According to David McKitterick’s analysis the lack of detailed committments Gerry Adams public statement to the IRA yesterday is not as important as the message that a lack of public response from the IRA would send to the world about Adams’ political authority as leader of the Republican movement.
Nevertheless, he still sees this primarily in the context of the election contest. In particular, it may aimed at loosening the SDLP’s slender grip on Foyle and Eddie McGrady’s more robust position in South Down:
Since a rebuff now would leave his reputation in shreds, the assumption must be that he is confident of a favourable reply from the IRA. An important move by the IRA is in any event a political necessity, since the murder and the robbery have left it with much ground to make up.
It would come as no surprise if the IRA produced a helpful reply during the election campaign, since the announcement had the additional purpose of maximising the Sinn Fein vote. Despite the setbacks, most expect Sinn Fein to increase its tally of Westminster MPs from four to five. But the party also has designs on two further seats, and winning these depends on reassuring floating nationalist voters that republicans put peace before violence.