There are double standards - and Sinn Féin's standards
Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30
From the moral high ground Mary Lou McDonald declared she wanted the gangsters hunted down, locked up and the keys thrown away.
Gerry Adams described them as "thugs" and said ordinary people "deserved the very best protection from the State and An Garda Síochána".
They rightly questioned whether Garda resources have been sliced too thin and said people were angry and living in fear. But then, buried on page 46 of their manifesto, was the truth according to Sinn Féin: "We will repeal the Offences Against the State Acts."
In one fell swoop that move would inevitably make the jobs facing gardaí immeasurably more difficult and reduce the chances of successful convictions.
According to the Department of Justice, these acts have primarily been used to counter the threat posed by the IRA in all its manifestations, including, latterly, the dissident republican terrorist organisations of the so-called Real IRA and Continuity IRA.
They provide for a range of terrorist-related offences, with maximum court-imposed sentences varying according to the specific offence.
It outlaws kangaroo courts, intimidation of the President and the Government and a whole series of laws that are seen as vital to the security of the State.
A reasonable question was asked: What would Mr Adams replace these laws with so that every citizen can get "the very best protection from the State and An Garda Síochána?"
The Sinn Féin president's answer was as vague as it was cranky: "The normal rule of law."
What does that mean? The answer wasn't on Gerry's sheet so Mary Lou had to take over. She explained that there were legitimate concerns about the safety of jurors but the Government had never looked at an alternative to non-jury trials.
Neither has Sinn Féin though, judging by its manifesto, which offers no ideas on how to protect jurors or even a process for coming up with ways to try terrorists and gangsters.
We are not at war in the traditional sense, but neither can the scenes on the streets of Dublin in recent days be described as normal - at least they shouldn't be.
Adams ignored questions about his definition of 'normal'. Instead, he went back on the attack, citing the reduction of Garda numbers and the closure of Garda stations.
Again, fair points - but then he wandered into talk about the murder of Garda Tony Golden in Louth last year.
Of course, the Sinn Féin president had no issue with one of his own TDs, Martin Ferris, collecting the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe from prison. It's not about double standards, it's about Sinn Féin standards.
He argued that the abolition of the Special Criminal Court has been a long-standing position for the party.
"It's been there for as long as I can remember," Mr Adams said, before deciding that it wouldn't be a redline issue for the party in the event they are negotiating to be in government.
But Mr Adams, just because you've believed something for a long time doesn't make it right at this time.