EVERY now and then, something nasty happens to remind us all of how very thin the veil between violent criminality and what passes for Republicanism — and Loyalism — really is.
The mask slips, blood is spilt, lives are taken but ‘The Cause’ is invoked as a cover. However, anyone with eyes to see will recognise the criminality involved.
The murder of former Real IRA chief Aidan ‘The Beast’ O’Driscoll by killers who did not feel the need to even disguise themselves in Cork this week is the latest example confirming that Wrap-the-Green-Flag-’Round-Me-Boys republicanism is more often a flag of convenience than a noble cause for those happy to use the dark arts needed to sustain violent nationalism for criminal, personal gain.
One theory is that O’Driscoll was murdered by a dissident faction from Limerick and that he knew his killers.
O’Driscoll was 37, so he would not have been 20 when the Good Friday Peace Agreement was endorsed by the vast majority of people on this island. How he imagined a mandate for violent nationalism existed after that vote may be a question for another day. Or it may not.
Three years ago, O’Driscoll was targetted in a punishment shooting over missing Real IRA cash. He was expelled from that group because he tried to extend an extortion racket across Munster. He was associated with former Real IRA leader Alan Ryan, who was shot dead in Dublin in 2012. O’Driscoll had form, and had followed a well-trodden path.
The most notorious of those criminals posing as a Republican is the Border IRA godfather Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy, who was jailed for 18 months earlier this year.
Gerry Adams, who is fighting yet another rearguard action to save what remains of his credibility over the Brian Stack murder, described Murphy as “a good Republican”.
Adams is not the only senior Sinn Féin figure blessed with the flexibility that allows him to participate in a democratic process but support those who show nothing but contempt for it. Last year, his deputy Mary Lou McDonald — one of Sinn Féin’s untainted generation — presided over a night of “celebration and remembrance” for one of the Colombia Three, Jim ‘Mortar’ Monaghan in Dublin. Sinn Féin initially denied any connection with the Colombia Three, only to acknowledge their relationship some months later. Earlier still, in June 1996, the IRA and Sinn Féin rejected the suggestion the IRA had killed Garda Jerry McCabe. They later admitted the IRA was involved, and Sinn Féin campaigned for the killers’ early release. In August 2009, Sinn Féin deputy Martin Ferris greeted McCabe’s killers, Pearse McAuley and Kevin Walsh, when they were released from Castlerea prison. It is not necessary to go back that far to establish a link between crime and what passes for Republicanism. Just last February, David Byrne was murdered at Dublin’s Regency Hotel by killers using guns sourced from dissident Republicans.
Not only have these people betrayed the noble tradition they imagine they serve, but they have brought the worst of gangland violence into the communities they would say, if you were daft enough to believe them, that they represent.
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