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July 31, 2005

IRA Begins Destruction of Weapons

News about Ireland & the Irish

SB 07/31/05 IRA Begins Destruction Of Weapons
SF 07/31/05 Irish America Won Over By Adams
BB 07/31/05 Man Is Shot Dead In 'Feud' Attack
BB 07/31/05 Thumbscrews To Turn On Politicians
TO 07/31/05 DUP To Wait Two Years Before Sharing Power
BB 07/31/05 'Security Response' To IRA Move
BB 07/31/05 Military Response To IRA Move Expected
NY 07/31/05 IRA Backs Off; Loyalist Battle One Another
SB 07/31/05 Now The Real Dealmaking Begins
SB 07/31/05 Who Will Fill IRA Vacuum?
ST 07/31/05 A Farewell To Arms: Why Adams Blinked
ST 07/31/05 Bandit Country Has Lost Enthusiasm For Peace
SM 07/31/05 Commission Plan To Heal Wounds Of Irish Terror
SB 07/31/05 IRA Move Puts SF In Coalition Firing Line
SB 07/31/05 Opin: Provos Always Killers Without A Cause
SB 07/31/05 Opin: IRA Was Fighting The Wrong War
SB 07/31/05 IRA Q&A: What Next For The North?


IRA Begins Destruction Of Weapons

31 July 2005 By Barry O'Kelly and Pat Leahy

The Provisional IRA is preparing to carry out a major act
of arms decommissioning this weekend, according to informed

The act is to be witnessed by two clergymen, a Protestant
and a Catholic, and Canadian General John de Chastelain.
Sources said it would be the most significant act of
decommissioning to date.

IRA leaders are believed to have already begun the process
of collecting guns from the organisation's estimated 600
members. This process began five weeks ago, according to
republican sources.

Last Thursday's IRA statement, declaring an end to armed
struggle, is expected to be reciprocated by the destruction
over the next six months of the controversial British Army
watchtowers in south Armagh. The joint police and army base
at Forkhill is also to be closed. A similar base in
Crossmaglen is to be dramatically scaled back, while
British Army patrols in the area are to be withdrawn.

However, it is believed that the Garda Special Branch will
continue to monitor IRA members around the country." We
will still be monitoring the same people as before to make
sure they are playing ball," a detective said. "There is
also a worry that they could join the dissidents. But the
primary focus now will be on monitoring the dissidents

The Special Branch recently launched a review of its
personnel resources in anticipation of the statement
winding down the IRA.

About 300 officers are believed to be engaged in monitoring
republicans. This figure will remain unchanged in the short

"There will be some changes down the road, and resources
will be redirected to dealing with Islamic groups," a
source said.

Meanwhile, senior Fianna Fáil figures have played down
recent statements by justice minister Michael McDowell,
which suggested that the Criminal Assets Bureau would
intensify its efforts to target the wealth of senior

"McDowell is capable of saying anything," said one
government source. Describing his input into Northern
negotiations, the source said: "He's a player, but he's not
a serious player."

Other Fianna Fáil sources insisted that Northern policy was
Fianna Fáil's responsibility, and criticized McDowell for
making statements with the potential to derail the
painstaking work of the last few months.

"He appears to be unable to control his mouth," said one

Government sources suggested that a timetable of events,
including decommissioning in several stages, has been put
in place, in the lead-up to elections in the North next
year and the restoration of the devolved government.

Crucially, sources said the government was satisfied with
the response of Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party
(DUP) to the events of last week. Dermot Ahern, the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, had a telephone conversation
with Peter Robinson, deputy leader of the DUP, last
Thursday afternoon.

It has also been learned that gardai are unlikely to
successfully prosecute members of the gang who took part in
the €37.8 million Northern Bank heist last December.


Irish America Won Over By Adams

31 July 2005 By Niall O'Dowd

In January, the republican movement appeared to be in major
trouble in the US. The killing of Robert McCartney, the
Northern Bank robbery and the relentless focus of the US
and British and Irish media on criminality appeared to
spell gloom and doom.

Suddenly, the collapse of the peace talks before Christmas
began to loom large. Questions were being posed as to the
true intentions of Sinn Féin, and for the first time some
of their core supporters were starting to worry too.

It was a time when supporters were going wobbly, when
allegations by Bertie Ahern, in particular, that Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness knew about the Northern Bank
robbery, had hit home.

The notion of Adams and McGuinness being complicit in a
bank robbery was truly shocking to Irish Americans.

It flew in the face of everything they knew about the men,
whose integrity has always been unquestioned.

The fact that the allegations had been made by Bertie Ahern
and not by 'the Mad Dog', as some referred to Michael
McDowell, was all the more troubling.

Several key supporters in the US were wavering. Congressman
Peter King, for long the lynchpin of republican support in
the United States, was the most prominent name.

King had been changed by the September 11, 2001 attacks. He
was now a dedicated partisan of the Bush position, a
powerful voice for increased security measures and having
no haven for terrorists. As part of his shift he became
noticeably more critical of Sinn Féin.

A front page article in the New York Sun confirmed the
shift. In it, King came as close as he had ever done to
stepping back from his support for Sinn Féin. The talisman
of the movement's support in the US was wavering.

There were others. Some quietly stated that they wanted to
be dropped from invitation lists. Others decided they would
have to be careful about donations.

They were the kind of soft supporters, many of them
businessmen, drawn to Sinn Féin in the wake of the IRA
ceasefire, as they saw a unique opportunity to help in a
small way to bring peace to Ireland.

They were bound to step back at the first hints of
criminality against the Sinn Féin leadership which were
being widely spread by the Irish government, among others.

At the White House, where even a whiff of involvement in
criminality or terrorism spells death, the atmosphere had
changed remarkably too. Any connection, no matter how far-
fetched, to September 11 and terrorism was anathema.

The welcome flag would not be out on St Patrick's Day for
Sinn Féin.

Administration members briefed reporters privately that it
was only a matter of time before the party was stopped
coming into the US at all. A warning shot was fired when
Rita O'Hare, Sinn Féin's American liaison, was denied a
visa at short notice.

Senator Edward Kennedy, the catalyst for so much of the
early involvement by then US president Bill Clinton in the
peace process, made a direct point of distancing himself
from the group and refused to meet Sinn Féin on St
Patrick's Day.

A sustained effort by the British Information Service to
blacken Sinn Féin's reputation in the US had begun to pay

A flood of editorials condemned their actions. What 30
years of guerrilla war could not undo, it seemed, the
McCartney killing and Northern Bank raid had succeeded in

Into that maelstrom stepped Gerry Adams. He is a less
frequent visitor to the US these days than Martin
McGuinness, yet he has an amazing connection to many of the
key Irish American players, links forged for over a decade
since the run-up to the first IRA ceasefire in 1994.

During those tough times Adams delivered on extraordinary
commitments, including winning an IRA ceasefire in
1994,which seemed impossible to many at the time.

Clearly understanding that problems had developed in
America, Adams flew over to address them. He convened a
series of meetings with key players.

Adams took the criminality and other issues head-on. His
style, professorial and thoughtful in public, can be very
different in private.

He cuts to the chase, often very aggressively; he can by
turns be angry and charming.

He is always in command in a meeting, with endless self-
assurance, well capable of a barbed put-down of someone's

He made the case forcefully that neither McGuinness nor he
knew anything about the bank raids. He also made it clear
that the McCartney murders had not been sanctioned in any
form by any republican, and that it was the result of a
bar-room brawl.

He talked about the breakdown in the peace process and the
failed initiative with the DUP.

He understood that republicans were now on the back foot,
and that was a dangerous place for them to be.

He left no doubt that they would soon set about regaining
the initiative.

Irish Americans had long argued that the only way to do so
was to act unilaterally - that instead of always waiting
for the Lanigan's Ball version of Irish politics, where one
side steps in and the other steps out immediately, a
unilateral act would completely confound Sinn Féin's
critics and hand the initiative back to them.

Adams was already there.

He understood perfectly what his organisation had to do to
seize back the initiative it had lost during that troubled

He left no one in any doubt what he would be trying to
bring about in the following months.

In a few meetings, he turned the situation around. The
chorus of murmurs that the Sinn Fe¨¨ in leadership was
turning a blind eye, and, worse, acquiescing in criminal
activities, was silenced.

There was a belief that Adams would succeed in his next
massive effort, to have the IRA move unilaterally to end
their campaign.

When the first IRA ceasefire collapsed in 1997 and Irish
Americans were running for the hills in their droves, Adams
steadied the ship by a simple assurance that he felt the
ceasefire could be won back. He was as good as his word.

This time, too, with the community and men like Peter King
wavering, Adams made another statement, that he would seek
every means possible to move the IRA to a unilateral
decision to take the political path exclusively. He gave
his word on that, which was enough for even the most
dubious supporters. He had turned around a potentially
disastrous situation for the party in America with a simple

In April, when the Adams analysis recommending that the IRA
take the political path was published, the Irish American
supporters realised once again that he was as good as his
word. Last Thursday they realised that he had once again
delivered what many thought impossible.

There are very few nay-saying voices now.

Niall O'Dowd is publisher of the Irish Voice newspaper.


Man Is Shot Dead In 'Feud' Attack

One man has been shot dead and a second injured in a gun
attack in north Belfast.

It is understood the shooting happened at Wheatfield
Crescent, off the Crumlin Road, at about 1740 BST.

A loyalist source has told the BBC that the shooting is
part of the continuing loyalist paramilitary feud.

The BBC has also been told that the victim was linked to
the Loyalist Volunteer Force. The police said their
investigation was at an early stage.

It is the third murder in a current feud between rival
loyalist paramilitaries.

'End violence now'

BBC Ireland correspondent Denis Murray said it was not
clear whether the Ulster Volunteer Force or another
loyalist group carried out the killing.

DUP assembly member Nelson McCausland said: "This is a real
disappointment that we have another fatality.

"Two lives have already been taken, and now a third. This
feud is tearing communities apart.

"The general impression in the unionist community is that
they want this brought to an end now."

Two streets off Crumlin Road were cordoned off by police as
they began their investigation and at least nine Army Land
Rovers were also seen heading to the scene.

Police officers were also stationed at Belfast's Mater

Chief Superintendent Mike Little, head of the police's
North Belfast District Command Unit, described the killing
as a senseless attack.

He said: "I am urging those with influence to use that
influence to prevent further loss of life."

Nationalist SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness said: "In
the week of the IRA's decision, it is imperative loyalists
get their act together and end this violence now."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/07/31 01:06:08 GMT



Thumbscrews To Turn On Politicians

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

The tug of war is on.

The British and Irish governments are making it clear that
they will put the thumbscrews on the DUP to talk to Sinn
Fein early in the New Year if an Independent Monitoring
Commission report gives the IRA a clean bill of health in

DUP sources are indicating that it could be 18 months to
two years before they will consider sharing power with

Gerry Adams says that if the DUP goes slow, then North-
South co-operation should go quick.

All these competing timetables would be disrupted if the
IMC decided that the IRA had lapsed back into its old ways
and produced a negative report.

But does the quango have the independence to highlight any
glitches in the new era?

The IMC says it will monitor activities such as the use of
violence, committing crimes, recruiting or training
members, gathering intelligence, targeting people,
procuring material and exiling or intimidating people.

Interviewed on the BBC's Inside Politics, Peter Hain says
he will not seek to influence the commission's four members
in any way, insisting they are eminent people who will make
entirely independent judgements.

However, unlike, say, the Police Ombudsman's office, the
commission has no investigative arm of its own and will
remain reliant on the information the British and Irish
security services put at its disposal.

Those who remember the era of the Direct Action Against
Drugs killings in the 1990s will recall how slow the police
were to blame some violent incidents on the IRA.

In the case of Shankill bomber Sean Kelly, Mr Hain has now
openly said that, because of the new context, he will not
submit intelligence material put at his disposal to another
quango, the Sentence Review Commission.

Officially the context did not change until 1600 BST on
Thursday, 28 July, yet Sean Kelly's release took place the
night before.

To the layman, it looked like a precondition for the ground
breaking IRA statement.

However, on Inside Politics Mr Hain vehemently rejected the
suggestion that he had given in to blackmail.

Presuming there are no glitches, the DUP may still play
hard to get.

DUP sources believe that waiting three years after Tony
Blair's Acts of Completion speech has not done republicans
much harm, so they may be tempted to follow suit.

The creation of a shadow assembly could provide cloud cover
for the DUP entering dialogue with Sinn Fein.

The failed Comprehensive Agreement drawn up in December
envisaged the thorny issue of devolving policing and
justice being tackled in a shadow assembly committee.

As the fisherfolk of Portavogie know well, there is a
precedent for the DUP and Sinn Fein taking places in such
committees, even if the old Agriculture Committee chairman,
one Ian R K Paisley, used to point at his republican
colleagues rather than address them by name.

Peter Hain is willing to look at the idea of a Shadow
Assembly if it is intended to prepare the ground for full

However, he is wary of setting up anything which will
become a substitute for local politicians sharing power.

Government sources are concerned, for instance, that the
DUP's idea of a scrutiny assembly would simply breed an
atmosphere in which the local parties would compete to
score oppositional points on direct rule ministers.

While most people in Northern Ireland undoubtedly want a
safer future for their children and grandchildren, they
will also be concerned about what the latest developments
could mean for their wallets.

On the one hand, as the CBI has pointed out, political
stability should provide the foundations for a more
prosperous, outward looking Northern Ireland.

On the other, Mr Hain says he will not delay the
introduction of water charges and higher rates so that
local politicians can consider alternatives in a revived

The target date for the water charges is April 2006, but
that could slip by six months to a year.

The target date for higher rates is April 2007.

Mr Hain has challenged the local parties to get into power
quickly if they do not like these Treasury driven measures.

However, the Machiavellian might suspect they may be
tempted to let the direct rule team take the strain in an
argument in which Gordon Brown holds all the cards.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/30 08:41:08 GMT


DUP To Wait Two Years Before Sharing Power

Liam Clarke

THE Democratic Unionist party will insist on a two-year
decontamination period before entering government with Sinn
Fein if the IRA fails to provide visual proof that it is
has dumped its weapons.

The party has warned that in the absence of transparent
decommissioning it will demand an extended period of IRA
inactivity before sharing power with the republicans.

Last night Peter Robinson, the deputy leader of the DUP,
said: "If they (the IRA) do their decommissioning in a
hole-in-the-corner way, we could be talking several years
of an assessment period to gauge their intentions. If they
do things openly and transparently then obviously the
period of assessment could be significantly shortened."

By openly and transparently, the DUP means with a full
photographic record of the decommissioning process and an
inventory of the arms put beyond use. This, they believe,
is necessary to build confidence among their voters that
the IRA threat has passed.

"The less transparency you have the more time it will take
for people to feel confident," said Robinson.

Jeffrey Donaldson, a DUP MP and member of the party's
negotiating team, said the IRA and Sinn Fein had refused to
move before carrying out a period of consultation with
their grassroots and ensuring their followers were happy.
"We have the same approach. We will not move into
government unless we are confident that the unionist
community can support what we are doing. It may be that we
will want to test public opinion on the issue through an
election." Elections to the suspended Northern Ireland
assembly are not due until 2007.

Donaldson added: "That period of assessment will lengthen
with the lack of transparency by the IRA on
decommissioning. It has already lengthened as a result of
the early release of Sean Kelly (the Shankill bomber),
which has dented unionist confidence."

Robinson and Donaldson will drive the point home this
Wednesday when they bring a delegation of people injured
in, or bereaved by, the Shankill bombing to meet Peter
Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary. He agreed to release
Sean Kelly, who planted the bomb that killed 10 people in
1993, after reading a draft of the IRA statement.

The DUP's attitude represents a setback for the British and
Irish governments. They had hoped that, if the IRA held to
promises made in its statement, they might restore power
sharing next spring.

While the DUP may not be willing to enter government so
soon, the party's leaders are prepared to enter a shadow
assembly without executive powers. Such an interim assembly
would not have local ministers sharing power but could
scrutinise the work of British ministers. Nationalists
might accept this plan as a stepping stone to full power

The British Army is due to start demolishing a number of
other security bases in Northern Ireland this week, paving
the way for a reduction of troops down to garrison level.
Bases earmarked for early closure include several
watchtowers in south Armagh.


'Security Response' To IRA Move

A major security response to Thursday's IRA statement is
expected at the start of next week.

It is likely to mean significant changes to the security
landscape in south Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry.

It is expected that the security base on the top of
Belfast's Divis Tower will be dismantled.

On Friday, the Army began the first steps of dismantling
security bases in south Armagh after the IRA's statement
saying it had ended its armed campaign.

BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan said: "I think if
everything goes to plan, we will see the first steps
towards removing more of the Army watchtowers in south

"There will also be the controversial Army watch tower at
Divis on the Falls Road and what's called the Masonic
Observation Post in Derry.

"All of that work is expected to be completed within weeks.

"We should also watch out for significant political and
security statements.

"All of this is going to mean fewer troops in Northern

"I think what we're seeing are the first signals and
quicker steps towards the planned peace time garrison."

On Friday, it was announced that a base at Forkhill will
close, while a watchtower at Sugarloaf Mountain and an
observation post at Newtownhamilton police station will
also be removed.

The British and Irish governments are considering the next
steps to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

An updated programme of "security normalisation" will be
published soon.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said a reduced
military presence was one of a series of measures to be put
in place.

He said that the ceasefire watchdog, the Independent
Monitoring Commission, will report on progress made in
October and again in January.

Unionists have reacted angrily to the news of the Army
posts being dismantled.

The British government also intends to introduce
legislation in the autumn to allow paramilitary fugitives
to return home.

In a statement released on Thursday, the IRA said it would
pursue exclusively peaceful means.

The IRA statement said: "All volunteers have been
instructed to assist the development of purely political
and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful

Political talks last year failed to restore devolution,
which stalled amid claims of IRA intelligence gathering at
Parliament Buildings, Stormont, in 2002.

The Provisional IRA's campaign of violence was aimed at
forcing an end to the British presence in Northern Ireland,
leading to a united Ireland.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/30 16:59:19 GMT


Military Response To IRA Move Expected

By Brian Rowan
BBC Northern Ireland security editor

Last Thursday when the IRA ordered an end to its armed
campaign, it signalled that its "war" was over and that it
was leaving the stage.

Now, we are expecting an immediate and significant military
response, moves towards a peacetime garrison, and moves
towards ending "Operation Banner" - how the Army describes
its support role to the police in Northern Ireland.

The government has already announced plans for the
publication of a revised "normalisation" plan and that will
mean significant early moves to reduce the Army's presence
in Northern Ireland.

We should watch for important statements from politicians
and security chiefs at the start of next week.

Within hours of the IRA announcement last Thursday, the
Army began dismantling one of its eight watchtowers in
south Armagh.

It has long been a republican demand that they should all
be demolished, and that will happen over a period of two

Work on dismantling more posts will begin next week, not
just in south Armagh, but in west Belfast and in

This will include the first moves to remove the
controversial Divis Tower on the Falls Road, in the
constituency of the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.

In terms of what is being planned, the words "front
loading" are being used - that means quicker, first steps
towards that planned peacetime garrison.

Unionist politicians will see much of this as playing to
republican demands and we can expect angry responses when
the full details of what is envisaged are announced.

Already they have had to absorb Wednesday's release of Sean
Kelly, the man convicted of the IRA Shankill bombing.

Unionists will also have concerns about the implications
of all of this

He had been freed from prison early as part of the Good
Friday Agreement, but had been returned to jail by the
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain in June.

On the planned security moves, this is not just about
watchtowers and Army bases, it is also about reducing troop
numbers to about 5,000.

Unionists will also have concerns about the implications of
all of this.

But the government and security chiefs look set to push
ahead and soon we should hear exactly what is planned and
when it will happen.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/30 17:39:07 GMT


July 31, 2005

As I.R.A. Backs Off, Loyalist Gangs Battle One Another


BELFAST, Northern Ireland, July 30 - The Protestant
paramilitary groups who were the Irish Republican Army's
ruthless foes for four decades say they will wait and see
if the I.R.A. upholds its promise to disarm before they
make any similar gestures. But these days, it almost seems
the loyalists have already switched their focus, from
fighting the I.R.A. to fighting one another.

In a town called Hollywood on the outskirts of Ulster's
capital, police officers have had to set up nightly
checkpoints to keep warring Protestant factions apart, at a
cost of $53,000 per day. They acted after hundreds of
people aligned with one loyalist gang drove another gang's
families out of their homes last Wednesday. Residents say
the victims were evicted for selling drugs, but police
officers, who have seized around $700,000 worth of hashish
in Hollywood in recent weeks, say the episode was part of a
turf war between rival loyalist factions.

"This is the fifth feud since 1997," said Henry McDonald,
author of two books on loyalist paramilitaries. "But people
forget that they're still an armed threat."

The largest of these groups, the Ulster Defense
Association, "could arm an infantry battalion," he added.

For decades, Catholic and Protestant paramilitaries
terrorized working-class people in the opposite communities
with tit-for-tat killings of each other's members and of
civilians, while acting as de facto defenders of their own
side. As a killing machine, the I.R.A. was more effective,
claiming double the number of lives.

But loyalists - so called because of their loyalty to the
British crown - often operated with the help of Protestant-
dominated British security agents who wanted to undermine
the I.R.A., and with a savagery that became infamous
because of serial killers like the Shankill Butchers, a
gang that killed 30 innocent Catholics with meat cleavers
in the 1970's. In Protestant areas, Union Jacks fly, and
murals on the walls of houses show oversized portraits of
Queen Elizabeth alongside threatening images of loyalist
military exploits.

But by the 1990's, the worst sectarian viciousness had
faded, and guerrilla fighters put their energies elsewhere.
"There has been very little violence between paramilitary
organizations since the cease-fires in 1994," said Adrian
Guelke, a professor of comparative politics at Queen's
University in Belfast, referring to battles between
Protestant and Catholic groups. Instead, he said, "Feuding
is part of the territory; it has always been around in some
shape or form."

Even though criminal enterprise - besides drug dealing,
police say the groups are involved with extortion, money
laundering and some smuggling - and controlling urban areas
may currently be their principal activities, loyalist
groups change to suit the political climate, and could
easily become more of a threatening, or politically active,
force, if Protestants grow more disaffected, Mr. Guelke

"I don't think they can be written off entirely," he said.
"It's a bit chameleonlike."

When the I.R.A. renounced violence on Thursday and stated
its intention to disarm completely, Gerry Adams, who is
suspected of being a former I.R.A. commander (a charge he
has always denied) and is president of its political wing,
Sinn Fein, encouraged others to follow it into permanently
peaceful activity. "I would like to think that as the
import of the I.R.A.'s decision starts to play out,
sensible people within loyalism will follow the example,"
he said.

Peter Hain, appointed by Britain as secretary of state for
Northern Ireland, followed up with a strongly worded rebuke
of "gangsterism masquerading as loyalism," which he said is
in "self-destruct mode."

"Working-class communities in Protestant areas have
suffered so much in the last 30 years, and now they are
bearing the brunt of further intimidation and attack," he
said. "What makes this worse is that this intimidation and
violence is from those who claim to be representing their
own communities, and who say they are proud of their

Signs of change in the I.R.A. include even its wardrobe. At
a recent remembrance ceremony, republican activists wore
khakis and green blazers instead of their traditional ski
masks and combat boots. The organization, if it adheres to
the spirit of the Thursday statement, is expected to morph
into a type of veterans' association and political pressure
group for its more than 1,000 members .

But loyalist groups, referred to by a bewildering array of
three-letter abbreviations that are still daubed in spray
paint across much of Belfast, are unlikely even to be able
to respond in any formal way to the new I.R.A., in part
because there is no one to speak for them. Many of the
paramilitary commanders who engaged in the peace talks in
1998 have been imprisoned for returning to violence, or
driven out of the country during feuds.

"The I.R.A. is a more disciplined body, and the quality of
its leadership is higher," Mr. Guelke said.

The most notorious loyalist leader, Johnny Adair of the
Ulster Defense Association, known for his violent temper
and bulging biceps and known by his nom de guerre, Mad Dog,
was flown to Britain upon his release from prison in part
because of a turf war; former comrades threatened to kill
him if he returned to Northern Ireland. And loyalist
politicians have lost their seats on local councils as Ian
Paisley and his Democratic Unionist Party, which has no
criminal connections, provided a more palatable option for
Protestant voters.

David Ervine, a loyalist politician on the provincial
legislature who had previously served prison time for
possession of a bomb, said the current conflicts within
loyalism stem from the lack of an effective police force,
which would replace the vigilante role that paramilitaries
play in working-class urban neighborhoods.

"We police by press statement nowadays," he said. And while
he acknowledged that many loyalists are involved in crime -
"we have those who are certainly masquerading as patriots"
- he said similar conflicts around the world, like those in
central America, have rarely ended without paramilitaries
engaging in criminal activity afterward.


Now The Real Dealmaking Begins

31 July 2005 By Paul T Colgan

While the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the British Prime
Minister Tony Blair will no doubt have drunk to each
other's health this weekend, both men sharing in the warm
glow following Thursday's IRA statement ending its armed
struggle, they are likely to wake tomorrow with a political

Ahern has welcomed the news that the IRA is to concentrate
fully on political and democratic methods as
"unprecedented'' and potentially "momentous''.

Blair, in his typically understated manner, described it as
a "step unparalleled in magnitude''.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and the party's chief
negotiator Martin McGuinness, like the DUP leader Ian
Paisley, tend to avoid the "devil's buttermilk'', so it can
be expected that both men will awaken clear sighted, if a
little harried, about what the coming months and years hold
for the North.

Republicans pride themselves on their ability to devise
strategies to get them out of the tightest political spot.

Senior members of the republican movement argued that the
decision to stand down the IRA, putting aside any moral
justification or long-term strategic reasons that there may
have been for such a move, put the DUP firmly on the back

In reality, having endured months of sustained opprobrium
over the robbing of the Northern Bank and the killing of
Robert McCartney, the republican movement had little option
other than to do what it did last week.

Having once devised the notion of the "long war'', they
know that attempts to wrap up the loose ends in peacetime
may be just as protracted.

The DUP was never going to share power with republicans
after the events of December (the Northern Bank robbery)
and January (the McCartney murder).

If the IRA leadership did indeed sanction the Northern Bank
heist on December 20, it ensured that all of Paisley's
Christmases came at once.

In a single bound the Ballymena man was freed from any
obligation to engage, seriously or otherwise, in bilateral
talks with Sinn Féin.

As this slowly dawned on republicans in the weeks that
followed, it became apparent that only a unilateral act of
some real significance by the IRA would enable Sinn Féin to
move forward.

With decommissioning expected in a matter of days, the bona
fides of the IRA transition will soon become clear.

If Ahern and Blair get what they've been promised - and
they certainly seem happy with what is on offer - then
their sights will settle on Paisley.

His response to the IRA statement, while predictable, was
nonetheless bereft of his customary fire and brimstone -
prompting some hope that he may be contemplating doing a
deal. However, serious problems remain.

Going on anecdotal evidence, the broader unionist community
remains comfortably in favour of keeping Sinn Féin out in
the cold for some time to come.

It has long been noted that unionism is now quite content
to accept direct rule from London if the alternative
remains having to put up with Sinn Féin ministers in

Direct rule works well for unionists - the work of the
North-South institutions is curtailed and republicans are
kept out of government.

It has been nationalism that has suffered most in political

Strongly nationalist areas such as south Armagh and east
Tyrone remained heavily militarised.

The potential for an "embryonic'' all-Ireland government
through the work of the cross-border institutions has been
stymied and direct rule ministers, under the direction of
the unionist-dominated Northern Ireland Office, have shown
little understanding of the nationalist position.

Given that many unionists will see a change in the status
quo as an effective loss on their part, it is hard to
envisage how the two governments will be able to exert any
real pressure on Paisley in the short term.

The DUP maintains it stands ready to share power and that
it is republicans who have failed to step up to the
democratic standard.

Party members point to December, when at one stage it
seemed plausible that the DUP would reach agreement with
Sinn Féin, as example enough of its readiness to do the
honourable thing.

However, suspicions persist in nationalist circles that all
was not as it seemed at the time.

Many suggest that Paisley, in conjunction with his son Ian
Paisley Jnr, contrived an escape route by sticking to their
demand for photographs of destroyed IRA weaponry and by
indulging in the strident and uncompromising talk of
surrender and humiliation.

Analysts still refer to the chasm that supposedly exists
between the DUP's Free Presbyterian wing and its secular

So long as Paisley remains, they say, a deal with
republicans will be unlikely.

With a report from the International Monitoring Commission
(IMC) due in January, unionists will be fairly well
informed as to whether the IRA has delivered on its

If Ahern and Blair have any sense they will keep the
champagne on ice until at least then.


Who Will Fill IRA Vacuum?

31 July 2005 By Barry O'Kelly

"They have already gone away, you know," an IRA veteran
said sourly last week, ahead of the formal declaration
instructing all volunteers to hand up their arms.

The man's ironic twist on the famous remark by Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams some years ago - "they haven't gone
away, you know'' - reflects the unease felt by some
republicans about the behind-the-scenes moves leading up to
last week's historic announcement that the IRA was to end
its armed campaign and dump its weaponry.

The IRA's estimated 600 volunteers, minus a handful of
exceptions, are expected to abide by last Thursday's
instruction, an extraordinary achievement, owing as much to
clever internal manoeuvring as it does to the persuasive
powers of Adams and the electoral gains of Sinn Féin.

The manoeuvres have been slow, almost imperceptible at
times. But the IRA which declared an end to armed struggle
was a very different organisation to the one which last
called a ceasefire nine years ago.

The membership, as of 4pm last Thursday, included at least
100 people recruited after the 1997 ceasefire. Their sole
purpose, claim those marginalised in the process, was to
shore up support for Adams's political project.

In Dublin, for instance, between 12 and 15 new volunteers
were recruited last year alone, informed republican sources
told The Sunday Business Post. One of the leading figures
in the movement in the city was a man who never saw active
service, the sources said. New recruits were also taken on
in Louth, South Armagh and Belfast, while those perceived
to be unsupportive were effectively sidelined.

At a senior level, commanders in the key republican areas
of South Armagh, Tyrone and Belfast were brought on to
dominate the Army Council which now has a distinctly
northern bias, thereby ensuring greater discipline over the
militant brigades. Tellingly, South Armagh recently had two
representatives on the seven-member council, one of whom is
a man nicknamed The Surgeon. This newspaper understands
that this veteran battalion commander, who is thought to be
responsible for the deaths of 70 people, is believed to
have grown tired of the project and stood down from the
council. However, the move did not prompt any local
volunteers to leave. The mood in the republican heartland
was one of sombre resignation following the announcement
last week. Only key local commanders had been briefed in
advance, but there was no talk of dissent or defections to
dissident groups.

One source likened the advance briefings to the Adams axis
making an address to a mirror: the key figures being
consulted were already on-message, having been appointed in
the first place by those briefing them.

"I don't have a problem with this," the source said. "Good
luck to them. You're never going to get everybody to
agree." Those not in agreement, he added, now hold little
influence in the republican movement. Or so it seems.
Gardai believe this is the great imponderable hanging over
last week's statement. The best barometer of republican
thinking on such events, an army convention attended by
hundreds of volunteers, did not take place ahead of the
announcement - it was not required after a change in IRA
rules in 1997.

"There was obviously a reason why they didn't hold a

"So who knows how many hardliners are going to move over to
the dissidents? There is no intelligence to show this is
going to happen, but we simply don't know," a Special
Branch detective said.

The Special Branch recently launched a review of its
personnel resources, in anticipation of the statement
winding down the IRA.

About 300 officers are believed to be engaged in monitoring
republicans. This figure will remain unchanged in the short
term. "We will still be monitoring the same people as
before to make sure they are playing ball," a detective

"There is also a worry that they could join the dissidents.
But the primary focus now will be on monitoring the
dissidents themselves."

While the IRA has not actually gone away, the now inactive
group is headed by an army council whose raison d'etre is
to ensure it remains that way. For the first time in its
recent history, the controlling body is now comprised
entirely of people from the North.

This is no coincidence, according to republican sources.
The most committed and experienced IRA members are in the
Northern brigades. And the presence of four men from
Belfast, two from Tyrone and one from South Armagh will
obviously enhance the likelihood of keeping local units in

It is believed that a core unit is being retained to
protect the IRA leadership itself from assassination and to
ensure internal security.

How this will function in practice is unclear. The
dissident Real IRA and Continuity IRA are expected to seek
to capitalise on the demise of the Provisionals. The Real
IRA (RIRA), the bigger of the two, has about 150 members in
Limerick, Dublin, Dundalk, Derry and Belfast. Detectives
said this weekend that RIRA has been actively recruiting in
recent months, particularly in Dublin where it has one
technical expert, a mature college student.

The group is also believed to have one or possibly two
members in the Irish army, the sources said.

However, the organisation is riven by informants and
tainted by its wholesale involvement in crime.

Meanwhile, detectives are sceptical of their own chances of
unravelling the Byzantine business affairs of the
Provisionals, in spite of the expressed determination to do
so by the Minister for Justice Michael McDowell. IRA
sources are similarly sceptical. The huge finance
department once raised millions of euro every year from
cigarette and oil smuggling, cafes, bars, taxi firms,
building companies, property deals, nightclubs and the
occasional bank robbery.

However, these interests have been cut adrift by the
republican movement over the past year, according to
sources. Many of the people running the businesses simply
received start-up loans at low interest. "They are on their
own now, the movement no longer has an interest in them," a
source said.

This generous policy is not without its benefits: anyone
who now stands to gain would be loathe to oppose the Adams
strategy. The financial rewards from the Northern Bank
heist are likely to achieve a similar shift in thinking, if
it is required of those who took part.

Again, gardai are unlikely to successfully prosecute any
member of the 40-plusteamwho carried out the record €37.8
million heist last December. The Sunday Business Post
understands that detectives will be relying on
corroborative evidence to make a link between the €3
million seized in Cork and the bank robbery in Belfast.

"It is beyond doubt that this is the money from the
robbery, and we're confident a case will be made on the
basis of all evidence gathered to date," a source said.

However, the source conceded that it would be extremely
difficult to identify to the satisfaction of an Irish court
that any of the one million seized notes were stolen,
solely on the basis of bank records or forensic evidence
taken from pre-robbery users of the notes.

The source revealed that files on ten people, all of them
from Munster, will be sent to the Director of Public
Prosecutions arising from the wide-ranging probe. Gardai
will be recommending that these people be charged with
money-laundering offences. Most of these people are not
thought to be IRA members.

While the Provisionals have tidied up their financial
affairs, restructured their command structures and
marginalised the mavericks, it has left behind a small,
deeply apprehensive group of activists, who administered
justice as they were instructed to do against drug dealers
and joyriders in working class estates.

"It is no longer our role to go after them [criminals]. But
there's also no protection either," said one source. "All
of that is finished.

"Who knows what's going to happen? And who is going to fill
the vacuum?"


The Sunday Times - Ireland
July 31, 2005

A Farewell To Arms: Why Adams Blinked

Liam Clarke

On Wednesday evening Peter Hain, the secretary of state for
Northern Ireland, got a draft copy of the IRA statement
ending its military campaign. He wasn't disappointed.
Unlike previous IRA statements, there were no "ifs" and
"buts". It was unconditional. IRA members were being told
to dump arms at 4pm the next day.

But there was still a stumbling block that could hold
things up, Downing Street told Hain. There was one last
concession the IRA leadership needed to convince
republicans to make the decisive move: the release from
jail of Sean Kelly, the Shankill bomber.

Kelly is by turns an iconic figure for many hardline
republicans and a hate figure for loyalists, after killing
10 people in a bomb attack on a fish and chip shop in 1993.
He was freed in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday
agreement but Hain had sent him back to jail last month
because of police reports that he was involved in further
IRA activity.

So how could Hain reverse his decision? He realised that
the IRA statement on his desk gave him the means to do it.

A close aide said: "When Peter read the statement he could
see that the basis on which he had detained Kelly had
changed. If the IRA carried this through, then Kelly would
no longer be a danger to others."

So Hain decided to free Kelly on the basis that violent IRA
activity would be at an end once their statement was
issued. The IRA bomber walked free at 8.45pm on Wednesday.
The final piece of the jigsaw was in place. The stage was
set for the four-city choreography of Thursday's IRA

KELLY'S release may have been a last dramatic act, but the
process leading up to the IRA statement was a sweatdown —
six months of unremitting political pressure on Sinn Fein
and the IRA by the British, Irish and American governments.

In the end, the IRA stood down as an active paramilitary
group because it was the only way to get Sinn Fein out of
the political doghouse.

The new political deal is close to the one crafted by the
British and Irish governments at Leeds Castle late last
year. That fell through when the IRA refused to allow its
decommissioned weapons to be photographed, or to say in a
statement that criminality and intimidation were over.

The reason for the IRA's reticence became clear within
weeks of the aborted deal: it carried out the biggest bank
robbery in British or Irish history, stealing £26.5m
(€38.4m) from the Northern Bank in Belfast.

It was then that the pressure started. Bertie Ahern, the
taoiseach, accused Sinn Fein's leadership of being part of
the IRA leadership that sanctioned the raid and accused
them of treating him like an idiot when they denied it. The
British government cut Sinn Fein MPs' Westminster
allowances and scaled down contact with the party.

A month later a gang of IRA members killed Robert
McCartney, a Belfast Catholic and Sinn Fein voter, after an
argument in a pub. Republican guilt was compounded when
organised rioting stopped the police searching for
evidence, and witnesses were intimidated. McCartney's five
sisters launched a high-profile campaign that put
unbearable international pressure on republicans.

The low point for Sinn Fein came when it was excluded from
the St Patrick's Day reception in the White House and the
McCartney sisters were invited instead. Sinn Fein depends
heavily on its American links for finance but cancelled
fundraising events after it became clear that the White
House was considering imposing visa restrictions.

Initially the IRA reacted with denial and bluster. In a
statement in February it accused the British and Irish
governments of "ultimatums, false and malicious accusations
or bad faith". A day later the IRA accused the governments
of "making a mess of the peace process" and warned: "Do not
underestimate the seriousness of the situation." Gerry
Adams, the Sinn Fein president, hinted that the peace
process might not survive indefinitely.

In the past such veiled threats have produced concessions.
This time they met brick walls in Dublin, London and
Washington. The three governments insisted that nothing was
on offer unless the IRA ceased to exist as a terrorist
organisation and disposed of all of its weapons.

With all the political gains built up by Sinn Fein during
the peace process under threat, Adams blinked first. A
final impetus was provided by the Westminster and local
government elections on May 5. Sinn Fein hoped to oust the
SDLP as the largest nationalist party but its prospects
were being threatened by the McCartney fallout and the
pressure from governments.

On April 6, as the election campaign opened, Adams moved to
improve Sinn Fein prospects with a dramatic appeal to the
IRA to abandon violence in favour of politics. He issued a
public appeal to the IRA to forswear violence and adopt the
strategy of "building political support for republican and
democratic objectives across Ireland and by winning support
for these goals internationally".

Adams appeared to be putting his neck, and his leadership,
on the line. But a security source said: "It wasn't as big
a risk as it might have seemed. Adams had done his homework
— he wouldn't have made the appeal if he wasn't sure it
would be carried without a major IRA split."

The Provos promised to give Adams's appeal "due
consideration" and to "respond in due course". Adams
capitalised on this by appealing to floating voters to
support Sinn Fein in order to convince the IRA that there
was a political alternative to violence. He said continued
IRA activity was an "excuse" for unionists not to deal with
Sinn Fein and he would remove it. His party made some
progress, winning a seat from the SDLP, but it failed to
take the seats of Mark Durkan and Eddie McGrady.

Afterwards Adams, Martin McGuinness and a bevy of former
prisoners began a "consultation process" within the IRA. In
reality, it was a sales pitch. In the past, key changes in
IRA policy have been voted on by a general army convention,
an IRA delegate conference. This time Adams didn't risk
one. Instead his men visited IRA units in their areas and
talked them through the agreed changes, carefully crafting
the planned IRA statement to meet their concerns.

"He wore down opposition and kept coming back until he got
the answer he wanted — that is why it took so long," said
one former IRA prisoner.

At a fairly typical meeting in Derry earlier this month,
IRA members were shown a copy of Adams's appeal and asked
for their opinions. Then they were shown a draft of the
planned IRA statement and told that this was the only real
way forward and had been agreed by all the IRA leadership.

In reality one member of the army council, which is now
heavily packed with Adams supporters, had resigned in
April. Sean Gerard Hughes, a South Armagh hardliner, made
it clear he was not going to lead a breakaway or join a
dissident group. According to security sources, Hughes said
he saw no point in remaining a member of the army council
now that it was clear that the campaign was over.

The final IRA statement was remarkably clear in its
wording, in contrast to the convoluted language of previous
pronouncements from the pseudonymous P O'Neill. All IRA
units were ordered to dump arms. All volunteers were
instructed to assist the development of "purely political
and democratic programmes" through "exclusively peaceful
means". There would be complete decommissioning.

Adams will be more than happy with this outcome. Seen
through his eyes, it represents a tremendous moment of
personal achievement. He has brought the entire republican
movement into the democratic process without serious
splits, albeit buying that unity at a terrible cost in
human life.

In the Brownie column he wrote for Republican News while
imprisoned in Long Kesh he had written: "I may not fight
again but I will stand aside for the fighters." Now it was
the fighters who stood aside for Adams. They had given him
their mandate to accept a deal which, in its essentials,
had been on offer since Sunningdale in 1973.

It was a poor return from a 30-year campaign for a united
Ireland, a campaign that Adams had known was doomed since
the 1980s but which he had supported while he bided his

A key person in helping him make the transition was Alec
Reid, a Redemptorist priest at Clonard monastery and a
staunch opponent of violence. Last week Reid said although
he understood the motives of physical force republicans, he
thought that even the 1916 rising had been "a mistake".

He recounted how, in 1988, he had gone to get papers from
Sinn Fein and the IRA to give to John Hume and had seen two
British soldiers butchered by republicans after blundering
into an IRA funeral. Reid had the papers in an envelope and
when he rose from giving the battered soldiers the last
rites, he noticed it was spattered with blood.

That there is still a difference between Reid and Adams
became clear last week. The priest was in Bilbao working
for a resolution to the Basque conflict when he heard news
of the IRA statement. He told the BBC that if he could have
found the Sinn Fein leader that day in 1988, the soldiers'
lives would have been saved. He was wrong. Asked about it
later, Adams denied he would have helped, or been able to
do so.

POLITICALLY, last week's statement will take some time to
bed down. The Democratic Unionist party estimates that it
will take six months to two years of good behaviour by the
IRA before it considers entering government with Sinn Fein.

Progress and IRA good faith will be monitored by the
International Monitoring Commission, which reports on the
state of paramilitary ceasefires every three months. Hain
hopes its next dispatches, in October and January, will
show the IRA to be as good as its word and will pave the
way for talks on power sharing with the DUP.

Rev Ken Newell, the recently retired moderator of the
Presbyterian Church in Ireland, believes that unionists are
reassured by the IRA statement and that the Protestant
churches will now put pressure on loyalist paramilitaries
to follow suit. "The clarity is a definite plus; you don't
need a dictionary to read it," said Newell. "Is it final?
The answer is as clear as daylight: 'yes'. The armed
campaign is over, the war is over."

Others will be more cautious. There are doubts that all IRA
weapons will be destroyed. There is the suspicion that as
Michael McDowell, the justice minister, put it, the IRA
will retain a "lightly armed militia" to protect its
leaders, to carry out robberies and to settle scores.

Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA prisoner and now a critic of
the Provisionals, said: "Here is the problem: are they
going to stop intimidating, threatening their critics,
extortion?" It is an open question. The chief of staff of
the IRA is still Thomas "Slab" Murphy, a millionaire
smuggler and racketeer from South Armagh's bandit country.
Many other members are heavily involved in crime. But it is
clear that the IRA army council is no longer the all-
powerful body it once was. Adams, McGuinness and Martin
Ferris resigned from it earlier this month.

The IRA and Sinn Fein once regarded themselves as the real
army and government of Ireland. They responded only to
military pressure and the IRA constitution described the
Belfast and Dublin parliaments as "partitionist assemblies
whose main tasks are treasonable".

That has changed. The IRA has folded in response to public
opinion and to political pressure. Republicans are now
subject to the same democratic disciplines as other

Richard English, the author of Armed Struggle — A History
of the IRA, is among those who feel that the republican
statement last Thursday was made with one eye on the
backlash against the London suicide bomb attacks.

"It's a terrible thing to say, but Al-Qaeda is really good
for Northern Ireland," he said. "It reminds people of how
horrific terrorist violence is and puts moral pressure on
anyone who wants to be a serious politician to distance
themselves from bombing." Republicans may now be in a win-
win situation, however. "If it works, it looks as if they
have initiated the final unlocking of the problem. If it
doesn't work, everyone will turn to Ian Paisley who will do
a cabaret act of stomping in a way that nobody but his own
supporters will understand," said English.

"So it's probably a good day for republicanism and it might
be a good day for all of us."


Bandit Country Has Lost Enthusiasm For Peace

Dearbhail McDonald

THE ink was barely dry on last week's IRA statement when a
group of army engineers flew in to dismantle the super
Sanger lookout post that has blighted the South Armagh
enclave of Newtownhamilton for almost 30 years.

Local residents, who had heard the army had moved in at 9am
on Friday morning to dismantle the nearby hilltop
observation tower at Sugarloaf mountain in Camlough,
gathered in disbelief to see for themselves whether the
infamous observation post was finally coming down.

Increased security — paratroopers patrolling the streets
and helicopters flying overhead — failed to raise
expectations that the towering concrete and corrugated tin
structure that forces residents to take a two-mile detour
around the town would be torn down.

"It is just like any other day," said Noelle McGarvey, a
mother of three from the village and a local SDLP
councillor. "Don't be fooled by the paras on the streets or
the drone of the helicopters. That means nothing, they're
always here. Newtown is an army barracks with a village
surrounding it, instead of a village that has a police

Thursday's IRA statement, the fruit of six months of
unrelenting pressure on Sinn Fein, called an end to the war
and was billed by the republican party as a momentous
document. But even locals in the IRA's south Armagh
heartland, ground down by years of peace-process tedium,
struggled to respond with appropriate fervour.

"We've been living under a cloud of oppression for so
long," said Frances Caherty, a member of the local
development committee. "I'm trying to get excited about the
IRA statement, I haven't heard it in full yet, but it has
reached a point where total apathy has set in. People still
resent the army presence here, but there's nothing you can
do. You just get on with it.

"You couldn't compare the IRA statement to the Good Friday
agreement, you can't even think about it in that way. But,
hopefully it is a small step towards returning our lives to
some semblance of normality."

In the Central bar, punters were equally unfazed. "Aye, I
suppose it's great. Everyone keeps telling us that it is,
but it's about 11 years too late," said Patrick Haughey
from Cullyhanna. "The problem in Northern Ireland was never
politics. It was sectarianism and it still is. I suppose it
is historical because we can try and move from war to peace
and Catholics will get to have their say, because up until
now they've been ignored."

Publican Neil Gildernew, who owns the Central, said locals
had more important issues, such as policing, criminality
and inward investment, to discuss.

"Nobody is even talking about it," said the cousin of
Michelle Gildernew, the Sinn Fein MEP for Fermanagh/South
Tyrone. "In fact, the only people getting excited about it
are the media. I think it is an historic statement; at
least I hope it is. I'm trying my best to be optimistic.

"Newtownhamilton is the town the world has forgotten.
People don't realise it's still under siege by the
soldiers. I've been burgled three times in recent weeks,
and I've given up on the police catching the hooligans. Who
is policing this area? The paras, the police or
paramilitaries?" In nearby Crossmaglen, therepublican
capital of "bandit country", close to the home Thomas
"Slab" Murphy, chief of staff of the IRA, the presence of
the British Army was of primary concern.

"We'll be the last to go, we're not too optimistic about
any major changes in Cross," said Neil Comiskey, 23, a
regular at Shorts bar. "I want the soldiers off the streets
and the troops out for good. Then I want proper jobs and
opportunities for young people like me. We have nothing to
do all day except hang around the streets".

"The IRA statement is just a bunch of words and it means
nothing to people in Crossmaglen," said Aidan Short, son of
the late publican Paddy Short. "There were more
celebrations in 1994. There was a cataclysmic shift in
people's minds back then. Locals have faith in the
sincerity of the statement, but it's not historic. The
momentum has gone and people here have just got on with
their lives.

"We are still living under watchtowers, we are still cut
off and living in a cocoon. Nobody will trade here because
they think it is unsafe."

Most locals seemed happy to turn a blind eye to the IRA's
criminal enterprise, the subject of much criticism from the
Irish government. "Diesel laundering, smuggling, all the
craic is not criminality, it's a way of life," said one
local. "We don't connect that activity, the way that some
people like Michael McDowell do, with criminality and
paramilitary activity. It's not all going to fund bloody
IRA weapons, everyone does it. They're just trading, and
evading tax while they're at it. That's normal, that's
Crossmaglen, it's not criminality. The IRA statement won't
change that. People are doing well out of it too."

In Camlough, home of Raymond McCreesh, the republican
hunger striker and Conor Murphy, the rising star of Sinn
Fein, reactions to demilitarisation were mixed. "I'm
delighted to see it go," said Barry Doherty, who has lived
in the shadow of the army base in Camlough. "But it should
have come down a long time ago."

Surprisingly, in this republican heartland, nobody openly
called for a return to violence although not everyone was
happy with the decision to dump IRA arms. "You would just
want to be careful about who you talk to about the IRA,"
cautioned one local. "A lot of people aren't as happy with
it as they seem."


Commission Plan To Heal Wounds Of Irish Terror

Nicholas Christian

A TRUTH Commission for Northern Ireland is being planned by
the government to help heal the wounds caused by 30 years
of terrorist violence in the Province.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has said that
he is strongly in favour of a South-African-style
commission which would see those who carried out the
violence on both sides admit the pain and suffering they
caused to victims and their families.

In addition, hopes have risen that the IRA, which declared
an end to its 33-year war last week, will help relatives
trace the 'disappeared' - people who were abducted and
killed by the terror organisation without their families
ever knowing their fates.

The government has been consulting on a new strategy for
victims, their carers and children, who may have grown up
traumatised by what happened during the Troubles.

Hain said last night: "It is vital to moving forward that
those who have lost loved ones or suffered injuries
themselves get access to the support and services they
need. It is about official acknowledgment on the part of
those responsible. The idea of a victims' commission has a
lot of merit."

He added: "This plan would draw on the experience in South
Africa, where a truth and reconciliation commission
collected testimony from victims and confessions from
perpetrators, who were granted amnesty from prosecution.

"However, it would be impossible to copy the South African
idea exactly because the Northern Irish community was
divided in a totally different way."

Nevertheless, the plans would involve directly confronting
a painful past.

Meanwhile, the British and Irish governments have been
accused of throwing concessions at Sinn Fein on the back of
an IRA statement which has "failed" to answer basic

After Thursday's declaration by the Provisionals that they
had ended their armed campaign and would complete a
disarmament programme, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey
accused London and Dublin of "fawning around" Republicans
on the back of a vague announcement.

"Does this mean the IRA is finished and has gone away for
good?" Empey asked. Does this mean that all weapons will be
given up? Does this mean criminal activity is to be ended
forthwith and not privatised or outsourced to criminal

"As far as the Ulster Unionist party is concerned, these
fundamental questions remain unanswered."


IRA Move Puts Sinn Fein In Coalition Firing Line

31 July 2005 By Pat Leahy

The Sinn Féin press conference in Jurys Hotel last Thursday
gave perhaps the best indication of the leadership's plans
for the future.

Held in the penthouse level of the Dublin 4 venue, the
event was stage managed with the sort of media-savvy
precision that has become Sinn Féin's hallmark.

Crowded around Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams were the
young soldiers of the new wave: Pearse Doherty, poised to
take a Dáil seat in Donegal South West; Mary Lou McDonald,
MEP and potential Dáil candidate; David Cullinane, pushing
for a seat in Waterford; and several others.

If P O'Neill is hanging up his balaclava, these are his
successors, and they've already been measured for the

Sinn Féin is the fastest growing political party in the

Although the other main parties have since overcome the
sort of rabbit-in-the-headlights attitude to Sinn Féin's
growth that was their response to the party's breakthrough
in the 2002 election, politicians in all parties believe
that Sinn Féin's participation in government here is a
matter of when, rather than if.

Could the next government include Sinn Fein? It's unlikely.

Even putting the best possible construction on the events
of last week, the next general election in the Republic is
less than two years away, which seems little enough time
for the IRA to have transformed itself fully from a
challenge to the authority of the state into a sort of old
soldiers' association, as was suggested by the Taoiseach.

"Will the IRA be completely retired in two years' time?"
asked one Fianna Fáiler.

"Could Sinn Féin receive security briefings? Could they be
part of government negotiations with the IRA? You'd have to
say no."

Fianna Fáil is the only party not to have ruled out
coalition with Sinn Féin, but in fact, it's far from clear
that such a coalition would suit Sinn Féin's purposes - at
least in the short-term.

"The question," said Gerry Adams last week, "is not whether
Fianna Fáil is willing to go into coalition with Sinn Féin,
but whether Sinn Féin is willing to into coalition with
Fianna Fáil."

Patience and an eye for the long game has characterised
Sinn Féin's "peace strategy'' since the 1980s. It can wait.

Instead, the party wants to concentrate on growing its Dáil
representation - and that means targeting perhaps half a
dozen constituencies where it has healthy chances of taking
seats. While the increase in the party's vote has been
phenomenal, it has yet to achieve the level of support that
means it will automatically challenge for seats simply by
virtue of running Sinn Féin candidates - in the way the
Labour Party does.

Electorally, Sinn Féin still depends on strong individuals
in several constituencies - rather like the Progressive
Democrats - which is why the party so aggressively promotes
its individuals.

The task now is to move to the next level of support, and
to challenge the Labour Party for third place.

It's noticeable that Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has
hardened his anti-Sinn Féin rhetoric in recent months.

While there was a broad - if cautious - national and
international welcome for the IRA's statement of last week,
Rabbitte's response was among the most sceptical: "Is the
IRA going to proclaim itself as the lawful government of
the 32 county Irish republic of Easter Week?'' Rabbitte

"Why has today's important statement come as a direction
from the leadership of the IRA, rather than as a result of
an IRA convention? What is to happen to the vast array of
financial assets built up by the IRA through years of
criminality?...Notwithstanding these questions, today's
statement is welcome . . ."

Underlying these comments is a realisation that Sinn Féin
wants to eat more than Labour's lunch. And not just

Fianna Fáil faces challenges to seats across the northside
of Dublin, particularly in the Taoiseach's own constituency
of Dublin Central, in Waterford, in Donegal South West, in
Meath (perhaps) and in Cork North Central.

Last week's announcement by the IRA will no doubt be to
Sinn Féin's electoral advantage.

But how much? Clearly the 9 to10 per cent of the population
who support Sinn Féin haven't been that worried about the
IRA - the party's support base has been remarkably
resilient in the past six months, despite the worst
political and media assault on Sinn Féin since the days of
the IRA campaign.

But what about the next five or ten per cent that the party
is targeting?

Whether the party's model of working class, left-of-centre
political activism is capable of expansion into the pool of
middle class votes remains to be seen.

"Look, I'd expect them to pick up a couple more seats [at
the next general election]," said one Labour figure.

"But I would have expected them to get that anyway."

Sinn Féin will run more candidates in more constituencies
at the next general election. The party will most likely
gain a small number of seats, and hold what it already has.

It will continue its delicate dance towards the political
mainstream - all the while maintaining enough radicalism
(and republican rhetoric) to keep its own supporters happy,
but steadily making itself "respectable'' enough to
ultimately participate in government. Along that road, too,
lies peril.

"I can't wait to get them into television studios and talk
about tax and roads and childcare," said one senior Fianna
Fáiler. "Not just about the North."

Growing the SF vote

Sinn Féin's vote has jumped in recent years. In the local
elections of 2004, the party won 8 per cent of the vote,
more than double its score in the 1999 elections when it
won 3.5 per cent.

The party now has 54 members of county and city councils,
far more than the Greens and Progressive Democrats but well
behind Labour.

But that doesn't tell the full story. The party didn't run
candidates in every part of the country, so not all voters
got the chance to vote for Sinn Féin.

On the same day, in the European election – when all voters
did get the chance to vote for a Sinn Féin candidate – the
party took 11 per cent of the votes.

This was slightly more than Labour.

Opinion polls published in the meantime have consistently
put the Sinn Féin vote in the 9-11 per cent range, despite
a period of intense political and media hostility to the
party in the wake of the Northern Bank robbery and the
killing of Robert McCartney in Belfast.

In the 2002 general election, the party's candidates won
just under 7 per cent of the vote – up from under 3 per
cent in 1997 – although again, not all voters got the
chance to vote for a Sinn Féin candidate.

The party currently has five TDs.


Opin: Provos Were Always Killers Without A Cause

31 July 2005 By Vincent Browne

Ruairi Ó Bradaigh has a point. He is President of
Republican Sinn Féin.

He was President of Provisional Sinn Féin until he was
ousted by Gerry Adams in the early 1980s.He left
Provisional Sinn Féin and formed Republican Sinn Féin in
1986 when Gerry Adams steered through at the party Ard
Fheis a motion abandoning abstentionism in the South. This
allowed Sinn Féin members elected to the Dáil to take their

In a statement responding to the IRA declaration of an end
to its military campaign, Ó Bradaigh said this was the
logical outcome of its abandonment of what he called the
"revolutionary struggle'' to get Britain out of Ireland.

He said: "The Provisional slogans of 'No Unionist Veto',
'No Return to Stormont' and 'Not a Bullet not an Ounce',
ring very hollowly now. How on earth can British rule in
Ireland be ended, as the Provos claim, by accepting and
implementing that rule through Stormont and other
partitions institutions?"

Ó Bradaigh said: "Eventually they [the Provos] will be

At his press conference at Jurys Hotel, where the Provos
were founded in 1970, quoting - almost - from the Book of
Ecclesiastes, Gerry Adams spoke of a time for war and a
time for peace.

But, in retrospect, why was there a time for war? Why
wasn't it all a time for peace?

What did war achieve, what was the killing of over 1,700
people (the number killed by the Provisional IRA from 1970
to 1996) about?

What, incidentally, was the "martyrdom'' of nearly 300 IRA
volunteers about? What did it achieve that could not have
been achieved through political means alone?

More specifically, what advance does the Good Friday
Agreement of 1998 represent on the Sunningdale Agreement of
1973? Yes, there are some differences.

The Good Friday Agreement envisages a reversion of
responsibility for security and policing to the Northern
Ireland executive, Sunningdale did not provide for that but
left it open.

But what else? Sunningdale provided for power sharing and
all-Ireland institutions.

Sunningdale did not have the sanction of a plebiscite of
the people of Ireland - but if that was an obstacle, who,
other than the unionists, would have opposed it? Do the
"advances'' of the Good Friday Agreement, beyond what was
agreed at Sunningdale 25 years previously, justify the loss
of a single human life, be that of an innocent civilian, a
member of the security forces or of an IRA volunteer?

Looking back on it now, did what was "achieved'' in the
Good Friday Agreement give a scintilla of justification to,
for instance, the massacre of 21 people in Birmingham on
November 21, 1974, the Kingsmills slaughter of January 5,
1976 when ten Protestant workmen were mown down on the side
of the road, the Le Mon holocaust of February 17, 1978 when
seven women and five men were burned to death at a country
hotel, the murder of 15-year-old Paul Maxwell, 14-year-old
Nicholas Knatchbull, and 82-year-old Patricia Brabourne,
who were deliberately killed by IRA members simply because
they were in a boat with Lord Mountbatten at Mullaghmore,
Co Sligo on August 27, 1979.

How about the murder of Lord Mountbatten himself, what was
the justification for killing that 79-year-old man?

Or the justification for the appalling atrocity that same
day at Warrenpoint when 18 soldiers were killed in the most
gruesome of circumstances?

Or the murder of Norman Strange and his son James, at their
home in Tynan Abbey on January 21, 1981? Simply because
they were unionists?

Or the butchery of nine RUC officers in Newry on February
28, 1985? Or the appalling carnage at Enniskillen on
November 8, 1987 when 11 people were killed.

We could go on endlessly, almost, Teebane Cross, the awful
killings of off-duty UDR members, RUC members and prison

What was that about?

Ó Bradaigh as a member of the IRA army council was
responsible for a lot of atrocities, but at least he was
doing it for a purpose we can identify: getting the British
out of Ireland.

We may think it was daft, undemocratic, unjustifiable,
atrocious (and, by the way, I think it was all those), but
at least it was about something.

What were the Provos, since Ó Bradaigh was ousted, about?

How, in retrospect, do they justify the awful killings and

Yes, there are worse mass murderers around and Tony Blair
is one of them, but please will someone in the Provisional
IRA or Sinn Féin explain what were all the killings and
atrocities about? Why was the armed campaign not abandoned
in 1973?

But we are where we are and it is better that the IRA, even
now, should abandon its armed campaign, however belatedly.

But it is not the end of it. I say this not because I
distrust Adams and his associates, but because of the
nature of the IRA.

It is simply not believable that there will be no
'activity' by some members of the IRA in the next several

The test of a complete end to all "activity'' by all
members of the IRA is ridiculous.

The political process should not pivot on such an utter


Opin: After Sunningdale, The IRA Was Fighting The Wrong War

31 July 2005 By Tom McGurk

For the best part of two years now this column has been
calling for a unilateral act from the IRA. Last Thursday,
that act finally took place. In time to come the republican
movement will begin to appreciate why this should have been
done a long time ago. Whatever about winning wars, winning
the peace is what really matters. Now, minus the
paramilitary army and all of the hiding room it gave to
those who feared change, the level political playing field
is at last in view.

Ever since the Hume/Adams dialogue began over 15 years ago
it was inevitable that we should arrive at this moment.
Equally, it should have been understood that essentially
what the IRA campaign achieved was not to drive the British
out of Ireland, but to compel the two sovereign governments
in this historic dispute to restructure the partition
settlement in a radical way. That restructuring has
effectively ended the unionist monopoly on political and
economic power in the North and created a new society out
of what was effectively a colony.

The majoritarian model that constituted the fundamentally
flawed old partitionist arrangement has been replaced by a
democracy based on proportional representation. The effect
has been to replace the unionist veto on political power
with a cross-community veto, effectively subverting the
demographic logic of partition. The Northern state was
never anything more than a vast political gerrymander to
maintain unionist power, and it has now been re-
gerrymandered to give equal political power to unionists
and nationalists.

In a curious way, once Britain had conceded this political
model - and it did that as far back as Sunningdale in 1974
- the IRA was actually fighting the wrong war. Its concept
of British withdrawal was actually a southern-type 1920's
concept, possible in the Republic because of the population
make-up, but not in the North because of the size of the
indigenous unionist population. Almost certainly any such
attempt at withdrawal would have simply reactivated the
crisis of 1912.

This is significant because it wasn't until the IRA
leadership passed from southern to Northern hands, when the
Ó Bradaigh/O'Connell leadership was replaced by Adams and
McGuinness, that a new political pragmatism came into play.

When the Provisionals first emerged in 1970 under southern
leadership, they were largely a product of southern post-
Civil War political thinking let loose on the entirely
different territory that was the North. That original
leadership effectively belonged emotionally to that remnant
of the old IRA that had refused to go along with de Valera
into Fianna Fáil in 1926.

In fact, it wasn't until after World War II when the
southern state had achieved a condition of real permanence
that the IRA first really turned towards the North.
Throughout the Civil War and afterwards it had not been its
primary concern. The abortive 1950s campaign became, in the
end, the effective training ground for the veterans who
would later launch the Provisionals. That campaign, with
its attacks on symbolic targets, betrayed a southern
simplicity towards the entirely more complex Northern
political territory.

What they mistook for simply partitioned territory was
actually the infinitely more complex plantation territory.

In 1970 the Provisionals were able to launch a new military
campaign because the civil rights movement had politicised
the Catholic population and unionist reaction to the civil
rights movement had unleashed in 1969 the old traditional
weapon of attempted pogrom. It had taken three generations
of second class citizenship under unionism to produce the
Provisionals and by internment in August 1971 they had
unleashed a guerrilla war of hitherto unknown ferocity and
success in the North.

In any historical analysis of the wider impact of the
Provisional IRA, it is critical to appreciate how important
it was to changing the mindset and self regard of Northern
nationalists. When all was said and done, the North was
always essentially a society maintained and controlled by a
unionist monopoly on armed force.

The impact of the IRA campaign was to both radicalise the
nationalist population and to destroy the myth of unionist
armed supremacy. That in turn created a constituency of
nationalist expectations that then, after the mass support
for the hunger strikes, produced the Sinn Féin political
constituency of the 1980s.

It was inevitable that this constituency would require a
political context, and, as the old southern leadership was
replaced, the implicit divisions in north and south
republican modes of leadership emerged. Northern
republicans, for example, had never shared the antipathy to
Leinster House that the post-Civil War southerners
displayed. Inevitably - and predictably - Northern
republican pragmatism would dispense with the abstentionist

But after Britain had conceded the essential underpinnings
of partition at Sunningdale in 1973, it was to take years
before the Provisional leadership recognised it was
fighting the wrong war, and even longer before the central
political irrelevance of the guerrilla war itself was
recognised. Acting upon those realities also required a
more pragmatic Northern leadership.

It is difficult to know whether this week's IRA statement
is the end - or just the end for this generation - of
physical force republicanism. The peace process has
fundamentally changed the Northern economic and cultural
landscape and economic and educational demographics have
produced a new nationalist population with burgeoning
economic power and political expectations. In this context,
the IRA had increasingly become an anachronism.

As unionists this weekend survey the new post-IRA
landscape, they might well consider that they have a
unique, unfettered opportunity to do a political deal.

Uniquely, they have a generation of former republican
guerrillas who are deadly serious about democratic

They should avail of this opportunity as any reading of
Northern history will simply point to the reality that the
bad old days are always only a generation of political
failure away.


IRA Q&A: What Next For The North?

31 July 2005 By Paul T Colgan

How will the decommissioning of IRA weapons be carried out
and how soon?

The weapons will be put "beyond'' use'' by IRA members in
the presence of retired Canadian General John De Chastelain
and his colleague Andrew Sens. Two clergymen - one Catholic
and one Protestant - will attend the acts of
decommissioning in order to confirm that it has happened.

There will be no photographs taken. It is understood that
IRA weapons were moved to secure locations last year in
preparation for decommissioning and that this can now be
carried out within a matter of days.

How much of the North will be demilitarised and how soon?

The British army began taking down spy-posts in south
Armagh on Friday morning. It is expected that several more
will be taken out of action in the coming months after IRA
decommissioning has been verified. Significant cuts in
troop numbers are also anticipated. At present there are
more British soldiers in the North than the contingent
currently serving in Iraq.

Will loyalist paramilitaries follow the IRA's lead and go
out of business?

It's unlikely. The UVF and the LVF are currently embroiled
in a bloody feud that has claimed the lives of at least two
people. PSNI officers stood by last week and allowed up to
300 masked UVF men gather at a housing estate in East

The UVF said it was ensuring that LVF members expelled from
the estate did not return. Various loyalist paramilitary
groupings continue to engage in sporadic attacks on
Catholics. Armed UVF members took to the streets amid the
Orange eleventh night celebrations and fired volleys into
the air.

With little pressure coming from senior unionist
politicians, many of who sit on the Loyalist Commission
with representatives of the UVF and the UDA, there is not
much prospect of such a move in the coming years.

What are the prospects of the political institutions being
quickly restored?

Not good. The DUP insists that it needs to see the colour
of the IRA's money before even contemplating talking to
Sinn Féin. Ian Paisley has hinted that this could take

Will Sinn Féin endorse new policing arrangements in the

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he is prepared to
call a special a meeting of his party to debate the issue
of policing as part of any new deal. Republicans claim that
the PSNI remains unacceptable and have raised concerns
about the role that MI5 may take in intelligence gathering.
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