Friday, July 29, 2005

Where to now for the IRA?

The Provisional IRA has finally declared that its armed campaign to unite Ireland is over and that it will henceforth pursue exclusively peaceful means of doing so. Yet it has not actually declared that it will disband even though the Sinn Fein leaders, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, are reported to have left the IRA leadership council (which they denied ever belonging to). But if they really want to pursue peaceful means then all they had to do was disband the IRA and enroll its members as part of the Sinn Fein. So what is going on?

It should be remembered that the in addition to its paramilitary campaign, the IRA is also a criminal organization that gained its proceeds from armed robberies and protection rackets. In one case, the IRA even went so far as to divide the proceeds of the protection money from a new supermarket with a loyalist paramilitary (admittedly this was in the new spirit of Good Friday Agreement). Hence the IRA will probably give up its large arsenals (much of which was never used) because it doesn't need as much weapons for its new roles of electoral fundraising for the Sinn Fein, security detail for the Sinn Fein and community policing (eg. punishment beatings and knee-cappings for car thieves).