An Irishman's Diary


There's a problem when you create political anti-gravity to sustain what would otherwise be unsustainable deadweight: the deadweight begins to think that this is the natural order of things. So thank you, Martin Ferris, for reminding us that your understanding of democracy is barely more advanced than it was when you were an arms smuggler and a member of the most barbarous terrorist movement in Europe.

When you complained, in genuinely hurt tones, about the refusal of Fianna Fáil to countenance a coalition government with Sinn Féin while it has an IRA attached to it, you asked a good question or two: "How come it is tenable for Sinn Féin to participate in the six counties and in the Ministerial Council side by side with the Taoiseach's Cabinet colleagues? Is it because the Taoiseach regards the IRA as legitimate in that jurisdiction, but not in this?"

There is the question. Why is it all right for Sinn Féin, with its upper ranks all but identical with the upper ranks of the IRA Army Council, to share power with unionists in the North, but not all right for it to share power with Fianna Fáil in the Republic? Where is the logic and justice in all this? There is, of course, neither; the peace process not merely has created a corrupt political dispensation in Northern Ireland, but it has also given those associated with terrorism utterly unreal expectations of what they are naturally entitled to, and what they must do in return.

For different rules apply to them: they are playing American football while the rest of us are playing beach volley-ball, yet no one reminds them of this. Sinn Féin's burly linebackers charge through the ranks of comely democrats, with their bikinis and sheeny Brazilian waxes, and they think this is the natural order of things. They do not see the endless accommodations which bind volley-ballers' civil society, and if they are not made to see them by the volley-ballers, how can they be expected to see them unaided? Sinn Féin is the beneficiary of a political fix which has been specially tailored to suit it - and also to stop its armed wing turning the City of London into a car park. It should be repeatedly reminded of this. Instead, in a corruption of truth, logic and democracy that is as bizarre as it is degraded, the good is turned into the bad; and the bad the good; and illogic into logic.

For example, go back four years. The RUC got a warning from an anonymous "informer" that the the Continuity IRA was going to attack police officers outside Omagh using Kalashnikovs and RPG-7s. The CIRA had neither Kalshnikovs nor RPG-7s. It also got a report from another, unreliable informer that someone smelt of fertiliser. You cannot fashion from these two worthless fragments a conclusion that the Real IRA was going to blow Omagh apart - unless, that is, you are Nuala O'Loan, and are capable of producing such syllogistic gobbledegook.

Instead of her report being treated with the ridicule we haven't seen since Widgery, it was used as a cudgel to hammer the RUC, most notably on BBC television by Sinn Féin's Pat Doherty, who has, incidentally, been named in both in the House of Commons and in the Northern Ireland Assembly as being on the IRA's Army Council.

On Newsnight he demanded that MI5's files on the Omagh bombing be opened. Far from being treated with ridicule, and even though Ken Maginnis repeated in the studio the allegation about his Army Council membership, his claim that the RUC was implicated in the Omagh bombing was taken perfectly seriously by the BBC interviewer.

For that was the matter which was then pursued, not Doherty's membership of the IRA Army Council, nor whether demands for full MI5 disclosure should not also extend to his own extensive file. And if this wasn't bad enough, worse, far worse was to come in a later edition of Newsnight, when the RUC Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan, the bravest of the brave, the best of the best, was harangued, harried and hectored, with once again O'Loan's vapourings providing a very unvapourous weapon with which to club him.

This is the moral universe that the peace process has created: a member of the IRA Army Council is treated with decorous respect by the BBC, but the police officer who led the campaign against the IRA, and who lost some 300 of his colleagues to terrorism , is vilified as if he were the terrorist.

All, all of a piece throughout: thy chase had a beast in view. Thy wars brought nothing about. Thy lovers were all untrue. . . So now, in this diseased peace process, guess which force has been disbanded: the IRA or the RUC? The peace process has created a world without consequence for the IRA. It can expel inconvenient people from Ireland, or can even murder them, and with no political repercussions for Sinn Féin. Is it really surprising that Martin Ferris is so indignant that Fianna Fáil won't consider a coalition with Sinn Féin? How can such as he be expected to know our rules, when we have systematically corrupted them to make them fit his requirements? It is almost laughable; but it is not.