In my view the most significant but alarming paragraph in the statement issued to the media yesterday by PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton comes about halfway through the text and reads:
Although still a proscribed organisation, and therefore illegal, we assess that the continuing existence and cohesion of the Provisional IRA hierarchy has enabled the leadership to move the organisation forward within the peace process. Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas.
Translated into ordinary English this says:
The IRA is good for the peace process although there are some bad apples in the ranks who do bad things and have their own agendas. The leadership though has nothing to do with these bad apples who are essentially doing their own thing.
This means that the next time people are killed by Action Against Drugs or whatever fictional group the Provos set up to do their dirty work, the PSNI will have a ready-made response:
Nothing to do with Gerry, or Martin or Big Bobby. It’s just that they have got some bad apples in the barrel and there’s not really a lot they can do about that. These people are really hard to control. Sorry, folks! Now, can we please move on!
Now if you are stupid or naive enough to believe the nonsense that the control freaks who have run the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein for more than two decades would allow freelance murder, robbery and other criminality to happen without their knowledge and/or approval, then you should apply for a job with the PSNI. A stellar career awaits you.
If, on the other hand, you live in the real world, and can remember what someone like IRA veteran John Kelly once said of the Sinn Fein President, that ‘not a single sparrow can fall from a tree without him knowing’, you will have an entirely different view.
You will recognise the Chief Constable’s statement for what it is: a piece of verbiage that effectively is a licence to murder.
From now on, the IRA leadership can decide to kill this or that opponent, confident that the PSNI will have a ready-made excuse waiting to issue to the media:
It was IRA members who did it, but they were not acting under orders.
And if it is you or one of your loved ones who gets killed, well that’s just tough.
The consolation is that they will have died to preserve the peace process.
Now, isn’t that just great! We have ended up with a peace process in which the police service tells barefaced lies and devises forms of words to permit murder.