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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Playing the Game


Anthony McIntyre • Parliamentary Brief, November 2005

Decommissioning, like peace process, to which it is inextricably linked, is a term that has bored Northern Ireland politics watchers witless. This explains the relief amongst observers, as distinct from the jubilation, which accompanied the IRA surrendering 'all' its arsenal. The only people still believing that no decommissioning in fact took place, that it was all a clever ruse to pull the wool over the eyes of the 'enemies of the peace process', are members of the IRA's flat earth department. They staked their reputations on their own predictions that decommissioning was a no-no. Their reputations now have the same value as their predictions. It is the strangest of ironies that sheep fail to see their own wool.

The Sinn Fein leadership, which of course runs the IRA, had just about squeezed as much capital out of the decommissioning issue as it was likely to. After three years of 'acts' of decommissioning which still managed to leave the IRA in control of the bulk of its arsenal, the tipping point was reached. It came in that crucial two-month period that saw the implosion of the ostensible deal between Adams' Sinn Fein and Paisley's DUP that was meant to re-establish the power sharing executive, followed by the IRA robbery of the Northern Bank, and then the murder of Robert McCartney by members of Sinn Fein and the IRA. From that point on, holding the decommissioning card without moving to play it was a risky venture, always subject to the law of diminishing returns.

Knowing that the tedium was a serious turn off the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, had in April moved to inject some sex appeal into the decommissioning process by looking into the mirror and calling on the IRA to behave exclusively democratically. An ennui saturated public, exhausted by the endless striptease, showed little sign of being aroused. The IRA's response came in two phases. In July it disrobed from the waist up and undertook to end all activity. In October, it laid itself bare by surrendering its war making capacity. In spite of loud cries, pleasurable moans and ecstatic shouts of gratification filling the media airways, there was the distinct sense that the climax was faked. The vital aphrodisiac, trust, was absent. What might have purchased trust years earlier is now a devalued currency. Hence the recent statement by Adams on Ulster Television that the 'war is over' is as useful as a pint of last years milk. When on the same programme he denied ever having been a member of the IRA, it was not because he is a pathological liar addicted to falsehoods. His reasoning is much more strategic than that. It ensures that unionism will continually adopt the Paxman stance when dealing with him: 'why is this lying bastard lying to me?'

Ensuring that the unionists can never acquire enough trust is a central plank of Sinn Fein strategy. The aim is to ensure that no deal is secured and unionism takes the blame for it. Unionism then has the challenge of deconstructing a widespread perception that it is hard to handle and easy to blame.

That Sinn Fein is still not in government despite the 'historic' moves made by its leadership is therefore not the setback for the party that some analysts think, or Sinn Fein would have you believe. The stasis suits Sinn Fein fine, because for the party it is only a stasis for the two governments, not for itself. Political stasis in the North of Ireland means there will always be a need for a peace process that holds the potential to bring the stasis to an end. And peace processing not power sharing is what Sinn Fein is about.

The interminable peace process then fuels Sinn Fein's expansionist strategy throughout Ireland as a whole. It keeps Mr Adams political profile high at a time when Sinn Fein economic policy is being ridiculed, calling into question its claim to be a party fit for government. It helps his bogus claims to have been involved in a lifetime of peace work go largely unchallenged as he works to recast himself as an international statesman. For those familiar with his form, his traipsing around the world offering counsel on human rights, poverty eradication and democracy, may indeed exude the clumsy imagery of Frankenstein performing ballet, but the degree of public exposure and profile it affords Adams is a priceless commodity particularly in the Republic of Ireland's political market place where no shortage of charlatans are on hand to sell snake oil.

One thing to ponder in all of this is what approach will the prime minister after David Cameron take to the Northern Irish peace process?










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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

25 November 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Political Policing
Willie Gallagher

One Sweet Deal for Some, but for The Rest of Us?...
Mick Hall

Who's In Charge Around Here, Anyway?
Eamonn McCann

Playing the Game
Anthony McIntyre

Dr John Coulter

RSF Presidential Address 2005
Ruairi O Bradaigh

To Go On: Irish Travellers meet Academia
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Genius decommissioned while Stupid keeps the guns
Tomas Gorman

Cut Off Aid to Regime in Uganda
David Adams

Sticks and Stones
Anthony McIntyre

7 November 2005

Mary McGurk — Giving Voice to the Abandoned
Anthony McIntyre

It Is Only the Intellectually Lost Who Ever Argue
Marc Kerr

Prospects for the Left in Ireland
Eugene Mc Cartan

Bartering the Infinities
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

The Political Police
Anthony McIntyre

Herrema's Kidnapper Explains Motive
Eamonn McCann

Revenge is a Dish Served Cold
Dr John Coulter

Causes and Effects
Mick Hall

Speaking Truth to Power
Fred Wilcox

The Bush SATaff Goes to Morals School
Mary La Rosa

A View of the H-Blocks
Anthony McIntyre



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