Poacher turned gamekeeper
In 40+ years I've never discovered how "brouhaha" is pronounced, but whatever way there's spade-loads of it in Fermanagh this week with the news that Seán Lynch is to join the District Policing Partnership.
Sinn Féin support policing and are joining the DPPs, which is good, and Lynch is the Chairman of Sinn Féin in Fermanagh, so no surprise that he's joining. Trouble is: he served 12 years in jail for terrorist offences and was the IRA's so-called Officer Commanding while he was there. And now he'll be policing the police.
Tom Elliott, our MLA and local councillor, is asking pointedly whether Lynch is still in the IRA. Good question. Aren't they still an illegal organisation? Amazingly, Bert Johnston of the DUP is taking an easier view of it, welcoming SF's involvement. I never thought I'd see the day those roles were reversed, but we've come a long way.
There's a harsh irony in this, difficult to swallow and obvious to any observer, but my take is simple. It's right to grit our teeth and accept it, encourage it even. I'd rather have Lynch ensuring our policemen did their jobs than ensuring they met early deaths.
This is democracy, folks. Lynch is elected to office, and whatever you think of his past you have to respect the votes of those who put him there. He's accountable to them, so "game on", I say.
I would really welcome it if Seán Lynch were to come out and say he'd left the IRA for good. Or if the IRA disbanded, as I think they should. And they should. But we have to believe people can change and encourage them to do so, not beat them with nasty words when they try to do something honorable.