Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sinn Fein and the IRA 

Will there be a split between the two because of the colossal bank robbery a few weeks ago? The Irish and British governments claim to have the evidence that would show that the IRA lied to Martin McGuinness. McGuinness has asked to see it. This could get very interesting, and hopefully not very ugly.
The raid itself would be no reason for splitting. Few members of Sinn Fein and/or the Provos would have a political or moral problem with snatching millions from a bank. They are by no means alone in entertaining this attitude.

No. The wedge would be driven into the movement by the subsequent words of some of its public leaders - most importantly, Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness.

Last week, Kelly described the raid as "wrong." This week, McGuinness went further. Whoever carried the robbery out was "hostile" to the Sinn Fein agenda. "Anything that sees innocent people held hostage in their house is a criminal act," he added.

Whether or not they knew of the job in advance, Kelly and McGuinness will have known by the time they made these comments whether the IRA was responsible. Any IRA unit involved has, then, been publicly denounced as "criminal" by Sinn Fein's chief negotiator.

There is no precedent I know of for any such thing. The closest I can think of came in July 1988 in reaction to the killing at the Falls Baths of Elizabeth Hamill (60) and Eamon Gilroy (24), both local residents, caught by an IRA bomb intended for a British Army patrol.

Pressed by journalists at the time, Gerry Adams said that he was "shocked and "saddened". But he accepted the IRA's word that the deaths had been "accidental."

McGuiness recently:
"The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals and in my opinion never will be criminals"


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