So an historic day for Irish history. The IRA has decommissioned its weapons, in the words of the head of the decommissioning body retired General John De Chastelaine, “We are satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA’s arsenal.”

Furthermore the 2 priests one Protestant, one Catholic, observers demanded by the Democratic Unionist Party, also stated that this was the complete dismantling of the IRA’s weapons. “At the end of the process it demonstrated to us – and would have demonstrated to anyone who might have been with us – that beyond any shadow of doubt, the arms of the IRA have now been decommissioned.” -Rev Harold Goode (Protestant). I do not know how more unequivocal Rev Goode could possibly have made this statement.

The decommissioning body has had to be sensitive that the process be carried out without giving the impression of surrender or defeat, this has long been something Unionists have attempted to exploit even when IRA ceasefires have held and decommissioning has been discussed. I have heard Unionists drop what might seem like throwaway comments about the IRA’s surrender etc. in interviews. Make no mistake this is very calculated it is designed to inflame tensions and mistrust.

Of course today finally unmasks the reactionary and obdurate nature of the Unionist parties who have used the lack of total decommissioning as a method of avoiding the power-sharing institutions. They no longer have this option and their rhetoric now is very transparent indeed. Their criticisms are now not of the IRA having not decommissioned but of the lack of transparency of the process. Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP tried to claim that the party would have been satisfied with photographic evidence as well as an inventory of weapons. Eddie Mair interviewing him on the BBC at the time pointed out that neither photographs nor a static inventory would prove irrefutably that all the IRA’s weapons were gone nor would it guarantee that the IRA would not buy any more. This is therefore a complete red herring. The Unionists are clearly bereft of a idea with substance consequently they are clinging to whatever fragment they can to deflect attention from the fact that they now have no further reason to obstruct the movement towards genuine peace and devolution in Northern Ireland. Perhaps now the real reason will come out that the hardline Unionists never did want devolved government in the 6 counties, they want to remain a small part of a larger UK because their protestant aims are better served in this environment rather than ceeding any sovereignty to the Catholics.

The Unionists are making the point that there are still dissident Republicans, there is still an issue of criminal behaviour and the Provisional IRA as an organisation has not formally disbanded. This is a cynical sidestepping of the issues at hand because the Unionist paramilitaries are still very much active. Unionist paramilitaries are also still involved in criminal activities and sectarian fighting and in-fighting.

The job of the decommissioning body is now done as far as the remit was for the Republican paramilitary side. Now attention centres on the loyalist paramiltaries and unsurprisingly the Unionists remain silent on this issue.

As per usual the British government are content to humour the extreme Unionists in a way that does not extend to Republicans. When the IRA were suspected of the Northern Bank robberies Sinn Fein, a party with democratically elected representatives was banned from any part in the governing process of Northern Ireland. However the Unionists will be allowed a great deal of time to cogitate on this and formulate their latest grounds for objection. The objection will happen and you will not find the British government threatening to allow Ulster’s self-rule to continue without the Unionist extremists. Why is this, because the British have everything to gain from an Ireland in turmoil. After all this detracts from the rememberance that it was their screw up in the first place – whether you trace it to the partitioning of Ireland in the first place or further back to the positioning of the protestant blue Scots.

Why is it that the world wants reunification in Germany or Korea etc. but not Ireland? Why should Ireland remain partitioned when it is a wholly artificial socio-political construct? It is a debate which will continue to rage until the matter is settled and I can see no other way to do so than the option of a united Ireland.

Song Of The Day ~ Rory Gallagher – Don’t Know Where I’m Going

Original Comments:

John made this comment,
I’m with you for a united Ireland Baron, but I fear that ‘King Billy’ will live on.
comment added :: 27th September 2005, 14:45 GMT+01 ::
Mark Ellott made this comment,
During the nineteen seventies, the idea of a reunited Germany seemed a pipe dream. When it happened, it happened suddenly due to a critical mass of popular opinion among German people. I would like to see a united Ireland in the same way – although the groundswell just doesn’t seem to be there at the moment. So, too, a reunified Cyprus.
Until the raving bigots such as Paisley are removed from the political scene, things will not move forwards. We can only hope that a new generation will see through his odious bluster and vote him out. Well, one can hope…

comment added :: 27th September 2005, 18:39 GMT+01 ::