The Irish poet William Butler Yeats once asked how you separate the Dancer from the Dance - you can’t. The two are utterly intertwined. The same, unionists say, is true of the IRA and Sinn Fein. A leader of Sinn Fein once memorably talked of taking power with an Armalite in one hand and a ballot box in the other.
Telegraph and Times on IRA criminal activity 2005 [Irish Republic] security forces seized £2.3 million in sterling and laid bare an international money-laundering operation by the Provisional IRA that senior Garda think was part of what they believe to be now the Provisional’s primary project: to subvert the Irish Republic. Jim Cusack [has] claimed for the past three years: the existence of an extensive criminal empire whose purpose is to fund the Provisional IRA’s project to find a “tipping point” that would see takeover in the Irish Republic. “The IRA now licenses all professional criminal activities in Dublin. But it generates even greater income from investing its criminal assets - it is now the biggest pub owner in the state.” Cusack says the sums stacked up annually are so huge - possibly £200 million a year - that they argue a strategic subversive agenda. “Sinn Fein IRA is now the largest nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. All it has to do is secure 20 per cent of the vote in the Irish Republic to hold the balance of power and create the “tipping” point for a political crisis which will see them swept into power.” Like many security sources, Cusack believes that the IRA’s huge financial arsenal is to fund a three-point plan: electoral politics funded by criminal activity; black propaganda groups fronted by sympathetic journalists alleging “corruption” by business supporters of the mainstream parties coming up to a general election; and well-armed cadres capable of coercion of state forces.
Hugh Orde, the PSNI chief constable [who] first pinned the blame for the robbery on the IRA, is quite clear that there is no split in the IRA, no hard men pushing for a takeover. There is just an organisation that funds itself through crime and is indignant that it has been caught in the act. He says: “People talk about splits but I can’t see anything that would indicate to me that they are going to go back to their campaign.”
In the past the Irish and British governments, turned a blind eye to IRA criminality in the interests of the peace process. Mo Mowlam, during her stint as secretary of state for Northern Ireland, once referred to paramilitary punishment attacks as “housekeeping”. The message was clear, as long as the IRA did not attack the security forces or loyalists, then the peace process could continue.
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Girl victim of IRA ‘punishment attack’
By Toby Harnden, Ireland Correspondent
AN IRA gang abducted a girl in Armagh and bundled her into a hijacked car before tying her to a lamppost, hacking off her hair and covering her with paint in a so-called “punishment attack”.
Judith Boylan, 16, said she thought that she was going to be killed when two masked men burst into a taxi office where she had just started work. “I thought I was never going to see home again,” she said. “I could see myself lying dead in a field somewhere.”
Her mother, Anne, said: “They are IRA thugs. They rule the streets of the north of Ireland, terrorising youngsters and decent people. Somebody has to speak out. Children are getting beaten up all the time but who is condemning it?”
She called on Sinn Fein to end the attacks, and Sam Cushnahan, of the peace group Families Against Intimidation and Terror, said: “IRA victims are getting younger and younger. Often the attacks are against those who defy them as a warning to others. It is fascism. The community has to stand up against these psychopaths. These things cannot be allowed to continue in a civilised country.”
Judith, a Roman Catholic, from Armagh, was dragged, by her hair and taken out to a waiting car shortly before midnight on Wednesday. One of the men told her sister, Rebecca, 15, who witnessed the abduction: “We don’t like it but it has to be done.”
Three other men were in the car which was driven to the republican Mullacreevie Park estate. Judith is believed to have argued with the young IRA members who slapped and punched her in an attempt to keep her quiet. She was then taken out and tied to a lamppost. Her long, blonde hair was cut off with a pair of shears and several tins of white paint were emptied over her head. Her mother said: “She was left like a dog in the street.”
The IRA carried out 172 “punishment attacks” last year as a means of maintaining its grip on nationalist communities. Victims who speak out against the terrorists are often attacked again.