“The real story is not the existence of some skeleton structure, but the sound of gunfire…”

It’s not the still-extant Provisional IRA structures that are the immediate cause for concern, although “stupid” questions could, and should, be asked about their ultimate purpose, it’s the involvement of those Provisional IRA ‘structures’ in the events leading up to, and including, the murder of Kevin McGuigan, and the continued denials [of that reality! – Ed] which have followed.

As I mentioned previously

…a key element in the recent events under investigation, which I noted previously, [is] the Provisional IRA investigation into the murder of Jock Davison that preceded the murder of Kevin McGuigan, which police have stated they believe involved members of the Provisional IRA.

And UTV adds another snippet of information.

It has also emerged that for at least three weeks Kevin McGuigan’s every move was being watched, so his killers could decide when was the right time to strike.

UTV understands there was an aborted attempt, or more than one, to murder him before he was killed and that the murder gang had been operating from a base in the Short Strand.

As Brian Rowan, at Eamonn Maillie’s blog, notes

The real story is not the existence of some skeleton structure, but the sound of gunfire and the police assessment that IRA members were involved as part of “a fallout, a disagreement, a feud within the republican community”.

This is the context for the two recent murders.

The McGuigan killing was a reprisal for the murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison – once one of the most senior IRA leaders in Belfast.

That killing was never going to pass without a response, and it is that response that has placed this spotlight on the IRA in 2015.

Gerry Adams is never going to convince the unionist community that “The IRA has gone away – you know”.

The focus now is on what is still there, why it is there, and who knew and didn’t know about the involvement of current members in the McGuigan shooting. [added emphasis]

Hamilton has no information at this time “that indicates that Provisional IRA involvement was sanctioned or directed at a senior or organisational level within the Provisional IRA or the broader republican movement”.

Well, perhaps… But if they didn’t know, it’s likely to be only because they didn’t want to know [If you don’t ask, you can’t tell! – Ed] Indeed.

And as Suzanne Breen pointed out on Sunday – via Newshound.

The Provos have certainly no desire to kill British soldiers and police officers or blow up town centres. They’ve genuinely given up their efforts to force a British withdrawal and Irish unity from the barrel of a gun.

But they still continue to exist and function. And if their control is substantially challenged, they’ll strike back. Jock Davison’s murder in May shook them.

The scary spectre emerged that his killing mightn’t be the last, that others with historical grievances against senior IRA figures would now be encouraged to wreak vengeance.

The Provos couldn’t run the risk of copycat executions. The man they believed had executed Jock had to be punished.

The week before Kevin McGuigan’s murder, the little known Action Against Drugs (AAD) went public with a threat against Jock’s killers. Retrospectively, it smacks of carefully choreographed, scene-setting stuff.

This self-styled group may well soon issue a claim of responsibility for the killing. Nobody with a titter of wit should give it any credibility even if Gerry Kelly repeats it at the top of his voice outside Connolly House.

AAD can allege ad infinitum that it’s entirely separate from the Provos but logic dictates that, on this one, the IRA is pulling the strings. [added emphasis]

The PSNI says it doesn’t know whether the murder was “sanctioned at a command level or not” by the Provos. That’s an implicit admission that the organisation’s structures continue to function.

I suspect that the increasing lack of public faith in the entire criminal justice system forced the PSNI to be so brutally honest. And the recent criticism of its record by Robert McCartney’s sister, Catherine, certainly stung.

London and Dublin have, of course, long turned a blind eye to what the IRA gets up to for the sake of the peace process. And since they ascended to power in Stormont, the DUP has followed suit.

With calls for more updates, and further discussion of the IRA allegations, the party is signalling it has no appetite to take action. The Provos are fortunate that so many here have a stake in continuing with the grotesque political pantomime that passes for democracy.

Meanwhile, at the Pensive Quill, Anthony McIntyre decodes the windtalking of the peace processors.

George Hamilton is not eagerly giving the green light to the type of murderous activity that claimed the life of Kevin McGuigan.  He is transmitting very clearly that his force will pursue, arrest and place before the courts individuals against whom it procures evidence of involvement in murder.  What is transmitted however is not always what is received and he must know this but has taken the risk all the same for the peace process.  Decoded by the windtalkers of the peace process his message will be received as meaning the IRA has room to manoeuvre, can kill with plausible deniability, that its individual members but not the organisation will be pursued, charges of directing terrorism and IRA membership will be an anachronism reserved exclusively for IRAs other than the Provisional, and there will be no political sanction for Sinn Féin.  Happy days for peace processing.

Ultimately there is a strong logic informing the Hamilton formula.  It amounts to a plausible mechanism for firewalling the peace process and the power sharing institutions from the destabilising effects of violence, now described by all as criminal rather than political.  It was ongoing IRA activity that made the Trimble led executive so precarious and which Peter Robinson was so determined to overcome given that he knew the Provisional IRA continued to function when he entered government with its erstwhile chief of staff as his deputy.

The upshot is this: so long as the Provisional IRA can emulate the Cosa Nostra of Sicily where the Mafiosi who belonged to it referred to it as “our thing” but denied the existence of any organisation and ridiculed, smeared or murdered those who thought otherwise, the show can stay on the road… to perdition.

Read the whole thing.