Anton Savage: Sinn Fein's pathetic excuses don't cover the horror of sexual abuse...
Sinn Fein have always had a handy double-edged excuse for the IRA's criminality - if it involved theft, kidnapping, beating, or murder, the excuse is 'war'.
As in 'those two police officers machine-gunned to death were not murdered. They were casualties in war. War is sad for everyone, both sides have been hurt blah, blah, blah'.
If the criminality involved went beyond something 'war' would excuse - like acting as a paramilitary police force, exiling those they don't approve of from their communities or running kangaroo courts - then Sinn Fein whip out Excuse 2 - 'sectarian policing'. As in 'we had to send armed vigilantes into estates to protect civilians'.
We all know that part of the deal to stop the shooting in the North is us forgetting the past, and swallowing hard when horrors are excused with euphamisms.
Hence some of the reaction to Mairia Cahill's revelations has been a bit muted. We gasped at the notion of terrorists acting not only as kangaroo courts, but also as social workers and community liaisons, but as soon as Sinn Fein whipped out Standard Excuse Number 2 - 'the IRA had to do this, there was no police force available to the Republican community' - we were essentially gagged by the deal we've made.
Until yesterday. Yesterday, another person came out to say he had been raped by an IRA man.
He too claims his allegations were dealt with by a kangaroo court.
The problem for Sinn Fein, is this man alleges it happened in Louth. You don't need to be an expert on the Troubles to know the IRA was not 'at war' with Louth and the RUC do not police Louth.
Excuses 1 and 2 don't apply here - sexual abuse is not war, Louth was not a disputed territory, and republicans in Louth never needed the protection of the IRA. Which means that if this man's claims stand up, Sinn Fein will have to explain how the IRA hid sex abuse from the proper authorities, prevented prosecution, endangered children and denied justice.
And they'll have to do it on the same excuse-free terms as everyone else.
Facing up to water problems
So Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly thinks John Tierney (left) - boss of Irish water - should be "out facing the public".
Why? I've heard a lot of issues raised about water meters and water charges. But I have never heard anyone say 'the real problem is we're not seeing half enough of that nice Tierney fella'. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that if the public get their concerns dealt with, they won't care if it's Dustin the Turkey who's doing it.
We won't be joining circus
Fossett's circus is having some financial difficulties.
The good news is CEO Robert Fossett junior went on the news during the week to express optimism about the business bearing his family's name. It was, however, a disappointing appearance for those of us who still have childhood dreams about joining the circus.
Not because Mr Fossett's optimism was not credible, the problem was with Mr Fossett himself. He looked, sounded and acted like a partner in a mid-tier professional services firm. Urbane. Dapper. Reserved.
This is not how a circus owner should look. He should have burst out of a tiny car, wearing giant shoes and leading a monkey on a string. At the very least, he could have done the interview from on top of an elephant, or while doing the splits.
If the company does manage to survive this trouble and he makes another TV appearance, the only way he'll rebuild our shattered image of circus-folk is if he finishes the interview by being shot out of a cannon.
Now that would be cool.