are up to no good as their actions demonstrate.

  • chrisjones2

    “I am announcing today that the Government has commissioned a factual assessment from the UK security agencies and the PSNI on the structure, role and purpose of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland”

    So that’s just based on factual material then, not on intelligence, for example? The devil is always in the detail. Robbo has bought a pup – but then, perhaps that is what he wanted

  • submariner

    Joe Unionists will just ignore what is said about the UVF/UDA they never know when they may need them on the streets again. Their hypocrisy is boundless

  • Redstar

    Fully agree with you Submariner but SF indulge them for their own career politico ends sustaining the Stormont sham. They need each other and are as bad as each other

  • mickfealty

    Sub,

    Nice one. Out of interest, how wide does your definition of ‘Unionists’ go? All of ‘themuns’?

    More to the point of the thread, is there any chance you could deal with what we actually know, rather than what you think you know about the future?

    The breadth of the review is, potentially at least, a useful artifice since if it is an honest appraisal we should get a broad picture of what Loyalist paramilitaries have been up to.

    It should force political unionism to acknowledge the ongoing scourge of racketeering and protectionism that’s been running riot in many Loyalist areas.

    Truth is that we cannot properly tackle one without the other. The dirty washing really does need to be done in public: http://goo.gl/WX4Fhq.

  • mickfealty

    Semtex find, is apparently due to some IRA volunteers taking stuff home with them. The mind boggles as to what domestic use they thought they could put a drop of semtex to… http://goo.gl/T14aX2

  • gendjinn

    Do you really believe that this commission will report anything but precisely what Cameron wants it to? Should that include the truth it will be a happy coincidence.

    The older I get Yes Minister is more and more a documentary than comedy.

  • gendjinn

    Dissidents.

  • Nevin

    Agreed, gendjinn. You can also add the Irish government to the mix as each government provides cover for the other. Statements from a government minister and a chief constable in earlier times have sadly diminished my faith in the powers-that-be. Such statements are intended to facilitate rather than to illuminate.

  • gendjinn

    Must be the frigging end times if we agree Nevin!

  • Nevin

    I take an independent line, gendjinn, so there are opportunities for occasional agreement; I’ll publish material that the BBC and CAIN won’t – even when it’s a transcript of a BBC interview!

  • Robin Keogh

    LOL, ‘is there any chance you could deal with what we actually know’ …omly minutes ago you claimed on another thread that a party in government is engaged in murder, yet the police say the exact opposite, or do u have evidence the rest of us have not heard about?

  • Robin Keogh

    Robinson played for time because he was caught off gaurd by a UUP wobble. He knows there is nothing to see but had to play the game to try and outmanouvre an outmanouvre. The electorate know excactly what is going on as shown on the spotlight report when people on both sides were telling the idiots to get back to work and peter Hain was trying desperately hard not to call the CC anut job. The sham has been exposed but rather than cut it at the heels there needs to be a pretend serious review blah blah. Villiers knows as much. If she thought there was any substance in the recent round of Unionist POOPery she would have allowed for a far longer review and to hell with the consequences. The assesment will be moulded in such a way that everyone saves face, and the Irish public know as much.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    I don’t think political unionism has any interest in acknowledging the scourge of loyalist paramilitarism.

    I think this commission may be a case of being careful what you wish for; things would get interesting very quickly, and very embarassing for unionists, if the commission chose to make reference to the involvement of paramilitary figures in protests (such as at Twaddell, or the 2012-13 flags protests) or Orange parades. Now that Robinson has given the commission a guarded welcome, it will be politically difficult to row back on that, especially if it comes out criticising unionism.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Decommissioning was always going to be somewhat pointless anyway, and many of us said so during the time when unionists were demanding it. An organisation with the will to do so can always obtain more weapons or explosives.

    It should also be noted that semtex has a shelf life of around 10 years at best; batches from the past 20 years have a shelf life of around five years. The explosives found by the police are almost certainly life expired.

  • gendjinn

    The commission will be used to put the screws to any party that doesn’t play ball with the Tories agenda.

  • gendjinn

    The decaying additive was a relatively recent addition. The original stockpile the PIRA got didn’t have it.

  • Robin Keogh

    I hear your criticisms, in fact I hear nothing else. Tell me what in your view we should be doing? If you dare.

  • mickfealty
  • Robin Keogh

    Pete’s empty ramblings? Its ok. Doesnt deal with the fact you have directly accused Sinn Fein of murder? Or do i misunderstand you?

  • Nevin

    “The sham has been exposed”

    Come, come, Robin, it was very decent of the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State to cover the embarrassment of the leadership of the Provisional Republican Movement when DCS Geddes let the cat out of the bag. The proposed ‘review’ is merely an extension of the damage limitation exercise.

  • Robin Keogh

    No doubt they will be on my great leaders christmas card list

  • Robin Keogh

    Lubricant?

  • Nevin

    Perhaps one of our investigative journalists will put in an FoI request to the Chief Constable for all of his communications between the press conferences of the DCS and the CC:

    The documentation should include items such as diary entries, notes of phone calls, notes/minutes of meetings, e-mails, correspondence, briefings, submissions etc.

  • aquifer

    Teresa. Not sure about the role and structure of paramilitaries. But their purpose is political blackmail and subversion of the state, so they are worth taking down. Taking one type of gang down and not the other is not an option, as leaving one armed gang in place invites others to get arms, which are always available anyhow. Failing to suppress armed gangs and their criminality is a form of state licensing for barbarism.

  • submariner

    Mick I am mainly referring to Unionist Politicians and also some of the Unionist posters on this board who bury their head in the sand .Both the UVF and UDA have been up in to their necks in murder extortion drug dealing etc. All of this is not news it has been widely reported in the press. This is not some rogue elements this is the main stream groupings which declared a ceasefire 21 years ago, the only thing they have stopped doing is murdering Catholic civilians on a regular basis. As for an honest appraisal cast your mind back to the murder of Bobby Moffett the IMC told us that his murder was sanctioned by the leadership of the UVF http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/uvf-chiefs-ordered-bobby-moffett-shankill-killing-28558937.html, Where were the DUP and UUP then?Were they squealing from the rooftops demanding action be taken , no they were not .It is exactly this type of hypocritical double standard that grates so much with Nationalists. Exactly the same happened with the UVF attack on the Short Strand, the Police said it was orchestrated by the East Belfast UVF http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13854027 what did the DUP do? They invited them up to Peters office for tea and buns.

  • James7e

    Would that be political lubricant? To grease the wheels with the threat of, or actual, violence whenever Sinn Fein find their manouvres frustrated by the various inconveniences of democracy?

  • Gingray

    Mick, interesting analysis. Different to my own, this is Robinsons swan song, if it collapses he is gone, no different to Trimble, which he views as a failure.

    He needs it to work. Sinn Fein not so much.

    Somehow the Unionist parties have turned an easy win into a messy draw. That the ira are still there is not a surprise here (I expect an impact on sf in south but not as much as some commentators hope), but the initial psni statement was worrying. The fact tho police arrested then released 16 republicans looks incompetent, while Unionist leaders who can agree a sectarian pact in north Belfast and Fermanagh but not a unified stance on murder linked to sinn fein looks weak.

  • Zig70

    They can listen to what has been repeated and put reform of Stormont on the table. Half the number of mla’s is still too many. You can’t argue for austerity while the pigs are at the trough. FG have said no quick elections so it gives some space to give Robbo the election he fears.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Constipation?

  • Redstar

    Well let’s see.

    We can start with the farce up on the hill.

    We all know it’s nothing more than a pointless gravy train talking shop there to rubber stamp British rule- if we ever needed any confirmation of that it was when Villers confirmed that if the snouts in the trough didn’t implement Tory cuts- she would do it anyway!! If that doesn’t confirm what a pointless sham it is nothing else will- yet even then Mmg still bleated he wouldn’t leave his privileged position!!!

  • Pasty2012

    Many soldiers after other wars have taken weapons home with them, even some from recent places like Iraq and Afghanistan. One guy in Germany had a Panzer Tank that was found only the other week. Happens all the time and all over the World so don’t be getting caught up in thinking it’s just here. He obviously though that the peace wouldn’t last.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And a bit of sincerity and honesty from our politicians rather than this childish opera buffa playing up to the most grossly caricatured elements of each camps most polarised views!

  • Zeno

    DUP leader Peter Robinson admitted to hospital

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34306885

  • Zeno

    I think you’re missing the point that the Unionists went into power with SF on the basis that the IRA had gone away and there would be no more guns. They didn’t demand that the UVF etc decommissioned and neither did SF.
    Of course they all knew that the IRA hadn’t actually gone away and all the guns hadn’t been dumped, but the IMC etc gave them cover. The PSNI took that away and the SOS is now trying to put it back. She is naming 3 people next week to examine the state of the paramilitaries. Lets hope she names Jesus, Ghandi and Elvis as there is some chance they might be believed.

  • Thomas Barber

    The semtex the PIRA brought into Ireland had a shelf life of twenty years so any semtex found supposedly belonging to them from that period is useless.

  • Thomas Barber

    Mick is that your opinion or fact ? It wouldn’t be a surprise if we hear in the coming weeks Unionist politicians accusing Sinn Fein and the IRA of driving the iceberg that hit the Titanic. Its getting beyond a joke.

  • chrisjones2

    Really? How do you know please?

  • chrisjones2

    It wasa SF suggestion so I share your cynicism

  • Thomas Barber

    A liitle research on the subject would varify the facts.

  • Mister_Joe

    He is getting health warnings. If he is smart, he”ll retire to his seat in the Lords.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    That’s what I thought. 20 years ago is 1995, post-ceasefire.

    I remember from the period up to the ceasefires that the IRA had been using their supply of semtex very sparingly, ie to trigger other explosives. At the time, this was speculated to be because their stocks were running low. I suspect the IRA’s stock dates back to the 1980s.

  • Catcher in the Rye
  • Cosmo

    Trying to find a positive in all this bunkum, I think Theresa is doing quite a good job here. She seems to have the self-discipline to remain both anodyne, but persistent.

  • chrisjones2

    See how you rig it all again.

    Jesus – Catholic and therefore one of themuns

    Ghandi – Hindu – therefore automatically questionable. Dead

    Elvis – Lapsed Evangelical Sect that wasn’t the Free Presbyterian . Best described as US envoy. Dead

    So what seems superficially attractive ends up with just the Catholic making the decisions

  • Thomas Barber

    “I suspect the IRA’s stock dates back to the 1980s”

    Correct and it doesn’t take much effort as you prove above Catcher to rubbish some of the claims being thrown around by some political commentators exploiting an already volitile situation in order to throw muck and hope it sticks.

  • kalista63

    His voice has sounded awful recently.

  • kalista63

    He needed a bone to save face and they threw him one. Like the OTR letters, its a lot of fuss about nothing that our spoon fed journalists played up to fill air time/print.

  • kalista63

    Sometimes, drinking half a bottle of Cillit Bang just doesn’t do the job.

  • kalista63

    They want violent republicanism back. Remembe that famous James Moluneaux about peace being a threat to unionism?

  • kalista63

    Day and daily, the peelers ignore loyalist activities. Even worse, they have to apologise for naming loyalist activity, from racist attacks to stopping them rioting eg. Ballyclare a few years ago.

  • kalista63

    Mick, if you think they’ll be allowed a serious look at loyalist activities, you need your head looked at. We’ll get the usual craic non sanctioned criminal activity.

  • kalista63

    You forgot about racist attacks. A cop from E Belfast named and shamed them. The cops went in to cover-up mode and ‘corrected’ him the net day.

    The DUP had a convicted UVF man in Antrim Council, his son was also a member of the party and stood for election. He’s the fella that mysteriously had a piupebomb go off in his bedroom, Robo was pictured comforting him. He was then convicted for a racist pipe bomb attack on a Polish family.

  • kalista63

    Adams and MMG have to go ASAP. Adams denial of the IRA still being there was a total face palm for us republicans. Both north and south, SF have great people and Cheech and Chong are a millstone around their necks.

  • I suspect section 23/24 FOI exemptions with appropriate public interest tests would be wheeled out and we’d be none the wiser!

  • Nevin

    Perhaps the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee will do its own investigation.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Why doesn’t Sinn Fein campaign for people in the know to come forward and tell them who murdered Sean McGuigan?
    Then they they could go to the PSNI and get someone convicted.
    This would get Sinn Fein in the clear and get justice for the family of Sean McGuigan..
    They need to be more pro-active.
    The same goes for the murders of Paul Quinn and Robert McCartney.
    You would think that, with their influence and dominance in these communities, an effective process could be set up to get people to come forward.
    Words of condemnation are meaningless, let’s see some action and some outcomes.
    That would really be a way of convincing the people of Sinn Fein’s bone fides.

  • Thomas Girvan

    No I don’t.
    Just how famous was it?

  • Alan N/Ards

    When you say unionists do you mean politicians? Most ordinary unionists I know, give these boyo’s a bye ball. They don’t like them (and are fearful of them) and have to suffer their flags flying in our towns every summer.