Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

29 April 2004 Edition

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Spooks, Spies and Spoofs


John Alderdice of the IMC: more spoof than spook

John Alderdice of the IMC: more spoof than spook

"Spooks, spies and failed politicians", is how Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams described the authors of the report issued by the self-proclaimed 'Independent Monitoring Commission' in the middle of last week.

He might well have added 'spoofs' to complete the alliteration, because that is how republicans and many nationalists across Ireland, particularly in the North, will view the report and the IMC.

The IMC is the latest and by far the most discredited grouping to enter into the Irish peace process. Its lack of credibility doesn't just stem from the body's remit or its make up but also from its origins.

It was set up at the behest of David Trimble, leader of the UUP, at a time when the British Government was desperate to keep him in the process.

In order to prevent Trimble from walking and thereby bringing down the institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement, the British and disappointingly, the Irish, governments came up with the IMC scheme.

Needless to say, Trimble walked and brought down the institutions and instead of the two governments allowing the scheme to fade with Trimble's departure, they allowed it to trundle along.

But that is not where the primary problem lies. The main problem facing those committed to trying to move out of conflict in this country is the thinking behind the idea of the IMC.

The IMC is the product of people who think that the Six Counties is a democratic entity and the problem over the last 30 years has been the threat to that democracy by 'terrorists', principally the IRA.

The same people think that the violence from loyalists is a reaction to the violence of the IRA and is therefore understandable. To these people, the very existence of the IRA is a threat and can be used to justify loyalist violence.

The same people think that because the British Government operate a democracy in their own country, when they cross over the Irish Sea and occupy a part of Ireland they continue to run a democracy here.

The same people think that David Trimble and Ian Paisley are democrats and lead democratic parties.

The same people think that the guns the British and their forces have under their control in the Six Counties are legitimate and morally superior to the guns that others have, especially republicans.

And for all of the above, there is the republican response. We look forward to the day, and may it be tomorrow, when the democracy promised in the Good Friday Agreement is a reality.

It is at that juncture the IRA can step off the stage for good with honour and continue to exist in a peaceful society as an organisation dedicated to preserving the memory of our heroes who died for Irish freedom.

Until that day, republicans are glad the IRA exists to protect vulnerable areas like the Short Strand and prevent them from being burnt to the ground by loyalists, as it nearly was two summers ago.

Republicans look forward to the day, and may it be tomorrow, when republicans can join the Policing Board and the PSNI.

Many people are glad that there are republican activists in our community who perform a policing role, harsh and rough though the justice they dispense can be from time to time. Were it not for republicans patrolling our areas to make them safe to walk in, many people could not sleep safely in their beds.

Former Taoiseach Charlie Haughey is undoubtedly a corrupt and self-serving politician but he called it right over 20 years ago when he said the Six Counties was a 'failed political entity'.

The Six Counties is a politically dysfunctional society. It is not a democratic society along the same lines as is for example the 26 Counties or, for that matter, Britain. It can never be a democratic society because the basis on which it was established was anti-democratic.

This does not mean that the people who live here are not democrats or those currently wedded to the status quo can never be democrats.

This does not mean that the Six Counties cannot become a democratic society. It can but only if its democratic future is firmly tied to the democratic future of the rest of this island.

That was explicitly recognised in the Good Friday Agreement and in the all-Ireland institutions set up under that agreement.

At the point where these all-Ireland institutions are working, then all the people of this island will begin to live in and shape together the first all-Ireland democracy.

But we are a long way from that departure.

Until we arrive at that point, the conflict will continue and, fortunately for the people of both these islands, that conflict is a verbal one.

We have a war of words instead of what we used to have — a war where people lost their lives.

And even in the week that is in it, it is important for republicans to state to those on the side of the IMC that republicans remain committed to the peace process, remain committed to finding a pathway out of conflict.

It is at times like this that the obvious has to be stated, because a peace process that is going through difficult times needs anchors such as these assurances.

But other anchors are also required. Republicans need assurances. They need anchors; anchors that stem from the reality as republicans see it. We are not prepared to be bullied, to be humiliated, to be pushed down a road we find unacceptable to us and the people we represent.

So, to those who line up with the IMC, let them read this. There is cold fury in republican ranks.

There is not a republican in the country who gives tuppence for the IMC or their report.

There's not a republican in the country who gives tuppence for what the British and Irish Governments have to say about the contents of the IMC report.

How could anyone expect otherwise? The IMC's remit is to put republicans in the dock. This will help only those out to wreck the peace process.

As far as republicans are concerned, the IMC is the public face of the securocrats: the very people who have been undermining the search for a credible conflict resolution process since the IRA declared its first cessation ten years ago this August.

The IMC is the mouthpiece of the securocrats. They now have a 'legal' and 'respectable' forum into which they can pour all their anti-republican scare stories, lies and distortions.

They now have a group of puppets who will willingly appear before the cameras to defend the securocrats' lurid and unsubstantiated allegations rather than expose the cover-ups that the securocrats are involved in.

This is undoubtedly one of the low points in the recent history of the peace process.

At a time like now, we need to remind ourselves of the high points of the peace process:

• The great expectation, hope and optimism which greeted the IRA's first cessation in August 1994.

• The all-Ireland referendum when the people of Ireland voting as a unit endorsed the Good Friday Agreement.

• The closing of Long Kesh and the release of all political prisoners, with the exception of the Castlerea prisoners, who to the shame of the Irish Government, remain in prison.

• The formation of a power sharing Executive with five nationalist and five unionists and Martin McGuinness as Minister of Education and Bairbre de Brún as Minister of Health.

• The election of five Sinn Féin TDS and four MPs and the ongoing electoral growth of Sinn Féin.

The circumstances which created all of the above remain at the heart of the peace process.

Should we be angry at this latest turn of events? Yes we should. Should we be surprised? No we should not. Why? Because the British Government is still at war with republicans and we are going through a phase where those who think they can still beat republicans are now in the ascendancy in Downing Street.

But they won't always be.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1