IRA ceasefire has been one long endgame, with no end in sight

The Guardian's Ireland correspondent, Henry McDonald, with a piece he made availabe for publication in TPQ. Looking at the OTR controversy it initially featured in the Guardian today, 26 February 2014.

Peter Robinson has much to reflect on before he risks endangering a settlement in Northern Ireland

There may be one short-term winner in the debacle of the IRA "on-the-run" controversy sparked by Mr Justice Sweeney's decision to free John Downey at the Old Bailey resulting in no prosecutions over the 1982 Hyde Park atrocity. The man to gain most from the trial's collapse and the revelations about a secret deal to give IRA fugitives a "get-out-of-jail" card will be Jim Allister.
The hardline former barrister, ex Democratic Unionist party MEP and leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice will undoubtedly seek to portray his old colleagues such as Peter Robinson and Ian Paisley as dupes who allowed themselves to be sold a pup back in 2006. For when Robinson and Paisley signed up to the St Andrews agreement that paved the way for power-sharing with Sinn Fein, the DUP leaders clearly knew nothing about the Labour government's deal to grant de facto amnesties. That is the reason why Robinson is threatening the Samson option: to pull down the devolution temple for fear of being felled himself by Allister and his allies and their "told you so" jibes in the runup to May's local government and European elections.

Yet there is a bitter irony to all this that might be lost on those who find the politics of Ulster bewildering. On the World at One on Wednesday even the expert author and journalist Peter Taylor concluded that the "on-the-run" deal confirmed to unionists one key fact about the peace process: that the IRA and Sinn Féin got everything they wanted, and the unionist community were the losers.

Actually, Taylor's analysis is incorrect. Because in terms of the bigger constitutional picture it was mainstream republicans that lost out both in the Good Friday agreement of 1998 and the later St Andrew's agreement. The IRA gave up its project to destroy the Northern Ireland state and begrudgingly accepted what it used to call the "unionist veto" – that is that there could be no constitutional change to Northern Ireland's status without the consent of the majority in that state. Sovereignty back in '98, '07 and in 2014 remains ultimately in the hands of the UK government, which keeps Northern Ireland afloat with billions of pounds and with the Queen's head still on the back of the currency used there.

One constant theme, however, running through the peace process over the past 20 years has been that unionists have not been able to see the woods for the trees in political terms. Smaller concessions to republicans, such as the early release of paramilitary prisoners and now the secret deal on IRA fugitives, have been magnified in terms of outrage and cries of betrayal, which in turn obscure that bigger picture.

2014 contains more anniversaries than just the centenary of the first world war. On 31 August it will be 20 years since the Provisional IRA declared its ceasefire with the loyalist paramilitaries following them two months later. Two decades ago, unionist leaders such as Lord Molyneaux tried to portray the IRA cessation as the product of a deal much bigger than the secret scheme to grant amnesties to wanted fugitive republicans. Molyneaux and Paisley back then deducted that the ceasefire must have been part of an endgame for the union. In truth, it has been very a long endgame that has lasted 20 years with no end in sight for the foreseeable future for the union itself. Peter Robinson must surely reflect on that hard political fact before pressing the eject button from the Northern Ireland executive and risk endangering a settlement that still puts constitutional destiny in the hands primarily of unionist voters.


  1. Even were the settlement to fall apart tomorrow 'the process' will go on. It matters not. Republicans have been co-opted into the British system irreparably and nothing is likely to see that change for the foreseeable future - even in the event of such a collapse. The people do not want what we had growing up for their children and the overriding need to make sure that never happens will mean they continue to vote for the like of Sinn Fein and the SDLP. Even if the whole thing falls apart there will be a political process of some description to put it back together again and they all know it, it doesn't hold as much risk or fear for them as it might at first seem

  2. Sad Henry McDonald-

    Yet another journalist trying to save the DUPs blushes-
    You will be telling us next the the Tory's never knew nothing either despite 38 of those cards being signed under their watch-
    Watch Villiers sinking-

    " the DUP leaders clearly knew nothing about the Labour
    Government deal to grant de facto amnesties "-

    Your lying words will not cleanse them- Robinsons looking for a inquiry which will last a few years to carry him over the next few elections- then when he goes he will watch Odd Dodds DUP sink when the verdict is made public-Shakespeare could not write this drama whilst the DUP press office could write your contribution-

  3. It seems to me that it is not plausible to sustain the claim the DUP did not know about the OTR situation. I believe the party will be exposed for its gross misleading very shortly.

  4. It's all about votes and the party who shouts the loudest and the longest will received the most unionist votes in the coming elections. After their ‘fleg’ came down the PUL community have been on the offensive, first with the H-Block museum then the Castelderg commemoration and now this. Over the coming weeks the 3 main unionist parties will milk this for all that it’s worth but knowing in their hearts there’s really fuck all they can do about it. If Robinson throws his dummy from the pram forty faces McGuinness will be running down the road after him begging for his return because without their unionist masters in stormont the shinners will be out the door on their arses with nowhere to go. Can't wait to see how this all unfolds and if Robinson can't get the shinners one way he'll get them in another and his bitch MCGuinness will just have to suck it up again.

  5. MH

    I sense you were never in the 'Crum' but I've a feeling sooner rather than later you'll be 'cell by cell' with Billy Hutchison and the lads. Loyalist working class fed up with Peter the punt and Co. will elect a few sooner rather than later.


    its all just an excuse to by prods to disengage on this island.

  6. I really have to laugh at all this. Robinson almost foaming at the mouth and getting hysterical, when he and the rest of the DUP team (including Paisley) knew the stuff about the OTR's was on the table (as long as it was blamed on Trimble). There's not a chance of Robbo stepping down, or resigning as "first minister" of that glorified council on the hill. I also saw that mealy mouthed fucker David Ford almost swallowing his beard when asked if he would resign his post over it. On the one hand (in the same interview) Ford said that the first he knew of the letters to OTR's was when he was told last week, yet a moment later, he said when it was brought up a few years ago (about OTR'S) he and his party opposed it????????? Ken Reid said, if the letters were rescinded then it would shift the crisis onto the "republican" side, no it wouldn't, if all the letters were rescinded tomorrow, SF would carry on as usual and give their usual spiel about we'll fight this etc. yawnnnnnnn. As for John Downey, WELCOME HOME!

  7. Robinson and his bigoted cronies in the dup are scundered that the worst kept secret here is now out in the open, the de facto amnesty or get out of jail card issued through commandant Kelly of quisling $inn £eind to the few otr,s is as useless as a chocolate tea pot if perfidious albion decide to preform in their usual fashion,the self righteous indignation shown by Pete the punt and his bigoted cronies is in response to public opinion on the "mainland"Pete the punt ,one who never misses an opportunity to make a mountain out of a molehill will use this to enhance his hardline reputation amongst the plebs in east Belfast,with one eye on the upcoming elections and the other on Jim Allister making him look the fucking eejit that he really is .the other outcome of all of this is that the brits will draw a line on all historical actions here during the "troubles" including Bloody Sunday thus scrapping the HET and any and all prosecutions of army or police involved in controversial killings,either way here folks Pete the punt is going to come out of this the winner Quisling $inn £eind well they know their place ..

  8. Look to Haas for a settlement of this storm in a tea cup.....the DUP knew all along about the 'letters'...political posturing for a Haas deal on flags etc, etc...Robinson never misses an opportunity and his threat to resign is as empty as Ian Paisley's beer glass.....Haas is the key to all this.

  9. @Marty and Niall exactly! (I especially liked Niall's one about Paisley looking into his empty beer glass!). I would concur with Pauline Mellon's statement on this blog last week, vote Independent! The only problem I have now is that it looks as though we have the "Taigs" against the "Snouts" now (again zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz). Which will suit SF and their lovers, the DUP, down to the ground!

  10. 13 Royal pardons orchestrated by Adams, McGuinness, Kelly and the rest of their corrupt cohorts yet they all have the audacity to point the finger at anyone who speaks out against them by calling them traitors or people macerating as republicans. Proves the point that sinn fein is a party of slow learners for SDLP.

    Where does this leave the innocent people murdered in the Ballymurphy & Bloody Sunday massacres who had fuck all to do with sinn fein or the PIRA and marched for civil rights, are their families going to be told to ‘suck it up’ by sinn fein when the investigations into paratroopers now gets cancelled which is what master Robinson will now be demanding as a concession for retuning to his driving seat on the gravy train.

    Btw, I didn’t see a single shinner at the 2014 Bloody Sunday commemoration which proves the shinners seen all this coming.

  11. Anonymous-

    " 13 Royal pardons "

    Were you opposed to the two Royal pardons the Price sisters received in 1980 when the war was still on-

    The Bloody Sunday family's who have campaigned for years will get their day in court and witness those Brits in the dock-

    "I did not see a single Shinner "

    Do you know every single Shinner by sight now-that's some talent you have- did you go to any of the Bloody Sunday events organised by Sinn Fein and the family's -

  12. Phew that was a close one for Peter....thank goodness David saw that Ian's glass was empty and reacted accordingly....well, if the report comes out before the election which is anybody's guess wouldn't the truth be embarrassing for Arlene and her fascist chums? Could cost them votes? Ah, but here comes Haas to the rescue....for Peter now has a few months to negotiate...behind closed doors!!!

  13. MH

    It may have been the case that the sisters received a pardon on humanitarian grounds but the facts remain that they stayed true to their original republican principles and beliefs unlike the shinners who gave up everything they ever stood for to get those pardons and administer British rule.
    The shinners are now the eyes & ears within nationalist/republican communities for the British state and anyone who claims otherwise is either a damned fool or a bare faced liar.

    The Bloody Sunday families will be very lucky to get their day in court the way things are panning out because the PUL community and the British public will be seeking to balance the books.

    As it stands I’ve went to many Bloody Sunday commemorations over the years beginning in 1982 when I became old enough in my parents eyes to travel into town on a bus with my mates and I do know a shinner when I see one. As things went, McGuinness attended the wreath laying ceremony at the Bloody Sunday monument earlier that morning but kept a very low profile and was unnoticed to many people there. As for the main ‘Justice for the victims’ march in the afternoon there wasn’t a shinner to be seen anywhere and that’s a fact.
    One Derry sinn fein councillor issued a statement the day following the march implying that the organisers need to take some responsibility for a small number of stones and petrol bombs that were hurled into the nearby protestant fountain estate by a few youths later that night many hours after the march dispersed. I would like to know where was her tongue when the PIRA detonated a bomb during the 1990 Bloody Sunday march that killed 16 year old Charles Love from Strabane who travelled to Derry for the march and who was hit on the head by flying debris 100 yards from were I was standing.

    As for attending commemorations organised by sinn fein why should I? I’ve been there done it for many many years and where did it get us? Stormont?

    Ps: Don’t expect me to explain my posts to you ever again, I’ve read the vile shit you’ve been posting on this blog for months and you should be fucking ashamed of yourself and I wont be drawn into a debate with an idiot.

  14. anon, very well said.
    the funny thing about mh is that u grow to like him in a bizarre way after a while. i shit u not, its weird. i cant explain it.


  15. the funny thing about mh is that u grow to like him in a bizarre way after a while. i shit u not, its weird. i cant explain it.

    Don't include me...The only two words in your post Grouch I agree with in reference to MH is weird & bizarre. Anyone who makes jokes about Paul Quinn (calling him old sore bones!!!).. Needs their head looked at and is unfit (imo) to hold any position within public office.

    Michael would you make sick jokes about the hunger strikers? Paul Quinn like six hunger strikers died horrible deaths at the hands of the provisional's?

  16. "the funny thing about mh is that u grow to like him in a bizarre way after a while. i shit u not, its weird. i cant explain it"

    I can assure you that that will never happen, in all my years I’ve never warmed to the sight & smell of shite and I’m not about to start now, I shit u not.

  17. ur right frankie, the sore bones comment freaked me out too, michael, if ur reading this, i wud luv it if u apologised over the paul quinn comment whatever about the other stuff. i know ur not a total bollox. i fear u are guilty of booze blogging and hit the return button when u shudnt. (we have all done it, but most apologise later, it dusnt take much)

    frankie, the people who shafted those six men for their own scheming plans will be using them in upcoming elections. they are infinitely worse than mh i think, deviant lying scheming sociopathic snakey bastards.

  18. im not tryin to annoy anyone here, but am i the only one who thinks the world and his mother knows what happened on bloody sunday. if people were still 'looking for justice' in the 1960's for atrocities committed during war of ind, wud people not be saying, give it up now, let them rest and move on. barristers make millions from these tribs and the real people behind the atrocities will never see the inside of a courtroom.

  19. grouch, Michael Henry McIvor is a gutless cretin who hasn't the balls to stand over the vile comments he made about suicide victims and Paul Quinn.

    When the local paper came to his door he wasn't such a big man. He almost choked on his own denials.

    "It wasn't me...It wasn't me!"

    In regards to this idiotic comment of his...

    "did you go to any of the Bloody Sunday events organised by Sinn Fein and the family's-"

    The fact is, as one of the family members commented recently, the families marched for 40 years and the British couldn't divide them. Sinn Fein managed to do what the British couldn't do after The Saville Report.

    As for claims that the majority of family members are against the continuation of the march.
    For a start all parents of those killed are now dead, there are close family members who are involved with SF as employees and thus able to influence other members of their family.

    However when those people start throwing out numbers in regards to who doesn't support the march being continued what is not known is that this is typical of the SF lying machine in that cousins are included in those numbers.
    In fact the McCartneys have taken it upon themselves to represent the Wray family, given that Liam Wray can't be bought, on the basis that they are cousins. This came back to bite one McCartney on the arse when a document was uncovered among the Saville material which was heavily blacked out but clearly was the statement of someone squealing on his comrades.

    It began...'I joined the IRA after my cousin Jim Wray was shot dead on Bloody Sunday.'

    What does annoy me is that those who should know better refer to the obnoxious McIvor with the cuddly MH.

    I doubt I'd refer to Willie Frazer as WF if he were posting here as well.

  20. Dixie

    It’s clear the Shinners have put the old British colonial policy of Divide, Conqueror, & Control into practice in regards to the families of the victims, and it’s obvious to everyone who attended the main 2014 Bloody Sunday march that their absence proves they’re not really interested in justice being achieved for the 14 victims.
    For 40 years sinn £ein used the cause of the victims for their own political gains and it’s apparent they now feel there is no need to peruse the issue any further or it could jeopardise the more important issues such as administering British rule. Not one single soldier has yet to be named or stood accused of murder yet a Derry sinn £ein councillor made a petty attempt to demonise the 2014 march and I hope she enjoys laying on her back with the rest of sinn £ein while having their bellies rubbed by their masters.

  21. dixie, i have empathy for mcivor coz i was dropped at birth as well.

  22. Grouch-

    Ouch -" the sore bones comment freaked me out "-

    Cuddly MH has no apology to make but as a bit of excuse
    Marty made a comment to me and I answered back with the sore bones comment-it was a jest-( in other words it's all Marty's fault )-lol-