After three decades under a man who insists that despite growing up oppressed by the Brits in west Belfast he never once joined the IRA, Sinn Fein now has a leader who, despite being born in a leafy, middle-class area of Dublin, says "there'd be every chance" she would have joined the IRA if she'd been in the same boat. It's a wonder republican voters can keep up.
It's easy to mock the contortions Sinn Fein politicians are forced to perform as they simultaneously eulogise the Provisional IRA campaign while distancing themselves from its worst atrocities, but Mary Lou McDonald's latest attempt to suck up to the hard men in Northern Ireland by saying what they did was "justified" is no laughing matter.
This is the real struggle now. It's about who gets to tell the story of the Troubles - the killers or the victims.
Mary Lou has picked her side and everything she says must be viewed through that distorting glass.
In saying, though, that there's "every chance, every possibility" that she would have joined the IRA, McDonald may have given away more than she intended.
You could only talk about murder in that casual, offhand way if you didn't really grasp the true significance of what you're saying. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people who did experience the Troubles at first-hand rather than just seeing it on TV after coming home from their fancy, fee-paying schools a hundred miles away didn't take up arms.
"The journey from participating in civil rights marches to stone-throwing and petrol bombs, and from that to armed insurrection in the IRA, was common at the time," as Eamonn McCann noted in a recent book about Martin McGuinness, but "most people didn't join the IRA."
They may have wanted a united Ireland.
They may have been justifiably outraged at British Army brutality and the sectarian nature of the unionist-dominated state.
But they didn't kill anyone. Not a single soul.
At the height of the Troubles in the mid-1970s the IRA was said to be "several thousand" strong.
By 1986 that had fallen to around 750 active members.
In total, Eamonn Mallie and Patrick Bishop's book The Provisional IRA, estimates that around 8,000 joined up.
That's a lot of people and the IRA couldn't have existed for so long without a network of support in the community from which it sprang.
Many offered safe houses or hid weapons.
Many more turned a blind eye to what the Provos were doing in their name.
But they were still outnumbered by a vast army of ordinary people who kept going to work in the morning and home again at night, looking after their families throughout and trying as best they could to maintain decency and normality in dark times.
They suffered, mentally as well as physically. They were often targeted. But they carried on doing the right thing.
Now, those hundreds of thousands of people are being written out of history by a party whose leader spent her own childhood far from the reality of violence.
Not only did most in the Catholic community not engage in violence, they didn't even support Sinn Fein.
The SDLP was still taking almost twice as many votes as Sinn Fein immediately after the hunger strikes had raised sectarian tensions to fever pitch. Sinn Fein only became dominant after the Belfast Agreement.
That was the political price that constitutional nationalists were prepared to pay to end the violence, but it's an insult to them, as well as to IRA victims, to look back through misty eyes and pretend that killing the innocent was "justified".
Has Mary Lou McDonald really thought about what she's saying?
She's suggesting that, faced with the situation in Northern Ireland she might not have taken the democratic path, as John Hume and Seamus Mallon did, and that there's "every chance, every possibility" instead that she would have shot people and planted bombs in pursuit of her political aims.
That there's "every chance, every possibility" she wouldn't have been one of those on Bloody Sunday who went unarmed to a civil rights march and "every chance, every possibility" she would have been more like Martin McGuinness, who walked round that day with a sub-machine-gun.
It's a striking illustration of the warped ideology in which Sinn Fein is bathed that its own leader doesn't appear to realise what a shocking thing that is to say.
If Mary Lou really believes that the IRA campaign was justified and that there's "every chance" she would have become a terrorist, why didn't she do it?
Plenty of people in Dublin and further afield joined the IRA.
Rose Dugdale came from a wealthy family in Devon, went to finishing school abroad and was once presented to the Queen as a debutante. Within a few years she'd moved to Ireland to join the Provos, in whose glorious cause she famously hijacked a helicopter in Donegal in order to drop bombs in milk churns on to the RUC station in Strabane. As you do.
No doubt Mary Lou thinks that was justified, too, but she never followed the same path. She could easily have come to Belfast when she had the chance. Instead she chose to go to Trinity College Dublin to study English literature.
Not only did Mary Lou not sign up for the IRA, she didn't even join Sinn Fein. She was in Fianna Fail until 1999.
Suddenly she wants us to forget those inconvenient truths while she peddles fantasies about what she might have done in circumstances she clearly doesn't even understand.
There are plenty of good reasons why people vote for Sinn Fein on both sides of the border, weighed down, as they are, by the burden of rising housing costs and a broken health system.
The fact that Sinn Fein has been excluded from negotiations on forming a new government in Dublin while the two parties who lost to them in the recent election stitch up ministerial jobs between them is not right either. Democracy means accepting the result of elections - even when it's uncomfortable. But the reason that so many people still feel that Sinn Fein is not a normal or trustworthy political party is precisely because its mouthpieces continue to make excuses on behalf of the IRA.
Mary Lou McDonald is using the Provo campaign as a political fashion accessory, in the same way as the people who wear Che Guevera T-shirts, thinking it's cool and edgy.
Adding that she wishes all the deaths "hadn't happened" only makes it worse.
Victims have suffered enough without being fobbed off with fake sympathy by a woman who's literally just told them there's "every chance" she would have been one of those who considered them a legitimate target.