Kevin Myers: Criminal gangs are winning as political classes keep mouths shut
Published 11/09/2012 | 17:00
Excuse me, but what precisely is going on? Last Saturday, authority over an entire estate in Dublin was yielded to a terrorist organisation, while gardai watched on.
A paramilitary funeral was allowed to proceed unhindered. Men in uniform accompanied the tricolour-draped coffin, marching to orders. A volley of shots was fired. Scores of men in white shirts and black ties led the funeral procession.
On one of the hottest days of the year, dozens of people turned up with umbrellas to shield the IRA firing party from gardai. The 32-County Sovereignty Movement might not yet have control over the island of Ireland, but by God it had control over Donaghmede on Saturday, and that's a useful start.
Needless to say, a copy of the 1916 Proclamation was placed on the coffin of Alan Ryan, a gangster, drug-dealer and "dissident" republican. Actually, there was nothing remotely dissident about him at all. He was in the mainstream of the republican tradition which believes in the use of violence, regardless of the democratically expressed wishes of the Irish people.
I can think of no better place for the Proclamation to be placed. He believed in the gun. He lived by the gun. He died by the gun. Patrick Pearse did not read the eulogy over his grave, but Pearse's true heir and successor, Colin Duffy, did.
And that, in its way, is fine. There is coherence to this "dissident" republicanism. If it was right to take up arms in 1916 against foreign presence in Ireland, then it is right in 2012. That others might have abandoned the gun is irrelevant. The golden thread, streaked with red, continues down the generations.
And who now has impressed the unemployed young of Donaghmede, Finglas, Coolock, Kilbarrack? The State? Or the 32CSM? Whose culture, mores, will and aspirations prevail in estates where joblessness is now endemic, welfare-dependency is a social norm, and where the upwardly-mobile join gangs?
Do you know what I smell? I smell Weimar. I smell the rotting corpse of a morally diseased political class lining its pockets with allowances and unvouched expenses, and which stayed silent as Donaghmede was allowed to secede from this Republic and reconnect itself in time and place with Ballymurphy, 1972.
Who is the TD who can go to any of the working-class housing estates around Dublin and give the residents uplifting lectures about the importance of maintaining high standards in public life? Which of the gallants in Dail Eireann is so untarnished as to be made as welcome in any of those estates as Colin Duffy was in Donaghmede last Saturday? And should the answer to that question not fill us with abject fear?
Who has the authority on the street corners and in the pubs of Donaghmede tonight and every other night? Who has the power? Who has the glamour? Who has the guns? Well, you and I both know the answer to those questions: no one who answers to the Department of Justice, or any organ of government.
The gangs are winning hands down. And the response from our political classes about the largest paramilitary funeral in Dublin this century has been silence. If there is comfort of any kind it is that the gangs are at war with one another. But a St Valentine's Day could soon sort all that out: all that is required is one charismatic, ruthless, charming and "patriotic" man.
Meanwhile, "dissident" loyalists and republicans have embarked on a diet of tactical rioting in the Bosnia-Herzegovina that is Belfast; and in that perverse society, where loyalty to that grossly artificial entity, the Executive, possesses all the gravitational pull of a sub-atomic particle on El Nino, the tribe always comes first, even to the First Minister, Peter Robinson.
With the twin-headed beast that is unionism -- part law-abiding, psalm-singing, church-going respectability, part Shankill Taliban -- getting closer to commemorative hysteria as the centenary of the Solemn League and Covenant draws near, we are just One Major Event away from serious violence and political breakdown.
The paper-thin barrier between us and that One Major Event is provided by the Parades Commission, the primary qualification for membership of which is incurable optimism, and the poor old bloody police, 60 of whom got clobbered in the largely unnoticed violence around Carlyle Circus last week.
And if the North slides into chaos, who then takes control of the Dublin working-class housing estates, where perceptions are viewed through the distorted lens created by nine decades of state-sponsored educational indoctrination and the powerful cultural influence of local republican panjandrums such as Alan Ryan?
Condemnations of his exploits in the drugs game mean nothing to the plain people in the estates: did not official Ireland gather at the funeral of Gerry Ryan, who subsidised the murderous business that his namesake Alan ran? Were not transmissions by the state broadcaster virtually suspended for the day? And do you not see where we are heading?
There is no moral authority in this Republic to counter that of the godfather who will sooner or later take the place of the murdered republican: the one and only Ryan-heir.