No revisiting the appalling vista
One of the legacies of the Troubles was an ambivalence towards violence. The sneaking regarder had looked the other way.
The tolerance was rooted in a conceit that somehow it was all "political".
But there is no room for murder in any democracy worthy of the name, there is no grey area which gives legitimacy to thugs beating someone to death, or putting a bullet in another human being's skull, because it's in the name of the "cause".
Therefore, the dismal news from the North that the IRA has not only not gone away, but may yet be plying its grisly trade and acting as judge, jury, and executioner once more, must be taken extremely seriously.
Earlier this year our Garda Commissioner affirmed that the Gardai held no information or intelligence that the Provisional IRA maintained its military structure.
But the PSNI now thinks otherwise and has suggested that the IRA was complicit in the murder of Kevin McGuigan.
The announcement has precipitated a political crisis. Peter Robinson is looking at having Sinn Féin thrown out of government should there be substance to the claim.
It is both alarming and depressing to imagine that a full 10 years after decommissioning its weapons, the terrorists could be back to their old deadly ways.
If they are back in action in the North, few will believe that the trigger-men will contain themselves from also operating in the South.
Commissioner O'Sullivan should spell out whether or not the security situation has changed.
There is no ambiguity regarding public safety.
The Good Friday Agreement was an act of faith and it has saved thousands of lives and put an end to decades of heartbreak and carnage. It was built on a foundation of trust. Any breach of this could have dire consequences.
The men of violence can never be allowed set the agenda again. This is the least we owe to the slaughtered innocents.
We know to our cost that violence is a disease that corrupts. The remotest prospect of a return to the past is a truly appalling vista that cannot be countenanced.