THE PSNI, the unionist parties and the main political parties south of the border, have all made a very startling discovery.
It seems like everyone is now shocked to hear that the Provisional IRA contained some bad men. Men who once the Troubles dripped to a close, decided that peaceful hobbies weren’t for them and went on to do some more bad things.
Men who’d been involved in the deaths of hundreds of people. Isn’t that a big shock? Well, it certainly seems to have been a surprise to these policemen and politicians.
For on the back of another grim murder in the North the PSNI announced that some ex-Provisionals might have been involved and that whilst the IRA was certainly no longer an active organisation some of the old structures might still be in place.
Cue Stormont and Irish Government outrage — in such a staged and blustering manner that only someone who’d heard different news could take this seriously.
If the PSNI had said that the latest killing was IRA sanctioned and planned then we would have been in different territory altogether. Then we might all have been rightfully worried.
Instead, what we have is a sordid murder carried out by those who may or may not have been once upon a time in the IRA, and according to the police themselves it was not carried out by an active IRA unit or as an IRA operation.
That is all part of the scary but very real truth of Ireland at this time, especially the northern part of the island.
There are people who were involved in very, very bloody events, who have taken a lot of lives.
That some of these people are now involved in other criminal activities and are even capable of killing again can hardly come as a surprise?
This is what happens when there has been years of conflict.
Peace comes, thank God, and lots of people who would have died are still alive and those who had guns put them down.
But those who had guns are still walking around to this day. Hopefully most have put down their guns and taken up peace in every aspect of their lives.
Some though, almost certainly, did not. But that cannot be a surprise to anyone of us.
What is surprising though is that political parties across Ireland should act in such a way to a police statement that was extremely definitive about the IRA not being active.
The police statement was unambiguous. The PSNI stated that the IRA “does not exist for paramilitary purposes” and that “our assessment indicates that a primary focus of the Provisional IRA is now promoting a peaceful, political “republican agenda”.
It added: “It is our assessment that the Provisional IRA is committed to following a political path and is no longer engaged in terrorism.
"Some current Provisional IRA and former members continue to engage in a range of criminal activity and occasional violence in the interest of personal gain or personal agendas.”
The actions of the political parties in response to this have been nothing short of deeply cynical. It is very shabby politics and you might almost think there were elections in the offing.
Many people have been waiting for the attacks on Sinn Féin pre-2016 elections to begin. Though not many might have expected the attacks would fly in the face of even police sanctioned statements.