Thursday, July 28, 2005

Take them at their word?

There has been much rejoicing at the announcement that the IRA is about to renounce political violence. But forgive me if I'm not going to join in, straight away at least. Let's just think what would happen if, say, Al-Qaeda or Hamas were to publish a similar statement today. We'd want to hang back a little bit to see whether or not they meant it, surely? After all, actions speak louder than words, and we all know that it was storms over decommissioned arms that helped to derail the peace process so much in the first place.

Besides, it isn't as if the IRA aren't known for hypocrisy. The Irish government was saying just at the turn of the year that whilst Sinn Fein were sat at the negotiation table in the peace process, the Northern Bank was being raided. In 1996 a ceasefire was broken by an announcement of a bomb at Canary Wharf. The long term denial of involvement of leading Sinn Fein figures in the IRA, when experts say otherwise, is further proof.

Now, there's a lot to lose if decommissioning isn't transparent. But the falling away of interest in Africa after the events of July 7th show how things can slip from the top of the agenda. I'd be surprised if the IRA didn't stop their political violence now. In fact, I'd be absolutely amazed, as it would destroy the credibility of Sinn Fein. Yet until there is proper, clear evidence, I'm going to keep the champagne on ice.