THE anger and sense of betrayal building around the probability that the IRA still exists in one form or another is entirely justifiable. That anger is exacerbated by the fact that one of the central players in the current debate has little credibility when it comes to being trustworthy in these matters.
The issue and all its dangerous potential cannot be put to one side. This is not how it was meant to be more than a decade after the great majority of people on this island voted for the Good Friday peace agreement. The murders should have stopped a long time ago.
Ghosts from our bloody past cannot be laid to rest, or we cannot believe that they have been, because Sinn Féin cannot be trusted to tell the truth in relation to IRA-related controversies that have the potential to cause it political embarrassment or damage.
One half of the argument about the status of the IRA is being advanced by a man whose constant and consistent damage-limitation denials are simply beyond belief.
Gerry Adams, in the 32 years of his unquestioned leadership of Sinn Féin, has offered so many implausible denials that, as that cutting but unfortunately apt phrase goes, “you could hardly believe the radio in his car”. He has repeatedly assured us, and those gullible enough to believe him, that he was never a member of the IRA. That claim is, frankly, utterly implausible.
He also repeatedly denied that the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank raid though both our Government and the British government are utterly convinced that they were.
When Mairia Cahill first raised the role of the IRA in her rape, and the kangaroo court she faced, Mr Adams did all he could to undermine her, to paint her as a hurt person but one who could not be believed. He did this even though the very same issue of sexual abuse seared his own close family circle.
The latest example of this pattern of implausible denial is the rejection, on his behalf by a spokesman, of the claim made by former US President George W Bush’s envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process, Mitchell Reiss, that Mr Adams made a request in 2005 that the IRA be allowed retain some arms to protect itself against dissident republicans. Describing the Reiss claim as “rubbish” Mr Adams’ spokesman said: “There is not a scintilla of truth to this claim.” According to Mr Reiss, the British government agreed to the request but changed its position on the insistence of our then justice minister, Michael McDowell.
So who do you believe? Mitchell Reiss? Mairia Cahill? Michael McDowell? The police who investigated the Northern Bank raid? Or Gerry Adams?
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald’s request for a review of the status of the IRA is welcome but before it begins one thing is certain: Unless its conclusions reflect Mr Adams’ perception of reality he will reject it.
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