» Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Northern Ireland

Asked what progress had been made today in light of the Prime Minister’s meeting with the Taoiseach, the PMOS said that we had had the decommissioning report, which as the Prime Minister had said, we believed was genuinely significant. We would have in a few weeks the report from the Independent Monitoring Commission, which we hoped would show that IRA activity had stopped. There was a second report due in January. We recognised that because of events last year people were sceptical. We believed that facts were changing and therefore gradually confidence would grow to allow a deal on devolution to take place. At the same time we had to keep emphasizing that loyalist paramilitary activity had to stop too.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. The larger issue surely with respect to the N.Ireland situation is whether it was right in the first place to enter into any kind of settlement with terrorists that involves substantial concessions … thus rewarding them for their bomb and gun tactics. This is still a hot button issue, especially in Unionist circles in N. Ireland, and it could undermine any political progress in the interim.

    I lived in Belfast throughout the troubles, and I know for a fact that outfits such as the IRA, UVF and others are not simply political terrorists but are also a mafia within their own communities and are deeply involved with crime. The butchery of McCartney in the Short Strand area of Belfast is an example of the type of violence they resort to at short notice.

    Their stated political objectives were pursued at the cost of laying waste to entire neighbourhoods in Ulster, turning the province into a fortress of fear and destroying families. That Blair has gone so far down the road of compromise with terrorists, is quite simply wrong and repugnant. I find it ironical that he has British troops in Iraq at present taking on an insurgency that has little to do with any threat to the British mainland.

    I\x92m not a fan of the Orange Order or extreme Unionism, but I will say this \x85 the sons of loyalist Ulster families gave their lives in many wars for Queen and country. It\x92s little wonder the descendents of these people feel a deep sense of betrayal.

    The recent riots on the Shankill and the show of fire power by the UVF is an example of the fear and desperation felt by protestant working class communities, in the face of a power shift that has essentially been stage managed by Downing Street. So we may yet see the UVF becoming the new threat to law and order in the province now that the IRA has given up arms (ostensibly).

    Was there discrimination against catholics in Ulster? Yes, certainly there was. Will the culture and mindset created by the IRA alter as a result of decommissioning and a resurgent Sinn Fein on the political front? Highly unlikely. Same goes for extreme loyalist attitudes. These are entrenched communities and their leaders view democracy as cosmetic convenience. They have acquired power and reached their present position with AK47\x92s and plastic explosives, and that\x92s not a lesson easily forgotten.

    I think the British should have moved sooner to create a bi-partisan police force genuinely representitive of both communities, then moved forcefully against terrorism on all fronts – catholic and protestant. While doing this, they should have bolstered the middle ground by creating the conditions for moderate parties to emerge and draw people away from the extremist factions.

    Pandering to Sinn Fein is wrong – just as pandering to extreme Unionism is wrong. Blair bungled this badly and in my view has created the conditions for civil strife in the furture, because there are constituencies in Ulster that will never accept the concessions that have been handed to Sinn Fein.

    Comment by Aidan Maconachy — 13 Oct 2005 on 5:36 pm | Link

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