Anthony McIntyre argues that the conditions that led to the killing of Robert McCartney were laid long before last January.He believes it’s the work of a ‘freelance’ element within the IRA:
The Provisional Movement knew what it had in its ranks. Beatings, threats, intimidation were a way of life to what one Irish News letter writer termed the ‘do you know who I am gang?’ There was no republican objective associated with their activity, unless hanging out in bars a la the characters out of the movie Donnie Brasco, bullying those who crossed their paths at the pool table or who looked the wrong way – resulting in a forced visit to the toilets – had some discrete republican function that was never explained to the rest of us during political education sessions.
And they are now even defying the Republican leadership:
Some of them avoided republican activism like the plague when there was a risk to personal safety or freedom, but with the Good Friday Agreement found it easy to puff the chest out and ask menacingly ‘do you know who I am?’ They were the muscle that the Sinn Fein leadership relied upon to fortify its position on the streets. Greenshirt thugs always at hand to break a leg or kidnap a critic. Now that leadership has joined their lengthy list of victims as they treat with self serving contempt the calls by Gerry Adams and others for them to do the honourable thing and make themselves amenable.
Finally he argues that whatever happens the crime cannot be ever be seen as political:
Republican activism is not a license to murder members of the nationalist community in pursuit of self-gratification. Those who engage in it should be given no cover. If they want the cloak of political legitimacy, then, if jailed, they can do their time as political prisoners on the UDA wing in Maghaberry. Jim ‘Doris Day’ Gray would make ideal company for them. For now Robert McCartney is a name that hangs over the leadership of Sinn Fein like the sword of Damocles. A party that prided itself on challenging injustice will not be allowed to sleep easily until it delivers it. Prime Time was a Sinn Fein nightmare.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty