DT Comment – IRA and Labour

Boris Johnson puts the Government on a par with the IRA:

Both the Government and IRA seem content to ignore due process of law, and both are wrong.

Labour and the IRA have much in common

We are so used to the wiliness of Sinn Fein/IRA that we forget their capacity to say and do things that are so gloriously stupid as to be almost touching.

First, there was the robbery of the bank, in which IRA operatives swiped £26 million, and then discovered that a good deal of the notes would be taken out of circulation. Now that piece of boneheadedness has been triumphantly eclipsed.

Without any sense of irony, and without any apparent awareness of the horror of what they were suggesting, the thugs and creeps of the IRA have proposed a new approach to criminal justice. You will remember the tragic case of Robert McCartney, the Belfast man killed by IRA supporters after a row in a city centre bar. You will have seen how Mr McCartney’s sisters are causing Sinn Fein/IRA increasing embarrassment, and how they are rightly demanding punishment for those who slit their brother from navel to sternum, gouged out his eye and stamped on his head.

Worse, from the point of view of Sinn Fein/IRA, the revulsion has spread to America, still the chief source of their funds. Armed republicanism is in crisis, and in desperation the IRA has made an offer that is as typical as it is surreal.

“Tell you what,” the gangsters have said to the bereaved family, “we’ll sort it out for you. We’ll shoot the people that did it!”

Brilliant, eh? That’s the IRA solution for murder, folks. More murder. Is there anybody who could excuse this kind of barbarity? But of course there is. There is good old Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein. Was he appalled, was he horrified, was he disgusted by this offer to liquidate another human being – or several – without trial?

Oh no, he was merely “surprised”. Was it nauseating that these people were prepared to kill members of their own community, even though we are constantly told that they are on a “ceasefire”? Well, said Mr McGuinness, with a lifetime’s experience of apologising for terror, let us look on the bright side. “I think the difficulty about this particular sentence in the statement is that it takes away from an awful lot of the positive stuff,” he said.

The positive stuff, Martin? Remind me, what positive stuff can we thank the IRA for these days? You mean the drugs running and the cretinous bank robberies and the punishment beatings and the continual refusal to hand over IRA weapons?

Listening to Sinn Fein, as it struggles to put the best gloss on IRA actions, one is struck by the amazing irony of the Government’s current “war on terror”. Westminster has been convulsed in the past few days by a Bill whose central provision is that the state should be able to detain, without trial, anyone whom the Home Secretary “has reasonable grounds for suspecting of being involved in a terrorism-related activity”.

And if we study article eight of the Bill, we find that a “terrorism-related activity” is very widely drawn. It can be nothing more than “conduct that gives support or assistance to individuals who are known or believed to be involved in terrorism-related activity”.

Now, we do not have to make any extreme claims for the activities of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to see how they are perfectly captured by this description. Not even their dearest friends would deny – not even they themselves would deny – that they have spent 30 years engaged in exactly that “terrorism-related” conduct, and giving exactly that kind of support or assistance.

In all logic, therefore, they ought to be the first people to be banged up by Charles Clarke, if and when he gets his monstrous Bill through. If anyone appeared to deserve a control order, it is the high command of Sinn Fein/IRA; and in a way it would be rather wonderful to see Gerry, Martin and the whole flaming lot of them locked up in their homes, stripped of their mobiles, and prevented from going to be lionised at Guardian literary festivals.

Of course, it won’t happen; and, much as I might be sentimentally attracted to the idea, I would of course oppose it, because I believe the control order – the suspension of habeas corpus – to be wrong in principle; and the same rule must apply to every person in this country, that if the authorities have enough evidence against him or her to incarcerate him or her, then they must have enough evidence to put that person on trial.

Yesterday Tony Blair repeated his claim that this measure was no more than the “advice” of the security services. Well, I don’t think that is a good enough reason for suspending habeas corpus; and if we are seriously being asked to lock people up on the say-so of the intelligence services, then I feel obliged to remind you that it was the intelligence services who brought us the WMD fiasco.

The more I listen to Labour ministers on this subject, the more I suspect that control orders have been pushed to the fore as an electoral device, to neutralise the advantage the Tories have claimed on asylum. It is a cynical attempt to pander to the many who think the world would be a better place if dangerous folk with dusky skins were just slammed away, and never mind a judicial proceeding; and, given the strength of this belief among good Tory folk, it is heroic of the Tories to oppose the Bill.

We do so because the removal of this ancient freedom is not only unnecessary, but it is also a victory for terror. It is an erosion of the very rights that we are struggling to promulgate in Iraq and elsewhere; and, in a key sense, it puts the Government on a par with the idiot IRA men who offer to shoot murderers.

Both the Government and IRA seem content to ignore due process of law, and both are wrong.

25 thoughts on “DT Comment – IRA and Labour”

  1. I concur fully and without reservation that the leaders of the IRA should be the primary target for the new Anti-Terror legislation.

  2. Good article.

    At some point there has to be a recognition that ‘terrorism’ is an ideology that must be defeated by the values of the open society, by open intellectual argument, not by administrative measures. That is why it is so important to put terrorists in court.

  3. Boris Speaks: The IRA and Labour

    Boris has written a stunning article likening the offer of the IRA to shoot a man to the Government’s position on what are euphemistically called ‘control orders’. Boris has moved up in my estimation again. The man is a gem…

  4. And Boris’s point: Internment was a disaster last time round, and here is a government of arrogant fools that learns not from mistakes.

  5. Oh, for goodness sake, Boris. What a load of rubbish! It was poorly written and badly “argued” enough to impress Simon Holledge, which should have told you something.

    And can’t you drop the “poor man’s Wodehouse” style? Wodehouse is a hugely overrated writer and it gets wearing at second-hand and outdated by half a century.

    The piece was so bad I gave up before the end out of sheer boredom and found something better to do.

    Labour and the IRA. Yeah, right. Every time Mr Howard aks an awkward question of Mr Blair at Prime MInister’s questions, he goes in fear of being shot by the Labour backbenchers – I don’t think. All we need now is for Labour to claim that the Tories are to be compared with the Nazi party. Let’s all descend to the gutter. That’ll really get us somewhere.

    Truth takes a back seat when ambition beckons.

    I thought New Labour was dishonest enough, but you’re starting to match them every time. I’m afraid I’ve no more inclination to trust anything you say than Mrs Johnson must have these days.

  6. Having grown up in Northern Ireland I found this comparison between an elected politician, of any party and a murderer a cheap shot, insulting and sickening.

    I’m disgusted at the attempt to use the death of someone as part of device to pain the tories as heros.

  7. “I found this comparison between an elected politician, of any party and a murderer a cheap shot, insulting and sickening.”

    Tell that to the Iraqi women and children. Or those in Afghanistan. Of course, you are right. Comparing a murderer and a mass murderer-by-proxy is unfair.

    What is worse, though, is Michael Howard doing TV shows – when he should be in The Commons voting against Liebours afronts to Liberty and Justice! Poor show! Sack him, and put Boris in charge. You know it makes sense!

  8. “Having grown up in Northern Ireland I found this comparison between an elected politician, of any party and a murderer a cheap shot, insulting and sickening.”

    Barry, while I agree that the link Boris has made may be a bit tenuous, I disagree that you can’t compare some elected politicians to murderers. After all, many of the elected NI politicians while maybe not being murderers, certainly have a lot of links to them.

    And Boris should be well aware that interment has been tried against the IRA before when Ted Heath introduced it in 1971. In fact Gerry Adams was one of those interned. It should also be remembered that ‘bloody sunday’ started off as a peaceful protest march against internment, and we all know what that lead to. Maybe the tories have learnt the lessons of the past and this is why they are against it now. A shame Tony doesn’t seem to read history, or seem to be worried that his war on terror will only swell the ranks of the terrorists as happened in NI at that time.

    Keep up the fight Boris, and don’t let Tony give people a reason to turn to terrorism.

  9. OK, I should have excluded certain Northern Ireland MPs

    Of course it’s not just irony for the UK, the US still does not treat the IRA as a terrorist organisation and NORAID is still allowed to raise money.

    It is, of course, also ironic that the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1984 was held to be breaching article 5 (3) of the human rights act, albeit in a minor way compared to the latest attempt. Can we remember who brought that in?

    It appears the Tory memory is short for these things, they’re guilty of the some of same offences they now accuse Labour of trying, first ID cards and now this. Bandwagons switch sides with government it seems, but hitching a violent death to your bandwagon is a disgusting action.

  10. On the similarity between the IRA and Labour I think that Boris has a point. Unfortunately the weakness of this point is that it cannot be stretched very far.

    Still, keep going Boris and some dazzling argument will come in due course.

  11. I agree Barry – the US couldn’t be any more hypocritical when it comes to supporting terrorists. At least they’re not inviting SF to the whitehouse this year for the St Patricks party..

    To be honest, sometimes I’m not really sure what the difference between labour and the tories are?

  12. This is a fine article – Sinn Fein/IRA have really haven’t yet ‘got’ the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
    On the subject of the current Bill here’s one question I would like put to the phoney Tony and his cronies. Do they think Norman Tebbit and Margaret Thatcher should have had these powers at the height of the miners’ strike?

  13. It seems to me that this disgusting legislation will be passed purely because yet again Labour backbenchers have sold their souls to Tony, and for what? Cutting off their nose to spite their faces, stupidly voting to put the boot into the conservatives for the most childish of reasons.

    No matter, either one of the next 2 elections and the now imminent demise of phoney Tony will put the morally defunct labour er, persons back where they belong; on the fringe.

  14. “To be honest, sometimes I’m not really sure what the difference between labour and the tories are?”
    Posted by: Wifey

    Labour are in power…but the tories still get to take the blame

  15. Psimon, very funny!

    The latest example of this phenomenon was when the government released, today, people described by Tony Blair as “dangerous”, and he warned that if any atrocity took place in the run up to the elections then it would be on the heads of the Conservatives.

    I mean, why release dangerous people when the Home Secretary could comfortably have extended his existing powers all by himself without the agreement of the commons or the lords. And is Tony trying to tell us that if this measure to remove our basic rights goes through then he will round up a bunch of people who could otherwise attack us? At time of writing it seems likely that agreement will be reached, so let’s all count how many “suspicious people” are locked away between now and the elections.

    Nah, I think it’s plain that this is merely political cover and (unfortunately) the conservatives and (to a lesser extent) the lib dems have provided it. Howard won’t be able to bang on about the government being weak…

    I remember wondering in early 2003 if we should go to war against Iraq. I remember the anti-war arguments that this would incite Middle Eastern terrorism and also make our country more vulnerable to terrorism. It seems to me that whatever the rights and wrongs of sorting out Saddam this is one argument that has come true. Strange that although Blair can now beat his drum about the dangers of terrorism in this country he can get off taking responsibility for raising that danger through his very actions.

  16. The IRA and Labour … are you on psychedelic drugs or something, Boris? Perhaps you’re taking a leaf out of Hunter S. Thompson’s book of “gonzo” journalism – don’t write till you’re out of your skull. Jeez, I should take more water with it, if I were you …

    I hold no torch for any political party, but that’s a bit rich isn’t it?

    Anyway, this column is now outdated: Michael Howard has cut a deal with Blair:


    I’m also surprised that you can get through a whole column on this issue without mentioning the key factor here: the EU.

    Labour’s signing of the Human Rights act into law caused this whole problem. You must know that. So It seems we have a dog that didn’t bark in the night.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm … I wonder why.


  17. Thank you Boris and very well said! Glad someone is raising this point, because it is truly criminal. I think that Mr Blair seems to think that only islamists can be terrorists and forgets about the murderers on our doorsteps.

  18. There seems to be an undertone of arrogance on the subject of the Irish among many of the English elites, almost as if Ireland were an English colony, and it’s people beneath you. Perhaps this is the deep seated source of Boris’s anti-scouser prejudice.

    You can’t blame Sinn Fein for the actions of a bunch of drunk thugs anymore than you can blame the British government for the rabble of thugs who abused the Iraqi prisoners.

    Best stay out of Irish politics altogether. The more the Irish hear you patronising them, the more likely they will vote Sinn Fein to spite you. It is worth noting that they have gone up several percentage points in recent polls.

  19. Monkey says the English( whatever happened to British)tend to treat Ireland as a colony. The reverse is true : more and more from Eire are , in time honoured , colonist manner ,without let and hindrance settling here. It was ever the case: and why not? Despite the differences, mainly in religion, there are many similarities which bind the two countries,almost inexorably , together. History is made as much today as yesterday. Forget the criminal element; criminals have their own allegiance. Non criminals normally give theirs to the human race, to which perhaps even Monkey would allow the English to belong.

  20. Read Boris’s interview with Clare Short in ‘lend me your ears’. He calls her a ‘fenian’. If a Scottish MP ever did that he’d be forced to resign.

    By the way, that book has no index! You have to sift through it page by page to find what you want 🙁

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