through Armagh city with an hour or two on my hands,
having just missed my bus, a driver tooted his horn
at me as I crossed at lights. When I approached the
car and spoke to him, he - having recognised me from
somewhere else - asked if I would highlight some problems
he was experiencing at the hands of the local Provisionals.
It was not the first time that such an appeal had
come my way simply in the course of travelling. On
one occasion disembarking from a bus in Belfast, having
just arrived from Cookstown, the driver asked if I
could help his family circle acquire more information
from the Provisional IRA about the circumstances of
his nephews death. Easier getting blood from
probably feel that, having spoken out on the killing
of Joe OConnor in West Belfast two years ago,
I, or those who write alongside me, may be able to
articulate a grievance or provide a voice for those
republicans or non-aligned people who are being denied
one by the dominant republican status quo. There is
a price to be paid for responding to such requests
for assistance. Provisional republicanism is intensely
hostile to those who question its version of events.
And yet, can we have any self-belief if we turn our
backs and close our ears?
to relinquish the militarist mindset which has prevailed
in undiluted form from the armed struggle era, because
of the means to impose control that it enables, Provisional
republicanism applies a wartime logic to the present
so neatly outlined by Arthur Ponsonby - failure
to lie is negligence, the doubting of a lie is a misdemeanour,
the declaration of the truth a crime. Its version,
totally untrue as it is on many occasions, shall brook
person who stopped me introduced himself as Greg Trainor.
He informed me that he had been beaten up the previous
Thursday by people who had family connections with
the local Provisional power structure. He also displayed
a wound in his back which he claimed was as a result
of a knife being used during the attack. His car also
had its window smashed.
Trainor, known locally as McGregor and
a member of Republican Sinn Fein, said that he was
visited at his workplace a number of days after the
attack by the Provos and informed if he
tried to take the matter any further he would be dealt
with. He feels that the incident is the result
of a dispute between local families and that it is
not the business of the Provisionals. He asserts that
he attacked no one, injured no one nor damaged any
property. Yet those who attacked him, because of family
connections, are able to exploit these to ensure the
matter is ended there and in their favour. He asks:
can I do? I am a republican so I cannot go to the
RUC. I will get no justice from Sinn Fein. They
are more concerned with putting travellers out of
Dromarg and want no opposition to their control.
I need some way to get this raised. These people
are giving the green light to any thug in this town
to attack me and then they will follow up with the
heavy hand. Protecting drunken thugs should not
be what the Provisional IRA is about.
make matters worse, the Republican Sinn Fein member,
produced a sheet of paper he had received from the
RUC on the same day as he was subjected to a visit
from the Provisionals. The paper stated that he was
in danger of loyalist attack.
Trainor further alleges that on the same night as
his own attack, an uncle - a former republican prisoner
who had also been shot by the loyalists - was assaulted
by a family of drunks with links to the
Provisionals. He too was later visited by the
Provos and informed that the fate promised to
Greg Trainor would fall his way also if he were to
respond to acts of violence against him. Since our
chance meeting on an Armagh street, 'McGregor' has
handed in an invoice to the local Sinn Fein office
relating to the damage to his car and asked that it
be passed on to the people responsible for the attack.
Blanket has no account of these incidents other
than Greg Trainors. And according to a local
community activist, the Provisionals have no monopoly
on this sort of disruptive activity in Armagh; other
republican groups have been engaged in implementing
their own agendas of social and political control.
But he does admit that the Provisionals, being the
dominant force will tolerate no opposition.
seek to colonise everything from community groups
to local festivals. What has been learned in Belfast
they are using as a template to formulate strategies
of control elsewhere. They undermine any other voice
within the areas that they seek to control. They
do not like people who can articulate and present
alternatives. They target any potential leaders
who might pose a challenge to them. So the environment
is not a healthy one in which alternative radical
political projects can develop.
former H-Block hunger striker from the city once went
public about his own experience at the hands of the
Provisional power structure. When he openly intimated
that he intended to contest a seat on the city council
in elections at that point still two years away, he
was told by Provisionals that if he stood he would
never be able to stand again. He was put under pressure
right up until the election when a strong performance
caused his tormentors to take a step back.
What is happening in Armagh today is symptomatic of
a trend taking place elsewhere throughout the North.
As the Provisionals no longer pose any threat to British
rule, the British in a self serving act are happily
coexisting in an environment where a measure of local
control is exercised by the Provisionals. The state
will ensure enough money is pumped in which will guarantee
the continued existence of a layer of salaried bureaucrats
who will promote their own interests while smothering
those of more radical or insurrectionary elements
within the communities. As far as the British are
concerned it hardly matters if the Provisional IRA,
now stripped of any revolutionary political purpose
and posing no challenge to hospital closures or the
introduction of PFI and PPP, function as a right wing
vigilante force running the streets, and ultimately
serving as the vanguard of the consent principle.
Little wonder the British diplomat Sir David Goodall
could comment actually, its all working
out almost exactly to plan.
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