Despite the long held certainty amongst most commentators, P O’Neill’s statement the week before last that all bets were off, has created a nervous frisson amongst some. John O’Sullivan over at the National Review Online quotes three reasons why the IRA is unlikely to go back to war.
First, public opinion in Northern Ireland — Catholic as well as Protestant — is determined to keep the present peace. Neither community would tolerate any resumption of terrorism. Both would support a ruthless campaign of official repression if the IRA started bombing again.
Second, the IRA itself is still dangerous, but it is no longer a hard-edged guerrilla force. It is a rich, fat, lazy, middle-aged mafia raking in millions of dollars from the rackets. If London and Dublin continue to turn a blind eye to control of the Catholic ghettoes — as they have done to date — its present leadership will not wish to put its highly agreeable lifestyle at risk.
Third, in the post-9/11 world, Washington and the entire West would support the British and Irish governments in a crackdown on IRA terrorism. And with even Libya anxious to be back in the international community, the IRA would be without friends internationally.