Ugly McCarthyism in the body politic

By Colin O’Carroll (for Daily Ireland)

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry when faced with the latest execrable offering from the International Monitoring Commission (IMC). The toe-curling pomposity of the IMC’s pronouncements, their patronising chiding of the nationalist community for creating a “culture of unlawfulness”, and the vacuous nature of the allegations made against republicans are sick-making.

Equally objectionable is the fact that this unelected quango is allowed to subvert the rule of law and the right to a fair trial by injecting unbridled, ugly McCarthyism into the body politic.

As old enmities are being laid to rest as ordinary people grasp the opportunities thrown up by the end of war, the IMC tosses a veritable hand grenade of a report which blows the entire peace process off course.

A hostage to fortune is given to the DUP refuseniks who can now back up their refusal to share power with Catholics by pointing to the risible IMC allegations.

Risible they certainly are. The IRA, say the IMC, haven’t decommissioned all their weapons. At least, that’s what, with undisguised glee, the DUP and, sadly, the SDLP were claiming yesterday.

In fact, the IMC in their ham-fisted way say something quite different. “We have since received reports that not all PIRA’s weapons and ammunition were handed over for decommissioning in September,” they say. “These reports are not able to indicate precisely what is the nature or volume of any remaining weapons...” The authority of the source for those reports would help readers decide on their veracity but on that matter the IMC is silent. Under the guise of protecting the identity of those who provide them with tittle-tattle, allegation and gossip, the IMC doesn’t name any of its sources. It doesn’t get more Orwellian than that.

Of course, if the public knew that the reports came from MI5 and Special Branch they would treat them with scorn. After all, it’s only this week that retired RUC detective Jonty Brown revealed that he believes Special Branch is plotting to murder him.

Bottom line: the IMC are talking through their hat when they claim in sensationalist tones that IRA spies are infiltrating government bodies. They are wrong when they claim the IRA is not honouring 150 per cent its instruction that members “assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means” and not engage “in any other activities whatsoever”.

Then again, what do the IMC members know about the backstreets of Ballymurphy or the boreens of south Armagh, about which they deign to speak? Nothing, except what they’ve been told by spooks, spies and securocrats.

This worthless report should be consigned to the bin, and the IMC with it.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News