problem with 'terrorists' is that they keep their
word, politicians usually don't -
Anthony McIntyre 19 November 2006
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says he believes it. Tanaiste
Michael McDowell claims not to. PSNI boss Hugh
Orde says it's true, yet his special branch has
no knowledge of it. Paul Leighton and Peter Hain
haltingly testify to its existence, while Ian
Paisley junior scorns it as some sort of pathetic
distraction. The warnings about it came from neither
the Garda nor PSNI. The Continuity IRA, Real IRA
and INLA have all denied any association with
or knowledge of it.
about 'it' the truth status of the 'great dissident
threat to Sinn Fein leaders' story has kept the
media busy in a week which was otherwise much
the same as the week before - politicians trying
to kick each other off the greasy pole to power.
Most people are bored with that, so the 'dissident
threat' morsel spices up the news. It is through
bemused eyes that the media handling of the story
is to be viewed. The invisible threat is reported
with great verve but no mention of the fact that
those allegedly under threat have spent their
entire adult lives threatening others and worse.
Nor has the media bothered to ask why, after years
of accusing dissidents of being micro groups,
penetrated by British intelligence and incapable
of pulling off any serious operation, should Sinn
Fein be concerned about threats emanating from
Most people outside Sinn Fein think the leadership
lie machine is doing what it does most - spoofing;
the purpose being to kill off any debate on policing
that is not leadership controlled and as a result
rendered anodyne. Widely laughed at when it blames
securocrats for its misfortunes or bungling negotiating,
the leadership, under new stresses, comes up with
new bogeymen - dissentocrats. This mosaic of diverse
crats has for years, apparently, found common
cause against Sinn Fein. No skulduggery or mischief
is considered beyond the pale of the evil schemers
in the crat alliance to stop Gerry Kelly becoming
in the interests of best practice, observers bypass
the dubious testimony of Sinn Fein politicians,
the pseudo strategic discourse of AP/RN
bamboozlers, or the Dear Leader column in the
Irish News, what evidence is there of any
threat? The Blanket sought out the views
of a wide but diverse range of opinion within
the republican spectrum that is at odds with Sinn
Fein's political project. These days there is
no shortage of voices ready to make themselves
heard. They all doubted the existence of any threat.
Hughes, who along with Gerry Adams ran the IRA's
Belfast Brigade in 1972 and 1973, dismissed the
claim as an election stunt ahead of the March
is no threat. They are certainly not under any
threat from the Brits! It is all bullshit. The
only people likely to be under threat are you,
me, Marian Price, Tommy Gorman - anybody who has
questioned the hopeless direction this party has
thinks few people will be taken in by it. He said
Sinn Fein leaders have been "lying for so
long about everything, nobody is going to fall
O'Rawe, author of the influential book Blanketmen,
was equally sceptical of the allegations first
made public by Gerry Adams. "I don't think
anybody is threatening this man at all."
O'Rawe believes it is a self-serving two pronged
Sinn Fein construct.
one hand it sends a message to the DUP that Sinn
Fein leaders are eager to meet the unionist demands
and are risking their lives to do so. At the same
time, it is an attempt to blackmail those within
Sinn Fein into staying put. They are being told
that if they leave the movement the type of people
they will end up with are those who want to kill
O'Rawe it is nothing more than a transparent fraud
that others should see through readily enough.
Price, who survived a prolonged hunger strike
in British prisons in the 1970s where she was
sentenced to life for leading the first IRA Provisional
bombing team to target the British capital, and
who served under Gerry Adams when he commanded
the Belfast IRA, queries the existence of any
threat. In her view it is an attempt by Adams
to stupefy the republican base into diving headlong
into policing structures. Adams pushes the threat
line so that "he can tell his followers that
the best way to have protection is to be part
of the state and its armed wing, the police."
She is adamant that there is no threat to Adams
or his fellow contras. "I am absolutely convinced,
as a result of my republican contacts, that there
is no threat whatsoever." She goes on to
ask why would anybody bother targeting Sinn Fein
more ridiculous they become the less anybody would
be interested in threatening them. No republican
would want to kill David Ford of the Alliance
Party. Gerry Adams is just the same as Ford or
any other political leader. Sinn Fein is just
another political party. What difference is there
between Adams and other political leaders apart
from Adams telling more lies?
reinforces the view that none of the republicans
critical of Sinn Fein have ever attacked the party
physically. "Sinn Fein has that dubious distinction
all to itself. I was visited by the Garda and
told that the PSNI had information that I was
to be attacked by the Provisionals because I had
protested at their meetings." She is scathing
of their motives. "They want to join the
cops. Shame on the first one of them to put on
a British uniform."
McQuillan, one time chairperson of the IRSP, feels
that the threat claim is a "cynically contrived
no-brainer." He argues that while there is
strong opposition on the ground to the Sinn Fein
'sell out' this does not translate "in any
way, shape or form into threats against the party."
For McQuillan, Sinn Fein is concerned by what
it sees as a realignment of republicans and the
emergence of broad front politics against what
Sinn Fein is trying to do. "The party leadership
wants to corral the herd in order to bloc vote
through the remaining concessions that the Brits
and DUP are demanding it makes to meet the demands
of the St Andrew's Agreement."
Twomey, editor of The Blanket, derides
the Sinn Fein claims.
one poster on an internet site pointed out, at
one time if you challenged them they would accuse
you of lining up with the Omagh bombers. Now that
nobody any longer believes that dissent equates
with Omagh, they accuse those who question their
strategy of being part of a plot to kill them.
Either way, it's a crude attempt at demonising
their opposition. Their tactics are transparent,
patronizing, as if people are idiots who haven't
a brain in their head to see through them. They
treat people with contempt when they come out
with guff like this and expect it to be believed
Campbell, a Tyrone republican who is a columnist
with the radical journal Fourthwrite, says
she is suspicious about the claims. "I know
that there have been slogans on walls calling
Sinn Fein traitors. But the media seem to be blowing
this out of all proportion. I have never trusted
the media and still don't."
Gorman, a former Maidstone escapee and H-block
blanket protestor, is not surprised at Sinn Fein
coming up with the threat idea. "Not because
it exists but because Sinn Fein is in a tight
corner and needs to create a bogey man."
He cites Bernadette McAliskey who once pointed
out that the peace process began like a funnel
but over time narrowed to the point where the
only option is to be squeezed.
the start there is plenty of wriggle room in which
to deceive the rank and file. But the further
down you go the tighter it becomes until there
is no room to do anything other than what those
who control the funnel want. We always insisted
that this was where it would end up. And so it
has. The leadership is now willingly pushing through
everything it once swore to oppose. Consequently,
the scales are finally beginning to drop off the
eyes of the grassroots. The leadership is panicking
and wants the eyes blinkered up again. They are
desperate to stop their own people experiencing
then draws on an analogy once made by George Galloway
when the Respect MP riposted Christopher Hitchens.
"The Sinn Fein leadership has managed to
metamorphose from butterfly into slug." He
sums the party leadership up in one word - "pathetic".
Price, once a former IRA hunger striker and life
sentence prisoner, retains the political perspective
that motivated her throughout the darkest days
of her life. She is scathing of the "nonsense,
absolute nonsense" pedalled by Sinn Fein
leaders. She is unhesitating in asserting that
there is not the remotest possibility of republicans
attacking anybody in Sinn Fein.
the Provisionals so far down the road of dishonour
why would people decide to take action of the
type alleged by Sinn Fein? Republicans have been
pointing out for years this is where Sinn Fein
would end up. There is nothing surprising about
it. People who have not targeted Sinn Fein over
the past decade or more are most definitely not
going to do so now.
Price believes the Provisional movement is boxed
in with nowhere left to go but cap in hand into
the jaws of the beast. With many of its own members
starting to realise that they were sold a pup,
its leaders are now desperate to create a smokescreen
as cover for the final step in their retreat from
republicanism. She argues that the leadership
is also determined to ensure its own members do
not link up in a common political project with
people it calls dissidents
want sympathy. The danger is that instead of coming
clean about where they have taken their people
they are spreading nonsense that could feed into
a feud mentality. Republicans will not fall for
it. Republicans will sit back and watch Sinn Fein
leaders be exposed for what they are.
Kelly from South Derry, who was a Sinn Fein MLA
before he resigned from the party after being
hounded for supporting republican prisoners in
Maghaberry, believes it is a "smear campaign
against those republicans who do not agree with
the leadership. It is Provo black propaganda."
A former founding member of the Provisional IRA,
Kelly thinks it highly significant that the only
evidence for the supposed threats comes from the
Provisionals themselves. "It is an effort
to distract attention away from their stance on
policing. It is quite deliberate." He was
scathing of Gerry Adams' cynical attempt to elicit
public sympathy on the grounds of his family being
alarmed. "There is absolutely no consideration
from Adams for the families of those he falsely
alleges are his would-be assassins." Kelly
goes on to say that "Mr Adams is being deliberately
hurtful to his former comrades in arms. Then again,
by his own account Mr Adams was a draft dodger
so would not understand the concept of fealty
to comrades in arms!"
Kearney, a former republican prisoner also from
South Derry, regards the threats as nonsense made
up by Sinn Fein.
can't really complain about being viewed as traitors
after all they have done. They brought Franko
Hegarty back and executed him for giving away
fewer guns than they did. But that does not mean
anybody is planning to kill them. I think republicans
just laugh at them. They could never be regarded
as republicans after getting into bed with the
Donnelly, a former internee who once had his limbs
broken by a Sinn Fein gang, agreed with Seamus
Kearney that many people would view the Sinn Fein
leadership as traitors and some would probably
like to see the back of them:
this does not mean anybody is serious about threatening
them. I suppose people might sound off about them
but that hardly amounts to a real threat. They
have played the underdog so long that they think
by trying it again they will win sympathy. They
are on the defensive politically and need a scapegoat.
posits an alternative view of the origins of the
have outlived their usefulness to MI5. They can't
deliver because Paisley is not interested in having
McGuinness as his deputy. He prefers someone like
Michelle Gildernew. So you can't rule out the
intelligence services putting the mix in to bring
that situation about.
is certain that there is no basis to the threat
allegation. "It does not exist." He
contends that, in fact, it is the other way round.
"I am threatened by the Provisionals all
the time. Recently they threatened to raid a house
in search of a computer because they believed
it hosted a website that challenged their line."
Donnelly argues that many republicans in Derry
keep talking about the need to look over their
shoulder in case Sinn Fein makes a move on them.
"There is a gap in the political process
for a while and the Provos might be planning to
use it to flex their muscles."
McPhilips is a Fermanagh based activist involved
in defending the rights of political prisoners.
Describing himself as an anti-treaty republican,
he slams the Sinn Fein claims as laughable.
suggest that republicans who have always opposed
treaties would suddenly decide to target Adams
and McGuinness doesn't add up. The camel's back
was not broken by any recent event. The camel
collapsed a long time ago. Anybody who wanted
to target Adams and McGuinness would probably
have done it back then. It is not going to happen.
Whose agenda does it suit? Adams and McGuiness
and no one else.
McCaughey, until recently a Sinn Fein activist
in South Belfast, said he had initially paid no
attention to the claims of Sinn Fein, putting
it down to yet more drivel. After he did think
about it he wondered why he bothered as the only
conclusion he could come up was that it was still
more drivel. "It is a distraction created
by Sinn Fein spin doctors to divert attention
away from the final dilution of republican principles
as they slaughter the last sacred cow, opposition
to a British police force, on the altar of the
Morley, from Newry, who in tonight's issue of
The Blanket writes an article about his
late father, Davey, the former O/C of Long Kesh,
says he is sceptical about the existence of any
than it being a threat to them it is a threat
engineered by them. I think it is to win themselves
some kudos. They are brilliant manipulators and
like they have done on other occasions they are
trying to manipulate the current situation to
their own end.
Cunningham, a former Sinn Fein councillor in South
Down, is another republican not persuaded by Sinn
is attention seeking. They want sympathy as they
try to buy time to get into the police. People
are asking questions and that is the last thing
Sinn Fein want. They need people who will accept
being told what to do and question nothing. So
they come up with this swindle to keep people
obedient. There is no threat.
former republican prisoner Brendan Shannon is
particularly critical of Hugh Orde's intervention
in the matter, arguing that the PSNI boss's concern
about republicans under threat is only newly found.
has said nothing over the years when there were
very real threats from the Sinn Fein leadership
to its republican critics. What is a serious threat?
A member of my family recently received live ammunition
through the post. The cops said it was a threat
but not a serious one. They have nothing like
that to show that Sinn Fein is under threat.
further argues that Orde's backing of the Sinn
Fein position is clear evidence that the party
is not even republican. "When do the cops
ever support anything republicans say? For years
dissidents have been threatened and harmed by
the Provisionals and no cop said anything."
He says Sinn Fein is appearing ridiculous in its
desperate attempt to cover up for its strategic
failings. "Think about it. If you are a dissident
it is much better to sit and watch these people
being exposed. Their republican veneer is being
peeled away like the layers of an onion. Much
better to see them humiliated than threatened."
like Shannon do not rule out Sinn Fein launching
a Four Courts type strike against those who refuse
to accept the new political dispensation. He harbours
a suspicion that former IRA comrades such as Gerry
Adams and Martin McGuinness, on the pretext that
it is pre-emptive, may follow in the footsteps
of their forbears, Richard Mulcahy and Kevin O'Higgins,
and order a little of Auden's necessary murder.
"It is a Sinn Fein devised tactic aimed at
preparing the ground to lash out at its opponents
in the full knowledge that the British will turn
a blind eye. They are under no threat; it is a
load of balls."
Gallagher of the IRSP repeated to The Blanket
earlier claims he had made to the Sunday Times,
Belfast Telegraph, Derry Journal
and on an IRSP website. He said Martin McGuinness,
who he described as 'Chief $pin Fein Liar' and
Gerry Adams, 'the darling of Bush', have fashioned
a strategy to suppress any dissenting voices within
republicanism. This had led them to spew:
rubbish, lies and spin. I believe that someone
in Sinn Fein has concocted this to divert people
away from the party's internal problems with the
PSNI. It is designed to get the troops to rally
round the leadership during this 'great time of
danger' and stifle political criticism. These
ridiculous claims are a blatant attempt to negate
any debate within the anti-PSNI republican camp
by vilifying us as collaborators and assassins
so that nobody will have anything to do with us
and also to suck up to their masters in Downing
Street. 'Look at poor us, Tony, risking our lives
in the pursuit of joining your police force.'
feels that Adams and McGuinness are themselves
targeting for marginalisation those who attended
a series of meetings organised by republicans
opposed to the political direction of Sinn Fein.
However he insisted;
are ridiculous claims from two proven liars. I
am one of the individuals who has attended every
one of these so called 'coming together' events
that Martin McGuinness has referred to and I can
assure him that nothing of the sort that he has
alluded to was discussed. In fact, to be quite
frank, if talk like that came up, we would not
be there. There has been absolutely no discussions
whatsoever on any type of military action, assassination
or conspiracies, no discussion of any kind of
military campaign. We are absolutely opposed to
anyone from Sinn Fein being killed. McGuinness
and Adams know that quite well as current members
of Sinn Fein attended the meetings. What we have
discussed is the political capitulation of Sinn
Fein. We won't be deflected from our opposition
to acceptance of a corrupt British police force
nor will we be forced into giving allegiance to
a corrupt State or to a corrupt Sinn Fein leadership.
a long-standing Strabane republican, and former
long-term republican prisoner, shares the concerned
view of Brendan Shannon. He believes Hugh Orde's
endorsement of Sinn Fein charges that its leaders
are under threat is a strategic attempt on the
part of the PSNI boss to create the conditions
whereby republican opponents of the PSNI will
face repressive measures endorsed by Sinn Fein.
"The very fact that both Peter Hain and Hugh
Orde have said that they are also aware of these
claims suggests that this is a co-ordinated spin
exercise by both the leadership of Sinn Fein and
their British masters."
display a lesser sense of alarm, intuiting that
Sinn have become so locked into the peace process
that it has become almost impossible for the party
to murder its detractors. Tommy McKearney, editor
of Fourthwrite, doubts that the Provisionals
feel threatened to the point where they would
want to risk everything by taking military action
against their republican critics. Nor does the
former republican prisoner and H-Block hunger
striker think there would be any desire on the
part of those critics to start literally taking
shots at the Sinn Fein leadership. "Even
if some individual felt so inclined others around
them would see the futility of it. I doubt if
there is any threat but if it were to exist it
would be both deplorable and insane."
other times or places, given the scale of their
abandonment of republican politics, Sinn Fein
leaders might well have had cause for concern.
A bit like the Russian oil oligarchs who stole
their country's resources and grew rich on them
at the expense of the citizens, these leaders
became profiteers by selling off every republican
asset that was acquired through the endurance
and sacrifices of republican volunteers and activists.
What belonged collectively to republicans was
privatised in the hands of key leaders who traded
off the lot in return for the booty of power and
prosperity. They did quite well out of it.
can hardly come as a surprise, therefore, to these
same leaders that their incessant lying, manoeuvring
behind the backs of their own activists, acquisition
of wealth and property, the power at any price
strategy would accumulatively nurture resentment.
But even here they try to turn that very legitimate
resentment into an asset that can be used to buy
more sympathy. Adams and his colleagues, however,
may not get the return they anticipated on this.
Too long a lie makes a stone of the ear. Few are
genuinely listening, although Sinn Fein's establishment
friends pretend that they are. There is not the
slightest evidence to suggest that republicans
are prepared to follow the most base instincts
and pose any physical threat to the lives, families
or considerable property of the leaders of Contra