(by Gary Kent, The Source)
October 29, 2001
We should thank an American President for the IRA beginning to decommission its weapons of mass destruction. It's neither President Clinton nor President Bush but President Monroe after whom the US security doctrine is named. The Monroe doctrine lays down that foreign interference in America's backyard - its sphere of influence in South America - will not be tolerated.
The Provos foolishly broke this rule and are now paying the price. Make no mistake, they have been forced into decommissioning and would not have done so if America, and David Trimble, had not hung tough.
The reason that the Bush Administration became so angry with the IRA was the revelation that at least 3 of its operatives were collaborating with the
revolutionary Farc terror group in Colombia, a sworn enemy of the US.
Republicans denied that they were anything to do with them, although Cuba conceded that one of the men, Niall Connolly was Sinn Féin's accredited representative there. One barely noticed part of the delicate diplomatic dance of the last few days was Adams' acknowledgement that Connolly was, in fact, Sinn Féin's man in Havana but that Adams didn't know about it, although he fiercely denied it for months. Adams sneaked out this bad news, in order to "bury" it, just before his "ground-breaking" speech in West Belfast, which heralded the IRA move.
And a key Colombian police inspector, who has vital evidence linking Connolly and his colleagues to the Farc has disappeared. I hope he has not been
kidnapped by the Farc. I guess that the men will be deported sooner or later but the Provos will still be under a cloud since there is a Congressional Inquiry into the relationship between the IRA and Farc.
Given the new American attitude towards the IRA, Adams must have feared that their funds would dry up. And this preceded 11 September that, unfortunately, brought home to the US the terrible reality of terrorism - any terrorism.
11 September also meant that the IRA was no longer able to blackmail the British and Irish Governments with the implicit threat of bombs in London -
which is, regrettably, what counted the most. If they were ever to go down that road, they would align themselves with Bin Laden et al and take the
So the Provos were backed into a corner and faced an unpalatable choice between partial or total defeat. They chose partial defeat. Examine the IRA
statement on decommissioning. It maintains that decommissioning was never a part of the peace bargain but that they were doing it to save the peace process.
They have started an irreversible process that will corrode their military integrity because they wanted to save their hides. We are not supposed to gloat and there will be statesmanlike statements about being generous and flexible plus demilitarisation of British Army watchtowers and reduced troop levels.
But there must also be intensified pressure to continue the process of decommissioning, more pressure on the loyalists to follow suit and, crucially, the need to disband paramilitary structures and practices.
The Adams-McGuinness leadership will be lionised by its apologists and the naïve but let no one forget that the Provos conduct a cruel campaign of repression and racketeering in their heartlands.
Part of the deal will undoubtedly include provision for the waiving of legal proceedings against Provo fugitives, wanted for murder and other terrorist activities in Northern Ireland but who are "On-the-Run" in the Republic of Ireland and America. It is a logical extension of the programme of early release
of paramilitary prisoners. But the relevant Governments would be guilty of moral cowardice if they did not insist that the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who are on the run from the Provos were not afforded the same treatment. In other words, the informers and others who have offended paramilitary godfathers must be released too.
The Provos should help destroy the Real IRA who see decommissioning as a complete sell-out. The Provos know who carried out the Omagh atrocity in
1998 and should be persuaded to dish the dirt. Their own political and physical survival could depend on it. Selective internment against those who continue to wage war, for Ireland or for Ulster, must be considered.
Again, we are not supposed to crow about victory and defeat but David Trimble has been vindicated in spades. It was touch and go. The British could
easily have dropped the demand for decommissioning. There were enough people saying that it was a red herring. But he stuck to his guns, so to speak, and now has massively enhanced authority to work with Sinn Féin but focus on building a moderate political centre with the SDLP, who will soon be rejuvenated by a new and younger leadership.
The IRA slogan throughout its spiteful, sectarian and squalid war was "our day will come." It should now be "our day has come, and gone." Democrats can
rejoice but there is still much hard work to do to rebuild Northern Ireland and eradicate decades of poisonous division and gansterism.
Finally, spare a thought for the victims of terrorism. Gerry Adams was at his most mawkish at a meeting in Westminster last night with Tony Benn. Adams
presented Benn with a plaque inscribed with the poem of a dead hunger striker - "let our revenge be the laughter of children." Funnily enough, there was no
mention of the prison officers who were murdered in revenge. Thousands of people will now be in anguish as they wonder why their loved ones were murdered. The best tribute to them is to accept the IRA's moves and move quickly to establish a mundane but peaceful society.
This article first appeared at SourceUK.net in October 2001.