The Adams Family II

Here’s my take on the IRA peace announcement, written for Slate yesterday.

The smartest thing I have to say involves pointing out how wrong I’ve been about a few things in the past.

In April, I suggested that Adams’s campaign speech appealing to the IRA to give up arms was actually code for the calling on a General Army Convention, the only IRA body allowed (according to the IRA constitution) to ratify a final peace declaration. Wrong – there has been no Army Convention, most likely because the Army Council was afraid a peace declaration wouldn’t pass.

In March, I speculated, as the uproar over the Robert McCartney murder was growing, that things were spinning dangerously out of control for Adams. In hindsight, the McCartney business seems to have strangely played right into Adams’s plan.

Thank you to Ed Moloney for his help on my most recent article. If you want to read something infinitely more informed, read Moloney’s piece for Scotland’s Sunday Herald and his piece for the Irish Examiner. Also, as always, Slugger O’Toole.

Of special importance – unfortunately I wasn’t able to go into this – is the importance of the contrived “divorce” between Sinn Fein and the IRA, with the latter likely carrrying on as a huge criminal enterprise.

5 thoughts on “The Adams Family II

  1. That is the million dollar question and none of us following this from the outside can be 100% certain whethe there was or was not an Army Convention. But consider the following:

    Jim Cusack reporting in the Belfast Telegraph:
    “It is believed to have been a result of this opposition from the IRA in Tyrone and places such as south Londonderry, north Armagh and Antrim that Adams and McGuinness decided not to hold an ‘Army Convention’ before making Thursday’s announcement about dumping arms and ceasing “all activities”.”

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=654918

    In the Sunday Business Post:

    “The best barometer of republican thinking on such events, an army convention attended by hundreds of volunteers, did not take place ahead of the announcement – it was not required after a change in IRA rules in 1997.”

    http://www.sbpost.ie/post/pages/p/story.aspx-qqqid=6792-qqqx=1.asp

    (I am slightly uncertain what the basis is for saying it was not required. According to my reading of the IRA constitution it was neither required not not required – but regardness, not peace is final until it is ratifed by a convention.)

    Finally, as Ed Moloney said on Irish radio, if there was an Army Convention you’d think the IRA would have made a point of telling us. So I’m left with numerous reports from pretty reliable sources of no army convention, and as yet absolutely no suggestion but anyone (let alone anyone in the know) that there was an Army Convention.

    Whether this is a minor point or not, I don’t pretend to know, but as I wrote, if there was no Army Convention that’s a pretty good indication that this declaration does not exactly have full support of the rank and file.

  2. whether it has full support or not is irrelevant. it undoubtedly has sufficient support, or at the very least, insufficient opposition. there will be no further split, as anyone upset with the abandonment of armed struggle must surely have realised that it happened several years ago and not last thursday.

    ed moloney’s churlish “the IRA is still at war” line was rightly disparaged by the other contributors to that program, failing, as it does, to recognise that they haven’t fired a shot in anger for years.

  3. You’ve missed Moloney’s point entirely. Of course the IRA is not going back to large scale terrorism. But in that case, why haven’t they declared the war over? I suspect the reason is so they have an excuse to go on as a huge, active criminal enterprise.

    Blair and Ahern were outmaneouvered here. Instead of welcoming this statement with open arms, they could have said: “Good start. Now disband.” Instead they bought Adams’s lie that he’s not in control of the organization.

  4. they have announced an end to the armed struggle and ordered the dumping of arms. if that doesn’t translate as “the war is over”, i don’t know what does. the statement orders “Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever.” – it’s hard to see how “a huge, active criminal enterprise” is going to be sustained passively!
    anyone who thought the IRA was going to use phrases or terms suggested by the British, Ed Moloney, Jim Cusack or anyone else clearly has no idea how that organisation views its historical role.
    Ahern has been outmanouevered, i agree, as he will, in the next few years, reap the same harvest the SDLP has in the last few. Blair however, is now well positioned to be the PM who settled the ‘Irish Question’. What matter to him if it leads to unification 20 or 30 years from now?
    We are now in the history writing phase of the conflict, and it seems to me, Tony Blair and the IRA are emerging as the most likely victors.

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