Here we go again. The big question is not whether the IRA was involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan - but rather, why is anyone surprised?
Gerry Kelly speaking yesterday on the Nolan Show quoted the IMC 2008 report as evidence that the IRA no longer exists. However, in November last year during a debate in the Assembly, Raymond McCartney had this to say: "The IMC had no role or remit as an investigative body…it permitted itself… to be guided by untested and unknown intelligence sources." They cannot have it both ways.
Kelly's credibility was further tested as he insisted "I am the same man who has said that the IRA were not involved in the Northern Bank robbery", while also stating: "The IRA are not involved in this… when they made the statement in 2005 to go away, they went away."
They didn't go away. Paul Quinn was beaten to death in 2006. Sinn Fein has been insisting the IRA was not involved for years. Gerry Adams wasn't in the IRA either, and herein lies the problem. Nobody believes what Sinn Fein says. Its statements on the IRA have proven time and again to be untrue.
So, in Sinn Fein's world, the IRA didn't raid Castlereagh, or collect intelligence on security personnel. It didn't break into the Northern Bank to boost its coffers, or buy up property to funnel its money into. It doesn't use businesses as laundering fronts, and it doesn't beat young 21-year-olds to death in a shed in south Armagh. It wasn't it who murdered Charles Bennett, beating him to within an inch of his life, and shooting him in the head from two inches away. That was "internal housekeeping", you see. It didn't travel to Colombia for malign reasons. They were "eco-tourists" instead. Remember that?
It wasn't the former IRA director of intelligence standing on a platform with Martin McGuinness last year, neck muscles straining, shouting: "We ain't going away you know!" We all imagined it, and it was an impotent statement anyway, which didn't mean anything. The IRA left the stage years ago. Yada, yada.
Sinn Fein is actively encouraging people to go to the police and report IRA members engaged in criminality. This is reflective of all of those prosecutions which have resulted in guilty verdicts for those who have stood accused of IRA membership and activities, and all of those solved murders in which the IRA was involved. No sitting in the toilets for Sinn Fein activists these days.
Apart from those involved in the brutal murder of Kevin McGuigan, blame also lies with those politicians who are engaging in half-hearted condemnation, and allowing hogwash like the above to be rehearsed again in the public eye. The lack of response from Gerry Adams until last night is telling. Sinn Fein is hoping the matter goes away. And, it probably will. The life of a former IRA man pales in comparison to the threat of institutional collapse.
The police believe members of the IRA, possibly with others, murdered Kevin McGuigan. As long as those in political life allow Sinn Fein off the hook in terms of scrutiny, a licence is given to the armed monster it protects with excuses to act with impunity.
Kevin McGuigan will not be the last.