IRA weapons wholly beyond use: a once white lie now a blood stained black

The latest attempted murder by republican terrorists involved an attempt to kill a prison officer with a booby trap car bomb. This tactic was one of the IRA’s favourites throughout the Troubles (and occasionally adopted by others). Thankfully the victim survived and all decent people wish him well: though as so often one wonders how well he will recover both physically and mentally.

Clearly the responsibility for this latest crime is borne solely by those involved in it. However, as the Belfast Telegraph has noted this episode once again raises the uncomfortable question of the extent to which the IRA actually decommissioned their weapons and as such the integrity of those who supposedly oversaw this complete decommissioning.

The Belfast telegraph claim that the assault rifles used in last month’s murder in the RoI were IRA weapons. That may be the case though it is quite clear that Kalashnikov typed assault rifles are ubiquitous throughout parts of the world. As such even if the IRA had got rid of all those weapons criminals could obtain more with only moderate difficulty.

The issue of the semtex is more problematic. Semtex is a commercial explosive designed for standard commercial blasting, demolition etc. It is manufactured in the former Czechoslovakia and now the Czech Republic. It became notorious as a terrorist explosive after it was exported in large quantities to Libya and, hence, on to assorted terrorists. Part of its popularity was due to the difficulty in detecting it – apparently it had no smell. However, from 1991 distinctively smelling compounds were added by the manufacturer to ease detection.

In addition since 2001 it is almost impossible to obtain semtex from the manufacturer as almost all manufactured is used in the Czech Republic. As such it seems almost certain that the Belfast telegraph is correct in its assertion that the semtex used in this latest terrorist attack was from the original IRA stockpile.

Initially after its ceasefire the IRA claimed they would decommission “Not a Bullet not an Ounce”. As such when they finally agreed to decommission there was considerable skepticism. To allay such fears the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was established under the chairmanship of retired Canadian General John De Chastelian. Many lauded his integrity though this was somewhat tarnished by his alleged involvement in the cover up of sex crimes by Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia in the 1990s.

As well as De Chastelian there were the two Northern Ireland witnesses: Father Alec Reid and Rev. Harold Good. Clearly Alec Reid is dead though his position as an independent witness is undermined by both his close friendship with Gerry Adams and his sectarian behaviour during the “decommissioning roadshow” after the supposed decommissioning complete with the classic “Unionists were Nazis” episode.

If Reid’s independence can be questioned and De Chastelian’s integrity was already compromised this latest crime also calls into question Harold Good’s bona fides. Good and Reid made their statement in 2005. To quote one part:

In light of this, and in order to create universal confidence, we wish to assure everyone, but especially those in Northern Ireland who may yet have misgivings, that the decommissioning of the arms of the IRA is now an accomplished fact.

As I said above the terrorists are the ones who bear sole responsibility for this latest crime. However, it is long past time that Harold Good (and John De Chastelian) gave an honest account of the exact circumstances of what they saw. In addition it is behoven upon them to apologise for either their gross naivety or else significant dishonesty. They may at a time have felt that the end justified the means. Now, however, with yet another crime committed with this completely decommissioned IRA weaponry that white lie has long since turned a blood stained black.