November 18, 2004



I have always asked these questions David. Let me repeat what I have said before and bore everyone

How many arms will the "Two Churchmen" see decommissioned and how will they know?
What % of the IRA arsenal would this constitute and how can they tell?.

This is a question that has to be asked of everyone who has harked on about decomissioning. The only people who would know what % of the weaponry they havce would be the IRA but would any Unionist believe them even if they were telling the truth?

What age would such munitions be and how would Churchmen know if this was not just "past its sell by" junk passed off by a grateful to get shot of it IRA?

I'm not sure if mutions have sell by dates considering they still have to disarm bombs found from WWII. I am pretty sure that non of these mutions come with certificates and stamps.

In what modality would such weapons put beyond use?

I suppose crunching them in one of them car crushers into small neat square bundles of steel would work for me. What would work for you?

Whose possession do they become?

I suppose this depends on how they were put beyond use. How were previous weapons put beyond use and who took responsibility for them. Personally I have no problem if you took the neat cubes of metal and dumped them deep at sea.

How can the DUP know the IRA has disbanded - is that specific on the table in unequivocal unambiguous words?

I'm pretty certain that within the IRA there will be those opposed and those for disbandment. Its only natural to find dissent on such a fundamental question. The important question then, I think, will be if those that dissent will bow to the opinions of the rest or will they continue under another guise and if they do (and the IRA does disband) will Unionism recognise that this splinter outfit isnt the IRA as we currently know it and work with SF in a power-sharing gov?

Honestly I cannot wait for the day the IRA take the brave step (for them) and disband & disarm. That will be a powerful message but like I said even if they do will Unionism be ready or trusting enough to believe it?
Have they any reason to - and if not does the disband and disarmment of the IRA actually achieve anything?


David criticises the DUP for wanting photos. But he wanted pictures too, albeit on a TV camera.

Quite how these differ enough to warrant criticism of what has been proposed, I have no idea. Yesterday, David said this was what he wanted:

Three simple steps.

1. Exclude clerics.
2. Confirm IRA has disbanded and disarmed.
3. Live BBC coverage of all bunkers opened up and all munitions taken away.

Now he's raising the bar again, and will continue to do so, since he has ensured that he can never be satisfied that complete decommissioning has occurred.

That's a little intellectually dishonest...

David Vance


Pure nonsense - it's the DUP who are lowering the bar. I'll have my final say on this on BBC Hearts and Minds next week - wait and see.


The DUP is a pro-Agreement party.

David Vance


Yeah - I can see your point, but it's fundamental dishonesty is that it posed as an ANTI-Agreement Party. You may (and do!) differ with me but I have been consistent to my implacable oppostion to the Belfast Agreement and it's corrupt fundamentals.


The problem is that unionists who insist on complete decommissioning are guilty of the following:

1) Getting themselves on a hook - they can never really be certain that total disarmament has been achieved. Thus they become trapped in a self-perpetuating catch 22 that can never be resolved.

2) Giving Sinn Fein a handy lever to extract more concessions. SF must have been delighted with the UUP attitude to decommissioning.

3) By concentrating on decommissioning, they ignore the fact that paramilitary activity is the real problem.

4) They focus on the IRA, letting loyalism off the hook.

5) Does anyone remember unionist calls for Official IRA weapons? Strikes me as a tad hypocritical.

David Vance


The problem with those who foolishly voted for the corrupt Agreement is that they should stop trying to transfer their judgemental inadequecies.

1. There can be complete and final decommissioning. All it takes is political will. Some have it - others patently don't.

2. SF loved the UUP - after all, they put terrorists proxies in power.

3. I concentrate on the total destruction of all terrorists - that appears to evade you.

4. See point 3. And then read ALL the words.

5. I was too young.


I just don't think you will EVER believe there has been total decommissioning. I don't think there will be either, but if the guns are silent, that's the best you can really hope for, I guess...



You may (and do!) differ with me but I have been consistent to my implacable oppostion to the Belfast Agreement and it's [sic] corrupt fundamentals.

You have. The DUP has not!

David Vance


That's defeatist claptrap - are you a Trimbleite in disguise? :-)


Whose word should I depend upon when the IRA says its arms have been decommissioned: Yours, the IRA's, Ian Paisley's, John de Chastelain's or his clerical sidekicks?



Mick has blogged this conversation on Slugger. Now I'm feeling sheepish (maybe not unusual for a Ballymena man...!)


As for being a Trimblista - ick!

Roger W. Christ


I'm afraid that, as the DUP have discovered, the UK government is simply not going to put up with your kind of holier than thou nonsense anymore. Not only are we now expected to pay our way in terms of taxation instead of scrounging, we are also expected to stop arguing like children and do something concrete, or face joint authority. That is the reality and I expect that the DUP will have been told that rather bluntly by the British government.

I wonder how long your approach would last if you were actually elected for anything David. Maybe that's why you're staying well away from the polls.

Young Fogvey

The DUP can backtrack faster than a Twinbrook joyrider!

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