Provisional IRA is in a real dilemma how
does it take its arsenals and terror structure out
of Irish politics, whilst at the same time not spark
mass defections to the Continuity and Real IRA dissidents?
is an old maxim of you cant beat them,
join them. In hard political terms, the IRA needs
to copy its arch rivals, the British Army, and form
an Old Comrades Association to get around
the thorny problem of those nasty D words
decommissioning and disbanding.
Belfast MP Gerry Adams really landed himself in
hot water with the republican hardline activists
in East Tyrone, South Derry and South Armagh with
a recent way forward statement in which
he envisaged a republican movement without the physical
was really trying to spike the rival Ian Paisley-led
Democratic Unionist Partys artillery with
his perception the Provisionals might have to disband
to make way for political progress.
remarks exploring a scenario where the IRA might
no longer exist have been totally misinterpreted
in Northern Ireland Provisional heartlands as: Thanks
for the last generation of armed struggle, now bog
off and let us politicians work out a deal!
the high-wire balancing act the Sinn Fein leadership
has to perform is to radically sideline the IRA,
but at the same time convince the Provisionals
ruling Army Council that they really havent
gone away an observation made famous
by Adams at a post-ceasefire republican rally.
grassroots republican activists must be privately
questioning what they devoted almost 30 years of
armed struggle to. Was all that suffering by republican
prisoners and families simply to run the education
and health departments of Northern Ireland?
the time of the brief power-sharing Executive in
2002, Sinn Fein held the ministries of health and
problem for republicans is that if they are to finally
defeat the constitutional nationalist SDLP at the
ballot box, they must capture and hold not just
the traditional Catholic working class areas, but
the electorally lucrative and growing Catholic middle
class in the North.
a Westminster election looming within the next 18
months, Sinn Fein is poised to capture the SDLPs
three remaining Commons seats of Foyle, South Down,
and Newry and Armagh. Sinn Fein is also on the brink
of its biggest electoral achievement in the Republic
of Ireland since the post-Great War General Election
when it took the majority of Irish seats.
Sinn Fein can mirror its European and local government
successes in the South of Ireland in next years
expected Irish General Election for Dail seats,
there is a strong possibility the party could become
a leading contender for coalition government with
the largest Southern party, Fianna Fail
only if it cleans up the Provos!
Provisional IRA needs restructuring. It needs to
deliver the double blow of convincing unionism it
no longer exists as a terrorist organisation, whilst
at the same time providing a network of communications
for republican hardliners.
is already talk of mainstream republicanism commissioning
service medals for those IRA activists who took
part in the Troubles, in much the same way as the
British Army issues campaign or service medals to
republicans to copy the British Army model of forming
regimental associations may seem the talks of traitors.
It could also be interpreted as insulting by organisations
such as the Royal British Legion, whose primary
aim is to maintain contact between former soldiers
of legitimate army units.
is a poignant time for British Army war veterans
and serving personnel as they remember fallen and
wounded comrades from past wars, especially those
of the 20th century.
Irish Republican Association would allow the Provisionals
to maintain both contact and discipline amongst
its active service units. The last thing which the
IRA Army Council wants is activists with itchy trigger
fingers deciding to sells themselves as hired
guns to either the dissident republican movement
or Catholic-based criminal gangs.
what would be so wrong in nationalist terms of revamping
the IRA into the Irish Republican Association? After
all, when the part-time police force dominated by
Protestants, the B Specials, disbanded in 1970,
thousands of unionists flocked to swell the ranks
of the Ulster Special Constabulary Association.
in the 1990s, after the merger of the British Armys
Protestant-dominated Ulster Defence Regiment with
the Royal Irish Rangers to form the Royal Irish
Regiment, an UDR Association quickly emerged. Similar
associations have also been formed within the police
to mark the Royal Ulster Constabulary and RUC Reserve.
Provisionals would also be copying the famous International
Brigade which fought the fascist dictator Franco
during the Spanish Civil War. Whilst that conflict
ended generations ago, the sacrifice of the members
of that Brigade is honoured through old comrades
Provisionals because they are based in Western
Europe - need to distance themselves from the modern-day
Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalist terrorists
who use suicide bombers and mass slaughter techniques
to further their so-called causes.
also need to distance themselves from republican
purists who adopt a Viet Cong stance of shooting
at the last British helicopter as it ferries the
final batch of troops out of RAF Aldergrove. To
isolate the dissident republican movement, the mainstream
family needs to convince the Real and Continuity
IRA that this is the Ireland of the third millennium
not the Irish equivalent of mid 1970s South
republican movement also needs to urgently convince
middle class Northern Ireland it is no longer a
threat to society. If Sinn Fein is to be viewed
as a truly democratic organisation by Protestants
in the same way the African National Congress became
trusted by whites in South Africa, then the IRA
has got to permanently go away.
it does not follow this path, the republican movement
will become nothing more than the Irish version
of African Marxist dictator Robert Mugabes
veterans movement in Zimbabwe. It is effectively
the Patriotic Front terrorism under another banner.
for mainstream republicanism to totally disband
the armed wing without replacing it with some form
of disciplined structure will only play into the
hands of republican dissidents.
republican leadership of Adams and Mid Ulster MP
Martin McGuinness need to make a bold statement
not about the disbanding of the IRA, but
to restructure republicanisms physical force
volunteers into an Irish Republican Association.
a brave move will allow unionists to enter a power-sharing
executive at Stormont, and force loyalist terror
groups to return the serve and form themselves into
Shankill Road-style drinking clubs.