By Brian Feeney (for the irish News)
The US National Football League’s TV producers stepped in to censor lyrics from two songs as the Rolling Stones played at half-time in Sunday’s Super Bowl XL final. Understandable, given that Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ in 2004 cost CBS a record $550,000 dollars in fines. ABC who were broadcasting the final didn’t want to suffer a similar fate.
It’s a pity the NIO has no power to fine their very own old boy band, Lord No-votes and the Spooks. Perhaps they could use a sliding scale starting with verbosity, moving up through pomposity and ineptitude, culminating with interference in the political process? The truth is that the British administration here has created a Frankenstein monster which is going to continue blundering through the NIO’s puppet theatre pulling down the scenery and smashing the props until someone kills it off.
You thought decommissioning was a matter agreed in the Good Friday Agreement to be dealt with by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) didn’t you? No, apparently not. Lord No-Votes and the Spooks of the so-called Independent Monitoring Commission can second-guess the IICD. No good General de Chastelain lamely protesting in his report last week that decommissioning is his ‘area of responsibility’. Sorry mate, Lord No-votes knows better even if he has no evidence you understand, just ‘credible’ intelligence. Like he would know.
You thought criminal justice was to be dealt with by the Criminal Justice Review in Annexe B of the Agreement didn’t you? Nope. Lord No-votes and the Spooks are into that too. They address community restorative justice in detail as they have done in two previous reports, and from their zero expertise in criminal justice, pontificate on which areas of crime should or should not be included in such schemes. There’s a lot more but those two examples will suffice to demonstrate that the self-importance of these guys is such that there is no end to what they believe their remit can encompass. More important however, as long as the IMC crashes about the political stage like Mr Blobby, there will never be a clean bill of health for any group. There can’t be because the IMC rely on intelligence, that is tittle-tattle, whispers, anonymous titbits which for some reason they see fit to retail publicly.
Now the absurd aspect of this performance is that the NIO has access to all this stuff itself but normally in a democracy it would be a political decision whether to act on the intelligence or not. Incredibly the British administration handed that political responsibility to the IMC and thereby gave them a veto over political progress.
Nowhere else in the world does such nonsense operate. Even the IMC has to admit that. It was with some considerable disbelief that the Irish government watched this happening in 2004. You’ll notice that although the IMC has an office in the Republic you don’t hear them doing much huffing and puffing about paramilitary activity there.
Michael McDowell does that very well himself thank you by selecting his own intelligence reports to hand to favourite journalists. The Irish government retains political control. It is true and it must be acknowledged that, while the IMC handed the DUP a shiny bauble last week, there was and is no intention on the part of the DUP to cooperate in establishing functioning institutions under the Good Friday Agreement. That will remain the case until they cut a deal with Sinn Féin next year. Even if the IMC report had been entirely favourable to the IRA the DUP would still have professed itself unmoved.
However we’re fast approaching the point where Lord No-Votes and the Spooks will become an embarrassment to everyone and not just to the NIO.
At the moment they suit the last-ditchers in the DUP.
What happens next year when the DUP is ready to sign up to a deal with SF only for the IMC to emerge and provide another dollop of what Martin McGuinness called ‘Balderdice’? There’s worse. They can even report on whether political parties in a working assembly are ‘living up to the standards required of them’. What could the IMC do? Recommend suspending the assembly? For any party to agree to operate under such conditions is nuts.