Yesterday I had lunch with a “fellow” Catholic whose grandfather used to hide fugitive members of the “old” IRA in his house in the Irish countryside. We discussed the disgust being expressed by republicans north and south of the border at the behaviour of the supposed descendants of his grandad’s lodgers. Cathal (not his real name of course) was sure that, even now, there would be others in, say, parts of Limerick who might still be sympathetic enough to their cause to do such things, but he himself felt differently. Once it had started it was difficult to stem his flow of anger at the thugs and crooks he thought they had finally admitted themselves to be, as the flow of money across the Atlantic to the IRA was drying up.
I pointed out that people were rather less likely to hide terrorists in their attics if the resulting change in the world’s view of their country (however distorted) would wipe forty thousand euro off the value of their homes. He pointed out that young people are rather less likely to be Irish nationalists when they’ve grown up thinking of themselves as Europeans.
He also said he had heard recently, for the first time, a BBC reporter referring to a Sinn Féin spokesman’s sponsors as “Sinn Féin-IRA”. When the Beeb finally gets round to accusing you of being a terrorist you know you’re in trouble.