Category: Archive

Analysis: Governments downplaying IRA danger

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The statement, which warned the two premiers not to underestimate the “seriousness” of the current political crisis in the North, followed hot on the heels of an earlier and lengthier pronouncement from P. O’Neill.
O’Neill, the name that accompanies IRA statements and originates from the fictional Irish Republican Publicity Office in Dublin, announced that the IRA was withdrawing its offer to decommission weapons and move into a “new mode.”
While RTE’s chief news correspondent, Charlie Bird, was at pains to stress its “hard-line” nature to a seemingly disbelieving news anchor last Wednesday night, few close to the peace process were surprised or worried by the statement.
The IRA issued a similar statement following the collapse of negotiations in 2003. Ahern referred to it saying it was normal negotiating strategy to withdraw offers following failure to strike a deal.
As Thursday wore on, Ahern was quizzed at various functions as to whether he was concerned by the news. The answer was always the same: in effect, “move on, folks, nothing to see here.”
Come Thursday evening, however, and things took an altogether less expected turn. O’Neill had returned to his rusty old typewriter to bash out a short, sharp riposte to those who had passed over his original statement.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams told a press conference that the peace process was in “profound difficulties” and that, by the way, his party would no longer be on hand to interpret or explain IRA statements or activities. He said Sinn Fein was involved in the peace talks solely on the basis of its electoral mandate and not because it was a “conduit” between the IRA and the two governments.
Suddenly, as one Northern newspaper put it, all bets were off.
Were the Provos laying the ground for a return to armed struggle? What exactly did Adams mean when he said Sinn Fein would no longer provide analysis of the IRA position? Was there a split in the republican movement? Were Adams and Martin McGuinness still in control of their own hard-liners?
As with December’s

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