Eamon O’Cuiv has clarified his regrettable comments which linked the murder of David Black to inflexibility by the state.
He tells the News Letter today that the speech in the Dail in which he made these remarks was cut short, and so its context was compromised.
In that speech he had made clear his abhorrence of the dissident shooting of Mr Black.
But his denunciation of that act is not the issue in this controversy. It is his analysis, which is so wrong as to be irresponsible.
He told TDs that there was “cause and effect” between the killing and “the refusal ... of people in authority to deal with the issues that resulted in a dirty protest”.
These criticisms echo his recent suggestion that the PSNI is harassing republicans.
It is absurd to maintain that a cause of dissident terror is harshness by the state. If the British invited each of these paramilitary thugs in for tea and buns, then bade them farewell with a cash gift, they would still shoot and bomb. They would only see generosity as weakness.
They must be delighted to hear Mr O’Cuiv fall for their lie that they are oppressed, when in fact they are treated softly. The security forces and courts are so constrained by ‘human rights’ that they have difficulty convicting murderers.
Mr O’Cuiv has a record of controversial actions alongside, or on behalf of, hardcore republicans. He demanded the release of the would-be murderer Gerry McGeough and the unrepentant bomber Marian Price.
He flew to Lithuania with IRA veteran Martin Ferris to check that Michael Campbell was getting a fair arms trial, amid concern that he might be tainted by having an Omagh bomber brother.
If Mr O’Cuiv cannot see that his repeated airings of dissident grievances gives succour to some wicked people, then he is a man of poor judgment.