SO does anyone really care about these allegations against Dessie Ellis, the Sinn Fein TD for Dublin North West, linking him with up to 50 deaths?
Will the public be satisfied with some glib comments from Deputy Ellis, brushing aside the issue?
As the clock runs down on 2012 – a poor year for many of us – it is very tempting to be defeatist and conclude that few people care and it will all be soon forgotten.
We could conclude that it will sit alongside unanswered questions by other Sinn Fein leaders such as those about the disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 children.
After all, Gerry Adams has managed over the years to preposterously claim he was never, ever in the IRA. He got over 15,000 votes in Louth in the last general election.
Now Dessie Ellis, when asked about newly-revealed British intelligence documents, tells us: "I don't want to comment on anything said by the Brits. I wouldn't be bothered."
Deputy Ellis, whom we knew as a senior IRA member jailed for 10 years, got more than 7,000 votes in Dublin North West in that same last election.
Again it is tempting to succumb to the temptation of pessimism and conclude that the 'whiff of cordite' may, if anything, enhance political appeal in some elements of the public.
But before we wallow in the year-end Slough of Despond, let's hold up a little and look at Sinn Fein's performance to date. In Northern Ireland the peace structures have made it a party of government and it will very likely remain such for quite a few decades to come.
In the Republic the party's progress has been rather slow. Let's stay with just the last three elections: in 2002 the party got 6.5 per cent of the vote and returned five TDs; in 2007 it got a similar vote share but dropped back to four TDs. Then came February 2011 and what looked like their big breakthrough.
Sinn Fein got almost 10pc of the vote and returned 14 TDs. Many of them were clearly not in any way related to the party's former links with the IRA. Some are people of real political talent such as Mary-Lou McDonald in Dublin Central, Peadar Toibin in Meath West and Pearse Doherty in Donegal South West.
The 14 Sinn Fein TDs began in the Dail clearly determined to move into Fianna Fail's space and for quite some time looked like doing just that. They showed two remarkable spikes in their rising popular support in the opinion polls: in October 2011 their popularity ranking rose to 15pc and in May 2012 it rose to a whopping 24pc.
Their showing in October 2011 was helped by Martin McGuinness flying the party flag in the presidential election. And, in early summer the party was getting loads of media exposure in opposing the EU Fiscal Treaty referendum and denouncing austerity.
But in the months that followed Gerry Adams and Co have found themselves to be rebels without a 'big picture' cause to propel themselves into the limelight.
Their problems have been compounded by the perception that Adams has not grasped much of the detail of day-to-day politics on this side of the Border, and seems less than enthusiastic about coming to grips with it.
By December 1 last Sinn Fein were showing on 17pc. Its rating was steady but let's recall that this Government has been doing little beyond dishing out hardship since it took office in March 2011. If Sinn Fein making war on austerity cannot show remarkable progress it justifies asking: will it ever make a big breakthrough?
It is this writer's strong view that without dealing with its past it will remain a niche party – irrespective of talented newcomers.
It is clear that the return of allegations surrounding SF's IRA past remains problematic.
In October, Adams was again challenged in the Dail about his past links.
Now the year ends with the spotlight on Ellis who shows every sign of being as glib and evasive as his party leader. It is not good enough.
Amid all this is the irony that Sinn Fein wants An International Truth Commission to establish the facts surrounding the decades of killing and maiming we euphemistically call 'The Troubles'.
The IRA and other Republican groups were believed to have killed over 2,000 of the 3,600 who died in that appalling period in our history.
IF Sinn Fein wants a Truth Commission, well it could start with itself. Let veteran figures like Adams and Ellis come forward, drop the glib cant and tell us the truth. We need to know who and what they really are.
So, we come back to the answer to our original question. It is clear that a good many people do not really care about the past of many leading Sinn Fein members.
But it is equally clear that the majority of voters do care enough not to vote Sinn Fein.
The remedy for that problem lies with people like Gerry Adams and Dessie Ellis.