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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Standing Down

Mick Hall • 7 September 2004

As the talks between the elected representatives of the people of ‘Northern Ireland’ and the British State are about to begin, there seems to be little doubt that the overwhelming majority of the nationalist population of the six Counties hope the talks will conclude with the political process at last being placed into forward gear. During the period of the PIRA ceasefire most impartial observers feel that the decommissioning of PIRA weaponry has been promoted to a position way above its actual importance to the success of the Peace Process. Nevertheless the leading Unionist Party's have insisted on using this issue to stall any movement forward as far as implementing the GFA in its entirety is concerned.

No matter how Mr Adams and his SF colleagues have attempted to navigate their way around this roadblock, they have found it un-navigable. The responsibility rightly or wrongly is always being placed upon them by both the Unionists and the British Government (so much for them being an impartial mediator), via this issue as to why the process keeps stalling. As far as decommissioning is concerned, even if PIRA were to make another substantial act, it would in all probability still fail to satisfy the DUP and UUP, nor a majority of those they represent.

Thus the only sure way that this process can move forward is to forget about decommissioning altogether at this stage. As I have said, this on, off, drip, drip, of decommissioning arms will never fully satisfy the DUP/UUP nor their constituency. In any case the process of decommissioning has always put the cart before the horse. If the leadership of the Provisional Republican Movement genuinely believe that their participation in armed struggle has reached its conclusion and from now on democratic politics will be more advantageous for them in achieving their movement's objectives, and, as they seem to have implied, they feel the time is now right to proceed solely with this strategy, surely they have no option but to bite the bullet and issue the order to stand Oglaigh na hEireann down, along with a command to dump arms in an ordered and disciplined manner.

Due to the longevity of the IRA ceasefires, few Irish Republicans, beyond the small groups such as RSF and the remnants of RIRA, who both follow in the long and indeed honourable tradition of physical force Republicanism, will disagree with any decision to stand the (Provisional) IRA down. Although some may wonder why it has taken quite so long once Mr Adams reached this conclusion to act upon it. As far as the Unionists are concerned, once the IRA is stood down, they can hardly continue to use PIRA or the weapons it once held to refuse to embrace fully democratic accountability, for the plain and simple reason the IRA will no longer exist. The onus will be upon the Unionists to join with the elected political representatives of their Nationalist/Republican neighbours and implement change.

As to the argument coming from within the nationalist community for the continued existence of PIRA, i.e. without them to protect the community they will come under increasing attack from the loyalist para-military's such as the UVF and the UDA/UFF. There is little doubt that many feel there is a certain substance to this, however if one analyses the number of people who have been murdered during the last ten years some interesting facts emerge. In the last ten years approx. 173 people have been murdered in what the police regard as 'terrorist' related deaths. This figure, in comparison to the previous ten years when the number killed was 870, show a dramatic drop in the numbers of people who lost their lives in this manner since 1994. Of those killed between 1994-2004, 30 were suspected of being the victims of Republican organisations whilst 143 where suspected of being carried out by Loyalist. If we add to these deaths two of the most publicised areas of conflict between the two communities during the last ten years, the physical attacks and kerbside abuse of children on their way to school at Holy Cross and the uproar that was provoked by the police trying to force through a loyalist march on the 12th in Ardoyne, it is not making a major jump from reality to suggest that the presence of PIRA has not deterred the UFF and UVF from murdering Catholics adults nor even from abusing Catholic school children.

It is worth considering whether it is possible that PIRA, as it is currently constituted, i.e. neutered by the SF leadership from carrying out any operations that will leave footprints back to the overall Republican Movement, has been instrumental in emboldening the loyalists. They are well aware of the importance that Mr Adams and his leadership have placed on the GFA; they also cannot have failed to notice the arm-lock the Adams leadership have placed on PIRA operations. It is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw that an Irish Republican Army that fears the displeasure and sanction of the British government is little better than useless. Whilst its leadership to date have maintained its cohesion and discipline, it can only be a matter of time if it carries on as it is currently constituted, when this discipline will break down and it will turn on its own constituency. One should not underestimate the fact that many of today's volunteers are what the IRA old timers call ceasefire soldiers. The only active service many of these people have seen is when they have been called upon to 'discipline' members of their own community. This may well be taking its toll on the psychology of these volunteers. To conclude, if the IRA is not at long last stood down, its leadership will be proving right those of its Republican critics who claimed that once the Adams leadership took over, PIRA was never more than a defence organisation for the nationalist people of the six counties. Its raison d'être was one of equality for all the people of the six counties, not the completion of the national revolution.

The number of people killed in the last ten years by armed Loyalist and Republican groups was taken from, "Ten years on: the difference the IRA ceasefire has made", by David McKittrick





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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

12 September 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Standing Down
Mick Hall

Life in the Party
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Is There a Peaceful Way to a Peoples Republic?
Liam O Comain

Rising to the Top of the Hate List
Fred A. Wilcox

Books Not Bombs
Mary La Rosa

Fighting for the Right to be a British Drug Dealer
Anthony McIntyre

Document Stamped 'Secret'
submitted by Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

The Final Insult
Starry Plough Editorial Collective

Tensions Escalate as Loyalists March Through the Ardoyne
Paul Mallon

6 September 2004

Not In Our Name
Fred A Wilcox

Child Murderers
Anthony McIntyre

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



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