The Brouhaha that arose and is on going over the murder of South Armagh man Paul Quinn was inevitable and will be repeated unless the PIRA chain of command is finally stood down. Lord Laird, a man who would walk across burning coals if it enabled him to get one over on Republicans, has named those who he claims took part in this brutal killing, he also said the men he named are members of the South Armagh PIRA. That Laird chose to name these men in the British House of Lords in itself displays this man’s lack of democratic credentials and high principle.
However some within Sinn Fein have hardly played a constructive role when commenting on this especially nasty killing. Some supporters of SF have gone on line to excuse those who carried out the act as they ‘never meant to kill Mr Quinn”, simply give him a good beating I suppose, as if that matters for the fact is they did kill the poor lad. Others have got to work with SF’s tried and tested smear and innuendo machine, pouring poison out about Mr Quinn being a local hood and fuel smuggler to boot, which coming from them is a tad rich and one would have thought the less said about fuel smugglers the better. I wish certain members of SF would think before they go down the aforementioned road, as they seem oblivious to the fact that by muddying the water in such a way they are playing into their enemies hands.
That IMC Commissioners John Grieve and Lord Alderdice have become involved in the aftermath of the death of this young man, means there is a bigger picture here and the UK government intends to use Mr Quinn’s unfortunate death as a means to nudge the Provisional Republican Movement to go the whole hog and disband the PIRA for good. It is hard to argue against this course as few can envisage the Provos returning to war, not least because there simply is no appetite for armed struggle within its own ranks let alone within the working class nationalist communities of the north.
These things do take time, as the behavior of the UDA has recently reminded us all, and it would be foolish for the leaderships of these para-military organizations to get out of step with their foot soldiers, for if they were to move to fast, other leaders would simple emerge from within the ranks and push them aside or worse. However the second PIRA ceasefire is ten years old; and whatever I may think of them, the political institutions set in place by the Peace Process are ticking over adequately as far as the north’s main political parties are concerned, Sinn Fein included.
So all that remains is the PIRA chain of command, which the Adams leadership was understandably reluctant to stand down for fear of loosing control of the Provisional Movement over issues like policing. As it was Mr Adam’s was forced to call many of SF’s members to attention to get his policies through the various SF Ard-Fheiseanna that have taken place since 1986 and which have turned many of the party’s core policies on their heads.
Never the less with members of SF throughout the north gradually taking up their places on the local police committees, Mr Adams and his leadership colleagues have all but won this internal party battle. Future differences within SF will be along more recognizable ideological lines and will in all probability be about organizational, economic and social matters.
What we have seen demonstrated with the death of young Paul Quinn, is that the only role the PIRA command structures now plays, is the ability for local Brigand command’s to demand of their local communities that they show them respect, whether they deserve it or not, or else there will be hell to pay, as Paul Quinn found out to his cost.
As many a returning solder in the USA and UK learnt to their cost at the end of WW2, their war record counted for diddle squat once that war came to an end; and the sooner they recognized this fact, the better for them and society as a whole. Sadly a minority of these returning servicemen could not accept this fact and put the skills they learnt in the military to use by becoming criminals and preying on their own people. However most did not, they had done their bit for their country and moved on; and entered civey street as productive citizens and the same is true of the overwhelming majority of former PIRA volunteers.
The leadership of the PIRA must take the final step and ask Gerry Adams to send a last message down the Óglaigh Na hÉireann chain of command, that as the war is over it is time for the organizations chain of command, whether at local or Army Council level to stand down and exist no more*. For in a civil society respect has to be earned by every day behavior, not demanded as of right due to the organization one has given loyalty too. Republicans leave such servility to the likes of the British monarchy and street corner hoods.
* Bar a small headquarters staff which would have the responsibility of overseeing the standing down.