London-based The Irish World, on sale tomorrow


Of their cover story, Irish World editor Bernard Purcell writes:

We know how necessary creative ambivalence and polite fictions have been to the peace process/political process and it is clear that a great many people – if by no means all – have made their accommodation, or peace, with that.

But when we tried to get a straightforward answer – yes or no, or yes and no – to two simple questions posed by email and by telephone to their respective press departments: Is the IRA intact and still active? Does it pose a threat to people in the UK and Ireland? we found that not one single agency or participant in the process – of the handful who did reply – could give us an answer.

We asked Downing Street, the Home Office, MI5, the Northern Ireland Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Metropolitan Police, the US Embassy, an Garda Siochana, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the All–Party Parliamentary Group on Irish in Britain and…Sinn Féin.

Those who did reply were Foreign Affairs, PSNI, US Consulate General in Belfast and the Gardai. The Gardai and the US Consulate told us it was a matter for the local police, the PSNI.

Foreign Affairs gave, understandably and predictably, a lengthy nuanced reply which did not actually answer the question with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

That evening, after a day of trying to get a response from the NIO, North Secretary Theresa Villiers, backing her PSNI Chief Constable’s nuanced, balanced take on recent events affected to be not at all surprised the IRA still exists and is active – albeit in a non-terrorist capacity.

Still haven’t head from Sinn Féin…or the MPs whose all-party committee purports to represent Irish people in Britain….

The Irish World

33 thoughts on “The Big Ask

  1. Mr. T.

    The most cynical Fine Gael use of Maria Cahill, alleged sexual abuse victim failed to undermine Sinn Fein support so now they turn the clock back and pretend the very tortuous and hard fought Good Friday Agreement has not resulted in the IRA being disarmed and rendered benign.

    Fine Gael really really have no respect for our country or democracy. They will go to any lengths to secure power and wealth among their little clique of sneering merchant class.

    1. classter

      FG may not have any ‘respect for our country or democracy’ but neither this episode nor the Maria Cahill case demonstrate that whatsoever.

      The Maria Cahill case seems to have been true & it raised a whole series of legitimate issues.
      It does seem to be the case that the IRA killed this chap & it has raised (in the UK media and in the North) the thorny question about whether the IRA still exists as an organisation (newsflash, it probably does).

      Should FG really have ignored these issues? Should a political party really have refrained from scoring well-deserved political points against an opposition party? How shallow is your understanding of democracy?

      The political establishments in London & Dublin turned a blind eye to lots of things on the basis that McGuinness & Adams could help deliver peace. That immunity does not last forever. Adams/McGuinness deserve credit for helping lower the guns but this credit is tempered by the fact that they helped lift those guns & they have gained great dividends from having those guns in the background.

    2. Vote Rep #1

      FG & Labour are so powerful that they can get the PSNI to lie for them to undermine an election rival? Do people actually believe this crap?

  2. gallantman

    Blatantly a pathetic attempt to undermine Sinn Fein who now pose a major electoral threat.

    1. classter

      ‘Cept that this issue began in the UK,

      Were the UK national papers operating on behalf of FF/FG/Lab/Independents?

  3. chris

    so FG are genuinely trying to derail the peace process now? that’s what they have come to?

    right so.

    1. classter

      FG don’t run the PSNI which says the IRA still exist.

      FG doesn’t run the international news outlets which reported on the murder which prompted the PSNI’s statement.

  4. J

    He also said that he was not a member of the IRA.I wish someone would ask him why he made the decision not to volunteer for the IRA .

  5. stev

    Hey everyone, don’t look at all that corruption stuff about NAMA, Robinson, property developers and all sorts of other related folk! Look over there at an issue that our mates in the media always raise for us when stuff like this happens! Even our pals down south in FG and their right-wing rag papers are on our side cos it’s giving them a dig out too! Whatever you do, just look over there!

  6. LiamZero

    This is all very odd. I reckon if you asked most Irish people last week if the IRA was still around, they would have said yes. Not on the same scale as they were, obviously, but still in existence. I don’t get why such a massive deal is being made of this.

    1. Cluster

      Because it is becoming politically more difficult for Unionists to pretend that the IRA is completely dismantled. And a recent murder by PIRA members of another prominent former PIRA member and the resultant political fallout has attracted media attention over the last few weeks.

    2. Delacaravanio

      A massive deal is being made of it because the Commissioner of the Garda Siochana, a supposedly politically neutral individual tasked with the job of maintaining law and order and the security of the state said they no longer are active, but the Minister for Justice, a Fine Gael TD who is supposed to get her information from the Garda says they are.

      This means one of three things:
      a) the Minister for Justice is getting her information from some secret intelligence agency under her command which knows more than the Garda
      b) the Minister for Justice has more faith in the Chief Constable of the PSNI’s assessment of the intelligence than the agencies of this State that she is charged with overseeing, or
      c) the Minister for Justice believes the Garda Commissioner’s view, but it is politically more convenient for the Minister for Justice to state the IRA are still active because it might undermine Sinn Fein support.

      All three are unpalatable. Either way, the Minister has apparently told the Garda Commissioner she’s wrong and instead must come back with the “right” answer, making things even more unseemly.

      1. Vote Rep #1

        There is an issue when the Gardaí say they are gone and the PSNI say they are not. Who is right? When the Gardaí say the IRA are gone, do they mean they are gone from planting bombs and other terrorist stuff but not general criminality? If it is general criminality, are we ok with that? If so why? We are not ok with gangs in Dublin & Limerick doing it, why would be ok with them up North doing it? Its 20 years since the GFA, to keep bringing it up is rubbish and just a deflection tactic.

  7. Parochial Central

    Labour are 6% in the polls. So the response is SINN FEIN are THE IRA in the Irish TImes and on RTE and a resurgence of Gay Marriage hoo-ha in the former.


    1. TheMightyOne

      did labour prompt the psni to make their statements? honestly, I want to know what you think here, I’m kind of fascinated truth be told!

  8. Optimus Grime

    The IRA seem to be like some sort of political Schrodinger’s Cat. If they find them then they know they will exist but we can’t say that they do exist until they find them so in effect the IRA can both exist and not exist at the same time.

    Now moving on to the IRA existing across multiple dimensions of both time and space………….

  9. Notsayin

    Any fool can see this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to undermine Sinn Feinn. Both the head of the PNSI and The Garda have stated they are active. And its a disgrace that the government would go as far as to undermine an established peace process for political ends.

    Statement from the Chief Constable of the PNSI

    “Our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political Republican agenda. It is our assessment that the Provisional IRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism.”


    How can this be any clearer.

    1. classter

      Any fool?

      The PSNI believe the follosing:
      The PIRA (or at least some of its most senior members including at least one on the Amy Council apparently) investigated a murder, then some senior members of the PIRA decided to murder the man they deemed guilty.

      So is the PIRA active or not? What does it mean if sources tells us that not all the senior IRA members sanctioned the murder, just some of them? What difference does it make?

      And does it only count as active terrorism if Protestants are killed? So long as the PIRA only kills Catholics, that is OK?

  10. Charley

    FG/labour couldn’t give two f**ks about the North , they are just using what appears to be the revenge killing of a drug dealer as a way of undermining their political opponents, this will backfire the same way as last years interrogation of Adams a few weeks ahead of the Euro elections. IRA still exists and will continue to exist so long as loyalism exists, two sides of the same coin.

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