Editorial from Irish Political Review, September 2004
Northern Ireland: Statecraft?
When Gerry Adams suggested the disbanding of the IRA in order to deprive the Unionists of an excuse for not working the Agreement, Peter Robinson responded by confirming that the existence of the IRA was only an excuse. The Irish News headline on 11th August was Robinson: End To IRA Not Enough:
"The DUP, he said, simply will not sign up to go back to the kind of political institutions that exist in the Good Friday Agreement just because the IRA does what it should have done years ago".
Disbanding the IRA is a necessary precondition to the negotiation of further concessions by the nationalist side which would lead to the re-establishment of devolved institutions. The disbanding would have to be done in public: "Unionists want to weigh the decommissioned semtex".
Robinson did not spell out the further concessions in this statement, but it has various other ways in mind of humiliating the republican movement. But, more important, the DUP statement of its strategic position following its electoral victory over Trimble's party made it clear that its object was a form of devolution which operated by majority rule, with the Ministers of the various departments acting under the authority of the Assembly.
This means that its rejection of the Agreement in 1998, before the IRA had the opportunity of disbanding under it, still holds. It will not agree to the restoration of devolved institutions under the Agreement, regardless of what the IRA does.
Trimble appears to be a spent force. We described his position from the start as that of saboteur of the Agreement from within, and we see no reason to revise that opinion. He signed the Agreement under duress. Blair cornered him personally and threatened that the alternative for Unionism would be worse if he did not sign. So he signed. And within minutes he gave a press conference which was essentially an anti-Agreement speech. And so he continued for four years. And then, with the Agreement reduced to shreds, and Blair preoccupied with the destruction of Iraq, the way was open for a straightforward Unionist rejection of the Agreement.
In truth, the Unionist electorate never agreed to the Agreement. It was bamboozled and manoeuvred into voting for it by Tom Kelly, who was recruited from the BBC by Blair to be his Dr. Goebbels. Having gained the spurious assent of the Unionists to the Agreement, Tom Kelly was promoted to Downing Street where he deployed his black arts against Dr. Kelly, who had blurted out the truth about Blair and Iraqi w.m.d. to Andrew Gilligan.
Trimble sacrificed his party to the cause of fundamentalist Unionism. The cause has now been taken up by the partner with whom he danced the Orange jig at Drumcree ten years ago.
Adams has said that the transfer of police powers to a devolved government is a condition of further progress. Robinson is in favour of the transfer of policing in the long run, which means after majority-rule devolution has been regained.
IRA Show No Signs Of Going Away Says Orde. Orde is the Chief constable of the RUC in its new guise. He is quoted as follows:
"There is nothing to say currently that the Provisional IRA have done anything to shut up shop" (Irish News, 24th August).
The IRA is of course a legal body since 1998, and the 1998 conditions under which it undertook to fade away were not met.
Orde made his statement after Gerry Kelly and his colleagues had stood between his policemen and nationalists who were attacking them in Ardoyne on the famous 11th Night, the night before July 12th. "Thank heavens they were there", said the Chief Constable, after Kelly had incurred injuries from police (a broken wrist) and from nationalists (bruises) while protecting the coercive apparatus of the State.
Orde has become a very political policeman. At the end of last year he fuelled a particular anti-Sinn Fein campaign with a statement that the IRA had engaged in kidnapping in central Belfast. No prosecutions followed. The purpose was not to prosecute crime but exert political pressure. Then, in a bizarre turn of events, the alleged victim of the alleged kidnapping was arrested and charged with murderous intent. It was generally understood that he was being punished for failing to substantiate the allegation of kidnapping—an allegation over which the Minister for Justice in Dublin and the leader of the Opposition waxed eloquent. The Bobby Tohill case was very much in the news for a while. It was taken up by the Independent Monitoring Commission, a subservient group consisting of Lord Alderdice and a few other time-servers, which tried to confuse itself in the public mind with General de Chasterlaine's really independent International Monitoring Commission (which has its status under the Belfast Agreement). On 20th August the charges against Tohill were withdrawn without explanation, but the fact hardly registered in the news. Such is public life in Belfast under the suspended Agreement.
Brian Feeney, who is by far the best political commentator writing for the press in Ireland, suggests that Adams, in his remarks about disbanding the IRA, is not primarily concerned about depriving the Unionists of an excuse. (And it has been our opinion ever since Trimble's first post-Agreement press conference that one excuse would be followed by another in an infinite series.) He says in the Irish News of 25th August: "If the IRA has to stand down the DUP may provide a useful excuse but the real reason is to be found in Dublin".
Sinn Fein now has eggs in two baskets. And it is the only party in Ireland engaged in what might be called statecraft.
C O N T E N T S
Northern Ireland: Statecraft?
The Secret Cult Of The Irish Times.
A "Get Ó Caoimh" Campaign.
Criostóir de Baróid
The Irish Times Declaration Of Commitment.
The Oath sworn by the Editor et al
Michael Smith And The Indian Mutiny.
Planning Gone Mad.
An Cor Tuathail: The Contest Of Oisín And Patrick (2).
(Compiled by Pat Muldowney)
Said Collins To De Valera.
Was Elizabeth Bowen Irish?
Biological Politics, On Martin Mansergh And Others.
News In Brief. (Capt. Kelly: Petty Vindictiveness; D-Day; Munster Joinery)
Israel: Time To Act On EU Association Agreement.
Labour Comment, edited by Pat Maloney:
Off The Rails (Part Two).
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