Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Why Martin needs to help keep us out of arms way

Lindy McDowell, Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness has called for a public inquiry into the police handling of Omagh. Shouldn’t we be calling for an inquiry into why Martin is calling for this inquiry? After all, it’s unlikely to be about “justice”, as he maintains. If he was concerned about justice, he would be calling for those within the republican community who have information about the atrocity to bring it forward.

But he couldn’t bring himself to do that 10 years ago. And he won’t do it now.

In terms of whose interests Martin puts first — well, draw your own collusions.

The question is, will he be calling for an inquiry into how Semtex got into that “dissident” grenade-type device fired at police in Lisnaskea at the weekend?

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton confirms that the Semtex “looks as if it came from old stocks”.

And we all know whose “old stocks” he’s talking about. The “old stocks” of the Provisional IRA that were supposedly sealed and “put beyond use” some time back.

Hmm.

Of the actual grenade, Mr Leighton adds: "It is similar to devices that used to be used in the province by other groups." (Why do police use this coy terminology? Mr Leighton is starting to sound here a bit like that old Sands Family classic "Whatever you say, say nothin' when you talk about you know what, For if you know who should hear you, you know what you'll get.")

Anyway I think we can figure out who the “other groups” bit refers to.

None of this comes as a big surprise, of course.

For months now security forces have been warning of the growing strength of the “dissident” groups.

Not just the Real IRA who carried out the Omagh massacre. But significantly the Continuity IRA who are being seen by some as the greater threat.

It is believed that in the aftermath of the recent death of IRA warlord Brian Keenan a number of Provos have gone over to the CIRA.

As anyone with experience of the Troubles will know their key aim is likely to be to kill members of the security forces (ie, since the Army are no longer around, the police). And Catholic officers are likely to be particularly at risk. Again this is merely following the modus operandi of the Provies in the past.

It goes without saying that this is an enormously dangerous situation.

Recent “dissident” attacks may have failed in their ultimate objective. But then, to quote “other groups”, terrorists only have to be lucky once.

Do the security forces really know what they’re up against though?

They might have intelligence about the level of the threat (you’d like to think they have intelligence about the level of threat).

But do they have clear knowledge about the level of “old stock” Semtex and other assorted armaments still in circulation?

Are we to believe that the lump of Semtex used in Lisnaskea was an off-cut that somehow got overlooked in the rush to get Provo weaponry ready for the bunker, the concrete mixer, Sir John de Chastelain and the two clerics?

Or is it a bit that somebody held onto as a trophy? As insurance? And how much is that bit? A few pounds? A ton?

Does anybody really know? Isn’t it time we were inquiring?

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