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Labour steps up pressure on IRA to disband

Paul Mallon • Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 179 June/July 2004

The publication of the first report of the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) has put the disbanding of the IRA at the centre of the peace process. The subsequent announcement in early May by the British and Irish governments of a ‘road map’ to restore devolved power to the north of Ireland is little more than political posturing as loyalist attacks have continued on the nationalist community. With the summer Protestant marching season approaching, nationalists are bracing themselves for further loyalist attacks.

The Irish and British governments established the IMC in January; its remit is to monitor the ceasefire and report every six months. The body is outside of the Good Friday Agreement and demonstrates the power of Unionism and the British government to set the pace of political events in the north of Ireland. Following the alleged IRA kidnapping incident of dissident republican Bobby Tohill in Belfast on 20 February, the IMC’s first report was published early – on 20 April. It details the level of violence ongoing throughout the north, condemns both loyalists and Republicans and levies financial penalties against both Sinn Fein and the Progressive Unionist Party (the political wing of the Ulster Volunteer Force).

The primary concern of the report is not violence, however. Its purpose is to isolate Sinn Fein and so press it into agreeing to the disbandment of the IRA. That the report confirms the existence of the IRA is embarrassment enough for Sinn Fein, since it places the organisation in a difficult position with those it sees as its major allies – the SDLP and the Irish government, both of whom accepted the report in contrast to Sinn Fein. The IMC will continue to add to the pressure on Sinn Fein to make a choice: either break with and disband the IRA, or lose its bourgeois allies and with them, the chance of governmental participation.

In publishing the report, the Labour government is also acknowledging that Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party will never accept devolved power alongside Sinn Fein. Speaking at his party’s conference in Belfast in early May, Paisley declared ‘This is war, war waged in every sphere!’ The restoration of the Stormont Assembly has never seemed so far away even though further elections in October are mooted. Sinn Fein’s strategy of reaching out to a ‘progressive’ side of Unionism has yielded nothing.

Sandy Row protest

The realties of ‘peace’ can best be seen in the Sandy Row district of South Belfast where loyalists have recently escalated their racist and sectarian attacks on residents of the nearby Whitehall Square apartment block. Sandy Row is a staunchly loyalist area and is regarded as being a stronghold of the Ulster Defence Association, responsible for the murder of hundreds of Catholics throughout the conflict in the north. Anti-Catholic leaflets have been distributed, and despite the fact that the apartment block houses only a handful of Catholic residents, local unionists have branded it as ‘Vatican Square’.

On the evening of Wednesday 28 April a picket of over 500 loyalists gathered in a lynch-mob show of strength demanding the eviction of Catholics. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) made no attempt to disperse the hate mob. Late on Friday 30 April, residents were awoken by a Unionist band playing sectarian music. This was followed by a sustained attack on the apartments by loyalists wielding baseball bats and sledgehammers trying to gain entrance to the complex. Such intimidation has resulted in a number of Catholics leaving the area. On Tuesday 11 May a gang of 40 masked loyalists drove into the McClure Street area of South Belfast threatening local residents while the PSNI looked on in riot gear. Nationalists living in interface areas in Belfast are on high alert in fear of loyalist attacks following this spate of incidents.

The Good Friday Agreement long ago ceased to have any meaning for those nationalists on the receiving end of sustained loyalist attacks and living in daily fear of their lives. Meanwhile, the IMC report has put further pressure on the republican movement to disband the IRA. Should this happen, who will defend the nationalist people against the loyalist bigots?





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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

6 September 2004

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Not In Our Name
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Child Murderers
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32 CSM Urges Russian Government: Recognize Chechen Independence
Sean Burns

Who is Really to Blame?
George Young

Resistance, by ANY Means.
David A' Gardner

Reality Check
Patrick Lismore

Fairy Cleansing
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Culture of Lies and Deceit
Liam O Comain

Labour Steps Up Pressure on IRA to Disband
Paul Mallon

30 August 2004

The Knackers Yard
Anthony McIntyre

Spin Cycle
Mick Hall

Reality Check
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32 CSM Pays Tribute to Memory of Republican Socialist Volunteers
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Let Them Stay
Davy Carlin

"Fine Words"



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