There is good reason why the new report handed to Stormont leaders on paramilitary crime should be entitled: ‘Tackling Paramilitary Activity and Organised Crime’.
Paramilitarism has been the principal scourge of this society for almost 40 years and it is inextricably linked with organised crime, particularly latterly.
Racketeering funded ‘the cause’. In any event, some terror groups, loyalist and republican, quickly became more interested in money for their own benefit than any ideology.
But there is a risk that such labels detract attention from the Provisional IRA, the biggest terrorist group during the Troubles. It is all the more important, in an age in which the western world is suffering from terrorism and giving it short shrift, that the IRA is seen to have been fully banished.
Since the 1990s, nationalist Ireland has demanded that unionists in the Province share power with the IRA’s political wing. Sharing with constitutional nationalists was not enough. London enforced this demand with threats of a worse settlement for unionists if they did not agree.
At every stage in the process, the terrorist movement has been accommodated: spying at Stormont, breaking into Castlereagh, the Northern Bank heist, the murders of Robert McCartney and Paul Quinn and Kevin McGuigan.
None of it has led to specific sanction against Sinn Fein. Meanwhile, brimming with righteousness, that party is prepared to ensure that every demographic outside of its electoral heartlands pay heavy tax (to fund things such as welfare addiction) yet it well knows that republican fuel smugglers are some of the most accomplished tax cheats on this island.
Mike Nesbitt, the Ulster Unionist Party leader, has rightly dismissed this report’s weak ‘action plan’ as being more like “a promissory note”. Arlene Foster, who knows all about border terrorists, has a chance to move closer to achieving what her predecessors have not been able to do – eradicating the last vestiges of terrorist influence.