Let's get a few things clear on Sinn Féin and the price of constructive ambiguity
Published 04/11/2015 | 02:30
Every time a skeleton (sometimes literally) falls out of the Sinn Féin-IRA cupboard and they are challenged to reveal what they know about a particular murder, rape, robbery, or smuggling racket, their first lines of defence are to flatly deny any involvement by their members; to ridicule the suggestion that they have a case to answer; or to attribute base political motives to those who demand answers.
They also encourage everyone to bring any information they have to the police but, like the busload of Sinn Féin members and supporters who witnessed the murder of Robert McCartney, people know how to handle this admonition - by keeping their mouths shut, for the very good reason that they know the consequences for 'touts' who break the code of omerta.
A mix of these defensive routines has been employed in countless cases, including the killing of Det Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare and more recent events, such as the murders of McCartney, Joseph Rafferty, Paul Quinn and Kevin McGuigan; the kangaroo courts set up to deal with the rape and sexual abuse of Mairia Cahill and Paudie McGahon; the Northern Bank robbery; and the criminal activity by 'republicans' along the Border.