I am happy to debate IRA crime on TV with Sinn Fein
If Sinn Fein can't see any evidence of criminality by the IRA, Jim Cusack would be happy to point them in that direction
Sinn Fein's boringly repetitive attacks on the Sunday Independent and, last Thursday, me personally, posits a simple question - why are they so adamant that no one in the Provisional IRA is capable of committing a crime?
Their certainty on the issue is unswerving and unique among political parties in Ireland. It's also laughable.
Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Fein's justice spokesman, said in the Dail on Thursday that this newspaper has 'no evidence' of IRA criminality.
Yet should he be prepared to be slightly open to 'the facts' we will gladly guide him to the literal stench of IRA crime.
We have taken samples of befouled water flowing from one of the dozens of diesel-laundering operations in the border area run by the very people MacLochlainn refers to as 'republicans'.
We have had it analysed and it was found to be highly poisonous.
Asked if the polluted water, flowing into the main drinking supply for Dundalk and Crossmaglen, could be drunk at all, the laboratory technician who carried out the tests replied tersely: "Only once."
It's that dangerous.
The densely polluted waste flowing from the Provo diesel plants contains polycyclic hydrocarbons proven by science to be associated with severe neonatal abnormalities, cancers and under-development in children.
The fact that this is allowed to happen is an indictment not only of the Provos but also of the public authorities on both side of the Border who have allowed it to happen unhindered for years.
These so-called 'republicans' are literally poisoning their own families and neighbours.
No one in the areas where this environmental and financial crime is taking place is prepared to speak out publicly because they are justifiably afraid for their lives.
And people don't speak out for a good reason. The 'example' the IRA made by murdering Paul Quinn hangs over south Armagh like a corpse on a crossroads gallows.
FYI, Padraig: the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) report of 2009 ascribed the murder of Paul Quinn without equivocation to the Provisional IRA.
That was the same report that Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan cited as circumstantial evidence to support her theory of the IRA's non-existence in her letter to Padraig MacLochlainn in February this year, a matter I can't explain.
The continuing brutal suppression of the people in south Armagh and other nationalist areas of Northern Ireland is the poisonous legacy we inherited through the peace process.
This year alone, the mother of a young man the IRA was intent on making yet another 'example' of came to the Sunday Independent in distress, asking that we publicise the threat hanging over her son, a hard-working and very decent young man who happened to have become, through no fault of his own, the target of invective and threats from so-called 'republicans'.
At least three homes have been damaged and one burnt out by the IRA. Another attempt was made to abduct a local man from a shop in Crossmaglen by the same people who murdered Paul Quinn.
I agree entirely with Padraig MacLochlainn that other elements of the media don't report on IRA criminality and I cannot explain that.
All any Dublin-based journalists need to do is drive up the M1 to junction 17, turn west. Stop at any of the many diesel-laundering plants and ask what's going on.
RTE, with its enormous resources doesn't seem to want to do this. It may have its corporate reasons for not doing so but it doesn't have any moral reasons for ignoring the violent suppression of decent people and the worst man-made environmental crime in this island.
Our democratic system of a free press and parliament allows Padraig MacLochlainn to say exactly what he likes in the Dail chamber. Our news group defends that right absolutely and has done at the cost of two of our esteemed colleagues' lives. My friends, Marty O'Hagan and Veronica Guerin, were murdered for exposing criminality.
If Padraig MacLochlainn wishes to debate these or any issues with me, preferably on live TV, I would be delighted to oblige.