Contradictions multiply at Stormont talks


DUP Ministers suddenly returned to work and multi-party talks have resumed following the publication on Tuesday of a British intelligence report that claims the Provisional IRA, INLA, UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando all still exist and control arms, but are ‘committed to peace’.

DUP leader Peter Robinson announced his party’s decision to end its general boycott of the Six County institutions within an hour of the document’s publication, indicating a degree of choreography behind events.

He declared there were only a couple of weeks to “save Stormont”, and that “intense” negotiations were required.

The report claimed that the structure of the Provisional IRA remains largely intact, albeit in a form ‘much reduced’ and ‘beyond recall’. That finding contradicted Sinn Fein’s insistence that the IRA no longer exists, but was mild enough to facilitate a DUP climbdown.

Other aspects of the report on IRA activity, such as its maintenance of weapons caches and its gathering of intelligence on breakaway groups, provoked little controversy.

Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams, responding to the report in the Dail on Wednesday, condemned what he called “mischief making” by British military intelligence. He did not directly refer to the IRA but claimed his party “is the only organisation involved in the Republican struggle and in Republican activism”.

Sinn Fein would continue to engage in the current talks “positively, with the objective of creating a real future for all citizens based on equality”, he said.

He hit out at a cryptic statement in the report which claimed that some IRA Volunteers continue to believe that the IRA leadership, the Provisional Army Council, “oversees” Sinn Fein. This is apparently a reference to the (Provisional) Republican Movement, which traditionally included both Sinn Fein and the IRA.

“Sinn Fein like other parties here is accountable to the electorate.. We are not accountable to any other group or organisation,” Mr Adams said.

He also blasted efforts by political rivals to link Sinn Fein with the report’s claim that some PIRA members have engaged in criminal activities, such as smuggling goods across the border.

“We stand with communities and the police services on both parts of this island,” he said.

“Our party has paid a price for that. I and other Sinn Fein leaders are under active death threats. My home is regularly targeted with bomb alerts.

“Other party members have had their homes and property attacked and one young man, Frank McCabe junior, was blinded in one eye because of his family’s stand against criminality.

“So this is not an academic exercise for us or a point scoring electorally driven contest. We put our lives on the line against those who are engaging in criminality.”

He added: “The business of making peace and implementing a process of societal change is challenging. But that is the priority for Sinn Fein alongside our efforts to present a genuine republican alternative to austerity and building support for a united Ireland.”


Sinn Fein’s Six-County Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also insisted that his party is the “only organisation” that represents the (Provisional) Republican Movement.

He said 10 years ago the Provisional IRA had instructed its members to “assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means”.

“It is clear the IRA leadership has successfully delivered on this transition from conflict to peace,” he said.

However, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said the report meant Sinn Fein had “some very serious explaining to do”.

He claimed his party’s stance, which saw the UUP withdraw its sole minister from the executive, had been entirely vindicated.

“This blows a hole in Sinn Fein’s argument,” Mr Nesbitt said.

“They demand we respect their political mandate, but they now need to make clear the extent to which that mandate is shaped by a group of unnamed shadowy figures who in the past have overseen the most lethal terrorist force on the planet.”

He described the talks this week as being like an episode of a well-known BBC television comedy, Fawlty Towers.

“Today’s talks were like the episode of Fawlty Towers where everyone is told ‘don’t mention the war’,” he said.

“Three times I attempted to bring up the issue of the existence of the IRA Army Council. The first time I was admonished for doing so and on the other two occasions I was just ignored.”

“We can’t sign up to a declaration or an action plan unless everyone agrees who we are dealing with here.

However, Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy accused Mr Nesbitt of hypocrisy when it came to the existence of loyalist organisations.

“He has singularly failed to confront armed loyalist gangs who are tormenting their own communities through extortion, drug dealing and murder,” he said. “That is the real elephant in the room.”

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2015 Irish Republican News