T Nation

The IRA Dumps Arms


#1

The Oldest and Most Efficient Terrorist Army in the World instructs its Volunteers to give up violence and embrace peace


THE IRA is expected to take the first step on a new path of peace within days by decommissioning its huge arsenal.

The Provisional movement, once described as one of the most efficient terrorist armies in the world, yesterday instructed its members to give up violence and embrace peace.

It called a halt to all paramilitary and criminal activity and promised to put its weapons verifiably beyond use.

All its units were ordered to dump their arms and become involved in the development of a democratic political process.

Following more than three decades of bloodshed which resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people, the IRA took what could turn out to be an historic decision after three months of internal debate across the island.

The ground-breaking statement was widely welcomed in Dublin, London and Washington with reactions mixed in Belfast.

The IRA's new code came into force at 4pm and there were indications last night that it was moving quickly on decommissioning with its appointed representative in contact with General John de Chastelain who has been on stand-by for the past week. Preparations for decommissioning have been almost finalised since before the collapse of the peace talks in Belfast last December and the IRA is now expected to go ahead. Two clergymen, from the Protestant and Catholic churches, will act as independent witnesses to provide verification.

In return for the historic statement, Sinn Fein has gained some of its outstanding demands. The British government, which released IRA bomber Sean Kelly from prison on Wednesday night, will introduce legislation in the autumn to arrange an amnesty for up to 40 OTRs (on the run suspects) who are wanted for crimes committed prior to the Good Friday Agreement.

But sources in Dublin confirmed for the first time that the group will not include two IRA men wanted by the Garda for the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996.

Earlier, Justice Minister Michael McDowell had ruled out an early release for the four killers of Garda McCabe and said this had been accepted by Sinn Fein.

The Government will press ahead in September with plans to reform the Seanad to include a guarantee that some politicians from the Northern Assembly would automatically become members of the Seanad.

Despite the IRA statement, the Government is to beef up the Criminal Assets Bureau in a fresh drive to seize the millions of euro built up in the coffers of the Provisionals over the three decades.

Extra accountants are being hand-picked for the CAB while personnel are being sent to the United States for special training with the FBI on how to recover IRA assets.

The IRA statement came in the form of a DVD which had an ex-prisoner Seanna Walsh reading out the organisation's declaration. It leaked into the public domain two hours before the IRA intended.

While unionists were sceptical about the IRA commitment, the Bush administration joined in the international welcome for the statement, describing it as "important and potentially historic."

But it also urged republicans to "sever all ties to international terrorist organisations."

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he believed the statement meant that the organisation had finally called an end to all actions.

"The war is over, the IRA's armed campaign is over, paramilitarism is over and I believe that we can look to the future of peace and prosperity based on mutual trust and reconciliation and a final end to violence," he said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the IRA statement as "a step of unparalleled magnitude" while Northern Secretary Peter Hain said the process of scaling back British military presence in Northern Ireland could be expected to begin within days.

But it was clear last night that the North's biggest party, the DUP, remains to be convinced of the IRA's bona fides and will take many months before engaging in talks on the restoration of power-sharing institutions, now almost three years in suspension.

DUP leader Ian Paisley said the IRA would be judged over the next months and years, based on its behaviour and activity.

Gerry Adams said the IRA statement was clear evidence of the commitment of republicans to the peace process and claimed it removed unionists' excuses for not engaging with republicans.

The Irish Independent


#2

It is difficult to say whether the IRA was if not defeated severely depleted militarily, became war weary or simply recognised that they had reached the point through the military campaign where they could achieve politically their aim of a united Ireland.

Having said that it is difficult to believe that a terrorist (if you see it that way) movement would have flourished in todays anti terrorist climate.

Out of historical interest the perception here in the UK when we suffered the IRA's bombing campaign was that the US was at best indifferent or at worst supportive of what was considered a freedom movement. Was that an accurate view?


#3

Some did support them, some didn't, no doubt much of the 'Irish community' did support them, and they were largely happy to send money to scumbags who liked to kill off duty policemen and 17 year old soldiers.

The fact that the IRA gained a large amount of money from organised crime and controlling the drugs trade in Ulster gives you a pretty good idea of what a lovely bunch of guys they were.


#4

My perception is that many in the US were supportive of the IRA. They raised a lot of money in Boston.

I wonder how much of that money Bush stopped and I wonder if that was a reason Blair has been such a big ally in the war.


#5


I'd imagine with hundreds of tonnes of Semtex left and thousands of AK's, rocket launchers, sniper rifles etc. left they could have gone on for many more years. I think the opinion is that the British is ready to leave and in time the Nationalist Catholic's will become the majority and will vote to reunite the island.

I also think there is a recognised and distinct difference between the IRA and many other terrorist groups.

The US has always had a strong affinity with the IRA and their fight for freedom - it has also been viewed very differently in the US. The arms that Irish-Americans and others sent to the IRA helped defend and save many Catholic people in the early stages of the war during the 1960's and 1970's. Interestingly the war on terror hasn't seemed to affect the IRA or their fundung, as they have been exempt from much of the terror laws - Remember the IRA aren't going to bomb downtown New York are they?

Accusations of invovlements in the drug trade is a wonderful smear tactic Unionists and others with ulterior motives use. Don't fall for that stupid rumour. The IRA has a code of operation that holds execution of any memeber involved in illicit trade of narcotics as the sanction for a guilty verdict. I've never even heard of an IRA volunteer being charged with involvement in drugs.
Think about it for a second - With such large and wealthy bank accounts along with strong Global connections, don't you think the IRA would if they were so inclined flood the country and infact Europe? The focus of the IRA has always been simple - A United Ireland.

The fact is that the drug business is dominated by Loyalists, and has been recognised as such by independent observers. They have such an interest that they are constantly killing each other to mainatain control of it.


I suppose you can take many different views and opinions - but one is oblidged to bear in mind that it is very easy to dismiss the IRA's motives and actions.

Consider this very hastily thrown together argument-

Should a forgein power ....
- invade your country,
- murder and destroy your country
- ban your religion
- execute those who continue to practice it
- take your land
- plant it's indesirables in your country
- Give your land to these invaders
- starve your country (even during a potato famine) into the loss of over 1 million people
- politically persecute you and your family
- deny you (Catholic/Nationalist) your basic human rights
- rig elections and election constituencies to deny you basic electoral democracy
- continue themsleves to even in recent years support state-sponsored terrorism
- permit the majority religion to actively conduct a organised system of genocide

You would probably in that case take up arms and defend your family, religion, friends and land and following this attempt to expel the invader.

Now ... you probably have a better idea of the mindset of those who would take up arms to fight against what the Irish People (especially in the North and the IRA) have viewed as 800 years of British oppression?


#6

Speaking as an Irishman from the IRA heartland of South Armagh. I'm glad they are leaving their arms down. Yes there is an acceptable argument against british oppression (something which happened in a lot of countries, I mean Indians and Africans all too rebelled against Britain), however the IRA commited thousands of punishment beatings, kneecappings and the millions they made from drugs, smuggling. These men shouldn't really be romanticised.


#7

Maybe the IRA and other republicans could team up with the UVF and other loyalists against a common enemy like Bin Laden and his disciples? For all their problems with each other the former have a lot more in common with each other than either has with the later. The enemy of my enemy is my friend!