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.