On RTE’s 9 O’Clock News last night, Northern editor Tommie Gorman gave his analysis of the IRA statement[streaming video clip], saying that “it shows the level of turmoil within the whole Republican movement”. He predicted that those “fingered by the IRA” must now end up in court, but also pointed out that, whatever the intention behind the statement, it “is going to ensure that all other political parties.. will be insisting that there must be no doubt for the IRA to move away, disintegrate, to leave the stage before they’ll do business with anyone”.It is also worth noting the change in stance by Sinn Féin that has taken place since their initial statement – by Sinn Féin’s Policing and Justice Spokesman Gerry Kelly, speaking shortly after the IRA statement was released, and shown on RTE’s 9 O’Clock news last night[streaming video clip – Gerry Kelly appears 1:58 minutes in], who described the IRA statement as “a positive contribution” and “trying to enhance the process and facilitate the process of bringing some justice to the McCartney family, and I think it has advanced that process.. and I think it’s a very strong statement”.
Later the Sinn Féin reaction had shifted, as noted by RTE, the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was restating the party’s previous position that “he had made it clear that he was not going to be an interpreter of IRA statements”. And Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said he was “surprised by the IRA statement. To shoot those involved would have been a mistake and unfortunate.”
Gerry Kelly was, IMO, clearly attempting to set the tone for the reaction to the statement, a ‘first strike’ technique that has proved successful in the past. THat he failed to achieve that is an indication of by just how much the party is misreading the public mood.
No matter how quickly the party’s shutters now come down, the reaction elsewhere is clear and is summed up in the Irish Examiner editorial –
The latest statement issued by the IRA must rank as one of the most extraordinary ever. It is a frightening exhibition of just how out of touch the organisation is with the constitutional process and the fundamentals of the judicial system.
It is alarming that they would offer to shoot the alleged culprits, and just as frightening that they would brazenly admit this, because the whole thing confirms their criminal nature and lack of respect for human life.
They are either totally ignorant or contemptuous of the fundamentals of a civilised judicial system.
The McCartneys have again distinguished themselves in the whole sorry episode. They are the ones who come out with dignity, having passed up an opportunity for vengeance. Their answer was essentially: “Thanks, but no thanks.”
We could not agree more.