March 10, 2009 1:06 PM   Subscribe

"Traitors" - Martin McGuinness' description of those who carried out attacks on a PSNI member in Craigavon and British solidiers in Antrim: "These people - they are traitors to the island of Ireland. They have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island. And they don't deserve to be supported by anyone."

On Saturday, gunmen opened fire on British soldiers at an army base in Antrim just hours before they were due to fly to Afghanistan on a tour of duty. Two soldiers were killed, and four others were injured, including a Polish pizza delivery man. Last night, Stephen Carroll (48), a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, was shot in an ambush in Craigavon, County Armagh. The Real IRA and Continuity IRA - both "dissident" Republican groups, have taken responsibility for the attacks.

The attacks prompted both fears that the attacks could destablise Northern Ireland's democratic government and revulsion from all sides of the province's traditionally divided society.

The attacks have also prompted Sinn Fein, political wing of the IRA and now active participants in Northern Ireland's government, to back the police forces in Northern Ireland in a manner which was unthinkable just a short time ago.
posted by tiny crocodile (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
ah, fuck
posted by mrzarquon at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2009

So far these attacks seem to have brought out better instincts in everyone. With the exception of the Daily Mail and its shit-stirring "Sinn Fein takes 14 hours to condemn attacks" story. Talk about finding fault. I hope this IRA splinter quickly realises that it has tragically misjudged the mood in the country.

On the subject of Associated Newspapers, I thought the London Lite's front-page headline "They Died as Heroes" [re the two soldiers killed while picking up a pizza] was a fresh low for that debased word "hero". I suppose to the right-wing press serving in the armed forces is pre-qualification for the accolade.
posted by WPW at 1:26 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

What do you make of a world where Polish pizza delivery boys are considered "legitimate targets"?
posted by stonepharisee at 1:35 PM on March 10, 2009

They should be treated as the criminal acts they are, not as some huge threat to the stability of Northern Ireland. That is giving these idiots more credit than they deserve. The only way they can "succeed" is for there to be an over-reaction. The sad fact is that it is remarkably easy to kill people, just look at the murder statistics for any large city.

The killers have minimal support in the republican community and seek only to provoke a reaction which could provide them with some legitimacy, we should work to avoid this. Check out Slugger O'Toole for lots of recent posts on this.
posted by knapah at 1:38 PM on March 10, 2009

Oh, and two men have been arrested in connection with the policeman shooting. One 17, one 37... can't say I'm surprised.
posted by knapah at 1:41 PM on March 10, 2009

Growing up in Northern Ireland in the eighties I remember the ring of steel around Belfast, the economic shitness due to lack of investment and the barricades separating communities.

Things have changed, and I really hope there is no going back. What does scare me, and I mentioned this to a few friends, is that our backward little culture needs more time of prosperity to mature, this economic crisis could not have come at a worse time.

It's a thin line between Unionism and fascism (I say this as someone who grew up Unionist) and these Bastards are trying to get a rise out of the Unionist community. They want the soldiers back on the streets to justify a war and I'm sure there are certain Unionists who would gleefully say "told you so".
posted by twistedonion at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Knapah - I couldn't agree more. But that's exactly how terrorism works - by provoking a reaction.

FYI your Slugger O'Toole link is broken.
posted by tiny crocodile at 1:44 PM on March 10, 2009
posted by pracowity at 1:51 PM on March 10, 2009

Oh, and two men have been arrested in connection with the policeman shooting. One 17, one 37... can't say I'm surprised.

The two sides have been trying earnestly to reconcile their differences and bring about peace before this man was born. He's a real icon of his generation, for sure.
posted by Sova at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2009

Sova, man? I know I wouldn't consider my 17 year old self a man, nevermind the vast majority of 17 year olds.

posted by Dysk at 2:11 PM on March 10, 2009

I just wrote a long response, but then lost it... so I'll start again.

Sorry about the link.

There is no need to overreact! This should be a criminal justice response to criminal acts. And taking on twistedonion's point about fascism and desire for troops back on the streets, it's pretty unlikely. British troops back on the streets of Northern Ireland would be unacceptable to the mainstream republican community and I would be stunned if the British authorities were stupid enough to jeopardise the support of Sinn Fein over something like that.

I can't see the SDLP or Sinn Fein agreeing to the remilitarisation of the North, and I've been reasonably impressed with the unity displayed by all the politicians in the last few days. I think the political structure is strong enough to cope with this rather obvious provocation and they should know that dealing with this through the criminal justice system is the right approach.
posted by knapah at 2:14 PM on March 10, 2009

17 year olds are rather easily manipulated. The mythos of Irish republicanism is an attractive one to many people, especially young people. This youth is certainly unrepresentative of young people in NI, just as his idiotic associates are unrepresentative of the republican community.
posted by knapah at 2:17 PM on March 10, 2009

I am so glad that Sinn Fein have come out and said what they did. Not that I was doubting that they would but it sends a clear message that these killings go against the mood of the country. I am so hoping that Unionists don't take this as bait, but if some do I'm pretty confident that they'll be marginalized too. It's sad that this has happened but it's also pretty remarkable that it's been a whole ten years since anything like this occurred. I think that people have seen what peace actually is like and they will do anything not to go back to the troubles again. At least that's my very great hope.
posted by ob at 3:00 PM on March 10, 2009

The reason I made the post was Sinn Fein's response to it. To see Martin McGuinness speaking shoulder to shoulder with Hugh Orde and Peter Robinson and condemn these attacks in those's an historic moment. Hopefully for positive reasons.
posted by tiny crocodile at 3:07 PM on March 10, 2009

Sova, man? I know I wouldn't consider my 17 year old self a man, nevermind the vast majority of 17 year olds.


For better or worse (but definitely in this case worse), I'm thinking that he considers himself a man.

(Seriously though, I spend a lot of time around eighteen year old men and women, and I'm actually generally impressed with their maturity.)
posted by Sova at 3:12 PM on March 10, 2009

Tiny Crocodile I share your reasons for posting. Growing up in the 70's and 80's in Cork, I honestly never believed I would see the day Martin McGuiness would go on the record like that. What a breath of fresh air.
Gerry Adams also condemned the attacks wholeheartedly.

It seems like a pissing competition among some of the do-do factions of republicanism, you can almost hear the thought process of that 37 year old who was arrested:-

"OMG! "The People's Front of Judea" has killed two soldiers and wounded some Polish Pizza Delivery guys. And the whole world is looking! What are we, the "Judean People's Front" going to do about it? (Life of Brian ref if you have to ask)

"I know! Remember that 17 yr old kid who was all, "why can't I make a Republican version of Dungeons's and Dragons and incorporate my love of eviscerating animals into it?" at the last Republican Schism meeting. Let's get him and go shoot a symbol of the oppressive regime while the Press are around, ya know?"

When you look back on this period in Ireland's history, ask yourself why there are no serial killers. Guess where they were gainfully employed?
Oh, yeah.
Well that Peace Process, huh. (I guess some didn't like unemployment)

Actually, no. Serial killers are generally intelligent. I take that back.

When I see the level of investment that has gone into NI over the last 10 years I think how awful.
When I think of the quality of life and prospects for the majority of people there over the last 10 years, and the timing, I just want to cry.
posted by Wilder at 3:22 PM on March 10, 2009

Sometimes - often, perhaps - the grievance comes second. The desire to hate and kill comes first, and then grubs around in the shit for its excuse.

I found this article linked to from a discussion on knapah's link. Whilst The Times is a bit right-wing for me, I have to say that this article is pretty good and links quite nicely with Wilder's point.
posted by ob at 3:29 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just want to point out quickly that I wasn't saying the post was bad in any way, I'm just thoroughly disgusted with these criminals and irritated by the media paroxysms it has induced.
posted by knapah at 3:40 PM on March 10, 2009

Wilder said:
> Gerry Adams also condemned the attacks wholeheartedly.

Hardly. I'm happy he condemned it at all, but it certainly wasn't wholehearted. I'm surprised and impressed by Martin McGuinnes though.

I left Ireland, a happier, richer, more peaceful, hugely more prosperous country nine years ago to come to Australia. And the past decade I've often looked back wistfully.

The past six months everything's gone to shit. And now the Troubles may be returning?

Jesus Fucking Christ.

I read somewhere an interview with an IRA man. He said basically that people all it takes is a couple of guys and somewhere to hide a few rifles to perpetuate this madness. Sad, but true. Let's hope the PSNI and Garda Síochána find those fuckers.
posted by Mephisto at 4:16 PM on March 10, 2009

This isn't the Troubles returning. That's the type of hyperbole we're hearing through the media, and it's frankly a load of rubbish. This is totally new territory we're in now, Sinn Fein are entrenched in government - and working with the DUP! - and this is actually uniting rather than dividing the communities.

So, provided we don't fall into the trap of reacting to their provocation and bringing British troops back onto the streets or bring in repressive "anti-terrorism" measures, this can be dealt with through the channels we'd normally utilise to deal with sociopaths.

Furthermore, where before there could have been an argument for the actions of republican militants being "legitimate political violence", that is no longer possible. The support for these imbeciles is minimal whereas opposition spans the political spectrum of Northern Ireland to such an extent that a former IRA commander (Martin McGuinness (right) - Deputy First Minister) and a man who once "invaded" the Republic of Ireland and who was involved in Ulster Resistance (Peter Robinson - First Minister) can stand together alongside the head of the PSNI. As has been said above, that is an incredible thing. I hope the killers are caught and brought to trial in front of the mutual condemnation of both communities of Northern Ireland.
posted by knapah at 4:57 PM on March 10, 2009

Both words in "Peter Robinson" are links to pictures by the way. First is of him as he invaded Clontibret, Co. Monaghan, the second is of him at the founding meeting of the Ulster Resistance paramilitary group.
posted by knapah at 4:59 PM on March 10, 2009

I said "And now the Troubles may be returning?"

Emphasis added this time, in case the critical adverb above is not obvious.

Almost every single media report and commentary piece has said or implied the same thing. Concern that terrorism may be returning to Ireland. Three people murdered in less than 48 hours, under the guise of "Republicanism" is worrying. They were terrorist acts, so therefore asking whether we're seeing a return to the bad old days is entirely acceptable.

I'm not being alarmist. I'm expressing a deeply felt sense of worry, sadness and revulsion. Hyperbole it is not.
posted by Mephisto at 5:07 PM on March 10, 2009

As you say "almost every single media report..." may be saying it, but what I'm saying is that the media are part of the problem. I agree with your sentiments, I just want to emphasise that these incidents are being overhyped.
posted by knapah at 5:18 PM on March 10, 2009

Aren't these groups splinter groups of a splinter group of a splinter group of the IRA?
posted by kirkaracha at 5:20 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

kirkaracha, people who know far more about all this than I inform me that all of these can now be classified as 'dissident republicans'. The extent to which any of these groups actually exists in any meaningful manner is debatable (see: Al-Qaeda). A handful of men and a couple of AKs can, as we are all too aware, still wreak just about enough havok to make the news. They shouldn't, however, have us quaking in our boots, exactly.
posted by Dysk at 5:57 PM on March 10, 2009



But what's your point? A bullet to the back of your head will still kill you.

Fucking wankers.
posted by Mephisto at 6:16 PM on March 10, 2009

Mephisto- Yeah, its just a bunch of wankers with guns and ideas. They are not organized, well funded or have a support network.

The fact that both parties are very clearly drawing this distinction is important. These guys do not have the support of the "people," they are not the tip of the ice berg, etc. The reaction to this, has so far, been fairly responsive.

For a while there will be a minority who are unhappy with their current situation, blame it on the government and establishment, and who will act out violently against the system. It may spark tensions, but it appears people are acting civily this time around.

I think for most people in the North they have gained much more from the cease fire than they would if it were to go back to violence. One could see this is just the action of individuals who have lost their power/prestige/money because they aren't freedom fighters anymore, and recruiting some disaffected youths to be their new foot soldiers for their lost war.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:18 PM on March 10, 2009

I'm no expert, but haven't the more extreme and violent paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland always outflanked the more moderate and peaceful political groups? The Democratic Unionist Party took over from the Ulster Unionists. Sinn Fein took over from the SDLP. As the old saying goes "The people of Northern Ireland will do anything for peace except vote for it." Isn't the concern that the same process is just starting up now?
posted by alasdair at 12:57 AM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

This article in the Irish News (from knapah's link to Slugger O'Toole) has a pretty good analysis for the reasoning behind these attacks, in my view. In a nutshell, the goals are to embarrass Sinn Fein, to throw a spanner in the works of next week's visit to the White House (Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are due to meet Obama), and to provoke a response from the security forces.

Personally, I don't think the CIRA or RIRA or the rest want political power at all - they simply want to drive a wedge between the parties in government, and get the army back on the streets. Because that will lead to support for their "armed struggle" and give them street power, which they have lost in the last decade. These guys used to be able to rob, murder and intimidate with impunity within their own community. They want to regain and maintain that position.
posted by tiny crocodile at 2:43 AM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

What is Polish pizza? Kielbasa instead of sausage?
posted by Eideteker at 2:47 AM on March 11, 2009

I note people are saying 'surely the Brits wouldn't re-militarise'. Well, it depends what you mean.

The context is that the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, in response to what he said was the highest level of threat from splinter Republican groups for many years, recently brought special forces back in. That was vigorously opposed by Republicans.

Immediate reaction to the recent events in some quarters was that the Chief Constable's action was vindicated. Now I understand it's being said in some other quarters that the reintroduction of special forces caused or provoked the recent attacks. This kind of dichotomy of interpretation - legitimate response to danger or inflammatory unprovoked provocation? - is depressingly familliar.
posted by Phanx at 6:03 AM on March 11, 2009

This is just a few disorganized asshats using the troubles as a cover for their violent actions. If not this, something else would be their excuse for such barbarism.

It's been 8 years since some fucker at a bar has ask me to give money to help out with the troubles. I don't see that starting up again.
posted by Mick at 7:17 AM on March 11, 2009

WPW: You mean to say that the Daily Fail took some time off from their busy schedule of shaming female celebrities for being too thin, too fat, getting old and/or going out without makeup? Well, how about that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2009

(Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are due to meet Obama)
Already cancelled 24 hours ago because of this. DC will have to have a parade with bands exhibiting mostly Scottish cultural artifacts instead of Irish ones without them.
posted by genghis at 9:54 PM on March 11, 2009

Genghis, where are you getting that? I haven't seen it reported anywhere.
posted by tiny crocodile at 2:08 AM on March 12, 2009

For the record: Obama meets Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness.
posted by tiny crocodile at 10:35 AM on March 18, 2009

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