As far as the Sinn Féin leadership is concerned, Ireland’s Troubles are old news from another country that they hope everyone else will forget about. Skeletons that should remain in the closet.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, newly minted as a deputy at the head of a substantial bloc in the new Irish parliament, is intent on winning the hearts and minds of a new, almost foreign electorate – the southern Irish.
In 2007, Mr Adams was widely seen as being an alien Northern Irish politician who had little real understanding of southern politics or culture. And in the election of that year the party lost one of its five Dail seats.
However, Ireland’s economic crisis has proved to be Sinn Féin’s opportunity. With 14 seats, it now rivals the 20-seat rump of the traditional Fianna Fail ruling party, and is seeking to entirely re-engineer its political aura away from the blood-soaked past of the Provisional IRA.
In public, Mr Adams continues to deny he ever was a member of the IRA.
That is part of wider political strategy that recognises Sinn Féin’s future lies inside the boundaries of the current Irish Republic.
Instead, Sinn Féin wants to be seen as a squeaky-clean, left-of-centre political brand untainted by the endemic “brown envelope” political culture of either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail that led to Ireland’s current state of bankruptcy.
However, Sinn Féin’s skeletons cannot remain undisturbed as long as new young Catholic policemen continue to be killed in the North.
The unfinished war, and the implacable refusal of the dissidents to give up on their violent dream of re-unification, reminds everyone that Adams has his own blood stains, too.
For once, but for wholly different reasons, Adams and the forces of the British Crown in Ireland are entirely united in their mutual aim of bringing the killers of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr to justice.
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