“Who Would Take Us Back”?
Wednesday nights murder of Kevin McGuigan was a reminder of the continued capability of the IRA to carry out murderous acts.
The PSNI attempts to steer blame away from the IRA, and the monotonous warnings coming from Sinn Fein of how ‘unhelpful’ it would be to blame the IRA was only outdone by Peter Robinson’s veiled threat to the institutions.
Peter Robinson is never collapsing the institutions, not least because he has given an undertaking to be gone by the end of September, but furthermore one only has to look at the big storm he created over the OTR scandal- before meekly crawling down without having any of his ‘demands’ met.
And one looks back aghast at the embarrassment of the graduated response, which has become little more than a running joke.
If truth be told Peter Robinson is probably rather pleased his partners in Government have taken the heat of him for a few days.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind who was behind the murder of Kevin McGuigan. Who carried it out is not known, but who planned it, organised it and ordered it is blatantly obvious.
The media have carried stories about the Belfast Brigade meetings days after Jock Davison’s murder, attended by old militants such as former Ardoyne and Belfast Brigade commanders. It was they, old pals of Jock Davison, who have their fingerprints all over Wednesday nights murder.
Let’s not forget the incident on the 13th of July, a video circulated of Gerry Kelly- IRA royalty- being verbally abused by Dee Fennell, a man viewed as an idiot by PIRA men.
The participation of Fennell was irrelevant, apart from the amusement of imagining Gerry Kelly musing to himself that a few years ago he would have simply blown Dee Fennell’s head off, but in this new political theatre he had to smile and just laugh at Fennell.
What was intriguing in that video was the intervention of Eddie Copeland, the former OC of the Ardoyne IRA and a man I have been repeatedly told by North Belfast loyalists is ‘close’ and who is getting ‘closer’ to the dissidents.
Wednesdays murder could set of an interesting chain of events- what is being said publicly by Sinn Fein is irrelevant, it is what is being said on the quiet ‘walk and talks’ that is important.
Did Sinn Fein accept that the IRA had to hit back and simply made the conspirators aware that they would have to keep up appearances and condemn whatever action took place?
Or did the Belfast Brigade militants just plough on ahead? If it is the latter then it is not beyond the realms of imagination to believe that the militants will be infuriated by the condemnation coming from Sinn Fein.
If I was a betting man I would think it was pretty safe to assume that senior Sinn Fein members knew of the plans to strike back and deep down people like Bobby Storey, Gerry Kelly and Alex Maskey are still the same old people they always were. They may publicly condemn the killing, but privately they will be happy enough.
The IRA are settling old scores. It is unlikely that they will turn their guns on the Unionist community at this stage- but surely the fact they maintain the capability is a threat in itself, is it not?
Recent events play into the narrative that the peace process is really an appeasement process- a concession meter that must be fed or else we might go back to the ‘bad old days’.
Who would take us back, I often ask, I think that question was answered by the two masked gunmen with automatic rifles on Wednesday night- two masked gunmen acting on the orders PIRA Belfast Brigade Staff leadership.