Anorak News | Arms & Minds

Arms & Minds

by | 27th, September 2005

‘HOW do your celebrate the Telegraph’s front-page news that the IRA has destroyed all the weapons it has amassed over the last 35 years?

‘Now when you see the target, get ready to shout ‘bang”

It’s not easy. The IRA can hardly offer its customary tribute and invite its members to pull on balaclavas, line up and fire guns into the air, not since it now hasn’t any weapons.

Perhaps we should put the carnival and statues on hold and just glory in the news that the IRA’s guns are gone. And do not doubt for a second that they have.

John De Chasterlain, the retired Canadian general brought in to oversee the decommissioning process, has looked hard and found that the guns have all disappeared.

As the Times hears him say: “We are satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA’s arsenal.”

But how do you know the weapons have all been handed in, even if you have served as an Army general and are familiar with guns and things that go bang?

The IRA has been pretty good at hiding weapons. So how do you know when you’ve found them all?

As the Times says, there are no photographs of guns, no videos of weapons being handed over, no lists of armaments. All we have is the general’s views that “very large quantities of arms, which we believe include all the arms in the IRA’s possession” have been given up.

The sceptics also hear that the inventory for the weapons Gen de Chasterlain has seen will not be made public but only viewed by the British and Irish governments. And that the haul is “consistent” with estimates of the British and Irish security forces.

Unsurprisingly, the Rev Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, wants proof. His party says it is “distinctly underwhelmed” by the news. “You cannot build a bridge of trust with the scaffolding of lies,” says Paisley with a fine display of his strangely poetic rhetoric.

And however much we support the decommissioning, it’s hard not to be sceptical. After all, how difficult is it to buy more guns, shiny new ones with the latest gadgets, when the IRA has, as is widely alleged, £26million from the raid on the Northern Bank late last year?

Little official comment on that. And the authorities are just as mute when it comes to the other problem that even without guns, a threatening racketeering thug remains just as menacing.

But it is at last a step in the right direction. And Tony Blair is quick to seize on it. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” says he. “It has taken years of patience and perseverance and often disappointment”. But we have carried on with “unquenchable optimism”.

Nice worlds. But if we are of a cynical mind, they are words which could as easily be placed into the mouth of an IRA terrorist speaking after that infamous attack on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Brighton hotel in 1984.

A place from where Tony Blair now speaks with bright-eyed enthusiasm of Northern Ireland’s brave new future…’

Posted: 27th, September 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink