No-one should be surprised that Mary Lou McDonald has commemorated an IRA terrorist bomber.
Sinn Fein’s president-elect does not have a violent republican background and is hardly going to distance herself from the party’s core heritage.
Even so, her presence yesterday at an event to mark an IRA man who died trying to blow up an RUC base in Castlewellan ought to be another nail in the coffin of devolution.
As has long been clear, Sinn Fein has for the last year been playing a destabilising tactic, manufacturing a crisis over the Irish language and trying to turn the undoubted challenges posed by Brexit into a crisis. Despite the IRA’s record of bloodshed, it has somehow managed to whip up a crisis over legacy too.
In any normal political situation, a major party would pay dearly for such conduct.
But Sinn Fein has been whipping up young nationalists, and reaping dividends at the ballot box in Northern Ireland and perhaps soon also in the Republic of Ireland.
While its overall strategy is transparent and reprehensible, there is a specific respect in which the party is deserving of ridicule and contempt: its insistence upon ‘respect’.
This it demands from the DUP while in fact consistently being the most flagrantly sectarian and disrespectful of all the major Northern Ireland parties.
The Barry McElduff saga merely underscored the fact that the party does not condemn even the worst IRA atrocities. John O’Dowd condemned Kingsmills but the IRA deny culpability for their massacre there in 1976.
Sinn Fein does not merely demand respect, it is so brazen that it has made the display of such a red line.
Once again it is clear that it would be a bleak day for Northern Ireland if power sharing resumed in the absence of a clear Sinn Fein retreat from hypocrisy and intransigence.