Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Finance Investigation as Endgame?

Broom of Anger suggests an interesting interpretation of the political crisis in Northern Ireland: is the mammoth follow-the-money investigation part of a tactic by the Sinn Fein leadership to finally end the IRA? Specifically, it's suggested that the Irish government's Criminal Assets Bureau, established after the great corruption scandals of the 80s, has been passed information on the IRA's finances and business interests as a means of getting rid of potential opposition.

Although it's not said, such opposition would presumably be opposition to an "act of completion" like the official "stand-down" or demobilisation of the Provisionals. BOA suggests that this would lead to a collapse of Sinn Fein itself and that "this would suit the governments". I doubt it; the peace process is structured around formally realist negotiation between defined blocks. Chaos would only suit "the governments" if they really wanted a return to war - six weeks before the general election? That ain't realistic, either in the IR theory sense or the ordinary sense.

Interestingly, of course, (and as BOA points out up-blog) one of the implications is a much bigger role for the Irish Republic in the whole political structure. I've often thought that the endgame in Ireland will be a virtual united Ireland; rather like the idea of "meeting up again in Europe". That, of course, relies on acts of non-stupidity by all sides. One wonders what Adams's appearance at an IRA rally with men in camo uniforms and black berets meant - a finely tuned countermessage to balance the finance investigation? Or conflicted panic?

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