'Armed struggle' mindset is still posing a grave threat to peace
Patrick Kielty used to have a lot of fun at the IRA's expense. When the peace process took hold in the mid-1990s, the stand-up comedian from Co Down (whose father was murdered by loyalist gunmen) had a routine in which he mocked Irish republicans' tendency to split into tinier and tinier factions.
"There's so many of them now, isn't there?" he asked his audiences. "There's the Real IRA, the Surreal IRA, the Continuity IRA, the Provisional IRA, the Official IRA, Low Fat IRA, Diet IRA, I Can't Believe It's Not The IRA…"
Today Kielty's joke might not seem quite so funny. Over the last few months there has been a series of security warnings, weapons seizures and suspect arrests, all suggesting that a force calling itself the 'New IRA' needs to be taken deadly seriously. Even more disturbingly, we have seen evidence on our television screens that the old 'Brits Out' mentality remains alive and well in some quarters - just as Brexit is threatening to recreate a hard Border and present terrorists with a 500km target.