There is no silver lining

In the Guardian- not in today’s print version but probably tomorrow – the Observer’s Ireland editor,
Henry McDonald, sounds a (much needed IMO) note of caution to those commentators forever searching for silver linings. Instead, he argues, behind yesterday’s cack-handed PR gesture is a double-sided communique, in part assuring its base, in part intending to menace – and – the real message is that the IRA is still a key player in the peace process and remains armed and dangerous and unwilling, as yet, to exit the stage.His view of the statement is relatively straightforward – and I don’t fundamentally disagree with it, although I would add that the statement, also, is an attempt to put a halt to the damaging pressure the PRM finds itself under –

The menacing aspect of yesterday’s seemingly bizarre message is aimed at the British and Irish governments. Decoded, it warns there is still an IRA out there prepared to use violence or the threat of violence to meet its ends. Paradoxically, the raging crisis sparked by the butchering of Robert McCartney outside a Belfast pub has presented the IRA with an opportunity to underline the fact that it remains willing to resort to armed action if needs be.

Those commentators forever searching for silver linings in the dark clouds hanging over Northern Ireland’s political landscape are wrong in their assertion that the McCartney controversy provides a chance for the IRA to leave the scene. Their argument is that Sinn Féin is being forced, though the actions of six brave and determined women (the McCartney sisters and the murdered man’s partner), to persuade its supporters to accept the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s bona fides. They point to the distance Sinn Féin leaders such as Gerry Adams have travelled in a matter of a few weeks, from denying outright that any republican was involved in the murder to calling on witnesses to pass on information to Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman and for the people responsible to hand themselves over.

Which BTW, is an argument that is closely entwined with the benevolent intrepretation of the IRA statement that Gerry Kelly was pushing yesterday

However, the searchers for a silver lining misunderstand the essence of what the IRA said yesterday. Stripping down that statement to its core, the real message is that the IRA is still a key player in the peace process and remains armed and dangerous and unwilling, as yet, to exit the stage.[emphasis added]