Worse still is the pretence that there is an IRA when, quite clearly, the IRA has long-since left the stage and handed over the responsibility for the politics of the North of Ireland to the 108 Members in the House.
Now that may be the settled view inside Sinn Fein and within whatever remains of the wider Provisional movement, but it’s not one readily shared (or that is even shareable) by any of the non-Sinn Fein MLAs in the house, and few citizens outside it.
As Rowan Clarke notes at the Pensive Quill, “it’s an organisation that is viewed as a source of ridicule and as a bizarre curiosity for those outside it”.
You’d also have to wonder just what the DUP MLAs in his own administration (still) sitting opposite must have thought. In the old days, they’d surely have brought parliamentary business to a standstill for the utterance of such a remark.
Much as that may be a testimony to how far we’ve come, the statement itself is, to borrow Clarke, truly bizarre to anyone not bought into the narrow doctrine of the IRA as the successors of the 1st Dail.
Is the deputy First Minister actually arguing that the Assembly is now corporately responsible for all the moral, political and financial liabilities generated by the IRA during the Troubles, and after?
It might explain the silence Brian Rowan mentions?
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