What we have we hold - INLA

nidhighe@SPAMirsm.org nidhighe
Sat Apr 28 08:51:16 MDT 2001


North Belfast News
28 April 2001

What we have we hold - INLA

The INLA will not disarm nor stand down its volunteers as part of the
Good Friday Agreement, a spokesman for the INLA leadership told the
North Belfast News last night.

In an extensive interview this week the leadership of the INLA
stated: "The INLA will not stand down our volunteers, now or in
the future, the history of sectarian attacks by loyalists show that
it would be extreme folly for any republican grouping to even think
of relaxing vigilance.

"The INLA has always said that our role was always more than that
of a liberation army.

"We are a socialist army, we continue to recruit and to train our
membership.

"The INLA will continue to exist now and in the future."

Revealing that it was monitoring ongoing loyalist attacks against the
nationalist community, the spokesman said:

"We are concerned with the ongoing loyalist attacks on the
nationalist working class and we constantly review the situation.

"If the people request our assistance we will take action on the
basis of a measured response."

And insisting that it would not be decommissioning, the INLA man
said:

"The INLA has always believed that the issue of decommissioning
is a non starter and one that is being used by the British and
unionists to destabilise the current political climate.

"It is of absolutely no consequence on the ground, it is as easy
to rearm as it is to decommission.

"As Irish republicans we have every right, not only to demand the
dismantling of the British military machine, but also the disarming
of the unionist community, which has been used by the British to
undermine any potential Irish democracy.

"The decommissioning issue is clearly a red herring."

Full interview text...

As part of an ongoing look at how the various paramilitaries see the
future, Barry McCaffrey speaks to the leadership of the INLA, and
asks what the future holds in store for the republican grouping.

"It is nearly three years since the Irish National Liberation
Army declared its ceasefire on the basis of the analysis of the IRSP.

"The outcome of the joint referenda was a clear result, it was we
believe a clear indication by the people of Ireland that they wished
political groupings to pursue their political campaigns rather than
pursue their military ones.

"The INLA decided that it would respect the wishes of the people
of Ireland and declared a cessation of our 24-year military
campaign."

When asked could the organisation envisage a situation in which it
would stand down the INLA leadership replied.

"The INLA will not stand down our volunteers, now or in the
future, the history of sectarian attacks by loyalists show that it
would be extreme folly for any republican grouping to even think of
relaxing vigilance.

"The INLA has always said that our role was always more than that
of a liberation army. We are a socialist army, we continue to recruit
and to train our membership.

"The INLA will continue to exist now and in the future."

And revealing that it would not sit by and allow loyalist attacks on
nationalist areas, the INLA leadership warned:

"We are concerned with the ongoing loyalist attacks on the
nationalist working class and we constantly review the situation.

"If the people request our assistance we will take action on the
basis of a measured response.We listen with incredulity at calls for
vigilance from nationalist councillors and MLAs following loyalist
attacks.

"The facts are that the nationalist working class have always had
to be vigilant, from the day we were born it has been a necessity
because of sectarian attacks, especially in North Belfast.

"We also refuse to buy into the idea of good loyalist
paramilitary groups and bad loyalist groups.

"All loyalist paramilitary groupings have been involved in
attacks on the nationalist community.

"The only difference between them is that some are pro-Agreement
and others anti- Agreement, that difference is of no consequence to
the INLA.

"We will meet loyalist aggression head on."

And the group's leadership insists that it can maintain its
structures despite a number of well-publicised feuds over the last 30
years.

"The INLA has not suffered from breakaways or splits over its
current political strategies. We have remained intact because of our
political cohesion, we have not compromised or deviated from our core
political values, which are socialist and republican.

"It is transparent there is only one INLA, dedicated and
committed to our aims and objectives.

"However, we are not complacent and will continue to ensure that
all members of the Republican Socialist Movement are treated equally,
and that all views within the movement are respected equally.

"Collective leadership is a natural consequence of a collective
movement and it has been the internal adherence to the collective
view that has led this movement out of some of its darkest days into
the relevant, vibrant and forward-thinking organisation that we are
today."

In answer to speculation of decommissioning the INLA leadership
insists that it will take no part in talks with General John De
Chastelain.

"The INLA has always believed that the issue of decommissioning
is a non starter and one that is being used by the British and
Unionists to destabilise the current political climate.

"It is of absolutely no consequence on the ground, it is as easy
to rearm as it is to decommission.

"As Irish republicans we have every right not only to demand the
dismantling of the British military machine but also the disarming of
the unionist community which has been used by the British to
undermine any potential Irish democracy.

"The decommissioning issue is clearly a red herring."

But insisting that it will deal with any attempt to split its
organisation, the spokesman said:

"Let us state clearly that any divisions within Irish
republicanism that manifest themselves in internal violence are
damaging to the republican cause.

"A cursory glance at the history of Irish republicanism over the
past 30 years shows that there have been far too many divisions.

"In 1969 we had one Republican Movement, how many are there
today? Six or seven, not to mention those groups that have been
disbanded.

"Diversity of thought among republicans is a good thing, but
armed action of republicans against republicans is not.

"The word feud has become synonymous with us in the media, we
welcome this chance to set the record straight. The Republican
Socialist Movement as a whole, and the IRSP in particular, have come
under attack on three occasions by those who did not want to see the
politics of the RSM succeed.

"At no time had the INLA initiated these armed attacks on others
and has only ever acted in defence of our right to organise.

"When the IRSP was founded it came under sustained attack by the
forces of the Official IRA, many of our members were attacked and
killed, we responded in defence of our people and our politics.

"In the 1980s in the wake of the paid-perjurer/supergrass trials
it became apparent that some of our comrades had been using the armed
struggle to mask some of their erstwhile deeds, such as robbery and
extortion, that brought the entire RSM into disrepute.

"These people were dismissed from the Republican Socialist
Movement, and went on to arm themselves under the name of the IPLO.

"One of their first actions was to abuse the tried and trusted
republican intermediaries and lured the leadership of the RSM, who
were keen to avoid armed conflict, into the Rosnaree hotel in
Drogheda for a meeting to sort out differences peacefully.

"This was not to be, and a cowardly attack that broke all the
rules of mediation was launched, resulting in the assassination of
our comrades Ta Power and John O'Reilly. Faced with this onslaught
the INLA responded in defence of our membership.

"It has to be said that during this time the INLA appealed to the
wider Republican Movement to assist in bringing the activities of the
IPLO to an end as they were involved in major organised crime and
drug trafficking.

"This assistance was not forthcoming and the INLA had to deal
with this problem on our own.

"The INLA position was vindicated many years later when the PIRA
were forced to take action against the IPLO, but by that time the
damage was done and our areas were already awash with anti-social
behaviour and drugs.

"In the 1990s we again came under attack from dismissed members
of our movement. This began with the declaring of a bogus ceasefire
from the dock of a Dublin court by senior members of the movement.

"A ceasefire that was not declared on the basis of republican
socialist politics, but solely on the basis of releasing men from
custody.

"There had been no internal debate with the RSM and the men had
acted arbitrarily, without reference to their comrades.

"When they refused to explain their actions they were dismissed
forthwith from the INLA. As far as we were concerned that was the end
of the matter.

"The dismissed men under the direction of Hugh Torney
commissioned, armed and gave intelligence to a drug dealer who then
used this information to assassinate leading republican socialist
Gino Gallagher at the Falls Road unemployment office.

"The INLA sought out those responsible and executed them as
counter revolutionaries. The INLA has always emerged intact and
dedicated to the politics of republican socialism, for that
dedication we have paid a heavy price with some of our most foremost
political strategists losing their lives, Seamus Costello, Ta Power
and Gino Gallagher are a loss not only to the Republican Socialist
Movement but a loss to the national liberation struggle as a whole.

"It suits many of our political opponents and their friends in
the media to misrepresent our history as feud riven, we do not adhere
to this view and if there are lessons to be learned, and there are
always lessons to be learned, it is that if the Republican Socialist
Movement comes under armed attack we will always act to protect our
membership and defend our right to organise."

And the INLA leadership says that it is constantly monitoring the
increase in anti-social crime, and in particular joyriding and drug
dealing.

"There are many social problems faced by the working class
community today. Community groups and community activists are working
extremely hard to see that many of the social ills that have been
inflicted on our communities are met face on.

"Republican socialists will continue to campaign and agitate for
proper resources and facilities.

"Having said that there will always be the small minority who
place themselves outside the community and will remain a problem, the
INLA will act to support the community, not direct it.

"Anyone who tries to exploit the working class will find
themselves in conflict with the INLA."

And defending the IRSP's analysis, that the Good Friday Agreement
is fatally flawed, the spokesman said:

"The IRSP has shown itself not only to be resilient but more than
capable of expounding its politics in the current political climate.

"At all times it is seeking to minimise the effect of conflict on
the working class coupled with social policies that maximise and
recognise the contribution of that class.

"It was to this end that the IRSP launched a major conflict
resolution initiative within months of the INLA ceasefire
declaration.

"The Charter for Non Aggression remains the only political
document articulated by any political party or government in recent
years aimed solely at conflict resolution and is not dependent on any
political initiative or political compromise.

"The Charter for Non Aggression was not well received by the
political establishment because individual parties and governments
see the peace process as being a barter process where national and
human rights are bartered against involvement in the political
establishment, rather than a genuine conflict resolution process.

"With the issue of republican decommissioning again at the fore
of the political process the IRSP has been firm in its view that
British and loyalist weaponry has not been put under the same
scrutiny.

"There has been no clamour for the decommissioning of these
weapons because the British are still wedded to a military strategy
in Ireland.

"While we have concerns with the confrontational role of both
British and Irish nationalism, we believe that republican socialism
remains a progressive and inclusive force within the dynamics of
Irish politics, a progressive ideology that has yet to have the
opportunity to assert itself.

"We believe that the Charter for Non Aggression is an initiative
that is way ahead of its time and when people look at it free from
prejudice they will realise its full potential.

"The IRSP is actively involved in a wide range of campaigns from
local community groups, drug education, trade unions and other
localised campaigns to campaigning for the retention of Irish
neutrality from NATO.

"So the answer to your question is clearly yes, the IRSP's
analysis of the Good Friday Agreement remains as valid today as it
did three years ago.

"More than that, the IRSP has shown itself to be more than merely
an anti-agreement party. It is actively pursuing the aims and
objectives of republican socialism and it enjoys the full support of
the INLA in the pursuance of our aims."

And insisting that it will not accept any attempts to repackage the
RUC, the spokesman said:

"The INLA has been quite clear and consistent in regards to the
policing debate, the RUC in any way, shape or form, under any set of
initials, wearing any uniform, is unacceptable to our people.

"Patten itself is a compromise, not on policing but on fair and
equal policing, why should anyone have to make compromises to secure
fair and equal policing is beyond us.

"The fact that the British could not deliver a fair police
service, never mind implement the flawed Patten recommendations is a
clear indication that the British are not serious about social
change.

"They neither have the courage or the will to deliver this most
basic tenant of civil rights.

"On the issue of local Restorative Justice schemes the jury is
still out, without a doubt they are a wonderful opportunity for the
community to operate a fair and equal system that seeks not to
criminalise but to assist in the gelling of community spirit.
Unfortunately, there is evidence that in the nationalist community
that is being operated by people of a singular political affiliation
and therefore it is dogged with allegations of favouritism and far
from being a unifying community initiative it is proving to be a
divisive and destructive force within the community.

"The issue of community policing needs to be taken away from
singular political identities and applied evenly across the board by
a wide range of community personnel.

"All is not lost on the issue of CRJ, but it will be, if it
continues down its present course where it is viewed by most as
another branch of a movement which persistently fails to deal with
its own community offenders but has no problem in dishing out any
amount of punishments to others outside their organisation.

"The very issue boils down to who is the community, we believe
that all who live within a community are deserving of equal
treatment, not just those who agree with a particular political
viewpoint."

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