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Please note: the Provisional IRA still exists

Forgive me if I am not breaking out the champagne just yet at the announcement that the ethnic collectivists of the IRA have declared their ‘armed campaign is over’. Of course the fact their ‘decommissioning’ of arms will take place in private, in marked contrast to the indecent haste with which the UK government has started very publicly ripping down its fortifications, just conforms my view that Blair is a credulous fool.

Contrary to the woolly impression some of the media’s dafter talking heads are giving (I really must stop watching early morning TV, bad for the blood pressure), the IRA is not disbanding and unless I see large piles of semtex being burned in front of Stormont, I very much doubt anything more than a token number of already unserviceable weapons and expired explosives will be put beyond their reach as an organisation.

I may not be a huge fan of the ethnic collectivists of the DUP either, but they are the ones who seem to me to be exhibiting the most appropriate amount of continuing distain for Sinn Fein/IRA and so are offering only highly contingent acknowledgement of this latest ‘breakthrough’.

My guess is there is a lot less to this that meets the eye. Like the song says: “Don’t believe the hype.”

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29 comments to Please note: the Provisional IRA still exists

  • The government is only too glad to be able to redeploy the troops to one of Blairs private wars,that is the real cause of the jubilation.
    In fact it was probably the government which put the offer first,the IRA realising it had been upstaged by al Qaeda knew it was on to a good thing grabbed the opportunity to become a former terrorist group.
    Give it a few months and the Really Real IRA will rear its ugly head.

  • 1327

    Perry – Don’t forget though that the Irish Republicans have a long history of whacking (sorry I’ve been watching the Soprano’s again) leaders who make concessions. So I wouldn’t like to be in Mr Adams shoes.

  • I don’t think that the ‘Really Real IRA’ will appear. Other splinter groups have appeared and faded away in the past, when the IRA had a fair bit of popular support amongst the Nationalist community. Today things are different, the IRA has been widely discredited by its criminal operations and the murder of Robert McCarthy.
    For them, closing shop is probably the only move that will allow them to carry on with some face left intact. And Blair and co can pretend that Mr Adams is some form of statesman, wheeling him out from time to time to demonstrate how effective their policies have been.

  • If I was feeling uncharitable I would label this nonsense: ‘The Most Pompous Blog Post …. Ever!’
    As it is, I’ll assume that you’re just playing to your rather unpleasant gallery.

    Perhaps, instead of making unsupported assertions, you might like to offer some evidence, or even just make a show of engaging with the complex politics of this moment, rather than just reeling off this trite example of outrage by numbers?

  • zmollusc

    Hooray! The IRA are scrapping an unknown proportion of their stockpile of weapons that only they know the hiding places of and which were obtained despite all attempts to prevent their importation! Whoopee! A lasting peace for the UK! Wooo!

  • Julian Morrison

    It’s not so much that Blair’s credulous but rather: he sees spin as sufficient reality – and that cuts both ways.

  • Phil, living up to my expectations as ever. I have family (both Orange and Green) in Belfast and so I feel I have at least as much understanding of the realities there as, well, a jackass like you.

    But given how rude you are and the fact you did not actually deign to say why I am wrong, feel free to piss off and not come back.

  • Julian Morrison

    BTW: surely as libertarians, we should oppose weapon decomissioning? After all the IRA’s original purpose was to defend republican areas from armed incursion by paramilitaries (to which the RUC turned a blind eye) – a very libertarian aim, if that were where it ended. Perhaps a better solution would be to permit all adults to carry low powered snub revolvers? They’d be uselessly inaccurate for sniping, but great for civilian self defense. Then the IRA could get rid of its guns without “surrendering”.

  • Dwain

    The chance of Adams being bumped off by fellow republicans is virtually nil. Adams is the very personification of modern Irish Republicanism. His power is imense and dissident republicans although politically inept are not stupid enough to kill him. They also know that the vengence the Provos would unleash on any dissident groups would lead to the complete anilallation of said groups. There is also the fact that Adams travells with a large number of body guards at all times. Not to mention the irony of being protected by the British government who would surely warn him of any attempt by dissidents to kill him.

  • Then it will be the Not the Really Real IRA,it is about who rules.Tony has surrendered and is withdrawing British troops,a main objective of the IRA.
    The IRA cannot disarm simply because it rules its fiefdom by violence,they may be gangsters,but they are also revolutionaries who have their sights on a United Ireland.

  • Julian: the problem I have is not with individual ownership of weapons, but with the existence of a bunch of bank robbing terrorist thugs with explosives. If all they had was rifles and uses them to defend their neighbourhoods, well, fine. The protection rackets and kneecapping of political enemies however is rather less desirable.

    It is situations like that which make me a minarchist rather than an anarchist.

  • Keith

    The bit that really sticks in my craw is the negotiations to allow provos currently on the run to return without fear of being prosecuted.
    The IRA still rule by violence and intimidation, still run protection and drug rackets, still “own” whole neighborhoods.
    This animal ain’t dead yet, whatever Tony would have us believe.

  • Julian Morrison

    Perry: it’s certainly an interesting case. I remain an anarchist but I’ll admit that the society has to become ready for it first. So what I’m wondering is, what’s the best “ramp up”? Could adding small purely-civilian guns make the situation better? It might be possible to use that to cut the IRA off at its philosophical roots, and make its current “mafia” role untenable.

  • Julian Taylor

    Isn’t it very odd that all of sudden Gerry Adams is suddenly a ‘representative’ of the IRA, having spent many years denying [LINK] any such position? Indeed it was only very recently, after the McCartney murder, that he was strenuously denying membership of the IRA, trying instead to differentiate Sinn Fein from the them.

    Of course the British government would never give in to the demands of terrorists though …

  • Gengee

    The IRA may well have given up ‘the armed struggle to Unite Ireland’ for the purely political route via Sinn Fein However, I do not believe that they, or their Loyalist counterparts, will give up their illegal activities.

    The drug didtribution networks, the protection rackets, the prostitution will still be run by the same people but instead of buying a load of Semtex or a bunch of Armalites they will just take the money, like the rest of the organised criminals throughout the world. There will still be violence, and probably along the same religious lines as it is now, but not because of the religious lines.



  • I may not be a huge fan of the ethnic collectivists of the DUP either, but they are the ones who seem to me to be exhibiting the most appropriate amount of continuing distain for Sinn Fein/IRA and so are offering only highly contingent acknowledgement of this latest ‘breakthrough’.

    Apart from the almost-octogenarian Paisley, the DUP is now composed of some very impressive people indeed who don’t go in for the bizarre Catholic-bashing with which the party was once associated, but whose anti-terrorist credentials are sterling. This is a party moving in the right direction, and dropping swiftly past silliness.

  • Thursday evening’s ITV News (6.30pm, ITV1) closed with a presenter, standing outside No. 10, announcing that this is the first step towards Adams and McGuinness becoming First and Second Ministers of Northern Ireland.

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

  • Julian Taylor

    I notice McGuinness was in Washington last week, seemingly still desperate to prove to supporters there that the IRA was an organisation “dedicated to peace” and not dedicated to murdering people over a drink or robbing banks. What is interesting is the IRA has no plans still to allow any verification that it has completely disposed of all its weapons, rather we are supposed to believe that an organisation such as the IRA can be trusted to do what it says it will do.

    Sorry but I think I’d rather trust Al Queda, at least we KNOW what their true intentions are.

  • HJHJ

    Although I am highly suspicious of the IRA, and am certainly very uncomfortable about quite a few aspects of Blair’s policies in Northern Ireland, to call him a ‘credulous fool’ is hardly a reasoned criticism.

    The IRA have made their announcement because they think that they are more likely to get what they want as a result. The correct response is to, publically, at least, take them at their word and do not give them a single excuse for not doing as promised or to blame the British government or unionists if they don’t keep their word. Nor should they be given any opportunity to take the moral high ground in the view of the rest of the world (in many European countries, people honestly believe the IRA’s line that the British army is an occupying force against the wishes of the population of Northern Ireland), or the cathloic population. If the army watchtowers were left in place, the IRA could score a huge propoganda victory by saying “see, we promised to use purely peaceful methods yet the British government is still intent on military occupation” So the smart thing to do is to take away the visible signs of army presence with as much haste as possible (watchtowers can quickly and easily be rebuilt should the situation require) and to turn the spotlight back on the IRA, especially the punishment beatings and other criminal activities in which the IRA has still engaged during the ‘ceasefire’. The result will be that either the IRA will truly give up violence or they will be exposed to the world for what they have always been.

    In this respect at least, Blair is not a credulous fool – he is acting intelligently (and it’s not very often I have cause to praise Blair).

    Incidentally Perry, I find your response to Phil’s admittedly provocative post, rather intemperate and disproportionate. Was personal abuse really necessary?

  • J

    The fact that many long serving members of the IRA consider the statement to be one of surrender should tell us something. I don’t really care if the IRA keep some secret pile of 0.5 cal rifles and semtex – they can no longer use it. I also don’t care if they remain, for some time, a powerful organised crime cartel.

    It’s a big step down from well organised guerrilla force to well organised mob. The first means you have the tacit and low level support of the community you operate in. The latter means you have lost it.

    It’s a huge step forward for peace in NI. So what if the IRA have no regrets about what they did in the past? I’m not happy because this news shows what nice people they’ve all suddenly become, but because it shows they lost, in the end. Armed resistance with or without terror tactics has failed them.

  • Today’s Observer contained one of the most infuriating articles i’ve ever read. Why is blair willing to negotiate with the IRA but not Al-Qaeda? Because he’s RACIST! no, seriously …

  • Julian Taylor

    Sinn Fein seen gaining from IRA arms move

    “Even if you strip out the whole paramilitary issue, Sinn Fein is still a quasi-Marxist party — it is extreme left in the things it says about economic policy, and that kind of thing frightens the middle class,” said Dan O’Brien, senior editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

    “The party’s economic vision for Ireland is Cuba without the palm trees,” he added.

    Does anyone, apart from Our Little Tone, really believe that the IRA is going to disarm in any way? Worth noting that the phrase they usually employ, “putting weapons beyond immediate use” is not disarming, just burying them in case they are needed again in the future.

  • Rollo


    You really are a pompous and ill-informed idiot. I rather fancy that if I met you in real life (heaven forbid) you would come off as some kind of spoiled upper-class twit with hugely inflated ideas of your own importance and intellectual capacity, spouting pronouncements like “I am a libertawian” or “I am an anarcho-minimalist” to all and sundry.

    No dear Perry, the real reason that the IRA are laying down their arms is because they *can*. They have effectively won all that they can win for now, and the most profitable strategic route for them lies in politics. And clearly the world is now the oyster. While they are being applauded for their declaration, poor old Unionists are still running round each other’s estates clad in their favourite Rangers jerseys, shooting each other dead. The novelty of this will begin to wear off soon, no doubt. It is a delicious irony that the greatest danger posed to the life of “Mad Dog” Adair is from “Mad Dog” Unionists. Adams and McGuinness have worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to convince some of the most ruthless Republican psychopaths and thugs that this is the way forward. For that minor miracle, at least, they deserve credit.

  • Michael McGowan

    I don’t think that Blair is a fool, just deeply cynical and at bottom, a paper tiger when terror stalks his own backyard. The Peace Process was never about returning Northern Ireland to real normality and democracy. It was about allowing the terrorists, and especially the IRA, a fairly free hand in the Six Counties provided that they stopped bombing and killing outside Ireland and especially in London. The Tories, indeed the entire UK Establishment, were complicit in this process as much as Blair: viz Chris Patten’s dubious involvement. In short, a very British stitch-up supported in large part by the English middle classes for whom Ireland is a far away country of which they know nothing.

    The good news is that there is post-1998 a semblance of normality in Northern Ireland, especially for the middle classes whose homes have rocketed in value. However, there is much less good news for those at the bottom of the pile in Northern Ireland……the very people New Labour claims to champion. Working class areas of Northern Ireland remain the fiefdoms of terror, Republican and Loyalist. In these areas, the gunmen, kneecappers and drug barons rule unchecked and the rule of omerta is sacrosanct. Unemployment remains very high partly because of the collapse of traditional industries but also because it is very hard to set up legitimate businesses in a province where organised crime run or franchised by terrorists has been allowed to grow unchecked. The authorities usually look the other way.

    A weird paradox is that the worse this state of affairs gets, the harder it is to envisage Irish reunification. Northern Ireland is one of the poorest parts of the UK and receives vast subsidies from London. These are indispensable to keeping relative peace, not least by damping down unemployment. It is hard to imagine Dublin being able to come up with the same level of funding. No wonder a large number of Catholics in Northern Ireland prefer the status quo. That does not alter the fact that for many of them, and for many working class Protestants, life remains grim.

  • Rollo


    I would imagine that the politicos in Dublin are terrified at the prospect of an Irish reunification.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Rollo, so the IRA have got what they wanted and we can all settle down in a group hug and go over to democratic politics! Ain’t that nice.

    We have been told many times before the crooks and mass murderers of the IRA and their political apologists that the violence is all over, let’s be nice boys etc, that Perry’s scepticism is understanderble. Spare the insults, makes you sound chippy and insecure.

  • Keith

    Jonathon, I worked in N.Ireland and I’m absolutely certain that it ain’t over, not by a long shot. Nobody is mentioning the arms caches South of the border, are they?
    We’re dealing with generations of thugs here, people who grew up knowing nothing but violence and confrontation. Expecting them to become reasonable citizens overnight is fairyland stuff.

  • snide

    Rollo probably has much to be insecure about.