“The more I read this document, the less I see in it for Republicans,” said Irish Republic representative John Murphy, echoing the view of much of the membership. But not all. Legendary IRA gunrunner Joe Cahill, now 74, received a standing ovation when he came to the podium. And his advice? “Don’t be afraid of change.” With support from Cahill’s quarter, it seems, peace has a fighting chance.
For Sinn Fein, it’s something of a paradox. How can they take seats in the governing body of a province that they don’t believe has the right to exist? This and other conundrums caused the IRA’s political wing to delay voting Sunday on whether to support the Northern Ireland peace accord that their leadership tacitly agreed to 10 days ago. Since then, Sinn Fein spokesmen have been as coy as a courting maid over whether they will campaign for a “yes” vote in next month’s referendum -- and their ongoing party conference is only adding to the doubt.