Declan Kearney: “an attempt to destabilise nationalist areas in the North.”

As mentioned by Newton Emerson in Saturday’s Irish News, in an under-reported article in An Phoblacht this week, the Sinn Féin national chairperson, and MLA for South Antrim, Declan Kearney, doubled down on Roy Greenslade’s ‘policy of criminalisation‘ for dissident republicans to explain away the evident discontent the party is experiencing – adding further layers of conspiracy in the process.  Yep.  It’s the Brits the securocrats the ‘Dark Side’, again! In the article Declan Kearney claims that “republicans hostile to … Read more

“Better to criminalise rather than politicise.”

Here’s something you might have missed last week.  In an interestingly timed, if much belated, intervention in the Guardian, professor of journalism at City University, self-declared Sinn Féin supporter and, in the late 1980s, a pseudonymous contributor to An Phoblacht, Roy Greenslade channels his inner Thatcher for a call for media [self] censorship when reporting on still violent dissident republican groups.  From the Guardian article In other words, by referring to “dissidents” – disparate overlapping groups that use IRA or similar in their self-descriptions – media outlets are investing them with an undeserved political … Read more

The Boys’ Brigade and dissident republicans – an unusual recipe for lasting reconciliation?

The time has now come to bring dissident republicans in from the cold in the same way as mainstream republicans and loyalists were involved, leading ultimately to the Good Friday Agreement. The initial question must be – who should approach the dissidents and facilitate talks aimed at bringing about a permanent cessation of dissident republican violence? To point the finger initially at the British and Irish governments may be bordering on the naïve. A credible facilitator will be required who … Read more

Do we need the “old ” IRA to contain the “new”?

Gang activity labelled “dissident republican” is spreading and is proving very difficult to check.  What is the connection between the killings in Dublin and the fatal shooting taxi driver of  Michael McGibbon? Perhaps the most chilling aspect of McGibbon “ punishment shooting “  was that, rather than go the the police – or even Gerry Kelly –   he went to take his punishment, just as in the worst of the bad old days. The 33-year-old had gone to meet … Read more

Eastwood would talk to Dissident Republicans

Interesting interview with the Irish Times with Brian Rowan speaking to the SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood. The interview focused on security issues and how best to deal with the threat posed by dissident republicans. Speaking to Rowan, Eastwood said; I would go anywhere and speak to anyone if I thought it would save one life He continued arguing; If Irish history shows us anything, it’s that a security response alone won’t work. That means we have to constantly take on and … Read more

Republican dissidents try to kill police officers in Ardoyne…

And, just to complicate matters (and in case you had the impression that it was only the Orange bringing mayhem to the streets of north Belfast)… With tensions building ahead of the most controversial parade of the Orange Order marching season, due to go through Ardoyne in north Belfast on Friday, republican dissidents have tried to kill police officers in a bomb attack in the area. It has emerged that the republicans attempted to lure a police patrol into Ardoyne … Read more

PSNI needs recruitment drives says Terry Spence

Terry Spence was featured on Radio 4’s Saturday PM news show and he aired some serious concerns about the ability of the Police Service of Northern to hold the peace in the context of continuing violence. His concerns were not about the manner in which the police have been confronting the rising violence, but about the ability of the police going forward in terms of numbers and resources to deal with the growing two-pronged threat profile. He noted that over … Read more

SDLP needs a story that makes its opponents more uncomfortable than it does themselves..

Now here’s an interesting one. Almost as interesting for where it comes from as to what it suggests… Nigel Dodds is having a go at the SDLP for taking up a number of cases concerning the fate of dissident Republicans, in particular that of Gerry McGeough… The News Letter reports: The DUP deputy leader questioned the advice being given to SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell and added: “Gerry McGeough was convicted of the attempted murder of my party colleague Sammy Brush. … Read more

Are we seeing Increasing frustration from old securocrats or mounting pressure against the former IRA leadership?

Eamonn McCann gives an absorbing analysis in Counterpunch, co- edited by Alexander Cockburn the Independent’s highly critical reporter of “the war on terror,” of the linkages between the Omagh bomb and the Boston College tapes. A key figure is former Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter, who is now one of a number of former RUC and PSNI officers working for Col Tim Collins’ New Century security consultancy in Afghanistan. Others will know much more about Baxter than I. Since his retirement … Read more

Republican Facebook site publishes police officers’ pictures

The BBC are reporting that a Facebook page has been set up by dissident republicans which is encouraging members to post images and details of police operations from across Northern Ireland. Terry Spence form the Police Federation said: “This is a very serious matter and I have been in touch with the chief constable’s office this morning.” “I have explained our great concern and asked him to immediately close down the Facebook page and to take immediate action against those … Read more

Room for a unionist elephant or two?

When it comes to unionism, there are numerous elephants that follow them into the debate around violence on the political stage. Invoking morality as a counter argument to the deployment of violence in the political arena jars considerably with the history of unionism. Once ‘Irish’ unionism became a failed political entity (as it didn’t find sufficient electoral support in Ireland), ‘Ulster’ unionism rose on the back of overt and implied threats of violence if a Home Rule Bill was passed … Read more

The response to Con. Kerr’s murder must be measured yet decisive

So we have another murder of a police officer here in Northern Ireland: Ronan Kerr’s name is added to the list of people killed, not taking part in military activities, for police officers are assuredly civilians, not soldiers; but in his case it seems getting into his own private car. In a time of supposed peace, a young man involved in a peaceful occupation, who was not even working was treated as that most appalling and indeed perverse of euphemisms … Read more

SDLP MI5 and taking the fight to Sinn Fein…

The SDLP are still alive – and they give the distinct impression that they see this as something of an achievement. As continuing (relative) peace brings with it political consensus to both sides of the constitutional fence, the SDLP like the UUP are armed with new and rather uninspiring leaders as they continue to struggle to find a gap in the green and orange political markets. For the UUP, with Tom (Elliott) the Orangeman in charge and with the Tory … Read more

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 … Read more

Thoughts on Policing

The grenade attack on the police last week created considerable concern and then faded relatively quickly. Stephen Nolan was extremely exercised for a number of days and one senior police officer suggested that the “manner in which they do business” will change as a result. The problems for police dealing with terrorists was again highlighted with the suggestion that republican dissidents were willing to shoot at the (unarmed) Gardai. The problem for police forces dealing with terrorists is extremely complex … Read more

Dealing with dissidents: we’re all in it together

“What Was the Message Behind the Real IRA Bomb?” asks Finola Meredith for the benefit of Time magazine’s readers worldwide. No clear answer comes from her sources. But is the question really so hard to answer? The aim surely, was first to provoke precisely this sort of speculation in the news agenda. The accompanying belittling comment obliges the dissidents with  continuing challenge to feed off. Perhaps that can’t be helped. But three other approaches should be tried.  First,the precedent of the … Read more