Peter Hain says the IRA has ceased its criminality; that individual IRA members may still be involved in criminal activities, but that this should not prevent political progress from being made.
Nigel Dodds said Mr Hain was living in fantasy land. "This latest assessment from the secretary of state lacks credibility … [and the] comments that the IRA is not engaged in criminality fly in the face of the recent Northern Ireland Select Affairs Committee report on organised crime."
Mr Hain countered by saying that "an absolute state of perfection" from the IRA was not realistic. There probably is still some localised individual criminality... What there is not, is organised 'from the centre' criminality any more. To that extent the IRA are delivering on their commitments made last July."
Richard Waghorne, in siciliannotes, says: The question of IRA criminality is intrinsically political because the question of whether individual crimes collectively constitute a conspiracy against the state or unrelated incidents can only be settled as a matter of political judgment exercised by the government of the day.
The Irish Anti-War organization add: Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, a veteran IRA commander who denies ever being a member, has repeatedly said IRA activity cannot be described as crime. At his most recent party conference in March, Adams said Sinn Fein would "refuse to criminalize those who break the law in pursuit of legitimate political objectives."
While the devolution and criminality questions are being debated, meanwhile we have this: Sinn Féin's International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on members of the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs to come together behind a motion calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides Israel with favourable conditions when trading with EU member states including Ireland.
The Irish have the gift of the gab, to be sure but I was in Newry myself years back, two hours before it was bombed and I know the type we’re dealing with here. I was also caught up in the Canary Wharf and Euston Station bomb threats and these things were not funny either. The son of one of my army mates went back to Northern Ireland and spent the holiday in the corridor of the house. Is it all over?
2002 was a year to note in the annals of Ireland and for the record, I'm half English and half Irish myself. Now all eyes are on Israel and Lebanon but mine also glance anxiously back over my shoulder at the same time.