Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Did 9/11 Kill the IRA?
In recent years there has been no further terrorist threat from the IRA. No blown up schoolbuses, no assassinated heroes of yesteryear. Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but it would seem that all's quiet in Ireland-town.
I have frequently heard that this is the result of the good works of St. Bill Clinton and St. Tony Blair. They got both sides talking, made everybody happy, and peace broke out as it inevitably does since war is now obsolete.
But maybe there's a different explanation. Lately I heard from a UK policewoman that the flow of money from America to the IRA dried up after 9/11. For years, the IRA had been largely funded by American money, by second- or third- or higher-generation immigrants who were nostalgic for the old country, though they had never been there and were no more Irish in actual fact than you or I. I had a friend like this once in Indiana. He was from Cincinnati. He worked as a busboy in a restaurant while going to college. He was a nice enough guy but didn't have anything special to look forward to in life. When he would talk about the IRA his eyes would light up—sending money to the IRA really made him feel like his life had special meaning.
After 9/11, it was no longer politically feasible for Irish politicians from Boston and New York to keep up the pretense that sending money to a terrorist organization was good because it was Irish. It was no longer politically feasible for the police to overlook the flow of money with a wink and a nod. Particularly when the ties between the IRA and the other terrorist groups became public knowledge. Or, so I hope.
I don't know what really happened. If indeed the flow of money to the IRA has stopped and has caused peace to break out all over because the IRA has no other options, then I suppose that at least one good thing has emerged from the awfulness of that day that shall live in infamy (among Republicans at least).