Shameful past hard to escape
Sinn Féin's love affair with an idealised and partial version of the past is fast becoming a threat to its electoral future. Republicans have long used history the way a chop-shop mechanic uses a stolen car, as a source of saleable scraps and eye-catching accessories. The unwanted parts – and inconvenient bodies – are simply discarded.
Not surprisingly, Shinners have denounced Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin, who suggests that no further police investigations, inquests or inquiries be undertaken into conflict-related killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Without historical injustices – real or customised – to play with, after all, the republican movement would lose its USP.
As we are discovering, however, the past is no country for old spoofers. Gerry Adams's spectacularly dim-witted reaction to the Smithwick Tribunal report on collusion between rogue gardaí and the IRA creates a grave problem for Sinn Féin. Evidently addicted to the narcotic comforts of blaming others for everything, Adams has effectively claimed that murdered RUC officers were asking for it.
Many younger voters, impressed by Sinn Féin's economic critique, will be deeply disconcerted to hear leaders of this ostensibly progressive party brag about the "duty" of republicans to kill in the name of the republic. A shameful past can be temporarily enshrouded but, ultimately, it cannot be escaped.