Adams obliged to end confusion over murder
Throughout the decades of the Troubles, and for some time after, Sinn Féin made it their mission to bring obfuscation and confusion to a higher level.
Unpalatable truths put through the wringer emerged beyond recognition. No-one mastered the art of obscuring inconvenient truths better than party leader Gerry Adams. This week he was at it again, offering fog instead of clarity.
Mr Adams claims the names of Sinn Féin members were given to him by Austin Stack, whose father Brian died after being shot by the IRA in 1983. Mr Adams passed on the names to the Garda Commissioner - three days before the general election and more than three decades after the murder. The names were of three Sinn Féin figures, and a fourth former IRA chief, said to be connected with the murder.
But Mr Adams now has a serious problem. Austin Stack vehemently denies ever handing over any names.
Mr Adams claimed he passed on the names because he wished to remove any "uncertainty". He has manifestly failed on that score. First, the Taoiseach appealed to the Sinn Féin leader to clear up the confusion. Yesterday, chief whip Regina Doherty and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin added their voices to the chorus.
Ms Doherty wants Mr Adams to clarify what he knows. She said: "My personal question is if he asked the Garda Commissioner to investigate four of his own people, because he had uncertainty around the allegations, then why did he let them run for general election in February of this year? Why did he think that they were fit to stand to represent people?"
These are issues Mr Adams must address.
Mr Martin was similarly perplexed: "It seems to me a very serious situation that the leader of a political party can pass on the names of suspects to a Garda Commissioner and we are all supposed to go off into the night and do no more about it.''
After 30 years of denials, the IRA finally admitted the murder of Mr Stack. His family has waited a very long time to know what happened. There is a gaping chasm between Mr Adams's account and that of the victim's son.
Mr Adams, as a member of the Dáil and as the leader of a party, has an obligation to address these anomalies.
Housing issue has gone from crisis to emergency
Two stories today highlight the terrible cost of failing to adequately deal with the chronic housing and rental shortage.
According to Dublin Region Homeless Executive, there are 142 people sleeping rough on what at this time of year are the freezing streets of Dublin. This is a rise of 56pc over the past year in the numbers of homeless men and women unable to access emergency accommodation.
Another story tells of tenants asked to sign an absurd list of 108 conditions to rent a room. Such is the scarcity of affordable accommodation, they have little option.
Further confirmation of the scale of the problem is hardly required, but if you were looking for it, you might find it in the evidence that the cost of renting across the State is up by almost 9pc in the three months to September. In our capital, rents have gone up by 40pc since the downturn. The country's 704,000 tenants are being squeezed to the limit.
We know a house-building plan is in place but the pace of construction has to be accelerated. Nor has legislation supposedly limiting rent increases done enough to take the heat out of the market. It is time to recognise that we no longer have a housing crisis, it is a full-blown emergency.