knows for certain just what was surrendered to John
De Chastelain last week except of course the general
himself and elements of the IRA leadership; but not
all elements of the leadership. Nothing new in this
- Ed Moloney in his Secret History of The IRA
left few in doubt that the big lad had
been pulling the wool over the eyes of other leadership
figures for years. It is said, even today, that after
almost two decades of a never but will
strategy there are some as senior as the GHQ staff
who will continue to believe it is all a con - thinking
that everybody other then themselves had been duped
- and who have been trying to convince anyone who
will listen rather than laugh that not an ounce,
not a round has ever been destroyed. Some of
these people and their associates would like to pass
themselves off as the intellectuals of the movement.
Each time they speak or write I am mindful of a worry
that gnawed at the mind of Christopher Hitchens: the
willingness of intellectuals and academics to become
worshipers of whomever is in power, or passers-on
of whatever the reigning idea is. Conformity, in other
part of the job description for being a senior loyal
gofer for the army council is agreeing to sell the
ridiculous. And when the spaceship lands in Dunville
Park on Sunday at 3 oclock to take all true
believers to a united Ireland, the gofers can go first
class - if the securocrats and rejectionists dont
sabotage matters just to undermine the peace process,
that is. Why they would undermine a process that secures
the long-term strategic objectives of the British
state is never explained. Only those mischievous types
unhelpful to the peace process ask that.
the absurd beliefs that people hold, estimates of
the amount of weaponry surrendered vary. The Daily
Telegraph reported the DUP's claim that just one
per cent of weapons may have been destroyed. According
to Tom Clonan, a former Irish soldier, de Chastelain
may have overseen the decommissioning of 400 rifles.
Henry McDonald in the Observer suggested it
was massive, perhaps as high as 100 tonnes.
The Irish Independent claimed its sources had
revealed that the IRA had destroyed all of its heavy
machineguns imported in the Libyan shipments in the
mid-1980s. A British Government source said: The
irony is that we now have more than we've ever had
from republicans, a very serious act of decommissioning,
but we can't tell people why we believe that is the
case. People need to know how many AK-47s, how many
rocket launchers. Tony Blair beefed it up even
further by stating that the arms were not simply old
world war one rifles.
last two statements raised eyebrows. A republican,
who has long given up believing any utterance from
the Sinn Fein leadership yesterday raised the question
of how did the government of Tony Blair know this?
Was the Prime Minister lying as claimed by the DUP?
Or, do the British have another agent somewhere near
the top of the IRA who told them? Does it really matter?
No informer throughout the course of the conflict
has been able to deal such a blow to the military
capacity of the IRA as its own leadership has. Yet
the very people who gave up the IRAs weapons
have sat in judgement of others and sent them to their
graves for informing on IRA munitions.
Charles Bennett, blasted in the face with a shotgun
about a quarter of a mile from where I write - during
the ceasefire - was never as culpable in the field
of betraying weaponry as those who ordered him killed.
is one reason that the leadership is determined to
engage in falsehoods to the end. It cannot join the
dots between killing people for giving guns up and
then giving up considerably more themselves. Even
the nefarious activities of Frank Hegarty, killed
in 1986 for compromising 100 or so weapons, pales
out of focus when judged against the actions of those
who ordered him killed. When Sinn Fein president Gerry
Adams rejected calls for disclosure his reasoning
was, one man's transparency is another man's
humiliation. Indeed it should be, because that
is as close as we have come to wrenching a public
acknowledgement out of them that they have shafted
their own base yet again.
galling aspect about the leadership deception is that
republican activists always prided themselves on having
a high level of political savvy. That sophistication,
they would inform people, rather than emotion or reaction,
motivated, governed and sustained their participation
in republican life - quite often a dangerous exercise
with its omnipresent threat of death or imprisonment.
They considered their political awareness
to be higher than that of the average punter on the
street. That myth at least has been debunked. The
only people lacking the ability to work out that the
IRA has decommissioned its weaponry are to be found
within the Republican Movement. Nobody outside the
ranks is running around whispering it never
happened. Over a drink in a club in Turf Lodge
a couple of years ago, we sat as a local republican
explained to us how decommissioning would never happen.
When he left to buy a round the civilian
company burst out laughing. One commented just
like he told us in 1998 they would never sign up to
the Good Friday Agreement and would never see the
inside of Stormont. The Ra should rename itself
the IBA for people like him - I Believe Anything.
Perhaps it is the dynamic of groupthink at work. The
punter on the street, not being subject to the strange
logic of the group, is able to arrive at their own
eminently sensible conclusions.
the I Believe Anything people consider
themselves to be the most politicised in our communities,
this is belied by their ability to defend every new
twist on the basis that it is somehow revolutionary,
which contrasts sharply with their inability to see
such twists coming. Maybe only days before they had
outlined in great detail to a sceptical but wiser
audience that only a heretic could anticipate the
leadership making the heretical move.
Yet the heresy has taken place, and those highly politicised
types who denounced predictions of it as an appalling
vista now defend it and would burn at the stake
those who question it.
course they think they are the recipients of some
secret knowledge which their special relationship
with the leadership gives them access to. And because
they labour under the misapprehension that the leadership
treats them with respect rather than contempt they
believe that theirs is the only constituency being
told the truth. Everybody else including the US, British
and Irish Governments are all being taken for a ride.
Brian Cowen is talking nonsense when he says the IRA
leadership insist on confidentiality because to do
otherwise would, in its view, damage rather
than enhance the process of resolving the arms issue
within its organisation. Martin Mansergh, likewise,
has fallen victim to the grand stratagem leading him
to claim that the absence of transparency is to
shelter volunteers as long as possible from the radical
changes of role and behaviour that completion of the
peace process will inevitably require.
is, of courser, replete with people being conned.
In 1971, Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart At
Wounded Knee, said that what pained him the most
was how much the Indians believed the white
man over and over again. Their trust in authority
was amazing. They just never seemed to believe anyone
the grassroots ever promised to move mountains in
order to prevent decommissioning and yet acceded to
a leadership demand that it should take control of
the weapons is one of the outstanding lessons in internal
management to emerge from the peace process. After
all, this is a leadership with such a reputation for
evasiveness that allowing it to control the guns is
akin to transferring responsibility for your life
savings to Charlie Haughey.
has unfolded in front of our eyes is organised lying
by organised liars. Half a century from now pilgrims,
patriots and prevaricators alike will flock to the
graves of the Provisional republican leadership to
be greeted by an inscription meticulously inscribed
into a headstone here they are - lying
still. The rule of thumb in analysing announcements
from the Provisional leadership is this: what any
of them tell you is possibly true but probably not.
Until independent verification of their truth-claims
emerge search for an alternative. Otherwise, you too
will by at Dunville Park at 3 this Sunday wondering
what is delaying the spacecraft.
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