And who is surprised about this?

A coalition of terrorist groups including the Real IRA, the Republican Action Against Drugs and a loose coalition of independent armed factions were said to be merging to form a “unified structure, under a single leadership”.

The union threatens to undermine progress made between Ireland and Britain in recent years, which culminated in a historic handshake between former IRA commander Martin McGuinness and the Queen last month.

The new paramilitary group includes hundreds of armed dissidents prepared to be “subservient to the constitution of the Irish Republican Army”, sources told the Guardian.

This is the simple history of Irish Republicanism….sorry, of the armed wing of it.

Been going on for a century or so at least. Group forms, fights, gets some stage closer to the United Ireland thing. The achievement of Eire, or joint rule at Stormont, satisfies enough that some retire (or, as some more cynical might argue, age and the delights of not hiding in ditches persuade some to). This leaves the hard core/the next generation of youngsters who find it exciting to reform some years later.

IRA, Official IRA, Republican IRA, now 32 County peeps etc.

*Shrug*.

33 thoughts on “And who is surprised about this?”

  1. Yep. Agree. Plus ca change …

    Although now with the Republican Action against Drugs it has become a sort of self-styled “benevolent” gangsterism.

    What will make it interesting is if in the european meltdown that comes whether the Irish republic will side with the brits against europe, e.g. by adopting sterling. That would definitely put the cat amongst the pigeons.

  2. There always used to be an attempt, certainly on the Republican side, to portray them as the protectors of the community against drugs and other-than-them crime. Of course, when the income stopped being quite so regular post Good Friday, a number of them realised quite how much money there was in it.

    So all we have is the re-rise of the self-proclaimed “principled terrorist scumbag.” Difficult to tell from the other sort at any distance.

  3. Protection rackets are protection rackets – it matters not what you call them. Many of the remaining “boyos” have realised that shaking down local businesses is a damn-site easier (and more profitable) than working.

  4. The gangsterism started with fuel smuggling thanks to the EU. Also lots of counterfeit goods being sold at markets. Also the black shared taxis that used to ferry people around the “no-go” areas – bogside in derry and falls road in belfast. All used to fund the “cause”. Drugs however are seen as bad so they fight against them with kangaroo courts and vicious punishment beatings. Basically usurping due process. Hard to believe that Martin McGuiness does not condone this.

  5. Your reaction to this is frankly terrifying.

    I mean nothing personal, because I understand this is a common reaction, but I’d like to point out just how unusual this is from a historical perspective.

    Few are the other times in history where the existence of armed paramilitary groups in an otherwise sovereign and independent country be met with ‘*shrug* plus ca change’

  6. Habituation.

    The Yanks have their militias, the Swiss the entire country. We have the xIRA.

    Anyway, 20 miles or so of sea has a (admittedly entirely inappropriate in the modern world) relaxing effect.

    More seriously – the Overton Window has yet to shift back from the more concerted violence of the 80s and 90s. “Relatively untroubled.” Compared, of course, to “the Troubles”.

  7. @Sconzey:

    The problem here is that we are still ignoring the elephant in the room which is that until there is a United Ireland then there will be no end to the fighting.

    Tim is being very cynical, but he is about right in truth. The Belfast Agreement laid down a settlement which was acceptable to those, like McGinnis who had been used to fighting British soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland.

    It was never a solution to the Northern Ireland question, only a de-militarization.

    By supporting the political solution as both British and Irish governments have done they have assured that at least the vast majority of the population are behind the agreement.

    There will always be a new generation of die hards, the aim is to cut them off from popular support and this is succeeding.

  8. interesting that the Guardian is quite happy to use the word ‘terrorist’ to describe them, while the BBC insists on using ‘militant’ or, notoriously, ‘activist’ in the interests of ‘clarity’. Quite how using a word which describes both groups dedicated to political mass murder and people who go door to door asking if you will vote for them aids ‘clarity’ is presumably a question only Progressives can answer.

  9. “until there is a United Ireland then there will be no end to the fighting”: after there is a united Ireland there will still be terrorism, from the other lot. Won’t there?

  10. @John Galt:

    That’s quite aside from the fact it is the prime directive of any government to maintain a monopoly on the use of force within it’s borders, thereby forcing people to use peaceful methods to achieve their goals.

    This is the raison d’etre of government, the sine qua non.

    It doesn’t matter whether the government is despotic or democratic; lawful or chaotic, if there are goddamed *armies* in your country which you don’t control, there’s an excellent argument to be made that you’re no longer the government in many meaningful ways. Syria QED.

    The idea of a new IRA in Ireland should be as intolerable an idea as the concept of the EDL stockpiling weapons and bombing mosques in Birmingham, or the KKK lynching gangbangers, or the SWP leading guerilla raids in Canary Wharf.

  11. @sconzey

    Whether it is independent and sovereign depends on who you are. The Irish problems will be with us forever. Even if there is a united ireland, the protestants in ulster will then start to fight. After all that was the threat that caused partition in 1921. So we will still have problems.

    Also, you seem to have a rosy view of history. For I see few places in the world where ethno/religious conflicts get solved, except those in which one side commits genocide or forcible mass deportation. Which is clearly not desirable. So some low level activity is perhaps not the worst outcome.

  12. In a way you’re right, it is the history of the Irish Republicanism but only pre-1966ish where it was more akin to the People’s Judean Liberation Army and the Judean People’s Liberation Army.

    They stumbled onto success in the Easter Rising, but it really wasn’t their fault at all and the recent ‘Troubles’ were a different creature altogether’

    Allowing the Catholic population access to higher education was never going to keep the status quo.

  13. And somehow, I think they’ll become acquainted with modern anti-terrorist measures and will really not enjoy the meeting at all.

  14. “Whether it is independent and sovereign depends on who you are.”
    What do you mean by this? In what sense is the government of the RoI not independent and sovereign (pace the EU).

    “Also, you seem to have a rosy view of history.”
    Quite the opposite actually.

    “For I see few places in the world where ethno/religious conflicts get solved, except those in which one side commits genocide or forcible mass deportation. Which is clearly not desirable. So some low level activity is perhaps not the worst outcome.”
    I’d add ‘forced re-education/reform’ to that list and you’ve about covered it, but that’s beside the point: I don’t give a rats arse whether or not Catholics and Protestants resolve their differences in Ireland. What I do care about is whether or not their dispute involves the indiscriminate use of guns and bombs. You’re right that ‘some low level activity is not the worst outcome’. You’re wrong to imply that ‘low-level activity’ includes the terrorism, kidnap, torture and extra-judicial execution that marred Eire for most of the 20th Century.

  15. @dearieme:

    Your point regarding what is likely to happen after the reunification of Ireland is probably quite right, however it will inevitably happen.

    The province has no more long term sustainability than the treaty ports established by the Treaty of Nanking.

    Eventually the Irish will reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs and the remaining pro-UK residents will have to adapt or leave.

    This is the same choice that has been faced by those affected by partition throughout history.

  16. Eventually the Irish will reclaim the land that is rightfully theirs and the remaining pro-UK residents will have to adapt or leave.

    You seem very confident that portions of land populated by those who wish to remain part of the UK rightfully belong to other people – people who mostly have never even seen the places in question. The Irish living south of the border have no more claim to Northern Ireland
    than the inhabitants of Worcester.

  17. This is the same choice that has been faced by those affected by partition throughout history.

    But recent history – at least in Europe – isn’t one of a territory seceding from one country and being merged with another. Rather, it is one of a territory seceding and forming an independent country. There is recent precedent for NI becoming an independent country within Europe – which the Scottish nationalists are going for – but not much for a region seceding from one country and joining another. All a bit imperialist that, isn’t it?

  18. @ John Galt
    Just how are the Ulster Protestants not Irish? It is possible to argue about De Valera’s claim to be Irish but not about that of Terence O’Neill.
    Take back your smear.

  19. @John77:

    I never claimed the Ulster protestants weren’t Irish, indeed both the Belfast Agreement and the constitution of the Republic of Ireland guarantees them that right if they choose to exercise it and I will not stop them.’

    Equally, I am not talking about property rights with respect to Northern Ireland, whoever owns property in the province now will own it after reunification, be they Catholic, Protestant or Latter Day Pastafarian.

    This is about Irish Sovereignty and it is only about reclaiming the Sovereignty of the land that was taken by force (albeit hundreds of years ago).

    @Tim Newman:

    This is not imperialist/colonialist argument, in fact it is the very opposite of that. This is about removing the last vestiges of British Colonialism from the Island of Ireland.

    Certainly the rights of minorities have to be respected, but that is a problem that has been tackled by other colonial retreats, some easy, some more difficult.

    A United Ireland will not come tomorrow, but it will happen in the lifetime of our children, of that I am certain.

  20. I see few places in the world where ethno/religious conflicts get solved, except those in which one side commits genocide or forcible mass deportation.

    I disagree. The other way to solve such conflicts is for the parties to lose interest. To take an example close to home, there’s no violence any more over the Massacre of Glencoe – lowland and highland Scots no longer wish to pursue the conflict between them. It tends not to be seen as a solved problem, because the problem has been forgotten about.

  21. To take an example close to home, there’s no violence any more over the Massacre of Glencoe

    No violence, true. But try having a name that can be taken for Campbell over a dodgy phone line and trying to book a B&B on the Outer Hebridies.

    It tends not to be seen as a solved problem, because the problem has been forgotten about.

    It might have been forgotten about in London. It might not be the cause of violence. But seething resentment for generations is the Scots’ way. In Scotland as much as in Ulster.

  22. This is not imperialist/colonialist argument, in fact it is the very opposite of that. This is about removing the last vestiges of British Colonialism from the Island of Ireland.

    Well, it would be reversing colonialism if NI was allowed to go its own way; if the Republic of Ireland thinks it should annex NI by virtue of history alone, then it would smell more than a bit of imperialism. The Irish in the North are not the Irish in the South, any more than the Taiwanese are mainland Chinese or the South Ossetians Russian. Perhaps they once were, but they’re not any more. Unless there is an overwhelming desire for unification, as was the case with Germany, then any attempt to do so by Dublin will resemble the German annexation of the Sudetenland.

  23. No need for a Sudetenland solution to Northern Ireland.

    The catholic population of Northern Ireland is rising continually and will eventually become the majority. At some point their will be internal pressure for reunification with the rest of Ireland.

    What worked for East and West Germany would also work for Northern and Southern Ireland. The partition in both circumstances is as artificial.

    Certainly, it might take another 30-50 years, but I fully expect it to happen. Certainly the politicians at Westminster will be glad to wave a not-very-fond-farewell to the province, which has been a poisoned chalice since the day it was created.

  24. “Massacre of Glencoe – lowland and highland Scots no longer wish to pursue the conflict between them”.

    What makes you think Campbells murdering McDonalds is anything to do with Lowlanders?

  25. No need for a Sudetenland solution to Northern Ireland.

    Okay…

    The catholic population of Northern Ireland is rising continually and will eventually become the majority. At some point their will be internal pressure for reunification with the rest of Ireland.

    Aye, that sounds so much different from Germany annexing the Sudetenland. Ditto South Ossetia.

  26. Aye, that sounds so much different from Germany annexing the Sudetenland. Ditto South Ossetia.

    I don’t see the need for anyone flooding the borders from anywhere (albeit the borders between the province and the republic are pretty much non-existent).

    All that needs to happen is that a democratic plebiscite is put forward everybody votes and if enough votes are reunification with the Republic of Ireland, then job done.

    If not wait another 30-years then rinse and repeat.

    Nobody needs to storm or annexe anything, just follow the standard democratic process for this sort of thing, no different from what Alex Salmond is doing in Scotland.

  27. Of course, in an alternative to John Galt’s scenario @ 28, the Protestants could follow the precedent set in the post independence Free State & burn out & drive out enough Catholics to maintain their demographic majority. A reduction of around 3-4% should just about do it.
    So we have yet another round of The Troubles….

  28. All that needs to happen is that a democratic plebiscite is put forward everybody votes and if enough votes are reunification with the Republic of Ireland, then job done.

    Yes, but it’s never that simple. Whether NI goes it alone or joins the Republic would be a huge political issue with all sorts of jigger-pokery from all sides. What would be interesting is the degree to which Dublin would support any attempt by NI to vote themselves into the Republic, and the methods they used. I’m not sure there has ever been a case where part of a country mundanely voted itself to be part of another, and the transition peacefully took place.

  29. I’m not sure there has ever been a case where part of a country mundanely voted itself to be part of another, and the transition peacefully took place

    Possibly the closest would be the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France after the defeat of Germany in 1945.

  30. “Massacre of Glencoe – lowland and highland Scots no longer wish to pursue the conflict between them”.

    What makes you think Campbells murdering McDonalds is anything to do with Lowlanders?

    If you think the massacre was just an attack by the Campbells on the McDonalds, you’re underinformed. Read this, for example.

  31. John Galt @28 & 31

    “All that needs to happen is that a democratic plebiscite is put forward everybody votes and if enough votes are reunification with the Republic of Ireland, then job done”

    Last vote on the subject, 1973, was 98.9% against reunification. Of course, Nationalist politicians seeing they would lose ordered their supporters not to vote: that is what Mr Galt may be thinking of when he stipulates “everybody voting”.

    Last reliable opinion poll I saw, support in NI for immediate reunification was about 7%. Which would mean that most SF voters, even, are against it. Mr Galt may have a long time to wait.

    The comical absurdity of a comparison of Alsace-Lorraine recovering from Nazi occupation, 1945, and Northern Ireland at some indefinite date in the future should be obvious to anyone with more knowledge than Mr Galt.

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