Leader of the Opposition Mary Lou McDonald said last week that, if she were Taoiseach, she would still have attended the paramilitary-style funeral of Bobby Storey in Belfast.
This statement needs to be analysed, because it reveals Deputy McDonald's understanding of the obligations that go with holding the office of Taoiseach.
The thing that distinguishes a republican form of government from a monarchy is that in a republic one's loyalty is to the words of the constitution, whereas in a monarchy, one's loyalty is to the person of the sovereign.
Unbound by a written constitution, UK governments can thus do things, and meet people, that would be impossible for the government of this State, bound as it is by the very precise language of its written Constitution.
Bobby Storey was a key figure in the Provisional IRA throughout his life. In reference to the IRA and echoing the words of Gerry Adams, he said in 2014: "We have a message for the British government, for the Irish Government, for the cabal that is out there; we ain't gone away, you know."
The prospect that Mary Lou McDonald might actually become Taoiseach has become real since the general election in February.
So it is important that she be seen to be fully cognisant of the requirements of the Constitution of the state she aspires to govern.
We must always remember that the best guarantee of democracy in this, or any other state, is scrupulous respect for the provisions of the constitution by all citizens, but more especially by those who aspire to high office.
The relevant articles of the Constitution are Article 9 and Article 15.
Article 9 states: "Fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State are fundamental political duties of all citizens."
A Taoiseach, more than any other citizen, must demonstrate loyalty to the State. By definition, loyalty to the State entails loyalty to the Constitution.
Article 15 of the constitution spells this out in a manner that is directly relevant to the potential attendance of a Taoiseach at a funeral ceremony celebrating the life of a senior figure of the IRA.
Article 15 states: "The right to raise and maintain military or armed forces is vested exclusively in the Oireachtas."
The Oireachtas has never authorised the Provisional IRA to come into being, or to conduct the killings and other activities it has undertaken, in this jurisdiction or elsewhere.
When I was Taoiseach, I recognised that the search for peace had to be pursued in total respect for this provision of our constitution. My respect as Taoiseach for Article 15 explains why, to the impatience of some, I took the attitude I did to the decommissioning of IRA weaponry.
Article 15 spells this out further, in terms that Mary Lou McDonald should be able to understand, if she reads and respects our Constitution.
It states: "No military or armed force, other than a military or armed force raised and maintained by the Oireachtas, shall be raised or maintained for any purpose whatsoever."
The words could not be clearer. This Constitution was democratically adopted by the Irish people in a referendum, and every deputy takes his or her seat in the Dáil under that Constitution, including Articles 9 and 15.
Sinn Féin needs to conduct a serious internal discussion of its present and past attitudes to this State and to the Constitution by which it is established.
While some might argue that, from 1923 to 1937, the then constitution of this state derived in part at least from the provisions of the Treaty of 1921 with Britain, the adoption of the new Constitution on July 1, 1937, was a sovereign act of the Irish people, completely untrammelled by any external interference.
There is no excuse for anyone seeking high office in this State, under this Constitution, not to give unambiguous loyalty to the State, particularly in regard to its exclusive right to raise a military force. Indeed the exclusive right to use force, within its territory, is the mark of sovereignty of any state.
It is a serious matter if a candidate for the highest political office in Ireland, and leader of one of the State's largest political parties, legitimates by attendance at events or commemorations the raising of an armed force that did not have, and does not have, the sanction of the Oireachtas.
This issue must be faced. Fianna Fáil was obliged to face up to it in 1927, and it did so.
Notwithstanding the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement by the Irish people in both parts of the island in 1998, Sinn Féin has yet to make a definitive move to become a properly constitutional party, as was demonstrated by the top-level Sinn Féin representation at an IRA funeral last week.
It is long past time for Sinn Féin to declare its clear loyalty to the Irish Constitution, including to Article 15.