Footnote 137, Chapter 9, Page 312; Footnote 156, Chapter 9, Page 317; Footnote 156, Chapter 9, Page 317

The paragraphs on pages 312-318 originally contained much more information concerning violence arguably motivated by intergroup division in Northern Ireland, and the extent of support for its perpetrators. The following passages are the original versions of those paragraphs. Analysts of the conflict disagree about the seriousness of the threat of destabilization resulting from such violence, during the first two decades after the 1998 British-Irish Agreement. Many observations concerning recent dissident violence are impressionistic evaluations, sometimes derived from comparison of present violence levels with those enjoyed when the power-sharing system was first operating in a stable fashion. Pessimistic predictions have been offered by multiple scholars, journalists, and government officials. In a 2010 article, Martyn Frampton explains that the “threat posed by dissident republicans prepared to use violence to achieve their aims is widely recognized to be higher than at any time since” 1998. He points out that several assessments of the situation are “consistently bleak,” regardless of whether they are offered by the “British home secretary, the director-general of MI5, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or the Minister for Justice in the Republic.” A 2010 editorial in the Guardian newspaper surveys recent events and concludes that a “repeat” of the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people, “is not impossible.” The Independent Monitoring Commission, a body comprised of British, Irish, and U.S. representatives, has provided assessments of the threat posed by dissidents over the years 2004-2011. The commission thus focuses on comparing trends in violence several years after its dramatic decrease through the introduction of power-sharing. Its final report for 2011 pointed out advances such as paramilitary groups’ ending of their campaigns and decommissioning of weapons between 2004 and 2011 but confirmed a “resurgence of serious violence by dissident republicans in 2009 and 2010.” It explains that:“[d]issident republicans are brutally active, especially against members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who are at greater threat than they were in 2004 when we first reported. One result is that whereas when we started we observed a scene from which terrorism against the organs of the state had largely disappeared, as we close we see classic signs of insurgent terrorism, albeit confined to the narrow dissident front and quite unlike the ‘Troubles’ in its intensity or, we believe, its potential.” In a 2012 article, Kevin Bean observes that, “[i]f the new armed republican groups do not pose an immediate military threat,… they do remain capable of disrupting the ‘normalisation of life’ in Northern Ireland.” Henry Patterson similarly argues that, “while the threat does not and will not approach that represented by the Provisional IRA in the 1970s and 1980s, it is not a passing hiccup in the peace process.” He believes that the violence “will be more like the nagging but only occasionally chronic IRA challenge… between 1923 and the 1950s.” There is some data available which can be used to evaluate these generalizations to some extent. While Northern Ireland’s political system has remained stable, Lijphart’s concept of stability also includes the absence of violence motivated by intergroup hatred. It is clear that the British-Irish Agreement of 1998 and its resultant governance system are “clearly causally associated with a highly significant reduction in political violence.” McGarry and O’Leary cite police sources indicating that “lethal political violence dropped from 509 killed in the nine years before the Agreement (1989-1997) to 134 in the nine years during its making and after (1998-2006), a decline of three-quarters.” In a 2009 publication, they explained that “[s]ince January 2003, as far as we have been able to determine there has been no death from such cross-community conflict.” For the University of Ulster’s “Conflict Archive on the Internet,” Martin Melaugh has compiled lists for each year between 2002 and 2013, of deaths that either were, or were suspected of being, related to the conflict. His research indicates that, since 2009, approximately two-thirds of the deaths he described involved dissidents killing members of their own population segment. Melaugh believes that many of these were motivated by personal disputes but dissident groups have also claimed that several of these deaths were vigilante executions of drug dealers. From 2009 to 2013, only one death was perpetrated against a civilian in the other population segment. Five additional deaths have been perpetrated by nationalist dissidents against members of the security forces, including two police officers from their own population segment, two members of the British Army who were not from Northern Ireland, and one long-time prison officer from the unionist segment. These six deaths seem more clearly related to the conflict, particularly because dissidents from the nationalist segment have been targeting security personnel in an attempt to destabilize the governance system. While deaths are only one indicator of violence, which is in turn only one indicator of instability, analysis of them and the motives for perpetrating them can provide a sense of trends in instability. Four of the deaths described above occurred in 2009, and only two of them between 2010 and 2013, so statistics regarding conflict related deaths suggest increasingly stability in the region. While any number of deaths is tragic, comparison of these statistics with those from a randomly chosen year prior to 1998 emphasizes the terrific increase in stability that has been achieved thus far. For instance, 35 deaths occurred just in one year, 1985, as a result of intergroup violence and violence perpetrated by members of the nationalist segment against members of the British Army. Data regarding violent events in addition to those resulting in death indicate that, while the number of fatalities caused by dissidents may be decreasing, the overall level of violence committed by them is significant. From 1998 until 2008, the incidence of such violent acts was incredibly low in comparison to past decades. Although the numbers remain very low compared to before 1998, Jocelyn Evans and Jonathan Tonge point out that the “300 shootings and bombings from April 2009 to March 2011 nearly doubled the total for the previous two years.” Over the past few years, dissident motivated riots have become more common. In 2010, the “worst rioting in years” occurred “[s]ix months after the British government handed control of the police… to local officials,” it was estimated that 82 police officers were injured, and the violence was “provoked” by dissidents from the nationalist population segment. In 2011, multiple days of riots occurred, which resulted in approximately 300 injuries, involved as many as 700 people on one occasion, and were apparently “initially instigated” by the historically unionist Ulster Volunteer Force. Riots in 2012 occurred on three different occasions, caused 92 police officers to be injured, and were initiated by people from both communities. In 2013, rioting occurred twice, approximately 98 police officers were injured, and it was provoked by people from the unionist community in both cases. These riots have most often occurred around the events of the annual sectarian marching season, which has precipitated violence for decades. Moloney points out in a 2010 article that “[t]he violence committed by dissidents in the last two years could easily fit into a two- or three-week period when the Provisionals were active” (before 1998). While information provided by Chris Ryder indicates that, by 1971, there were approximately 1000 bombings annually in Northern Ireland, data collected by a team led by John Horgan at the Pennsylvania State University indicates that, between 1994 and 2011, the highest number of detonated bombs was less than 45 and this figure from 2010 was extremely high compared to the other years in that period. In a more average year within this period during this period, 10-15 bombs were detonated. For the 17 years covered by Horgan’s database, 899 violent events were identified and their timing indicates “a steady stream of violent events since 1997” and a “dramatic increase” from 2010 until the end of the period recorded, mid-2011. While dissident violence is significant, resultant deaths are becoming extremely rare and statistics concerning its incidence and comparison to equivalent statistics from before 1998 emphasize that it is not likely to destabilize the region’s political system or the lives of the vast majority of its citizens. The most notable observation to be made concerning violence since 1998 is that its targets are intragroup and anti-system, rather than across the historical divide. This violence is not intergroup, the political system is operating in a very stable fashion and producing very equitable results, and dissident violence is very unlikely to destabilize the system or the society that it governs. However, this violence is designed to produce instability and its scale is not insignificant so the future stability of the region will be enhanced if it can be discouraged. Comprehension of the motivations and support for such violence will facilitate the achievement of this goal. The appropriateness of skepticism regarding dissidents’ professed motivations is emphasized by the nature of their targets, since the “majority” of the recorded shootings “relate to vigilantism” and most deaths other than those motivated by vigilantism have been of security personnel. Horgan explains that “[s]hooting still represents the most lethal form of [dissident] activity” and “[i]nvariably the targets are known and suspected drug dealers, sex offenders, and other criminals as well as those accused of repeated social order offenses.” Targeting of security personnel also motivated virtually all of the conflict related deaths which did not involve personal disputes and vigilantism within population segments. Historically, vigilantism by republican organizations was justified through reference to the fact that the region’s official police force treated the nationalist group in an oppressive and discriminatory manner. Although the police force has been extensively reformed to be representative of both groups, republican dissidents still claim to be conducting vigilantism due to the absence of an acceptable police force. However, considering that many of their targets are police from the nationalist community, it seems reasonable to be skeptical of that professed motivation. Horgan points out that claims that they are trying to help their group through vigilantism likely “represent a distinct focus of the dissidents to gain support in urban areas.” He also points out that the Republic of Ireland police, the Gardai, “strongly believe that most violent activity aimed at drug dealers by dissident Republicans… has been primarily geared toward extorting money from the criminals to fund the groups’ political activities rather than for beneficial service to the Republicans’ communities.” Considering the current composition and goals of Northern Ireland’s police force, dissidents’ targeting of police from the nationalist community, and their other potential motivations for vigilantism, it is inappropriate to assume that much of the violence committed by them is motivated by the goals which they claim to be guided by. If that assessment were accurate, it would make no sense that the Northern Ireland police service is the “main target” of dissident violence and yet “Catholic police officers,” of the historically nationalist group, who were “recruited on a 50-50 quota basis with non-Catholics,... have been targeted particularly.” The percentage of such Catholic police officers in the region’s police force is at a historically dramatic high and survey data published in 2013 by Graham Ellison, Nathan Pino, and Peter Shirlow indicates that, in one republican area of Belfast, “82 per cent of residents believed community groups should cooperate with the police and 8 per cent disagreed.” While these figures from the New Lodge area of Belfast suggest that there are some residents who distrust the current police force, they also indicate the vast majority in this nationalist dominated area are content to have their neighborhood policed by it. The following statement by the RIRA leadership in a 2008 interview suggests that dissidents’ targeting of police, and particularly Catholic police, is motivated by its usefulness in its rhetoric and as a tool for promoting destabilization: “With more attacks on the RUC/PSNI [Northern Ireland police force] we believe the stage will be reached where British soldiers are brought back onto the streets to bolster the cops. This will shatter the façade that the British presence has gone and normality reigns. People will once again be made visible aware that we remain occupied.” The combination of reforms of this service and its support by the nationalist community emphasizes that this initiative has been adopted because of its potential as a destabilization device. While it does seem clear that dissident violence in on the increase, it is incorrect to assume that it is always motivated by the goals professed by dissidents and it also seems clear that current intensity of their violence, the extremely low death toll, and their focus on targeting security officers do not seem likely to threaten the stability of the governance system any time soon. There are those who are determined to destabilize the system and they have managed to orchestrate fairly large scale rioting but the likelihood they will accomplish severe destabilization seems low. Consideration of the extent of support for dissident violence and the motivation for such support will facilitate identification of initiatives which might be capable of enhancing the stabilizing influence of power-sharing systems, both in Northern Ireland and other societies. Although current dissident violence seems unlikely to destabilize the region, its existence and any support for it is somewhat puzzling, considering the nature of its governance system. This system allocates decision making power and cultural autonomy to potentially antagonistic groups more fairly than virtually any other system in existence and also provides each group with the possibility of eventually, democratically achieving its primary goal regarding the legal status of their region. Like the extent of dissident violence, the extent of support for it remains a contentious subject among observers. Because they do not have the resources to wage war in a conventional fashion, paramilitaries are dependent on their populations’ acquiescence or tacit support and/or agreement if they are to be capable of disrupting their societies. Their violent initiatives require few perpetrators but also require that their acquaintances are sufficiently reluctant to inform police of their actions. As of 2010, the republican dissidents organizing violence were thought to number between 300 and 450 people and it appears that much of the reluctance to inform on them results from their intimidation of their neighbors. It is extremely difficult to ascertain the extent to which this reluctance results from intimidation or sympathy for dissidents. Tonge discusses the historical role of “large-scale sympathy at certain times and a broader, if mild, antagonism to the perceived injustice of [the] partition” of the island of Ireland. He also points out that the Provisional IRA prior to power-sharing “represented a much larger minority will than that represented by ‘dissidents’” now. Tonge explains that the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, described dissidents in 2010 as “hav[ing] virtually no popular support” and that the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, “claimed [in 2009] that the dissidents’ only support comes ‘from a few nutters and idiots.” Apparently, the 2010 National Security Strategy document categorized “republican” dissident groups in the “highest threat category” but also argued that they “’lack popular support.’” The most common approach to describing current dissident violence among scholars, politicians, and journalists at this stage is to acknowledge that it is a threat but that its potential will remain severely restricted because it has “little or no public support.” In the governance system operating prior to that which operates there now, which was characterized by majoritarian exclusion and discrimination against the nationalist group, Sinn Féin was recognized as representing this group’s primary paramilitary organization and it “captured one-third of the Nationalist vote,” from 1982 until that organization’s ceasefire. In contrast, the few electoral contests in which dissidents have sought office have confirmed that this level of backing is “way beyond the capacity of modern dissidents.” For instance, in the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly elections, dissident candidates were supported by 3 percent of Nationalists, equivalent to 8,000 votes throughout Northern Ireland. Not surprisingly, where their supporters are concentrated, vote percentages achieved by dissident candidates have been higher. It appears that the most successful of these candidates actually stood in 2011 as an Independent but was “common associated” with one of the dissident groups and, in a local council election, “attracted one in every nine of first preference votes case, outpolling two SDLP candidates and one from Sinn Féin.” The extent of that candidate’s electoral support seems to be very rare for those associated with violent dissident groups. Survey evidence suggests that sympathy for dissidents and the reasons they give as justifications for their violence is slightly higher than the vote percentage they attained in the 2007 Assembly elections. Two BBC Northern Ireland “Hearts and Minds” polls in 2002 and 2006 suggested that 7 per cent of nationalists “supported the 32 CSM or republican Sinn Féin” dissident groups. A May 2010 survey by the University of Liverpool, for which Tonge was the Principal Investigator, indicates that “14% of the nationalist community have some ‘sympathy for the reasons’” given by these dissidents for engaging in violence. This survey was conducted through 1,002 face-to-face personal interviews, using clustered stratified random sampling, and the relevant question was: “And thinking about why some Republican groups (such as the Real IRA and Continuity IRA and often called ‘dissident republicans’) continue to use violence, would you say that you have any sympathy with the reasons for the violence- even if you don’t condone the violence itself?” The 14% indicating sympathy seem to include those indicating only “a little” sympathy. However, in this society which was plagued by violence for decades and which is currently governed by a consociation system allowing peaceful attainment of the goals identified as justifications for recent violence, it is inappropriate to suggest that support for these goals is evidence of support for dissident violence and system destabilization. The history of Northern Ireland reminds analysts of intergroup conflict that community support is essential for sustainment of paramilitaries’ anti-system campaigns and some, very limited community support appears to be influencing current developments there regarding dissident violence. The violence perpetrated by these dissidents and the extent of their electoral and social support is not negligible and its existence is intriguing considering the region’s power-sharing system but it does not suggest that destabilization of the region is likely to occur. Examination of the possible motives for this violence and its support should illuminate any possible means by which such activity might be discouraged through the design and revision of political rules. It is appropriate to commence such an examination through a survey of the justifications provided by these dissidents, regardless of the extent to which one believes these justifications are the true reasons for their anti-system initiatives. Dissident republicans are responsible for most of the violence aimed at government destabilization since 1999. Tonge argues that they “shar[e] a determination to achieve a united, independent, socialist Irish Republic.” This is the same goal advocated by generations of republican proponents of violent destabilization prior to 1999. These dissident groups portraying themselves as the true proponents of this goal now attempt to attract support by “rely[ing] upon historical determinism, grounded in the inevitability of armed resistance to British rule, as a key resource for sustenance and morale.” Tonge argues that, “[b]eyond the armed campaign lies a fundamentalist political ideology which believes that any political arrangement short of Irish unity is untenable.” However, considering that the now established political system provides opportunities to achieve this goal peacefully, their demand that this goal be met immediately and claim that it cannot be achieved without violence seem quite disingenuous. The British-Irish Agreement, in which the current political system was first agreed upon, confirms the legal recognition of “…the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland.” Because of the careful delineation of Northern Ireland’s boundaries designed to maintain a substantial unionist majority, such a legal provision was not a feasible means of achieving the republican goal of a united Ireland in the past. However, one 2011 census indicated that Roman Catholics, who historically favored this goal, constituted 40.8% of the region’s population and the non-Roman Catholic Christians, who historically favored union with Britain, made up 41.6% of the population. While it is inappropriate to assume that the members of these groups would vote exactly as has been expected historically, the creation of a united Ireland would seem most likely to occur if the system legally mandating this decision-making mechanism remains stable and those seeking this goal focused on increasing their population segment. Destabilization of the region has persuaded many to emigrate from it in the past so it seems counterintuitive that those seeking a united Ireland would pursue this goal by attempting to destabilize the region and its political system. Those seeking this goal through peaceful, political means are represented in an executive whose First Minister and Deputy First Minister share equal power and whose Deputy First Minister was a leader of the violent republican IRA organization and now represents the Sinn Féin political party, which was the political arm of the IRA. The possession of equal executive power by a party which focused for decades on achieving the goal dissidents’ profess to be pursuing constitutes one more piece of evidence suggesting that they are driven primarily by some other agenda. The disconnect between the possibility of achieving the republican goal of a United Ireland peacefully in the not so distant future and their insistence that its pursuit requires violence suggests that analysis of these dissidents’ motives is a project worth pursuing. In relation to a dissident bombing which left 29 civilians dead in 1998, Tonge discusses the analysis of dissident activity by mainstream republicans, who are now represented at the highest political level: Sinn Féin condemned the bombing, arguing that the RIRA [dissident group] were ‘not psychopaths’, but were nonetheless a group ‘mired by militarism who would be defeated due to their inability to recognize that armed struggle was a mere tactic, not a principle, of Irish republicanism’. This mainstream republican analysis criticized the ‘dissidents’ as groups which elevated the need to perpetuate an armed campaign above the attainment of goals. ‘Dissidents’ highlighted how Sinn Féin had failed to advance the stated goals of Irish republicanism in their compromises. Most difficult to rebut was the pithy criticism offered by the sister of the first of the ten IRA hunger strikers to die in 1981, Bobby Sands, that her brother ‘did not die for cross-border bodies with executive powers’, the key all-Ireland features of the Good Friday Agreement. Consideration of the logic of such accusatory statements is enhanced through recognition that the former Deputy First Minister, President of Sinn Féin since 1983, and a supposed former leader of the IRA, who spearheaded violent republicans’ negotiation and acceptance of power-sharing, Gerry Adams, was incarcerated with Bobby Sands accused of republican motivated action and became his confidant. They shared the same goals and Adams helped to introduce a political system which is designed to allow achievement of those goals, if they are approved democratically. Skepticism concerning dissidents’ true motivations seems appropriate following consideration of their argument that more violence and death is required to attain a goal that a supposed former leader of the IRA helped design to ensure its ability to attain the goal peacefully.