Tom McGurk has long been an advocate for the Belfast Agreement and a commentator on the changes wrought by the process on a firstly recalcitrant Unionism, which nevertheless journeyed to become, seemingly, the last “piece painfully eased into place”, as the other, Sinn Féin, “falls out of alignment”. Yesterday, he was less than equivocal in suggesting the IRA is now the albatross around the party’s neck.
In the context of the Northern Bank robbery, even Sinn Féin must begin to see the alarming prospect of continuous political stalemate in the North as evidence of a clear requirement for new thinking. The party is ten years into the peace process with not much more to show for it than a huge political party all dressed up with nowhere to go and with a secret army still following it around.
Its furious complaint that there are securocrats determined to stymie its political progress, is probably as true as it is pathetic. But it should expect to have the bitterest political enemies at the heart of the establishment who can never forgive or forget.
How on one hand can you extol an undefeated IRA’ and not, on the other hand, expect such local difficulties? Lectures from Sinn Féin on the true political nature of the DUP also don’t help – have they never heard of the old political adage that you can expect nothing from a pig but a grunt?
It is time that Sinn Féin understood that all that matters in politics is results. High-minded political failures end up as the footnotes of history. It is now obvious that the twin strategy of the ceasefire, Armalite in one hand and the ballot box in the other, has run its course. Political power in the North – and possibly even in the Republic – awaits the big decision. Sinn Féin’s leaders don’t need me to tell them who should make that decision.