Fiach Kelly: Irony of rebuke seems lost on proud supporter of shadowy organisation
AN irony-free zone all around, then. In a statement absolutely devoid of irony, Dessie Ellis claimed Fine Gael doesn't get irony.
Mr Ellis, who admits being in the IRA at the "highest level", had initially refused to comment on secret British state papers which suggested that he was forensically linked to 50 deaths in the Republic and Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
But, rather than answer direct questions from this newspaper, Mr Ellis later released a statement attacking Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan's suggestion that he should be the first person to appear before any truth and reconciliation commission.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has been at the forefront of calls for such a commission to be set up.
"If this is to be the case, let Dessie Ellis be the first person to be brought before it, so that questions can be answered in respect of the 50 people murdered, to which the British government suggests he is in some way linked," Mr Flanagan said.
Suddenly finding his voice, albeit through a pre-prepared statement, Mr Ellis said: "Mr Flanagan mentions without any hint of irony the need for an independent truth and reconciliation commission despite the fact that it is Sinn Fein who have led such calls and despite the fact that Mr Flanagan's government has done nothing at all to support the establishment of such a process."
And – completely devoid of irony – Mr Ellis also came out with the following peach.
"It is interesting that Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan places such importance on the unsubstantiated claims of British intelligence – the same shadowy forces who murdered so many Irish citizens over the years."
What other shadowy organisation has claimed the lives of so many citizens on this island over the years?
Maybe the same, shadowy organisation Mr Ellis says he was proud to serve?
"Finally, let me say that I am very proud of my involvement in the republican struggle over the years and of the leadership role republicans have played in the peace process, despite the best efforts of nay-sayers such as Charlie Flanagan and his ilk," he added as a final flourish to his statement.
A Sinn Fein statement had earlier described Mr Ellis as a "an important persuader for the peace process for many years".
But, in a recent book about his native Finglas, he told journalist Samantha Libreri, he had "very serious doubts" about whether the IRA was right to give up violence when it did.
"I would have had the same argument, maybe we needed to go on a little longer, and others had the same argument," he said, while adding: "I think the timing was right overall when you look at it."
A little more explaining from Mr Ellis, and less of this bluster, is needed.