When things in Northern Ireland explode into tangled confusion becoming too bizarre for me to understand, I turn to SluggerOToole, a beacon of sanity and on-the-ground reporting from Northern Ireland.
How mind-numbing strange are things there now? Well, currently the IRA is offering to execute several of its own people as restitution for their murder of Robert McCartney at a pub, a murder which has grabbed the attention of the country and caused the IRA huge damage. So why would the IRA make such an insane offer?
As usual, the Slugger cuts straight to the real issues.
There is no silver lining
In the Guardian- not in today’s print version but probably tomorrow – the Observer’s Ireland editor, Henry McDonald, sounds a (much needed IMO) note of caution to those commentators forever searching for silver linings. Instead, he argues, behind yesterday’s cack-handed PR gesture is a double-sided communique, in part assuring its base, in part intending to menace – and – the real message is that the IRA is still a key player in the peace process and remains armed and dangerous and unwilling, as yet, to exit the stage.
His view of the statement is relatively straightforward – and I don’t fundamentally disagree with it, although I would add that the statement, also, is an attempt to put a halt to the damaging pressure the PRM finds itself under –
“The menacing aspect of yesterday’s seemingly bizarre message is aimed at the British and Irish governments. Decoded, it warns there is still an IRA out there prepared to use violence or the threat of violence to meet its ends. Paradoxically, the raging crisis sparked by the butchering of Robert McCartney outside a Belfast pub has presented the IRA with an opportunity to underline the fact that it remains willing to resort to armed action if needs be.”
The IRA has also been linked, truthfully or not, to a huge bank robbery just before Christmas, which also damaged them badly politically. Events there seem indecipherable to an outsider, so I’ll be checking the Slugger frequently to get more of his award-winning, on-the-ground, unbiased coverage.