Monday, July 18, 2005

Riots fuel fears of IRA breakaway

Paul T Colgan:

The appearance of dissident republicans armed with blast-bombs on the streets of Ardoyne last Tuesday, coupled with the seeming inability of senior republicans such as Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly to control nationalist rioters, has emphasised the difficulties that lie ahead in winding up the IRA.

Nationalist youths, incensed by the taunts of Orangemen who marched through the area - many of them laced with alcohol – took out their anger on the PSNI.

For the second year in succession, rioters ended up fighting with the North's security forces after Orange revellers were ushered through the north Belfast enclave.

While mainstream republicans seek to play down the potential for further violence in the coming weeks, the spectre of a reinvigorated dissident threat is nonetheless troubling them.

One seasoned Belfast republican said that he feared that the Continuity IRA, which admitted that its members had thrown up to nine blast-bombs at PSNI officers, viewed Tuesday's events as a "foot in the door".

He said that the recent decision by the Northern Ireland Office to return Shankill bomber Sean Kelly to prison had fed into last week's troubles, as some republicans who had previously stewarded protesters decided to stay away from the Ardoyne.

Republicans said Kelly had been prominent in last year's attempts to maintain calm at the interface, and claim that he was arrested as a sop to unionists who objected to his presence on the front line.

“Many of my friends who are 'lifers' act as stewards at these things, but my advice to them was not to go near it,” said the republican. “When you go into a situation where a riot is possible, you just can't control what is going to happen. You run the risk of being arrested and having your licence revoked.

“By returning Kelly to prison, the British government created this kind of knock-on effect. It created a vacuum, which other people chose to exploit.”

He said that contrary to recent reports, north Belfast remained largely supportive of the political strategy being pursued by Sinn Féin, but the patience of many republicans in the area was being severely tested.

“The British government tailored a situation for the dissidents,” he said. “North Belfast has been on the receiving end of most of the sectarian violence down through the years.

“It has always been a testing ground for theories about the peace process - things are always tested more quickly there than, say, west Belfast. But the desire by people there for peace has always been as strong as anywhere else.

“Support for the dissidents is weak there, but people, having gone through what they have, are not going to condemn them for throwing blast-bombs in such a situation,” he said.

Republicans always knew that their discussions about the future of the IRA would coincide with the difficult marching season.

With an IRA statement still considered imminent by the Irish government, any move by republicans in the coming days will be fraught with difficulties. The consultation period within the IRA is understood to have come to an end in the past two weeks.

However, republicans say that more time is required to brief IRA members about what the organisation is to say publicly.

In the past, the first the average IRA member knew about the two ceasefire declarations or the three acts of decommissioning was what they heard from the media.

Republicans claim that this type of approach irked many members and fed into latent doubts about the credibility of the political strategy. They insist that this mistake will not happen again.

There is concern that the angry scenes in Ardoyne are likely to have had some impact on the IRA rank and file. Opposition in some quarters - most notably in Tyrone and Armagh - to plans to move into a "new mode" may have been strengthened by the Parades Commission's decision to usher Orangemen through the predominantly nationalist area.

None of this would be happening if the British didn't allow the Orangemen to march through indigenous Irish neighbourhoods. Of course, none of this would be happening if the British would just dismantle their colony in the north of Ireland and relocate their colonists back to Britain where they belong. Unfortunately, the British seem to have an unending love affair with their colonial past.


At 8:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL is this a spoof site?


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