The shooting wasn't designed to get rid of the British Army; it was designed to bring it back. It was the first atrocity in a desired new cycle of attacks, arrests, martyrdoms, bombings, internments, hunger strikes, funerals, orations, gun-runnings and crying children, which could return us to the Seventies, the golden time of death and certainty.
What do the Real IRA actually feel the compulsion to kill for? They have the vote, the right to speak, the right to argue. There are no B-Specials, there's no more job discrimination, no more gerrymandering.
Republicans sit in government. Why does a group in the US, calling itself the Coalition of Irish Republican Women salute the attack on its website with the headline âNew Group turns up the heatâ? The heat which, when turned up, will burn other women? They hope. They hope.
If hatred is one pleasure, with grievances to be ânursedâ, then violence is another. Think of those local hard men, once recipients of frightened glances and scared obsequiousness, having spent the past decade being just ordinary no-marks again. Think of them getting together with the young psycho, who is sitting at their corduroyed knee, learning the intoxicating vocabulary of killing. âDon't you know that Che Guevara thought it was necessary to execute traitors himself? One shot, just here.â And you to fire it, Jamie.
These men, these hard men, lost in the era of peace. Unattractive men with bald heads and pallid skin and an inability to string five words together without inducing catatonia, can again imagine themselves to be Wolfe Tone or James Connolly reborn. Middle-aged matrons, brought up in the purple of Republicanism, but now with roots showing through the dye, can reconceive of themselves as Gaelic warrior queens, or bereted resistance Valkyries. It's worth killing other people's sons and daughters for this.
Last Saturday night, as the gunmen walked up to deliver the death shots - executing the wounded victims, because their terrible injuries were somehow insufficient and there must be funerals - what TV programme or movie did they imagine themselves to be in at that moment? The Sopranos, perhaps. And then, sometime later, a drink and black humour at the Real IRA equivalent of the Bada Bing.
Sometimes - often, perhaps - the grievance comes second. The desire to hate and kill comes first, and then grubs around in the shit for its excuse