Dedicated followers of fashion
There is a potential diplomatic crisis brewing between the Republic of Ireland and Colombia, with the likelihood of additional participants as events unfold. The basis is the conviction and heavy sentences handed down by a Colombian appeals court to three Irish republicans who had earlier been acquitted of assisting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
While working towards the long-term salvation of the proletarian peasantry, this charming group has developed necessary short-run niches in drug smuggling and kidnapping, the most revealing of the example of the latter being their multi-year unresolved kidnapping of opposition leader Ingrid Betancourt, for whom her commitment to peaceful politics and her French citizenship have cut no ice with the FARC.
Anyway, the three Irishmen say that they were near the FARC region to monitor a ceasefire but their arrest brought hints of the IRA seeking foreign markets to compensate for slow business on their home turf, and so derailed the peace process and especially coloured the US attitude to it.
In a somewhat predictable turn of events, the threesome have now disappeared, having been free on bail pending the government appeal of their earlier victory. The standard assumption is that they are in a third country en route back to Ireland, which will create a thorny extradition question once they finally pop up. But in the substantial news coverage of the latest events (RTE and BBC) there is one possibility we haven't seen raised: that the whole sequence of events is a stunt to let everyone declare victory while avoiding any long-term consequences.
How convenient that the three magically disappear before they can be picked up to serve their extra harsh sentences. Did no-one wonder why they didn't need to be in court to hear the verdict? How quickly did anyone start looking for them once the verdict was handed down? And that it all happens right before Christmas, when attention spans are soon to be at a minimum? We suspect that this particular diplomatic crisis will have the tone of the shocking presence of gambling in Casablanca.
UPDATE: The dance begins. Bertie Ahern sounds distinctly unenthusiastic about extraditing the lads back to Colombia, should the request arise.