On a small section of the Sinn Féin website, separated from pictures of smiling politicians and democratic goals, there is an online store where a budding Republican might linger. As one would expect there are all sorts of nationalist and historic memorabilia up for sale, like posters of Irish Martyrs and books about the struggle for independence. Scrolling further down the page the list of categories get more staunch republican; selling items such as Long Kesh wristbands and coloured pins of Bobby Sands. But no matter how much of an Irish patriot you are, would you really have no hesitation walking down the street wearing a T-shirt with the words "IRA" written across the front?
There is no denying that Sinn Fein have previously been sympathisers of the IRA during the troubles, but in recent years the party has openly distanced itself from dissident groups and have gradually gained support from the Irish pubic by focusing on achieving goals through peaceful and democratic methods. Now that Gerry Adams is representing Sinn Fein in Dáil, it is now unquestionably prudent to wipe out any shred of suspicion that he or his party is associated with any dissident group.
Wearing controversial clothing has become something of a fad in western culture and exhibiting your political beliefs on your body is one of the most effective ways to flaunt your message out to the world without actually doing or saying anything. Selling IRA T-shirts on political website will certainly invoke much controversy and emotion amongst anyone who is familiar with Irish history, as it is a constant reminder of the unprecedented violence and senseless deaths that have affected so many people in an unspeakable way.
I have the utmost confidence in saying that you will never see a Sinn Fein politician or candidate parading one these T-Shirts. If Gerry Adams walked into the Dáil tomorrow wearing a T-shirt with the words "IRA: Undefeated army" across the front, there would, without doubt, be a media/national frenzy to stricken the Sinn Fein leader of any political or communal merit that he has painstakingly gained throughout the years. So why in the name of God are the citizens loyal to Sinn Fein expected to keep the cruel memory of the past alive by tormenting passers-by with prospect that the IRA are not dead?