“All can look back on their IRA involvement with pride.”

Historian, and crossbench life peer, Paul Bew writing at the Guardian’s CommentisFree

The problem in part lies with the brilliance of the Sinn Féin leadership. It has been superb at emoting and creating widely accepted personality cults of its dual leadership within its own community. No embarrassing revelation can dent the emotional investment which has now been built up. But superb as this exercise has been it has its counterpart in the equally dramatic failure to make any progress towards Irish unity. The very strengths of the current leadership are also its equally profound weakness when it comes now to the need to engage the unionist community.

Read the whole thing.As Paul Bew goes on to say

The IRA campaign has been cleverly described by Eamonn McCann as the pursuance of the civil rights movement by inappropriate means. In other words, a violent campaign whose effect has been to give the northern nationalist community a place in the sun within Northern Ireland. Gordon Brown’s multimillion handout to the Irish language this week is but the latest proof both of that place in the sun and the way in which it is underwritten by the Unknown British Taxpayer, the true hero of the Troubles.

McCann’s formula has the advantage that it explains why the failure of the IRA campaign to achieve its stated objective – British withdrawal and Irish unity – has nonetheless placed the political wing of the Republican movement in such a strong position within Northern Ireland, but also explains the great difficulty that Sinn Féin now has. Because it needs to reach out to unionists it cannot admit that the means were inappropriate.

Indeed. As Gerry Adams has just reiterated in his ‘dirty tackle’ of Dolours Price

From Adams’ statement

“There are lots of citizens who served in the IRA and they did so diligently and to the best of their ability.

“When they had finished that they went back into civilian life, and got on with their lives, and some continue to be involved in politics through community organisations or Sinn Féin or other organisations.

“Many of them suffered imprisonment injury or the loss of friends and comrades. All can look back on their IRA involvement with pride.”

Even those responsible for “human rights violations”?