Monday, February 21, 2005

IRA subversion

Scotland on Sunday carries a fairly mindblowing piece on the IRA's (alleged) attempt to subvert the political process in the Republic of Ireland

There is now a belief that the finance operation uncovered is intended to fund a massive campaign to subvert politics in the Republic of Ireland, undermining its political parties and institutions. Gardai now talk in apocalyptic terms. The scheme is, they say, the IRA’s banking system to be used to overthrow the government of Ireland.

A key part of the grandiose plan was the subverting of Sinn Fein’s political opposition. The IRA is in the process of building a black propaganda campaign to attack members of the Irish parliament and other elected representatives. Across the country, the IRA has been spying on members of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Progressive Democrats. Units of IRA volunteers, under the guise of Sinn Fein "activists", have been building up dossiers on members of opposing political parties. This information is to be used to destroy the careers of politicians and public figures at key points in the run-up to the next Irish general election, in which Sinn Fein hopes to establish itself as a major presence in the Dail.

Run that by me again. They want to overthrow the government of Ireland? I struggle to get my head around the implications.

The article goes on:
Gardai believe that the IRA has turned itself into a criminal organisation comparable to the Mafia in the US. It has, they say, become a threat to the institutions of democracy.

It will be an appalling fate for the whole island of Ireland if the terrorist arm of the IRA is silenced, but the mafia arm grows and prospers. In May, there is a huge decision to be made by Nationalist voters in the North. Will they support parties that abide by the rule of law, paid for by their supporters, and engaging in civilised debate? Or will it be a party that robs, threatens, murders and extorts? They will live with the effects of that decision for a long time. If they choose the democratic path, they could sink the IRA once and for all. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.