There can be no peace in North without trust
Somewhere north of the Border there must be a hidden green glen that acts as an echo chamber. And it is here where aspiring republicans learn to perfectly parry every charge made against them with a supersonic counter-claim. Thus with the predictability of a metronome there comes a rapid-fire response. As a challenge is made it is met with an immediate riposte, which either deflects or dismisses the accuser.
Yesterday, once more, as Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was met with further claims that he was an "extremely senior member of the IRA", by a former member, a statement flashed forth from Sinn Féin saying: "Sean O'Callaghan - who made the charge - cannot be taken with any credibility. In order to stay relevant, he makes increasingly outlandish claims about his involvement with the Republican movement. An Garda Síochána have repeatedly dismissed many of his claims and described others as 'highly exaggerated'."
There is nothing "outlandish" about a charge that the most senior republican in the North for generations might also have held a senior post within the IRA. In fact, it is "outlandish" to believe that this might not be possible.
Some may ask does it really matter whether Mr Adams was in the IRA or not? It most certainly does matter. Especially in the context of the recent report which suggested that former Provisionals believe Sinn Féin is controlled by an over-arching IRA Army Council. It is 17 years since the Good Friday Agreement, but there are real threats, as recognised by security forces north and south. Sinn Féin continually demands its mandate be respected.
But as long as there is a shadow of a gunman hovering in the background, then trust will be diminished. Another republican spirit, whose name also happens to be Adams - John Adams - once wrote: "Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society. " There is a deadlock in the North due in no small part to a lack of faith. It is only through understanding and not force that peace can truly be embedded.