by Jude Collins (judecollins.net)
It was co-incidental that I (and several others) were writing about the fact that the IRA is now defunct, when the killing of Kevin McGuigan occurred. His death was seized on by the media, who declared that it was the work of the IRA, in response to the killing of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison some months ago. The First Minister made a speech declaring that if investigations were to prove that this was the work of the IRA, there would be serious repercussions.
The violent death of anyone for any reason is a tragedy, so we need to be careful we’re not using the death of someone to engage in point-scoring. Needless to say that hasn’t prevented a number of unionists from emulating the First Minister. “We suspected it all along!” they cry. “Now we know why we didn’t get the photographic evidence of decommissioning that Ian Paisley asked for. Fr Alec Reid and the Rev Harold Good were either gullible fools or lying through their teeth when they said they had witnessed IRA decommissioning.”
Do you think the IRA are about to re-commence their campaign of violence? Do unionist politicians think so? I’m going to go out on a limb and say No. The very fact that mainstream republicans have abandoned violence has made them the object of opprobrium from dissident republicans. They’re helping run the British state. They’ve sold out. This is a cul-de-sac we’ve been led into.
So here’s the thing: why would Sinn Fein endure these taunts, why would they endure the open contempt of the DUP, why would they work tirelessly to develop the party electorally, if all this was nothing but an elaborate smokescreen while they prepared to go back to war? Which would, of course, immediately undo more than twenty years of tireless political work.
The media tell me that Kevin McGuigan’s death was in revenge for the killing of Gerard Davison. That may be true or may not: I have no evidence either way. A lot of people insist that of course it was, but not as many can produce evidence that supports the charge. And while a lot of unionists say “I told you so” and that the IRA is bristling with weaponry and biding its time to recommence the killing, none of them that I’ve heard offer a shred of evidence that this is so.
It’s my guess - and yes, it’s only a guess - that when this period is looked back on in future times, people will wonder why we didn’t see the undercurrents swirling beneath the surface of events. There was a time when we were told every victim on Bloody Sunday was carrying a weapon of some sort; there was a time when we were told the Dublin-Monaghan bombings were the sole work of the UVF. There was a time when we were told that the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four were murderous animals. Looking back, we wonder how we could have been so gullible. When these days are looked back on in thirty years time, it’s possible that the killing of Gerard Davison and Kevin McGuigan will be shown as a lot more than tit-for-tat killings within the IRA. That it’ll be revealed as a curtain-raiser for a new IRA campaign I very much doubt.