I’ve come across two stories about guns over the past twenty-four hours. Of course in one sense the finger-pointing about the IRA and its existence/non-existence has at its heart the possibility that guns are out there and can be used to deadly effect. But these two stories are slightly different from that.
Thanks to the paper of record the Irish Times. there’s a story about guns that goes back to 2005. The former US envoy, Mitchell Reiss, says he never expected at the time that decommissioning would eliminate every last weapon but that decommissioning was still a very potent symbol that the war was over. The American envoy adds that before decommissioning, Gerry Adams put in a last-minute request for some guns to be retained for republicans to use to defend themselves against possible dissident republican attacks. However, although Reiss says he could see Adams’s “legitimate fears”, the promptings of Michael McDowell of the PDs meant that the request was refused.
The second is in sharp contrast. It was published in the Belfast Telegraph in 2013 and concerns guns and leisure in Bangor. Apparently there was a bit of a row in the council back then because some former B Specials wanted to have a bit of public money to fund a private gun club. Not everybody thought that a great idea. North Down independent councillor Brian Wilson was reported as believing that for the Clandeboye and District Ulster Special Constabulary Pistol and Rifle Club to be funded from the public pocket would be “economically, socially and morally wrong”. The council at the time were planning to put £1,294,000 into building a new community centre. So when the matter went to the vote, the council agreed that a further £442,000 should be added to cover the cost of a gun club in the basement.
Some stories, I find, merit parsing and analysis to bring home their full import; others jump out and slap you across the face. It’s safe to say these two guns stories are a pair of slappers.