On the Brink.
By Randall Stephen Hall©
Like alcoholics and drug addicts
They’ve fallen off the wagon once more.
It’s an easy place to be.
Where you know the score.
Back to their default setting.
They are on the brink again you see.
Two men are dead, shot by other men.
Who sent them there for the blood of their rent money?
No fun or funny, but now all this funny business
Of the blind leading the blind
Both with motes in their eyes.
Their splintering always pulling us apart.
Their artifice and craft, like a leaky bath
Attempting to drag us under.
Yet, no talk of poor workmanship.
I dispise all this, with their twists and their turns.
Yet I continue to yearn for grown ups in leadership
Rather than adolescents who rent our society in two
With two red hands, one yellow
And the others, such fine upstanding fellows.
No end to the assembly over the failed visit
The magical mystery and disappearance, of Richard Haass
When we were almost there according to Mr. Nesbitt
Who was then unable to bite the bullet
And then we were nowhere . . .
But still, somewhere off Europe.
No end to the assembly over Sixteen million pounds
Burnt up in the holy smoke of the flag protests.
No mention of these men of violence.
The one eye in the heads of each politician
Unable to see their own men of violence
And do something about.
For doing something about it
Is not what they are about, as they shout and wring their hands
Like dirty dish cloths.
Haranguing each other.
While being less effective than political Orangutans.
While the SDLP and Alliance parties
Woffle on the sidelines, like collared doves
Doing their best to just say nothing, say nothing, say nothing.
Put your auld flat cap on and just say nethin’
As we focus on the periphery and never
The centre of our society and what has really gone wrong.
Droning on and on, missiles on the skuds.
Every one a mug dung beetle with no detonator .
Carrying the great ball of their dung before them
To feed off later.
It doesn’t really matter, only maintaining the great divide.
In that they hide our future amongst
The agony of their truths.
On the brink, on the brink again
As the early chat show fans the flames
To catch our ears.
Pulling and tugging at our raw edges
The biggest show in the smallest of countries.
Beautiful apart from the shadows.
Of our dark hedges.
A country at war with itself.
Wrapped in false ideas and ideals
For others to eat their cowboy meals.
My spurs jingle as I saddle up once again.
The man with no name, only a pen.
My pained expression as I wrestle only with type.
Unwilling to shoot anyone with metal.
Subject: IMC report of September 2008
The remarks in our previous report were focused on leadership. We want to draw
attention to the phrase we used, which in our view is key to understanding the
transition of a paramilitary group to an entirely peaceful position: “relinquishing the
leadership structures appropriate to a time of armed conflict”. By referring to the
relinquishing of such structures we recognised that the process of change might
not and need not necessarily involve their being formally or publicly abandoned.
What matters is that the armed conflict is completely over and the leadership
structures have definitely ceased to function in the way they did during the time of
conflict, by whatever means that end might be attained.
2.4 In our Twelfth Report in October 2006 we compared the position of all the
paramilitary groups then and three years before in late 20035. We referred to the
leadership of PIRA as having changed profoundly and adopted a clear strategy to
follow a political path6. We said that no other paramilitary organisation had
undergone this transformation7.
2.7 Is PIRA committed to following an exclusively political path? We are convinced
that it is. The leadership has consistently taken a stand on this, not only through
public statements but also with the members of the organisation, which is arguably
more persuasive as evidence of real intent and delivery. The strategy is firm and
clear. Consistent with this strategy, significant numbers of PIRA members,
including senior ones, have, at the behest of the leadership, moved to political
roles in Sinn Féin. Others have moved to community work or have dropped out of
activism entirely. The membership has backed the strategy and we can see no
grounds on which it would or could be reversed.
2.8 Has PIRA abandoned its terrorist structures, preparations and capability? We
believe that it has. The so-called “military” departments have ceased to function
and have been disbanded. It has been put to us that these structural changes
have had a profound and debilitating effect on the organisational capacity of PIRA.
We share that view and consider that the organisation’s former terrorist capability
has been lost. PIRA is not recruiting or training members and the membership
continues to decline, and there is some issue as to what membership means in the
absence of activity. In so far as gathering information or intelligence may continue
in any limited way – not in itself improper if it does not involve illegal methods or
intent – we believe that it is mainly for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of any
threat from dissident republicans.
2.9 Is PIRA involved in other illegal activity? We do not think that it is. Members
have been instructed not to engage in violence and we do not think there have
been any recent acts of PIRA violence or intimidation, either internally as a means
of imposing discipline or towards people outside the organisation.12 We are
satisfied that it is not involved in exiling or in any form of sectarian activity and it
has made clear to members that such activities are not acceptable. We are
satisfied that PIRA as an organisation is not involved in crime and has instructed
its members not to be involved in criminal activity. Some individual members
remain criminally active but the organisation does not support those involved. As
we have said in successive earlier reports, we are unable to say what has
happened to funds which PIRA previously illegally gained. There is no evidence
that any funds are being used for paramilitary purposes.
2.11 There are three key issues so far as we are concerned. The first is the nature of
the course that PIRA is on, whether it will stay on that course, and whether the
organisation does now or will in future present any threat to peace or to the
democratic process. We firmly believe that PIRA is set on and will remain on the
political path. We do not believe that it presents a threat to peace or to democratic
2.12 The second issue is the nature of PIRA as an organisation. We believe that for
some time now it has given up what it used to do and that by design it is being
allowed to wither away. There have not been and we do not foresee that there will
be formal announcements about the disbandment of all or parts of the structure.
2.13 The third issue is whether PIRA might re-emerge as a terrorist organisation. While
in theory any organisation can be resurrected however long it has been dormant or
non-existent, our answer in respect of the PIRA which existed when we first
reported four and a half years ago is firmly in the negative. In our view the way in
which the leadership has adopted an entirely different course, disbanded terrorist related
structures and capacity and engaged in different activities, and members have moved on to other things, means that the PIRA of the recent and violent past
is well beyond recall.