Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Quick, somebody get some PR help to Sinn Fein, right now. First the IRA, its armed wing (and fallback/bargaining chip in extremis), brutally murders a guy, Robert McCartney, in a bar. Then, in what was intended as a sweet goodwill gesture toward the man's family, it offers to brutally murder the murderers! (And deliver them, gift-wrapped, to the McCartney household, one wonders?).
Now along comes Martin McGuiness, Sinn Fein's number two, and himself a former IRA man, to warn the McCarntey sisters, who have mounted a stunningly effective shame campaign against "the Ra" and Sinn Fein, essentially to back off. Think about it: how do these words sound, coming from a former high-ranking IRA soldier whose political party is still backed by the IRA's (famously un-decomissioned) guns: "The McCartneys need to be very careful. To step over that line, which is a very important line, into the world of party political politics, can do a huge disservice to their campaign." To which I'd reply, Or what, Martin?
This would all be comical if it weren't so disgusting. One bright spot, though -- and I say this as both a Brit who grew up in the bomb-happy 1980s and a longtime sympathiser, within limits, with the Republican cause -- is that it makes Sinn Fein's cynical use of the IRA virtually untenable -- Bush is absolutely right to revoke Gerry Adams' standing invitation to Washington -- and shows, if anyone doubted it, that the IRA has devolved irretrievably into a criminal gang.