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October 1995

The IRA - they haven't gone away, you know!

THE PROVISIONAL IRA's 'cessation of military operations' has lasted for over a year - a move which in tandem with the CLMC ceasefire has given Ulster's long-suffering people a much needed respire from the ravages of a quarter century of armed conflict. However, peace has not come to Ulster - merely & state of armed truce. The concessions to the forces of pan-Irish nationalism have continued. None of these concessions have pleased Sinn Fein. They want to push ahead with 'all-party talks', a seemingly reasonable demand. Of course they know that the unionist parties would not attend but this is of no concern to Messrs Adams and McGuinness. They aim to isolate the unionists and get the British to coerce them into making concessions.

A fascinating new book on the Provisional IRA, Rebel Hearts by the Guardian journalist Kevin Toolis, offers an insight into the strategy behind the IRA's current ceasefire. Patrick Mayhew and John Major would have us believe that the IRA are tired of fighting and wanted the British government's help to end their campaign of violence. Toolis exposes this nonsense with his plain, if unduly sympathetic, explanation of what the IRA are really at:
  "Since the late eighties the IRA has been involved in a complex political process to align the Dublin Government and their electoral rivals, the SDLP, in a pan-nationalist front to negotiate a British withdrawal. By politically dissolving the border so that the mass of nationalists in Ireland can be consolidated into one powerful negotiating bloc, Republicans hope to reorder the political stalemate that has marooned them as a minority within the Catholic minority inside the boundaries of a hostile Protestant  majority-dominated state...
  "The aim of the current republican leadership's pan-nationalist strategy is to achieve a 'historic handshake' with the Crown, like that between South African President Die Klerk and Nelson Mandela before h is release from prison in 1989 which indicated an intention to negotiate political change The ANC did not overthrow the apartheid regime overnight or map out an exact plan for the transfer of authority but from that moment on power flowed steadily De Klerk to the future President Mandela. Similarly in Ireland power would at first trickle, then flow. from the Crown into nationalist Ireland until the balance of power was so weighted in the nationalist/republican's favour that a section of the Unionist community would break away and strife a political deal with the ancient enemy." 
Rebel Hearts pp323-9 

As part of his newfound status as a media superstar, the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has given interviews to all and sundry. In a fascinating interview with Dr Anthony Clare, the media psychiatrist, he bent over backwards to show what a decent understanding chap he is and how Protestants would be cherished in his new Ireland. Sure when he was a lad his first sexual encounters were with girls from the nearby Protestant Moyard district. Mr Adams would be hard-pressed to find any Protestant girls living in Moyard today - their families having fled in 1970 from the pressure exerted by Mr Adams' colleagues.

Despite Gerry Adams' superficial 'reasonableness'. The Provisional Republican Movement has not shifted in its position. Sinn Féin is keeping up is pressure on the streets of Ulster's towns and cities. Much of this pressure is aimed at the Protestant community. Protestant cultural groups such as the Orange Order have been subject to a campaign of hatred and vilification. Traditional parades have been harassed by Sinn Féin front groups and rerouted by the police under orders from the NIO. Simultaneously, Orange Halls have been subjected to an unprecedented campaign of arson and orchestrated destruction. Over twenty-five halls have been attacked since July. Several will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

It looks like the IRA/Sinn Fein intends to gain enough concessions to alarm and infuriate the Protestant community so that loyalist paramilitary groups will be provoked into breaking the ceasefire. If the Combined Loyalist Military Command organisations do break their ceasefire they will probably be smashed by the full might of the British state. The IRA will look like angels! The way will be cleared for Toolis's scenario. The CLMC seems to be aware of this and have issued a statement declaring that they will not be the first to break the truce. The IRA have yet to pledge themselves similarly to no first strike.

If Gerry Adams was to issue such a statement it could reassure folk of his peaceful intentions. Instead we have had his none-too-subtle reminder that the IRA 'haven't gone away, you know' and his more recent threat that 'the present phase of the peace process' is in jeopardy unless everyone else does what he wants. The IRA threatened 'bodies in the streets' if a planned Bruton/Major summit took place in Dublin last September.

David Kerr

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