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|From: Irish Political Review: Editorials|
|Date: December, 2015|
What Everybody In The South Knows About Northern Ireland
|What Everybody In The South Knows About Northern Ireland
Dublin Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan gave mortal offence to the Dublin political Establishment when she wrote, in answer to a Sinn Fein inquiry, that the Garda do not have an issue with Provo criminal activity in the Border Counties.
How did she not know what everybody knows, which is that the Provos are up to their necks in crime?
Could it be that she doesn't read the newspapers?
The newspapers all know that Provo Republicanism is a Mafia. How do they know it? They know it because everybody knows it. And how does everybody know it? Because the newspapers tell them so.
Should every Guard be obliged to read the Irish Independent every morning so that he'll know what's happening on his beat!
But it isn't only the papers. The leader of Fianna Fail, the cute Cork operator, Micheal Martin, announced that the Border Counties were a Twilight Zone in which the law of the land is not enforced. The dogs in the street in Cork City know that in Cavan and Monaghan—that faraway County—there is lawless anarchy. And if it appears to the superficial observers, like the Garda Commissioner, that life is orderly there, that is only because the Provo Mafia keeps it orderly. And that, of course, is worse than disorder.
Sunday Independent opinion-former, penitent IRA man Eoghan Harris, who has copyrighted a notion of truth which is independent of fact, says: "Garda chief fails to clear up confusion left by letter" (Oct. 25).
The "confusion" is the factual statement that "An Garda Siochana hold no information or intelligence to support the assertion of Mr. Cusack that 'the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure and confines its criminal activities to fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling and counterfeiting". (Jim Cusack is the Sunday Independent Witch-finder General, who specializes in lurid anti-Republican stories, sometimes contradicting himself from week to week.)
Following a killing and a retaliatory killing in the North this Summer, the Secretary of State commissioned an assessment by the Northern police of "Paramilitary Groups In Northern Ireland". The assessment says that all groups remain in being, but only the UDA, UVF and the INLA continue to recruit: "However, the most serious current threat in NI is not posed by these groups but by dissident republicans… who reject the 1998 Belfast Agreement".
About the Provisional IRA:
"12. Structure: The structures of PIRA remain in existence in much reduced form. This includes a senior leadership, the Provisional Army Council, and some 'departments' with specific responsibilities at a lower level, there are some regional command structures. At this lower level, some activity takes place without the knowledge or direction of the leadership. We do not believe the group is actively recruiting. The group took part in decommissioning… but continues to have access to some weapons…
The Provos made a deal with the Government and they have stuck to it. That is, in substance, what the Assessment says.
The Government has on occasion tried to destabilize the deal with a view to reclaiming some ground in an altered deal, but has not been able to.
The Government made the deal with Sinn Fein/IRA. It had fought the IRA for close on 30 years before making the deal. It would not have made a deal of this kind if it had been able to crush the IRA. It did not imagine that the IRA would cease to exist when the deal was made, leaving Sinn Fein at the mercy of hostile Republican bodies. But, for the purpose of manipulating the Unionists into taking part in the deal, (and easing the suddenly pacifist consciences of Dublin Governments which had for 60 years asserted a Constitutional right of sovereignty over the North), it put on an elaborate business of decommissioning.
The well-known revolutionary socialist, Eamonn McCann, who has now found respect and security within the Dublin Establishment with a column in the Irish Times, disapproves:
"It is with peaceful intent, this week's report tells, that the IRA had held on to some of its guns, to prevent them falling into the hands of elements which haven't accepted the new dispensation. Why not just dump them in the Lagan? But here's something else well known to dogs on particular streets… the main purpose of holding on to guns is not to keep them out of the hands of dissidents but to keep dissidents down. While keeping an eye on the arsenal, PIRA members are also apparently "involved in gathering information… including details of dissident republicans and the attempted identification of covert human intelligence sources"—informers. But why should the IRA be hunting out informers?… Informing is something not only permissible but a civic duty, it seems, other times it's touting. Then there's "PIRA members believe that the [Army Council] oversees both PIRA and Sinn Fein with an overarching strategy".Which PIRA members passed this information… ?
Which information? The "information" of what they "believed".
McCann's quotation about the IRA being involved in information gathering is not from the Assessment, though it was no doubt said by somebody.
As for "informing": we were the victim of informing by somebody who was close to McCann early in his career and we have old-fashioned ideas about it. In Belfast we were tested by both sides and found to be too backward to be useful. But the present position of the Dublin Establishment, as far as we can grasp it, is that giving information to the police has always been a public duty in the North, regardless of what the police were and what the laws were. Isn't that what Micheál Martin has been saying?
Sinn Fein, in the working out of the 1998 Agreement, recognized the police and the political situation as being sufficiently reformed to be given information to. This outraged certain Republican consciences so much that they went into alliance against Sinn Fein and the Agreement with the Dublin Establishment. The outstanding case just now is Mairia Cahill, the militant Provo Dissident, who was nominated for the Senate by Labour Party leader, Joan Burton.
The Assessment says that Dissident Republicans are now "the most significant threat to Northern Ireland" (Para 18). Dissidents are Republicans who oppose Sinn Fein because it ended the War by setting in motion the Peace Process which led to the 1998 Agreement, and because it made that Agreement workable by doing a deal with the Paisley Unionists. Micheal Martin, Joan Burton and Enda Kenny condemn Sinn Fein/IRA because it did not somehow dissolve the IRA (without which the Agreement would never have happened) and leave itself helpless against the Dissidents when entering the devolved Government under the terms of the Agreement. (And, although they are coy on the matter, the implication of what they say is that Sinn Fein/IRA was never anything but a criminal racket and should never have existed.)
Joan Burton and Mairia Cahill are vehemently opposed to the IRA for opposite reasons—but in the condition to which Southern political life has fallen that makes them firm allies.
The British can make a calm assessment of the part being played by Sinn Fein/IRA in the post-revolution political evolution of the North. But it's easy for them. They turned the Six County region of their state into a political Limbo back in 1921. The British parties do not contest Six County seats of their Parliament (with the exception of a belated half-hearted effort by the Conservatives).
But consider the plight of poor Micheal Martin and poor Joan Burton, with their votes seeping away to Sinn Fein.
About fifteen years ago both Fianna Fail and Labour made a gesture towards extending their party activity across the Border and taking on Sinn Fein on its home ground. It was an empty gesture. And the next thing they knew was that Sinn Fein had reasserted itself as a functional all-Ireland Party and was taking them on on their home ground, and doing very well against them.
How could they think calmly and seriously about really serious business in the North, in which they have no political stake, when they are in the grip of electoral passion, in the part of the country in which they have confined themselves?
Any ally against Sinn Fein is a good ally in their eyes. And so they have put Mairia Cahill in the Senate.
The fact that she resigned from Sinn Fein on the issue of recognizing the Northern police was barely reported in Southern news. When it was forced into the news in recent weeks, she asked for her past to be forgotten—while at the same time she pursues her vendetta.
What put her politically active past into the news was the decision of Catherine McCartney, a high-profile anti-Provo campaigner, to take legal action against Mairia Cahill for harassment. Finding that her case was being ignored by the Southern media, she wrote to every TD and Senator with a brief account of her reasons for believing Ms Cahill should not be elected to the Senate. (As the poll was a by-election, the electorate was limited to parliamentarians.) That letter received minimal publicity in the media, and the salient facts about Ms Cahill's opposition to the Northern Ireland police were widely not reported. For that reason, we reproduce Catherine McCartney's letter of 9th November below.
Dublin Establishment denunciation of Sinn Fein reached a new extreme of absurdity last month. Commerce Minister Richard Bruton condemned the party for making the British Government itself legislate the imposition of the social welfare cuts in the North which Westminster was insisting on.
Social Welfare is devolved to the subordinate Six County Government under the Agreement. Sinn Fein refused to make the cuts in the North which Westminster was making in Britain. It wished to spend part of the general Budget allocation from Whitehall in ways to protect those depending on welfare to survive. The Northern Ireland administration was entitled to do this. But Whitehall insisted that there should be uniform social welfare cuts throughout the UK. As the sovereign Government of the state, it had the power to do so—if not the right to do so under the terms of the Agreement. When the devolved Government did not obey Whitehall's orders to make the cuts, Whitehall imposed a hefty fine on it for every month of its disobedience, in effect reducing its Budget allocation.
The Dublin Government is supposedly a Guarantor of the Agreement. It was its business as guarantor to hold Whitehall to account for breach of the Agreement. But, instead of doing that, it condemned Sinn Fein for standing by the rights of the devolved Government under the Agreement, and for not obeying Whitehall orders in breach of those rights.
An impasse was reached in the dispute, threatening the continued existence of devolved Government. All-party talks led to an Agreement called Fresh Start under which the devolved administration will be able to partially protect welfare recipients for some years.
However, rather than legislating the cuts to welfare in Belfast, it was agreed that Stormont would pass legislation allowing Britain to include Northern Ireland in its welfare cuts plans in this instance. As we understand it, welfare remains a devolved matter under the Good Friday Agreement, but the devolved Government will allow Westminster the power to enforce its reduced welfare standards.
If Sinn Fein had agreed to the devolved Government making the cuts at the outset, it would have been jubilantly described in the Dail as an austerity party. Because it refused to make the cuts, and obliged the State Government to over-ride the devolved authority and impose the cuts, it is denounced as acting slavishly under British diktat.
Apparently this procedure of allowing Westminster to legislate on devolved matters has been used 40 times over the years, but never on a contentious issue before. According to the make-believe of the devolved system, Westminster can only act directly on devolved matters with the consent of the devolved parliament. The power which it devolved has to be returned to it so that it can act. Although this has been done forty times since the present arrangement was set up, none of the 39 previous instances was commented on by Dublin. Probably it didn't even notice them. But it has raised a hullabaloo about the fortieth instance.
This would be commendable if Dublin had been standing up against Whitehall in support of the rights of the devolved authority—but that is something it is inherently incapable of doing.
Sinn Fein might have blocked the formal return of power to the sovereign Government, but that would not have prevented the sovereign Government from acting. It is unquestionably sovereign, and Dublin formally recognised its sovereignty when it repealed its own sovereignty claim in 1998.
One might argue that Sinn Fein should have pressed the issue to the point of collapsing the devolved system. It chose not to push the matter so far, and to gain some financial benefit for the North from a lesser crisis.
What Everybody In The South Knows About Northern Ireland. Editorial
Irish Labour Pain. Editorial
Revisionism in real time—the ESRI, Brexit and the Euro. Sean Owens
Readers' Letters: A0H And 1916. Seán McGouran
Ulster Says No—to leaving the EU! Sean Owens
EU And Migration Crisis—A Cause. Eamon Dyas
Gallipoli Seminar. Dave Alvey (Report of Meeting)
Shorts from the Long Fellow (Newspapers; Zarathustra in Tallaght; Property Crisis; Property Crisis Solutions; Paris)
The Life & Times of Frank Busteed. Brian O'Donoghue (Report on Lecture)
Bowen Re-Surfaces!. Jack Lane (Review of Radio Programme)
Seamus Murphy (1936-2015). Manus O'Riordan (Obituary)
A Shipyard Story. Seán McGouran (Review of Tom Thompson book)
Further Education and Training in Ireland—Need for a Wider Debate. Dave Alvey
The 1918 Election And The First Cork Brigade . Jimmy Crowley (Extract) 16
Index To Irish Political Review 2015.
The Wars In Kerry. John Morgan (Lt. Col. Retd.) (Review of Tim Horgan's Dying For The Cause, Part 1)
Biteback: Falsifying History. Christopher Fogarty (Unpublished letter to History Ireland)
Harris And Micheál! Report
Does It Stack Up? Michael Stack (Globalisation?)
Labour Comment: The Mondragon Experience by Michael Murray. Mondragon, Part 47
Uncertain Positivity? Seán Ó Riain