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The Road to a Mafia State


Anthony McIntyre • Parliamentary Brief, February 2005

It made the Great Train Robbery of 1963 pale into insignificance. It was as meticulously planned and as methodically executed as anything put together by Chopper Knight and his chainsaw gang of London armed robbers in the 1970s. The Brinks Matt gold bullion robbery of 1983 failed to register beside it in terms of political fallout. It came within weeks of Northern Ireland being, in the view of many media pundits and political actors, on the cusp of a solution to the seemingly interminable political conflict.

Now all bets are off, for the time being at any rate. What possessed those who transferred £26.5 million of the Northern Bank's funds to a dual account somewhere near Sevastopol Street - Sinn Fein's Belfast HQ - to engage in a little pre-Christmas currency manipulation?

Ultimately, the public can do little but speculate as to the reasons behind that. The only people who really know are those who carried it out. And they are not for parting with their secrets. The chief suspect is the Provisional IRA. Efforts by its leaders, who many people believe also run Sinn Fein, to dispute the public assertion of the North's chief constable that the IRA was responsible have been universally laughed at.

A senior Sinn Fein politician, who only a matter of weeks ago was being treated with the deferential respect reserved for men sombrely engaged in weighty matters of state, is now being openly ridiculed as Coco the Clown in a national newspaper. Lying rather than dying for Ireland is the new form of republican martyrdom in the era of the peace process.

Sinn Fein charges that Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde has not produced one iota of evidence to substantiate his claim against the party's militia. He certainly has not produced any courtroom standard evidence, otherwise people would now be facing charges. It is a bit much to expect that the cops are keeping their powder dry on this matter; it is more plausible to believe that what they possess at present is insufficient to haul suspects before the courts.

It is a damning indictment of Sinn Fein's track record in the truth stakes that its plausible contention that there is 'no evidence', has so far failed to produce from outside its own ranks many willing to swear the party is remotely worthy of belief. The totalitarian arrogance of party president Gerry Adams, in demanding that because the IRA has said it was not responsible this should be good enough for everyone, has been met with utter contempt.

Throughout the peace process a binding rule was that of creative ambiguity. There was an institutional acknowledgement that the IRA, although on ceasefire, would be permitted to engage in a little 'internal housekeeping'. The governments would look the other way when a mutilation was inflicted, a dissident republican murdered, kidnapped or disappeared. The unwritten agreement was explained to IRA members by their leaders. A policy of 'no claim no blame' would apply to all IRA operations; if arrested, the one thing volunteers must not do is admit that they were on 'IRA business'.

With 'plausible deniability' as cover, the IRA in recent years has taken to carrying out major robberies. Like its Direct Action Against Drugs killings of 1995 and 1996, it relied on the quiescence of government and a compliant media.

Last year, the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) pointed the finger at the organisation for a £1 million heist at the Makro store in Belfast. The robbers came, went and disappeared like thieves into the night. There were no arrests and the British government was not immediately snowed under with demands that it take punitive action against Sinn Fein. The authorities treated the event like foul wind, held their noses and went about their business. By the time the IMC reported, the stink had moved on.

Last February, when the chief constable accused the IRA of kidnapping a man his force rescued from a vehicle in Belfast city centre, Sinn Fein was fined by the IMC. Later in the year one of the party's election agents was arrested, after allegedly being electronically recorded making extortion demands of a businessman in the name of the Provisional IRA; Sinn Fein screamed it was a 'securocrat' plot to wreck the peace process. Things, nevertheless, always moved on.

As a result the Republican Movement had every reason to feel it could do as it wished. If caught, wash its hands of those arrested. If only accused, shout 'securocrats.' The hullabaloo would soon blow over and it would be back to peace processing as normal.

In other words, the IRA robbed the Northern Bank because it could. And because the governments were hooked on the peace process, the price to pay would be minimal. Sensing too that a substantial element of the DUP was hungry for a deal, the Republican Movement calculated that the condemnation from that quarter would be short lived; the only sanction a longer period of quarantine rather than any serious attempt to move matters on sans Sinn Fein.

At first glance it would appear that the dishonesty which lubricated the peace process has now clogged it up. The response to the robbery has dwarfed anything previously hurled Sinn Fein's way. Yet, the party only has to sit it out and its fortunes will turn around. The British general election will take place this year. A fresh approach will be taken with the peace process. The Irish leader, Bertie Ahern, will lick his wounds caused by what he feels is a lying Sinn Fein leadership. Tony Blair will behave as Tony Blur. Things will be cobbled together again.

Sinn Fein knows this: knows it does not have to reach a deal; knows the governments cannot conceive of doing business without it. The party's strategic goal is to expand throughout the country as a whole, not to conclude a deal in one part of it which would deny the party president the enormous political capital he has amassed from the process and which he invests in the party's expansionism throughout the island.

For the governing class, getting rid of the IRA is what the peace process is about. Their engagement in it will stop once the IRA goes. For Sinn Fein that moment has to be postponed for as long as possible. Without the piper of the IRA there are no tunes to be called.

From a present reading, there is no reason why the IRA cannot continue to exist as part of the political landscape here for another five years. If Sinn Fein can smuggle the IRA past the electorate in the Republic next time round and expand its share of the vote, then it can trade them in at the general election there in 2010. The following year would see its president, Gerry Adams, well poised to make a bid for the presidency of Ireland.

What makes all of this an attractive proposition to Sinn Fein is the governments' adherence to a peace process which is more about process than peace. As the governments are seemingly programmed to continue with the farce of the peace process, wider society, including republicans concerned at the manner in which the Sinn Fein leadership has hijacked their struggle in the naked pursuit of power, should consider the need for a democratic alternative to it. This would involve pressurising the governments to disengage from the peace process altogether; to put an end to all summitry, perennial negotiations, and stopping Tony Blair coming to Northern Ireland for a 35th time.

In order to facilitate a totalitarian party, society has assumed a totalitarian value to truth and transparency. Consequently, as described in Village magazine by Suzanne Breen, Ireland is rapidly acquiring the characteristics of a mafia state. Peace can no longer be secured through the process.





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

28 January 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The Road to a Mafia State
Anthony McIntyre

Help is On the Way! Lawyers, Guns, Money...& Golf
Karen Lyden Cox

Four Reasons for Ideological Shift
Liam O Ruairc

Tilting at the Windmills
Mick Hall

Looking Down the Barrel of Freedom
Fred A. Wilcox

Saor Eire Again
Bob Purdie

Sex, Lies, But No Videotape
Seaghán Ó Murchú

25 January 2005

The Danger of Securocrats
Mick Hall

Criminality Accepted as the Norm
Davy Adams

The Rapture
Brian Mór

Bertie Talking Bollix
Anthony McIntyre

Pact Impact
Dr John Coulter

Holocaust Revisited
Anthony McIntyre



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