Yes, Corbyn condemned the IRA. And the rest

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn allegedly refused to condemn the IRA when pressed multiple times during a television interview. This sent various media into a frothing overdrive, delighted Conservatives, and apparently set off the whataboutery alarm at DUP headquarters, who immediately and predictably declared Corbyn “beyond the political pale”. Except, of course, he did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Rather, he insisted on condemning the IRA and any other perpetrator of violence by condemning “violence on all sides”. James Brokenshire, who … Read more

Brendan Duddy RIP. A peace maker in real time

It is remarkable, in an age of sophisticated  back channels and espionage  replete with digital  and satellite communications, how a modest domestic background figured so  significantly in the moves which eventually led to the ceasefires – and all the more effectively for it. The problem was how to establish  trust when contacts had to be deniable, were often dangerous and were frequently interrupted by another  piece of violence. Key contacts were often made in Derry, presumably because the town  never … Read more

Martin McGuinness’s limited self revelations of the IRA boss and the peace-making politician, will be worth studying for years

Although I may be speaking too soon, it comes as a relief that the traditional Irish decencies are being observed on the death of Martin McGuinness, not only on merit but for the sake of preserving relations between the DUP and Sinn Fein. It’s too early to speculate how his death will affect the interparty talks.  I doubt if we’ll ever be sure whether quitting the Assembly was fully his own decision, or if  his need to retire from illness … Read more

Now the turn of Seamus Mallon at 80. Why he and Trimble were unable to unite over arms decommissioning remains unexplained

Following the tributes to John Hume on his 80th   birthday, the venerable SDLP deputy leader and  the initial deputy first minster Seamus Mallon has given a fascinating interview to the Irish News  for his own  80th. In passing I can’t help noticing the comparisons and contrasts with Sinn Fein. What are yours? On working with David Trimble, Ulster unionist leader and the first FM Mallon says his permanent secretary, civil servant Billy Gamble – “an absolute gem” – regularly had … Read more

Martin McGuinness believes the NI Assembly is a successor organisation to the Provisional IRA

Sam McBride first reported this from a lively Question Time at Stormont yesterday. It’s Martin McGuinness responding to a rather pointed question from Jim Allister: Worse still is the pretence that there is an IRA when, quite clearly, the IRA has long-since left the stage and handed over the responsibility for the politics of the North of Ireland to the 108 Members in the House. Now that may be the settled view inside Sinn Fein and within whatever remains of … Read more

21 flavours of ice-cream. The murder of Constable John Larmour…

I came across this video browsing Brian John Spencers Youtube channel. Here is some background to the story from the Irish News and the Belfast Telegraph: Constable John Larmour was off-duty and helping out at his brother’s ice-cream parlour in south Belfast when he was shot dead by the IRA in 1988. Two men entered, unmasked, ordered ice cream, and then one of them shot him as he turned his back on him. Constable Larmour’s son Gavin, who was just 13 … Read more

Kingsmills Inquest latest

The Kingsmills inquest has been going on now for a couple of weeks. A new twist has, however, just been announced. Last week we were told that a finger print expert decided spontaneously to look again at a palm print on the get away vehicle and that a match had been found. It has now been claimed (unsurprisingly) that the palm print belongs to a well known republican. Little more surprisingly this republican is one who opposes the current Sinn … Read more

Ian Paisley – “We are Irish!”

    Of the DUP membership, 1.4% self-identify as Irish. Yet the founder of the DUP was 100% Irish. This is not speculation or conjecture or troublemaking, this is a statement of fact based upon unequivocal and repeated testimony from Ian Paisley. Ian paisley wrote in 2012 on the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant: “Edward Carson was a life-long Irishman, as well as being a life-long unionist, and that made all the difference… On this 28th day … Read more

The common thread between Ken Livingstone on the IRA and on Jews and Israel

It looks as if Ken Livingstone faces a tougher time with the Labour party over his “Hitler was a Zionist” remarks than he did over consorting with Gerry Adams when the IRA campaign had ten years to run to the first  ceasefire. What was the charge against him in 1983-4?  That he gave comfort to the IRA by supporting  their key demand of “Brits Out,” without demanding an IRA ceasefire.  The evenhandedness of his call for an end to violence … 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

David Beresford hunger strike journalist and historian, RIP

The best journalists are often oddballs. They can win close access to power, regardless of whether power is of the state or anti -state variety. They   lack – and often spurn – status. They tend to walk alone and barely recognise dress codes. Perhaps their greatest quality is persistence against the odds, in which courage and ego play equal parts.   If they have to, they skirt round or quietly ignore the rules of the institutions they work for and … Read more

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 … Read more

Why “Equality under the law” is a prerequisite for a stable, long term and unprocessed peace…

It’s just too good not to reprint Ed Moloney’s latest headline in its entirity: ‘They Haven’t Gone Away, You Know!’ And That’s Okay With Us, Say Brits… Aside from the dark humour involved, he usefully points back to the IMC report of September 2008. Now with regard to the pressure now mounting on Peter Robinson over a statement he made just prior to that report, this is all very pertinent. Here’s the guts of Robinson’s statement: “There is no purpose for having … Read more

Cartoon – ‘Larv-IRA’

CARTOON: On Bobby Storey’s strange (and self serving) anthropomorphic metaphor describing the transformation of the IRA, from a caterpillar into a butterfly: “They’ve flown away, you know?”

Ahern: IRA allowed continue to prevent vacuum

Since he left office in 2008, Bertie Ahern rarely ventures into the spotlight or gives any real in-depth comments about Northern Ireland. However, even his most ardent critics would acknowledge his role in bringing about the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreement. Today he as spoken to Fiach Kelly in the Irish Times about the current crisis in Northern Ireland. Kelly gives his introduction; Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it was envisaged the Provisional IRA would continue to exist … Read more

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 … Read more

Adams: ‘Those who threaten to take action against Sinn Féin in the Assembly and Executive have no basis whatsoever for this.’

Continuing the round of statements from party leaders, the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has spoken about the recent developments in the McGuigan murder. Here are his comments; The killing of Kevin McGuigan was wrong and those who were involved in it are criminals who do not represent republicanism. The so-called group Action against Drugs is a criminal gang. It is a mix of criminals and former republicans who have engaged in intimidation and violence in pursuit of their criminal … Read more

Ex IRA man Kevin McGuigan Sr shot dead in the Short Strand area…

A suspect in the Jock Jock Davison murder was last night shot dead in the Short Strand area of Belfast. The Irish News has good coverage on the story: The former IRA killer is believed to have pulled the trigger on his one-time boss Davison, who was shot dead in the city’s Markets area in May. Once a high-ranking republican, McGuigan was jailed for the attempted murder of a soldier during the Troubles. He was kneecapped by the Provisionals more than a decade ago … Read more