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Goldfish memory? Or the existence, or otherwise, of PIRA. August 24, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’m sure some are – unlike it seems some in the media and some politicians, not entirely shocked that the IRA might still exist in some form or another. The PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton may or may not share that shock – I’d think not – when he said yesterday:

“that some Provisional IRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist but has undergone significant change since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998”.
“Some primarily operational level structures were changed and some elements have been dissolved completely since 2005,”


[the Provisional IRA] “does not exist for paramilitary purposes”.
“Nevertheless, we assess that in common with the majority of Northern Ireland paramilitary groups from the period of the conflict, some of the PIRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place, although its purposes has radically changed since this period.
“Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political republican agenda.

The Irish Times editorial – written before the above contribution – doesn’t mince words.

It is 10 years since the Provisional IRA put weapons beyond use and “left the stage”, creating the circumstances under which Sinn Féin could enter government; support the police and commit exclusively to democratic and peaceful means. Encouraging that process, the Irish and British governments allowed for “creative ambiguity”, involving dispensations for “on the runs” and, it has been suggested, a gradual disappearance of Provisional IRA command structures. If those structures persist, with an active membership, it will raise questions about republican commitment to the peace process. Before the situation deteriorates any further, some clarity and a robust intervention are required from the two governments.


Such denials have little potency, particularly as family members of the dead man are insisting Provisional IRA members were involved. The various parties are now looking to PSNI chief constable George Hamilton to pronounce and say whether a command structure exists. A response is not expected for weeks. If the police report that the Provisional IRA left the stage, but remains in the wings, it will have implications for government-formation in both parts of the island.

And yet, for all the expressions of shock a curious question remains. Does anyone in the media or political establishments remember the Independent Monitoring Committee. If they do they might recall that the IMC was tasked by the British and Irish governments with offering reports on paramilitary activity. Sadly their website is, like the organisation, defunct.

But I need merely go to the CLR report here from five years ago to read the following quote from their 23rd report. And it says:

Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA)
2.21 In our Twenty-Second Report we reiterated that PIRA had not engaged in terrorist or other illegal activity; that where individuals had engaged in violence or other crime it had been without sanction or support and for personal financial gain; and that such information as had been gathered had been for the purpose of maintaining the coherence of the republican movement. We also noted that the leadership had continued to adhere to its strategy, taking a clear and public stance against terrorist activity and the involvement of members in crime and actively discouraging members from engaging in public disorder during the parades season. 2.22 Our assessment is unchanged. We remain of the view we expressed six months ago and previously: that PIRA has maintained its political course in the period under review and that it will continue to do so.

So, clearly, five years ago, in print, as in other reports, the continuing existence of PIRA was a given, was reported on, and was regarded to be functioning in precisely the same way as the Chief Constable outlined.

Yet, where was the Irish Times editorial page then? Were we treated to ‘It is five years since… etc’?

The fact of a murder, or sequence of murders, is a significantly different matter. But the Chief Constable, and – perhaps ironically – who better to assess such matters, appears to believe there is no organisational link with them.

One doesn’t have to have a brief for PIRA or any intention to minimise the appalling nature of the sequence of murders to find the sheer absurdity of some of the rhetoric around these matters, and the efforts to forget even very recent political and other events, very difficult to take.

On a not entirely related matter, though he takes no small effort to crowbar them together, Stephen Collins writes in the IT…

There is no argument about the fact that violence played a significant part in events that led to the creation of the State, but violence also played a significant part in events that have disfigured our history at regular intervals since then.
That is why a dignified commemoration of the various events, including the 1916 Rising and the first Dáil, that marked the road to independence would be more appropriate than a simplistic glorification of violence, as happened on the 50th anniversary in 1966.

Is he serious?


1. sonofstan - August 24, 2015

There’s a touch of Captain Reynaud-like ‘shock’ at the notion that the IRA might still exist about all this. Completely coincidental that it might be happening in the run up to elections on both sides of the border and – conspiracy alert! – when the candidate for the Labour party leadership that the orthodoxy most fears is conspicuously off-message about SF.

Liked by 1 person

2. Dr. X - August 24, 2015

Genuine question: what’s the basis – if basis there be – for Collins’ assertion that the 1966 commemorations were a “simplistic glorification of violence”?


WorldbyStorm - August 24, 2015

I’ve seen some of the official commemorative documents published during that period and I don’t think it’s fair to characterise them as he does.


3. roddy - August 24, 2015

The Irish times never called for “robust intervention” against another formation that was still in existence more than 2 decades after it was supposed to have left the stage.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - August 24, 2015

Not quite sure that fully holds up as an argument, but… but… there’s a nugget of truth in what you say. In any case it is utter rubbish for the IT to be taking the line it does.


4. gendjinn - August 24, 2015

Not even the Irish government is truly comprehending the existential threat to all life that this story represents Coalition cowers in face of new IRA threat. Thankfully the Irish Independent is on the job, wur saved!

Liked by 1 person

5. ivorthorne - August 24, 2015

Seriously? Who exactly thought that the IRA did not exist in some form? In truth, it is a necessity of sorts. Without some form of briefing/hierarchical system, there would probably be more dissidents and more people killed by dissidents.

Silly season?


WorldbyStorm - August 24, 2015

Probably just driven by events and people are happy to make clearly nonsensical assumptions in print and on other media.


6. benmadigan - August 25, 2015

have a look at why this storm in a tea cup over the defunct or invisible IRA might have been stirred up. https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/the-troubles-time-for-a-re-make/
You could also add in fear of SF votes in the coming general election


7. roddy - August 25, 2015

Mehole Martin was on radio Ulster this morning spewing out righteous indignation only equalled by the leader of the far right TUV Jim Allister.The only difference between the two is that at least Allister has a sense of humour.On being asked what proof he had that that the army council still existed,he retorted “I see them every Monday in the Stormont canteen”!


eamonncork - August 25, 2015

Interesting fact about the TUV is that at the general election they actually won fewer votes in the North than UKIP. Yet Jim keeps being treated as though he speaks for some vast unrepresented constituency. He’s the Ronan Mullen of Unionism.


8. eamonncork - August 25, 2015

I think ben’s comment in the piece that removing Sinn Fein from the Executive would basically be a coup d’état is the most apposite observation on this. This is the second largest party in terms of popular support at the Westminster elections we’re talking apart, whatever your opinion of their politics.
The Collins argument is basically a retread of the nonsensical argument, often made, that the fervour of the 1966 celebrations was a major contributor to the outbreak of the Troubles in the North. In playing down the primary cause, the repression of the Civil Rights movement, it’s a great example of our insistence on this side of the border that everything is all about us.


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