Posted by: the watchmen | March 19, 2009

Lethal Threat.—–Lindy McDowell.

How great is terror threat? Hugh knows …

By Lindy McDowell
Wednesday, 18 March 2009

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According to Sir Hugh Orde, dissident republicans (the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann) have, between them, somewhere in the region of 300 members.

At a rough count most of us would say this is somewhere in the region of 300 too many.

Sir Hugh, while conceding that they remain very dangerous, seems to seek to downplay dissident strength when he makes the point that this is, “300 in a population of 1.75 million”.

One armed man running around attempting to kill people would be a worry. Around 300 of them? Forgive me, Sir Hugh, if I don’t breathe a sigh of relief at your attempt to provide “perspective”.

The problem is that, in common with a very sizeable proportion of the population, I lived through the Troubles.

So a whole lot of what’s going on at the moment seems like a bad replay of the past.

That includes so-called assurance on the strength and support of what Martin McGuinness calls these “micro groups”.

These micro groups murdered three men in one week.

On anybody’s terms they would appear to present a considerable danger to our society.

Many years ago I distinctly remember we were similarly told that the Provisional IRA only numbered a couple of hundred members.

And look what happened there …

And, yes, I can understand why politicians and, in this case, a leading policeman, would attempt to play down paramilitary power.

Talking up their strength, hyping their capability, not only feeds the inflated terrorist ego, it also, sadly, makes them seem glamorous to the flaky youth who rush to their ranks.

Not to mention the Irish American fools who fund their murder campaigns.

We know this because, as I say, we’ve seen it, heard it all before.

Sir Hugh (and not a few other commentators) suggest that this time it’s different.

In an interview he asserts that: “We know that, unlike in the past, there is no support at all for these groups within communities apart from a few nutters and idiots who have no political strategy in their tiny minds.”

No support at all?

Is that really an accurate reading of the situation? (How much support does it take anyway?)

Another interesting question: how much support does he believe there was “in the past” for terrorists — for the likes of, say, the Shankill bombing? Or the Shankill Butchers?

Sir Hugh insists that there will be no going back to the bad old days. The dissidents he says are “very dangerous, like any cornered animal in its death throes”.

Oddly what he interprets as the “death throes”, other commentators are currently describing as a regrouping and resurgence.

Of the dissidents, he adds: “We have identified many of them. We are working flat out with the security services and other specialists (specialists?) to disrupt and arrest them and lock them up for the rest of their natural lives.”

Again you cannot help but wonder if he is perhaps overstating a tad here ?

“Lock them up for the rest of their natural lives ?”

That would be a first in Northern Ireland.

Let’s be honest, Hugh, it’s a fair bet that among the ranks of those dissidents currently being hunted down by the security services there will be terrorists who had previously also been locked up “for the rest of their natural lives”.

That they didn’t stay inside is not, of course, the fault of police officers who have over the years held the line in Northern Ireland between the scumbag legions and the rest of society. And continue, with outstanding bravery, to do so.

And it is, of course, positive that public opinion is right now so very much against the dissidents.

But we shouldn’t lose the run of ourselves. There are reasons why we should remember the recent past and keep our grip on realism.


Sir Hugh Orde has identified at least 300 of them.

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