As some in Ireland now consider Sinn Féin to be just another political party, most of those involved in politics know differently. Those who see how it operates know it is not a fully democratic party.
It has evolved over the quarter of century since the peace process began, but that evolution has been far too slow - a military culture of top-down control and command continues to pervade the movement, the IRA's army council still exists and it is unclear who is really in charge.
The old reactionary impulses remain alive, as Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane's cries of "up the Ra" last weekend demonstrate, as did his colleague's claim that "we broke the Free State" at the same meeting. Its authoritarian impulses were evident yesterday when Enda Fanning, an ard chomhairle member, tweeted in reaction to a radio show he didn't like that the next government should set up "a proper monitoring authority with powers to prevent such political bias".
Across Europe, parties who win support at the ballot box but who have dubious connections to democracy and its values are treated in different ways. Sometimes they are kept out of power on the basis that the risks to democratic integrity of having them in government are greater than the risks of allowing them build further support in opposition.
This is the choice now faced by Ireland's democratic parties following last week's General Election in which Sinn Féin won a quarter of the vote.
There is a strong case for the democratic parties to form a coalition to keep Sinn Féin out of government on the basis that it is insufficiently democratic.
Along with changes to policies, such a coalition could work to push Sinn Féin to cross the democratic red lines that it has yet to cross.
These democratic red lines will be even more important if Sinn Féin is part of the next government. Chief among them is the full disbandment of the IRA.
That, at a minimum, would involve a statement by 'P O'Neill' - the historic mouthpiece of the Provisional IRA - announcing that it is disbanding.
If Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald cannot bring about the disbandment of the IRA, any party entering government with her should demand that Sinn Féin publicly calls for the IRA's disbandment - a quarter of a century into the peace process. Any programme for government involving Sinn Féin should have an explicit statement that all participants recognise that the Irish State's Defence Forces is the only army in the State and that those forces, along with the Garda Síochána, have a monopoly on the exercise of legitimate force in the jurisdiction.
That is important in principle because true democracies cannot tolerate the existence of private armies. It is also important because the Sinn Féin leader's authority is in question.
Eighteen months ago, Ms McDonald stated that a referendum on Irish unity would be premature given the uncertainty around Brexit.
The next day the Sinn Féin press office in Belfast said exactly the opposite. The party leader fell into line.
Why did the leader of Sinn Féin do a 180-degree U-turn on such a core issue within 24 hours? Was she told to change her position? If so, who told her? Would Taoiseach Mary Lou McDonald follow orders from the same people?
Any programme for government would need to include other democratic red lines. Nowhere in Sinn Féin's constitution is the Irish State recognised.
There are references to the Rising of 1916, the General Election of 1918 and the first Dáil of 1919. But political history, it seems, stops there for Sinn Féin.
There is no reference to the State as it has existed since 1922 in Sinn Féin's constitution. Instead, Article 2 of that document states "the allegiance of Irishmen and Irishwomen is due to the sovereign Irish Republic proclaimed in 1916".
This is not some trifling oversight. It delegitimises the State itself. Ms McDonald now wants to take the most powerful position in the very same State.
Any programme for government involving Sinn Féin would require all parties to explicitly pledge their allegiance to the State established in 1922 following democratic elections that year and in the previous year.
Sinn Féin's constitution makes no reference to Bunreacht na hÉireann, voted into existence by the Irish people in 1937 and which has formed the bedrock of the rule of law ever since.
Its sets out the State's powers and how they are separated, checked and balanced. It sets out citizens' rights and obligations. It is the basis for the functioning of the rule of law.
Again, any programme for government would have to include explicit reference to Ireland's Constitution and that all parties in government fully accept its legitimacy and authority.
There has not been much discussion of Sinn Féin's issues with democracy since the election. One reason for this may be that many people are reassured by history. Parties in the past put down the gun and took to democracy. The same will surely happen with Sinn Féin, they suppose.
Hopefully it will. But it would be wrong to be complacent. History does not always repeat itself. Besides, how the two Civil War parties evolved is very different from how Sinn Féin has evolved, and not evolved.
The period from the Rising in 1916 to the end of the Civil War lasted seven years. Violence was by no means constant in that seven-year period. After the end of the Civil War, the new State settled down. Within nine years the opposing side in that conflict won power in an election. Democratic norms were maintained, and at a time when fascism and communism were causing democracies across the world to collapse.
The culture of the provisional movement was forged in a different furnace. It was in an unceasing war for three long decades.
To protect itself and its members over two generations it absorbed the marital values and practices of secrecy, suspicion, unquestioning obedience and summary justice - all inimical to the values and practice of democracy. Culture is slow to change. The more deeply embedded it is, the harder it is to change.
Every democrat on this island can only wish to see Sinn Féin become a fully democratic party. But nobody should assume that this is pre-ordained.
Any party that partners with it in coalition will have to be conscious of that each and every day it is in office.