Current Affairs Military Politics

Provisional IRA Not On A War Footing

Two days have passed since I criticised the risible scaremongering amongst sections of the domestic and UK press, as well as various opportunist politicians, following contradictory statements by PSNI officers investigating the related murders of Gerard Davison in May and Kevin McGuigan this August, both in the city of Belfast. In particular confused claims over the alleged involvement of former or current volunteers of the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army in the shooting dead of McGuigan led to some knowingly untrue or distorted reports in the national news media in Dublin, as well as by some further afield. While a healthy dose of scepticism in relation to Sinn Féin and the movement it represents is perfectly reasonable, for obvious reasons, it is clear that the rush to judgement in this case was motivated by the political fears of SF-hating journalists and politicians rather than genuine concerns over the sanctity of life or the rule of law (the reaction three months ago to the slaying of Kevin McGuigan, a former senior brigade officer in (P)IRA, was notably gloating in the newspaper columns and online comments of some well-known Irish media figures).

Yesterday the chief constable of the British paramilitary police force in the north-east of Ireland, the PSNI’s George Hamilton, issued a clarifying statement which I have published in full below:

Chief Constable’s statement – PSNI’s assessment of the current status of the Provisional IRA.

22 Aug 2015

I want to respond to the requests from various quarters for me to bring some clarification regarding my assessment of the current status and activities of the Provisional IRA.

We should all remember at the outset that the stimulus for this public debate has been the tragic murder of Kevin McGuigan following the equally tragic murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison. At the outset we would do well to remember that there are grieving families today and there are ongoing murder investigations that I will not compromise or jeopardise by unnecessary public commentary or speculation.

At this stage we assess that some Provisional IRA organisational infrastructure continues to exist but has undergone significant change since the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. Some, primarily operational level structures were changed and some elements have been dissolved completely since 2005.

We assess that in the organisational sense the Provisional IRA does not exist for paramilitary purposes. Nevertheless, we assess that in common with the majority of Northern Ireland paramilitary groups from the period of the conflict, some of the PIRA structure from the 1990s remains broadly in place, although its purpose has radically changed since this period. Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political Republican agenda. It is our assessment that the Provisional IRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism. I accept the bona fides of the Sinn Fein leadership regarding their rejection of violence and pursuit of the peace process and I accept their assurance that they want to support police in bringing those responsible to justice. We have no information to suggest that violence, as seen in the murder of Kevin McGuigan, was sanctioned or directed at a senior level in the Republican movement.

Although still a proscribed organisation, and therefore illegal, we assess that the continuing existence and cohesion of the Provisional IRA hierarchy has enabled the leadership to move the organisation forward within the peace process. Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas.

I want to comment on the connection, or lack of connection between the PIRA and the group calling itself ‘Action Against Drugs’. Action Against Drugs has emerged from within the Republican community from a range of backgrounds. Some are former members of the Provisional IRA, but others have links to Violent Dissident Republican groups and others are from a pure organised crime background. This group is intent on taking action against what it perceives as anti-social elements in Belfast but this is done in pursuit of their own criminal agenda. They are little more than an organised crime group in my view and we assess that Action Against Drugs is an independent group that is not part of, or a cover name for the Provisional IRA.

That said, in the McGuigan murder enquiry the SIO is appropriately following a line of enquiry that has shown connections and cooperation between Action Against Drugs as a group and a number of individuals who are members of the Provisional IRA. As I have just said, we are currently not in possession of information that indicates that Provisional IRA involvement was sanctioned or directed at a senior or organisational level within the Provisional IRA or the broader Republican movement.

In conclusion, I want families and communities to have confidence in the murder investigations that we are conducting. These investigations will be conducted with integrity, professionalism, in a thorough manner and without fear or favour.

I will not sacrifice my operational independence, or allow the investigation to be influenced by political commentary or even political consequences. We will go where the evidence takes us. I would again appeal for information from the community in assisting us on bringing those responsible to justice.

Thank you.”

In an even more explicit comment Hamilton remarked in a media briefing that (P)IRA was “…not on a war footing“, nor was it seeking to be so. Yet again, this is the reality of a cold peace rather than a hot war in the British Occupied North of Ireland. The problem is that some on the political right of Irish politics, unionist-sympathisers and colonist-deniers, are still fighting a counter-insurgency campaign on behalf of Britain that the British accepted was lost long ago.

32 comments on “Provisional IRA Not On A War Footing

  1. Why do you call it “British Occupied North” if no country in the world (not even the Republic of Ireland) recognises it as such? (unlike territories like Gaza Strip, Crimea or South Ossetia)

    • In relation to Palestine the Israelis don’t use the term “Occupied Territories” and in recent years the United States, the UK, and several other nations have walked back from its use in official wording, yet that is the view of its inhabitants and most of the world. In the case of the latter it took many decades of campaigning to swing public opinion around and in favour of the Palestinian cause following years of disregard.

      I use the term “Occupied North” because “Northern Ireland” is a region of my country under foreign occupation, an historical anomaly from the period when a majority of the country was freed in the 1920s. The continued occupation in the north-east was to be a short term measure, not permanent. Irish citizens in the n-e expected in time to be as free as the majority of their fellow citizens. Yet here we are ninety years later, the occupation still in place, the hopes of the 1920s’ generation still unfulfilled for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

      If I and those around me would not accept British rule in Dublin why in Belfast? The battered remnant of a Medieval colony has no place in the 21st century.

      • why in Belfast?
        Because most of the people that live there WANT to be part of the UK?

  2. eileen healy

    I don’t know how much of this article you missed or skipped but maybe it was just the last two sentences

  3. ar an sliabh

    People turning a political blind eye to a particular circumstance does not negate the reality of that circumstance. There was a time where no one officially considered places like Latvia or Estonia to be under Russian occupation either.

    • When was that time? The USA and other western countries have always maintained that the occupation of the Baltics was illegal.

      • ar an sliabh

        I stand corrected. Although nothing more than symbolic, as it had no impact on the Alliance, the Wells Act was none-the-less official (forgot about that part). So a few months in 1940 would have been the only time. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I stand by my first statement, however. There was a distinct interest by the U.S. to destabilize the eastern corridor to Russia, so the condemnation made sense. Ireland just had the bad luck of not just being occupied, but also the rest of the world lacking any form of vested interest in condemning that occupation. Does not make it any more justifiable or any less real, either way.

  4. Eileen Healy

    Listening to France’s Fitzgerald’ s emphatic ‘reassurances’ while interviewed at Béal mal Blath by Rte. I’m more concerned

    • The eulogising of Michael Collins as law-loving, would-be Irish Ghandi was laughable. Does she really believe that we have no collective memory as a people? No history books to inform us? Or does she believe that we all take our history from the pages of the Sunday Independent?

  5. john cronin

    Hamilton has to come out with this bullshit in order to keep his job. Jim Cusack writes about this well. The fuel dumping which is threatening the health of so many on the border, the cigarette smuggling, the £200 Million Provo property empire, the money laundering, the tie ups with the narco-terrorists of FARC, the forensic cleaning of the bar and wiping of the cctv after Jock Davison sliced open that poor bastard McCartney: the list is endless.

    O’Snodaigh’s ghastly wife throwing bottles at Garda officers attending a heart attack victim, Pearse McCauley, not content with murdering a Garda officer, also slicing up the missus. These people are scum. They have become a straightforward criminal organisation.

    • “They have become a straightforward criminal organisation”

      Which implies that they were not, previously?

      Unsurprisingly I disagree with all of that, John, especially on the matter of Cusack who has a laughable reputation.

      On SF and its reputation, I didn’t believe a word from SF representatives about (P)IRA being no longer in existence because I knew it to be untrue. I understood why they had to make those statements, both politically and legally, however it lowered their credibility in my eyes every time they said it. Gerry Adams is being simply dishonest with his own denials of his past military career, etc. and that carries over into other areas. Only a general amnesty would alter that situation, allowing all parties to be honest, as I have argued before.

  6. Yes, I guess us poor saps who lived through “the Troubles” and never lifted a finger to hurt anyone, will just have to accept that the price we have to pay for relative peace is the continuing existence of these mafia-like outfits, from both sides of the divide, who will continue to murder whenever they feel like it. All we can hope for is that, with the passage of time, they will eventually fade away, though I’m not holding my breath, as old Chairman Mao was probably correct in his analysis that “all power comes from the barrel of a gun.”
    From a Sinn Fein point of view it’s a win-win situation, they know that nobody is going to collapse the Executive over the head of a few murders : the police, for forms sake, will pull in a few people, but nobody will be convicted. S.F. will continue to deny that the I.R.A. exists, while knowing that it does and that everybody else knows it does, with all the extra leverage that gives them. The cash from rackets will continue to pour in cementing S.F.’s position as the richest party in Ireland and, of course, their vote will not diminish : if voters weren’t put off by what happened during “the conflict,” they’re hardly going to be bothered by what’s happening now.
    So its trebles all round for Gerry and Co and the whole farcical charade will go one for the foreseeable future.

    • Ginger..It is my sore wish that unionists like yourself would realise several things here.
      Your power from the barrel of a gun…How did the British wield power?
      With Tulips?
      Also, the Sick Counties RUC has been telling lies for the benefit of unionism since the inception in 1922.
      Now, what..They’re telling lies for the Brits unionists and now Republicans it’s no longer ok?
      So I wish only see the 6 County state was wrong then and it’s wrong now.
      It’s never going to find a cure for itself.
      Time to cut a deal with the Free State..Time to end partition.

      • What deal do you propose?
        Can “the free state” pay 10 billion GBP per year to keep Northern Ireland afloat?
        Would you want to pay more taxes?
        The Germans are still paying their “solidarity tax” 25 years after the reunification.

        If not then I can understand people who want to keep things as they are.

        • Well for a start it’s not 10 billion.
          Th British give the six Counties the bill and the money for their share of Trident missiles, the Royal Family of spongers and Typhoon jets.
          We need zero of that in Ireland.
          Second either the Ireland 32 counties can make a living for itself or it can sink.
          I predict if people of talent rather than this current golden circle get their hands on power.
          Ireland will succeed.
          If not then it will fail.
          Give people a stark choice in order for them to decide correct path.
          Wrap people in cotton wool and they’ll achieve nothing.

          • I predict if people of talent rather than this current golden circle get their hands on power.
            Ireland will succeed.
            If not then it will fail.
            No shit!
            That applies to pretty much any country in the world.

            And NI doesn’t pay for that “shite” anyway, because they receive subvention payments from London every year – they can’t support themselves. Also the Royal family generates tourism revenue for the UK (and even if they decided to scrap monarchy – a president’s office is not free either).

    • I actually agree with a lot of that, Ginger. However note the opinion of the chief constable (not someone I’d normally have much confidence in):

      “Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political Republican agenda. It is our assessment that the Provisional IRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism. I accept the bona fides of the Sinn Fein leadership regarding their rejection of violence and pursuit of the peace process and I accept their assurance that they want to support police in bringing those responsible to justice.”

      The continued British occupation and partition itself was, is and always will be the primary source and initiator of conflict on this island nation. Reunification would not end the conflict – but it would be the beginning of the end of that conflict.

  7. john cronin

    Precisely. An Sionnach seems to be in dat river in Egypt when it comes to cotemplatins Sinn Fein criminality, smuggling, cozying up to FARC, etc etc et bloody etc: murder of Paul Quinn: murder of postman Rafferty: raping and buggering of God knows how many kids by IRA men:

    • John you are a card.
      If you have such a moral person…How do you put up with the stink of living in England?
      With Thatcher glad handling Pinochet and Pol Pot.Mass murderers.
      With the Saudi BaE arms deals that made many a Tory Grandee rich.
      With over 250,000 “feral Kids” transported out of England to the “colonies” a Practice that continued up to the 1980’s IIRC
      With the Death squads they sponsored in Ireland.
      With the wars in Irak.
      Or do you somehow believe that if a Right Wing group does these things it’s somehow OK?
      You have never addreesed any single nasty thing that your “heroes” the Brits have been responsible for….ever.
      And now you have Ted Heath in the dock.
      Not to mention rumours above senior Royals, senior Brit army Officers and any 1970’s BBC celebrity.
      And as for your sources in the Irish independent.
      They did Feck all to expose the Church and it’s links to Garda who never gave a rats to haul in any priests in the 1970’s or 1980’s and the FF and FG parties who presided over that lot either.
      So in truth all you have is crocodile tears.
      If you want to be a Joan Of Arc Whiter than white figure go ahead.
      But to do that you would have to crawl from the slime that is UK Government.

      • john cronin

        Being born in England is not something I had much say in. The reason I was born in England is that my parents moved there cos, well there no jobs in Ireland. With regard to my banking, I have no control over what the directors of the banks get up to: I have to pay my bills and have a bank account, same as everyone else.

        Whataboutery. Does not alter any of my comments re the Shinners. They appear to be going the same way as the post apartheid ANC: ie becoming a corrupt venal and predatory organisation. Can An Sionnach give any examples of Jim Cusack telling lies in his coverage?

    • BTW John.
      With whom do you do your banking with over in the UK?
      Because several of the Big Uk banks have pleaded quilty paid fines for a variety of breaches
      which has enabled drug cartels and terrorists organisations to launder money.
      These fines are nothing to these banks other than the “costs of doing business”
      Also during the banking collapse of 2008 ..When Banks were not lending to other banks leading to a real danger than they would collapse#
      it was Cocaine dealers who were the only ones with sufficent liquid assets to fill the void.
      So, With your moral code I trust you keep your money under the mattress.

      It’s absurd that the Irish who want their freedom should be somehow whiter than white than the corrupt system that is in place now.
      Burt there you go.
      It is what it is.

      • john cronin

        The Shinners in Norn Iron never rejected British dole money, British child benefit, British housing benefit, nor did they refuse to be treated in British funded NHS hospitals.

        • As I said before, John, so what? The French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, etc. all lived under German Occupation (or the administrations of collaborative authorities) and they still took what they could of state resources. Do you think that Irish citizens should have refused health, social welfare and eduction services for nine decades on principle? What would have become of them? Even more impoverished than they were and are?

    • Ceannaire

      Irish Independent – lol.
      If I were to link to An Phoblacht or some such publication as evidence of something you would reject it as propaganda and selective truths. Most people think the same when they see the words ‘Irish Independent’.

      Seriously – Irish Independent? 🙂

  8. Janis ,of that 10 billion figure you mentioned 1.5 billion goes to British defence.
    In other words the British “give” 10 Billion and then take 1.5 Billion of it and give it to the MoD
    So there is a lot of Fuzzy Logic about that 10 billion figure.
    And also amounts are “taken” away for Royal Family etc.
    Also it’s a pretty meaningless stat. by itself..Purely designed to scare away free staters.
    For example How much of that cost is absorbed due to adminstration and paperwork on lawyers etc..just to keep the 6 Counties in the Union????
    You know the cost of bureaucy and the like…which makes no impact on peoples day to day lives outside of those technocrats of course.
    The brits are wasters when it comes down to it. So no wonder it “costs” so much.
    Here’s a thing.
    I read somewhere that something like 75% of ALL the costs that Norway incurs by drilling a well in their area of the North Sea is purely due to paperwork.
    So BEFORE 1 single helicopter or 1 single ship or one single oil rig is paid for . These things are only 25% of the total.
    Paperwork takes 75% of the cost.In fact it could even be MORE than that as I am relying on memory
    It’s a staggering fact.
    Think about the waste of that.
    If 75% of the cost of drilling a hole at sea is paperwork..than how much does it cost to maintain a colony on paperwork alone?
    It’s gotta be hefty.Wouldn’t you agree?
    Think about what waste is done in the North.
    I maintain it is nothing to be afraid of.

    • Just an edit.
      The DNV in Norway say that 92% of a subsea drilling project costs are documentation costs.Paperwork in other words
      So, the point being that bureaucacy eats money.
      So janis ask yourself do the people of the 6 Counties see any of that 10 Billion???
      If the answer is no…You suspect that maybe only Lawyers…politicians and civil servants get to see that money..
      If you agree..than who would miss it when it’s gone?
      The thing about that 10 Billion myth,
      It’s a big shouty number that many people cannot begin to fathom.
      But compare that number to other projects and it doesn’t impress too much.

    • Now that you mentioned defence.

      Northern Ireland is not only protected by the rest of the UK (with proper armed forces not a toy army that doesn’t even have an air force) – it’s protected by NATO as well. Joining the republic of Ireland would also mean leaving NATO. I strongly support Latvia’s NATO membership and I believe that a lot of people in NI don’t want to leave the strongest military alliance in the world either.

      • NATo doen’t really enter into it for me. Ireland is at the edge of Europe who is going to invade???
        Only the US Marines would have the capability to invade Ireland.
        The US Navy is the World’s largest Navy..And they can only transport 20,000 marines to do a seaborne one time.
        so, why worry??? Latvia is landlocked and central European/ Eurasian land mass is one of the most fought over parts of Earth in history.
        So what makes sense for latvia is not necessary for Ireland.
        Also besides the huge costs to try invade Ireland and they would be huge.
        Anybody who successfully invaded Ireland would be responsible for the 200 Billion National debt.on top of invasion costs!!
        Sure who’d bother???? And what would they gain???
        That’s our best defence:) Right there.
        Thank you Fianna Failure. :).who needs an army;)

        • The only way to reunify Ireland is to convince the majority in the north to vote in favour of the reunification. That’s what was agreed in the GFA.
          And your arguments sound rather silly Oz – if I were a Northern Irish (yeah that’s an identity as well – like it or not) – after reading them I’d prefer things to stay as they are – you should try better than that.
          (Other option of course is to wait for a collapse of the UK similar to the collapse of the USSR – but that’s quite unlikely and would affect the Republic negatively as well)

          Geopolitical situation can change fast. If I had said that Russia will bomb Ukraine less than 2 years ago I would have been called a paranoid russophobe. Yet – that’s what’s happening right now.

          Your neighbours Iceland and Greenland know this and that’s why they are NATO members and they don’t want to leave. (Who would want to invade Greenland, right?)

          • LOL..which ones..Re: NATO..You’ll never get Ireland to join. So that’s a non runner. Iceland has no army..Greenland was part of Denmark A country on mainland Europe..They joined to help out the assisting the USA.. Non of those are examples to Ireland Throw in the Iraq war..which you don’t even agree with and also Afghanastan..NATO didn’t do well in either.
            As for my other ideas..I was just pointing out that the big numbers are most likely down to bureaucy rather than anything else.
            So, Here’s what I would be interested in. To explain why I/we should accept partition.
            I mean why should Ireland abandon those people in the 6 Counties who want to be in the Irish Nation?
            Why should we walk away.
            56% of Irish 26 county population ;favour a UI. (Irish Times 2011) Leave out the Don’t Knows that rises to about 65-70%
            Why should we ignore this wish?
            Also the 50 years of 6 County rule they badly treated the Irish minority…Why should we leave this minority at risk?
            If Latvia was divided into a Russian Part along Irish Lines..Wouldn’t you want it under Latvian control rather than Russian?

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