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Bobby Storey's trying to lead us up garden path

By Malachi O'Doherty

Published 14/09/2015

Bobby Storey was arrested by police investigating a murder by Provisional IRA members
Bobby Storey was arrested by police investigating a murder by Provisional IRA members
Sinn Fein's northern chairman Bobby Storey and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

Bobby Storey is fond of gardening imagery. He once put me up against a wall in the Felons Club and told me that I was a slug.

Yesterday he was drawing a contrast between the caterpillar that some imagined the IRA to be and the butterfly that - in his reality - it is.

By such metaphors he skirted the danger of saying what he does not want to say, that the IRA is dead, rotting on the compost heap of Irish history.

For a butterfly that has flown away is somewhere else.

And this coy avoidance of the plainest possible statement, that there is no IRA, is intriguing.

Adams does the same thing.

It is as if the republican leaders are trying to avoid a plain lie, yet why should they?

They have been accused of much worse than dishonesty.

It is remarkable to hear an old IRA man of Storey's background describe the killers of Gerard Davison and Kevin McGuigan as enemies of the Sinn Fein peace strategy and insisting that "every effort must be made to ensure that they are brought before the courts". There is nothing equivocal about that.

So his denial of IRA responsibility has a clarity and emphasis to it that his denial of the existence of the IRA does not. Then he moved to the key point, which is that the unionists are cynically using the killings and his "wrongful detention to threaten the political institutions".

There is marvellous smugness in all this, the confident assumption that no plausible grounds exist for an honest unionist to doubt his word and the word of Sinn Fein that the butterfly of the IRA has flown away and is not coming back. But there is another villain in the story, the media which has 'set aside due process' having failed to take into account the "40 years of clear evidence of censorship, media manipulation, dirty tricks, the use of agents and informers…"

Bobby wouldn't object, of course, if the media were to set aside the 40 years of an IRA campaign that he was up to his neck in.

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