Shadow of the gunman must be lifted for good
Published 21/10/2015 | 02:30
Yesterday, two separate reports demonstrated how premature reports of the demise of the IRA truly were. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was concerned about the existence of illegal organisations and command structures in the North, based on an independent report.
In a separate review in the South, the gardaí also concluded that a significant number of former IRA members have joined dissident groups and that others are involved in criminality for personal gain.
Tánaiste Joan Burton called for the complete ending of paramilitarism, describing it as a "cancer".
And so it is. There can be no tolerance for rackets, where thugs masquerading as republicans, or loyalists, can cream off the rich rewards by exploiting the malign legacy of terrorism.
Almost two decades since the singing of the Good Friday Agreement, there should be no truck with violence or criminality. The residue of a sulphorous past has to be removed for once and for good.
It is not long since Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan shrugged off suggestions that the IRA was still in business.
Yesterday's reports show how wide of the mark this view was and the Garda Commissioner has questions to answer as to why it was ever countenanced in the first place.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "...Nor is it acceptable on any part of this island, for whatever purposes, to seek to retain the substance or the shadow of a gunman."
The legacy of paramilitarism has allowed a grotesque multi-headed criminal hydra to develop. This must be wiped out.
Any temptation to settle for an "imperfect peace," is a negation of democracy.
To his credit, yesterday DUP leader Peter Robinson said the DUP will return to Stormont.
He also said: "I don't think there is any other future for Northern Ireland other than our community working together to resolve outstanding issues."
He is right, parties must pull together and that means pulling against the gunmen and their shadowy dealings in any guise.
We must seek solace by turning grief into hope
Powerful grief has the capacity to immobilise. The pain and loss seen in Bray yesterday at the funerals of five of those who died in Carrickmines was overbearing. As a society we can not afford not to respond to this desperate tragedy. The anguish of the relatives of Tara Gilbert (27), Willy Lynch (25), their daughters Jodie (9) and Kelsey (4) and Willy's brother Jimmy (39) was palpable in Bray yesterday.
Just as it will be today when the remains of Thomas Connors, his wife Sylvia, and their three children, Christopher, Jim and baby Mary, will be brought to the Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Balally, Sandyford.
We have to hope that this is the last time that we ever have to witness such a procession of hearses. Yesterday Fr Derek Farrell, of the Parish of the Travelling People, said there were "no words" that could assuage the pain of the loss of these lives. "The only words we have are words of comfort, words of hopeful consolation and assurance that somehow together, our society will resolve that some lasting good will emerge, to ensure the death of these precious loved ones will not have been in vain." One "lasting good" would be that a national agency embracing all the difficulties faced by Travellers would be set up. Another would be that agreement can be reached on finding homes for the 15 who lost everything in the fire.