» Monday, September 26, 2005


Asked what was happening "over the water" this afternoon regarding decommissioning, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that we had to wait for General John de Chastelain’s report this afternoon. The PMOS said that if this turned out to be complete decommissioning, it could only be seen as a truly significant event. Following the events of last year, people would of course be sceptical, but what we were seeing was a process of implementing the IRA’s statement of July, and this was the first of three stages. The PMOS said that there would be two other reports by the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), the first being in October that we hoped would show that the IRA had stopped all paramilitary activity, including criminal activity, with a further report in January 2006.

Asked what other work there would be for John de Chastelain, the PMOS said unfortunately, there was still the issue of loyalist paramilitaries to consider. However, if today did see the complete decommissioning as set out by General John de Chastelain’s report, it would be truly significant.

Asked what would happen if decommissioning did take place, the PMOS replied that confidence would be restored, and we accepted that people were right to have had concerns and to be sceptical. If we saw arms completely put beyond use, and the Independent Monitoring Commission confirmed that all paramilitary and criminal activity had stopped, then we believed that it was possible to begin moving forward on devolution. We were not trying to do a complete deal this week, rather we were trying to demonstrate that the IRA had lived up to their word.

Asked what the consequences would be to loyalist paramilitaries, the Secretary of State had said last week that the paramilitaries had a choice: they could either go down a political route, or they could try to continue with their paramilitary activity. If they did the latter, then they would be treated as criminals, who the police would deal with accordingly.

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  1. re : Decommissioning

    I think decommissioning has to be seen for what it is. Two clergymen witnessed the process.

    Having said that the reservations of Paisley are probably based on inside information, and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if the IRA are holding back weapons. But I do think the bulk of their weaponry has been decommissioned.

    Remains to be seen now if the UDA, UVF et all will follow suite – not to mention radical groups in the nationalist movement.

    Comment by Aidan Maconachy — 28 Sep 2005 on 8:00 am | Link
  2. Don’t hold your breath…

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 29 Sep 2005 on 10:09 am | Link
  3. Yes PapaLazzaru – I tend to share your skepticism. I think the UVF reflect a sense of desperation on the part of working class protestant groups who seem to be suffering exactly the same sense of "disconnect" from the political process that catholic working class people felt for a long time. We now face the prospect of the UVF becoming a menace to law and order in much the way the IRA was.

    What frustrates me the most is that Unionism in Ulster seems incapable of coming up with a new vision, new language that fits in with new developments on the ground. This business of waving the jack and chanting "no surrender" is really a neanderthal response that offers no way forward. I know for a fact that the Unionist community in Ulster contains many savvy and intelligent people, many of them top lawyers in the province, so I’m hoping that something will emerge to replace the Paisley mindset that can lead nowhere but down the slippery slope.

    Ulster needs Unionist politicians who can broker with entities like Sinn Fein and who view compromise as a way of bettering the prospects for the entire community, rather than as "selling out".

    I’m an emigre Ulsterman myself, and I am fortunate enough to live in Canada, where I have witnessed first hand the genius of a national debate (with Quebec) in which jingoism is replaced by cool thinking and considered compromise. Canadians are brilliant at this sort of thing, and it’s interesting that it is a Canadian – de Chastelain – who is presiding over the decommissioning process. I find that very apt.

    Comment by Aidan Maconachy — 29 Sep 2005 on 1:46 pm | Link
  4. My problem is I’ve gotten far too cynical and I guess I’m one of the few who doesn’t forget government lies. I’m at the stage where I believe NOTHING I am told by our government or the main stream media without first looking to see who has an ulterior motive, or who stands to gain. There’s always someone. ALWAYS. Now I am firmly in the camp that government policy, while ostensibly made to serve the "common man", is in fact purely and simply there to further the ends of the individuals that make up the government and the establishment status quo. Policy only serves democracy when it coincides with the needs of some special interests group or person. And lately I have seen nothing to make me alter that opinion and plenty to reinforce it.

    Therefore my feelings about the "peace process" in NI are coloured somewhat by my firmly held conviction that even here the government is on the make. Whether it be brownie points for Saint Bliar, an extra inch in the history books or a few more shekels into his Swiss bank account, I am firmly convinced that if it suited Saint Tony to have a peaceful Ireland then peaceful it would be. Remember, conflict is big business; we only have to look as far as Basra to see our government is not so saintly it will shirk from using agents provocateurs to keep the fires burning. Ok so that’s Iraq – but don’t think for one moment that the people responsible won’t employ similar tactics elsewhere.

    And while I know that it would be wrong to blame Saint Tony for the intransigence of Ian Paisley and others of his ilk, I’m 100% convinced that, if Paisley for instance was seen as one of the major obstacles to the peace process and the government was serious about it, he’d be history. It SUITS the government to have argumentative old dinosaurs digging their heels in over technicalities; it drags the conflict – and the business opportunities – on. Equally with the UVF; I’m sure if the government were serious about the "peace process" the UVF would very quickly be neutralised. Don’t forget, in Ireland we don’t have the intelligence problems we have in the middle east; we know who’s who and where they live. The SAS and MI5 have been working in Ireland for some time now and they’ve gotten to be bloody good at it. And the government has shown in Iraq that, contrary to it’s public persona, it isn’t at all afraid to get it’s hands dirty.

    While I know my radical viewpoint is a bit much for some to swallow, all I would say is look at the big picture and don’t let yourself get too bogged down in minutiae. Pretty soon you start to see very simple patterns emerging. For almost any given problem, instead of looking to see who is going to come to the rescue, look instead for who stands to gain financially. In other words, follow the money. And pretty soon all becomes clear!

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 29 Sep 2005 on 6:17 pm | Link
  5. Yes, very good points and I tend to share your rather machiavellian take on political wheeling and dealing. I’m sure that more often than not this is the case. It’s a game to them really.

    Yes I know the SAS and MI5 were very effective at penetrating the IRA. In fact in the 80’s infiltration techniques were working so well, young volunteers were being shot on the least suspicion that they might be in cahoots with the Brits. Although 9/11 and subsequent world events hastened the demise of the IRA (since corporate American money was no longer rolling into the coffers), I do think they were effectively beaten and allowed to save face. I had to smile as I watched Gerry Adams on BBC put a bold face on what many Republicans view as a sell out. After all the Orange Order is still marching, the jack is still flying, the troops are still there and a united Ireland is stilla hypothetical … far from the scenario envisaged when the campaign started.

    The next year will be interesting.

    Comment by Aidan Maconachy — 30 Sep 2005 on 4:42 am | Link

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