October 04, 2006

A War on Terror Over

Terrorism ending not with a bang, but a whimper:

The Irish Republican Army has begun reducing its membership and shut down key units responsible for weapons-making, arms smuggling and training, an expert panel reported Wednesday in findings designed to spur a revival of Catholic-Protestant cooperation in Northern Ireland.

The British and Irish governments warmly welcomed the 60-page assessment of the Independent Monitoring Commission, a four-man panel that includes former directors of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the anti-terrorist unit of Scotland Yard.

The assessment reported that the IRA — which last year declared a formal end to its campaign to overthrow Northern Ireland by force and handed its weapons stockpiles to disarmament chiefs — had recently shut down three command units and "run down its terrorist capability.''
The report said the IRA has disbanded military structures, including the departments responsible for weapons procurement, engineering and training, and it had cut back rank-and-file members and stopped payments to them, the report said.

"We do not believe that PIRA is now engaged in terrorism," it added, using the group's full formal name of Provisional IRA. "We do not believe that PIRA is undertaking terrorist-type training. We do not believe that PIRA has been recruiting. ... The leadership is seeking to reduce the size of the organization. We have no evidence of targeting, procurement or engineering activity.''

The commission said the leadership of the IRA does not consider a return to terrorism as in any way a viable option and it continues to direct its members not to engage in criminal activity.

The Provisional IRA, (PIRA or "Provos") first emerged in 1969 to end Northern Ireland's status within the United Kingdom and force a united socialist Irish state through terrorist attacks. "The Troubles" lasted from the late 1960s until the late 1990s.

After 30 years of war, and an occasionally broken cease-fire measured in years, the Provos turned in their weaponry—thousands of small arms, grenades, some heavy machine guns and even surface-to-air missiles—in 2005. A year later, comand and control elements are slowly dismantling and recruitment has stopped.

The Provos called it the "Long War," and convincing arguments can be made that this was a sectarian conflict, or even a civil war.

The PIRA and other nationalist groups were only willing to negotiate a political settlement once they determined after decades of low-intensity warfare that loyalists and the British Army were not leaving. They finally accepted the inevitable, that they could not beat an indigenous government supported by its own military and police forces and strong external interests acting on the government's behalf.

Somehow, this all seems vaguely reassuring.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 4, 2006 02:54 PM | TrackBack

The Troubles started long before the 1960s. Rather more like the Battle of the Boyne, followed by Cromwell's invasion and the continuing occupation.

Posted by: ProudIrish at October 4, 2006 05:04 PM

It has been the last of the tribal wars in the British Isles, carried on with all the lingering resentments over mutual retaliations that tribal wars always have.

I think the Irish economic boom has had a lot to do with this finally resolving. The offering of return citizenship to children and grandchildren of the Irish brought in people who had seen life without tribal warfare. The lesson the Americans have by and large given to the world has been "Get a damn job, and you'll find that these things don't loom so large anymore. Land and territory matters less when you're mobile."

Next up: the Romanians and the Hungarians. Just get a damn job.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at October 4, 2006 07:37 PM

Another factor in the decline of the Provos is that they were once linked to other terror organizations which are now defunct (Red Army Faction) or on hard times (PLO/Fatah), and that Irish Americans simply got tired of under-the-table funding a Marxist-oriented terror group.

Posted by: chsw10605 at October 4, 2006 10:10 PM

One other thing that changed; whether you live in County Antrim or County Mayo, everyone travels with an E.U. passport.

Posted by: Tom TB at October 5, 2006 04:27 AM