A big dose of cynicism
According to a front-page report to be published in tomorrow's 'Daily Telegraph', based on documents recently seized during raids in Andersonstown which tally with intelligence assessments, the IRA plans to resume its bombing campaign in Belfast city centre and other towns if Sinn Fein fails to make the breakthrough in the elections in the south as predicted by Gerry Adams.
The most worrying aspect of the report is that one of the paper's journalists has spoken to several seasoned IRA Volunteers, including some senior members, who claim that the majority in the Movement is disillusioned with the current peace process. They would prefer to return to full-scale armed struggle, even in the knowledge that that would result in large numbers of fatalities, the reintroduction of both internment and the broadcasting ban on Sinn Fein, and possible civil war.
The paper will be publishing another document, 'an inventory', found by the Garda in a search of offices in Tralee, County Kerry, on the day that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern called the election. It shows that IRA sympathisers across the state have been slowly but steadily buying and stock-piling disproportionate quantities of agricultural fertiliser, of the type which made up the large van bombs used by the IRA in Canary Wharf and Manchester. The fertiliser can, legitimately, be used to manure land, just as the story above, which I made up, could easily have come from British securocrats and their media buddies to manure the imagination of paranoid unionists, and the gullible, wherever they are to be found.
There were never even the bones of a crisis, yet a crisis has been manufactured out of Colombia, the Castlereagh affair and sections of John Major's autobiography allegedly found on the computer belonging to a republican.
Three Irish men, two of whom are former republican prisoners, await a Diplock trial in Colombia where they have to prove themselves innocent. The House International Relations Committee in Washington held an inquiry which it claimed would not prejudice those men's right to a fair trial (but which was aimed at doing just that and justifying increased US military aid to that country). The title of the inquiry? "International Global Terrorism: Its Links with Illicit Drugs As Illustrated by the IRA and Other Groups in Colombia."
Gerry Adams, advised by the men's lawyers, correctly declined to appear. "He must have something to hide," claimed his Ulster Unionist, DUP and, in the south, his Progressive Democrat critics. As it turned out, the Colombian Joint Chiefs of Staff head, General Fernando Tapias, said he had no information about organizational links between 'the IRA and Colombian terrorists'. But why let that spoil a good story.
In magnitude and potential repercussions the Castlereagh affair ranks along with the cover-up of the state murder of Pat Finucane. The British government knows it has a scandal on its hands, knows the identity of its agents involved, what was taken and destroyed. In 1987, even before the bodies of the IRA men killed at Loughgall had been removed from the scene the RUC had carried out tests on the captured weapons and released the results of the weapons' forensic histories (indicating that they had been involved in several killings). The 'major breach of national security' at Castlereagh happened seven weeks ago and we have yet to see a photo-fit of the suspects published (or an explanation given for why not), the details of the car allegedly used or whether the search for finger prints - given that the suspects, according to the police themselves, were not wearing gloves - proved productive or eliminated known republicans from the list of suspects.
Instead, the investigation has become 'an inquiry' behind which the state deflects attention from itself by blaming the IRA, at great cost to the peace process.
Then we have all the other fantasies: the IRA hit-list of senior Conservatives; the IRA arms buying spree in Russia; the IRA pipe bombs showing up in Jenin, the Palestinian refugee camp.
The barrage of attacks on Sinn Fein, the smear and scare stories and black propaganda are not coincidental. A concerted attempt is being made to stop or slow the progress of Sinn Fein in the south, particularly before the general election there on 17 May. Sinn Fein is hoping to secure a number of seats that allows it to hold the balance of power and place it in a position to push progressive politics and consolidate the implementation of the Belfast Agreement.
Thus, at the start of the election campaign, a grave-looking Trimble travelled to Dublin to talk up the crisis in the North allegedly caused by ongoing IRA activity throughout the universe. Trimble, under pressure from those within and without his party opposed to the Agreement and the power-sharing executive, appears to be gathering pretexts for pulling the plug on the Assembly in an attempt to save his own skin. Around half of unionists are opposed to the Agreement and the equality agenda but need to disguise their opposition as moral outrage at the IRA (whilst hypocritically playing dumb about the ongoing sectarian attacks by loyalist paramilitaries).
That Sinn Fein is the real engine of radical change in the North is clear from the way the British government has not only recruited the SDLP onto the police board - before the RUC Special Branch has been removed from the PSNI - but has now recruited it into a funded, secretive anti-Sinn Fein coalition.
Last week, it was revealed that Tony Blair met a group of Britain's richest entrepreneurs at Claridges Hotel in London and urged the businessmen to secretly bankroll parties, including the SDLP, in order to help stop the electoral march of Sinn Fein. Controversial former newspaper boss David Montgomery was behind the fund-raiser, titled 'Campaign for Peace and Democratic Reconstruction', which was attended by Tony Blair, David Trimble and Mark Durcan. They have refused to comment on the event, claiming that it was 'confidential', when what they really meant was 'conspiratorial'.
Confidential? Absolutely. So don't be expecting a headline in the 'Sunday Times' or 'Irish Times' or 'Irish News', today, tomorrow, next week, or next year in the run-up to the Assembly elections, along the lines of 'Big British Business - The SDLP Axis!' or 'International Capitalism Funds The SDLP!'
Expect instead: 'Threat of IRA germ warfare!' for which the only antidote is a big dose of cynicism.
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© 2007 Irish Author and Journalist - Danny Morrison