FOR most of us a recent Alan Ryan memorial night at The Submarine Bar in Crumlin was an obscene display of criminal chutzpah.
Held as a fundraiser for Ryan's family, rest assured that, off camera, lurked thuggish low lives, Ireland's latest brand of self-declared patriots.
Their motivations may seem light years away from the rarefied fanatical chivalry of Padraig Pearse. Yet there is an undeniable link between sleazy mafiosi in the Celtic jerseys and the shy, mystical barrister who led the 1916 insurrection.
In 1915 at the Glasnevin graveside of the veteran Fenian O'Donovan Rossa, Pearse declared that "Ireland unfree, shall never be at peace". Plenty of people at the Submarine Bar that night could quote that line and ram it down your throat to justify evil. It is the cover story all the IRAs use to justify their involvement in extortion, racketeering, drug trafficking and murder.
Those seven words, uttered by the man we were all taught to revere as the noble founding father of the Irish Republic, have caused nothing but heartache and pain for nearly a century now.
We should not underestimate the capacity of those who claim to be following in Pearse's footsteps to inflict death and destruction on a wide scale just because they spend most of their time robbing and killing rival gangsters.
The deluded criminals who lay claim to be the true successors of the men of 1916 not only seek to dominate the underworld, but to frighten all of us into submission. No other narco-terror gang in Ireland is taking on the forces of the State -- North and South.
This debauched manifestation of the political virus called the IRA is now violently confronting the defenders of democracy on both sides of the border and is getting more audacious.
The assassination of the prison officer David Black is another traumatic reminder that we still live under the shadow of the gunman. The murder has been claimed by a 'new' IRA, a 'Zombie' IRA, composed of elements of the Real IRA and other hardliners.
That heartless deed was cheered and celebrated by the sectarian mobsters who showed up in the shadows at the Submarine Bar for Ryan's memorial. They heard the cheesy Ballad of Alan Ryan:
"We vow to carry on his work.
We will follow in his lead.
We will find out where those gangsters lurk,
We will avenge their cowardly deed."
To be fair to Padraig Pearse, he would be spinning in Arbour Hill at this lousy doggerel. The republican movement his martyrdom spawned has degenerated into a lowlife conspiracy of hoods and brain-dead political zombies.
Lifelong terrorist and Real IRA champion Marian Price told an Easter Rising commemoration in 2010: "We salute those who fought the British Empire in 1916. We salute those who fight that empire now ... 1916 is unfinished business."
This is the mumbo-jumbo of someone who cannot be reasoned with. This is the mentality that has cursed us for generations and will not be reconciled to any settlement other than victory at any cost.
It is safe to say that a vast majority of us reject the men Marian Price salutes. But these men don't care what we think. After all Pearse didn't ask for a popular mandate for his Rising. In the eyes of Marian Price and her comrades, we are all traitors. They despise us.
In recent years most of us were reassured by the inability of the renegade republicans to do much serious damage, apart from compete with the criminal gangs for the lucrative takings from the country's drug trade.
But every so often they have managed to "get lucky" and kill. Two British soldiers in 2009 and twoPSNI officers. All the police casualties have been Roman Catholic members of the force. But the Zombie IRA's murder of prisoner officer David Black, a Protestant, has the potential to change everything for the worse in every part of the island.
Forty years ago in Long Kesh, the godfather of modern republicanism Gerry Adams dismissed the aspirations of the now defunct and forgotten Official IRA to unite Protestant and Catholic workers around a common cause.
Adams observed that one well-placed bomb would destroy any prospect of working class unity.
He was right. For the next 30 years the Provos planted tons of no warning bombs that slaughtered hundreds of Protestants and dissenters and brought us to the brink of sectarian civil war.
Now the heirs Adams has disowned have tasted Protestant blood and they will be back for more.
Some time ago I met with a commander of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Belfast. He told me that if the peace fails to hold and "Ulster comes under attack again, the south will not be spared".
The car that was used in the ambush on David Black had a Dublin registration plate and was reportedly bought here. That will not go unnoticed in certain quarters in East Belfast.
The new Zombie IRA is no longer a sick joke. They are playing a card that was a winning hand for years for Gerry Adams and his army of killers. They will continue trying to do their worst.