LAST week, Estonians and Slovenians were in Dublin to learn how to make the most of EU membership. The BBC reported that Kristiina Ojuland, the Foreign Minister of Estonia, "believes that if the Estonian people have a dream of where they would like to be in 10 years' time, in terms of wealth and peaceful surroundings, then they dream of following Ireland's example."
She should have been here last Sunday, when out strutted supporters of three illegitimate Oglaigh na hEireanns (Volunteers of Ireland) to honour various people who have tried - and in some cases are still trying - to overthrow democracies by violence. (The legitimate Oglaigh na hEireann, for those of you who get a bit confused, are the Irish army and our other defence forces, which win plaudits around the world keeping the peace in awful places. Funnily enough, they get quite upset about the bastard Oglaighs being allowed to use the term unchallenged.)
The Number One bastard Oglaigh is, of course, the Provos, whose members and apologists were to be found the length and breadth of the island last Sunday. In many villages all that happened was that a handful of the lads laid a wreath before piling into a couple of cars and dashing off to the next terrorist memorial, but there were many much bigger events.
The one in Ballinlough in Co Meath starred Mr Spectacular himself, Brian Keenan, the man who brought us shiploads of arms from Libya and who, before aligning himself with the "peace process", was the nearest thing the Provos had to Osama Bin Laden.
"The IRA, and the present-day republicans, will not forget their objective," Keenan told an audience of about 50. "And that is freedom in this country. If the British army and the police, and all their death squads, can arm, train, reinforce and bring in electronic devices, more troops, more helicopters and more guns, well, they shouldn't be surprised if the IRA won't go away. And long may it continue."
Right. So the Number One bastard Oglaigh - the one that murdered more than 1,800 over the past few decades - will be staying around for the foreseeable future.
Francie Mackey, chairman of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, the Real IRA's political front, was in Arbour Hill explaining that "Irish people have never been found wanting when it comes to challenging the foreign occupier - [and] republicans in the great Fenian tradition must again organise and be prepared for the right moment to present itself."
Great. The Number Two bastard Oglaigh, the one that brought us Omagh, is readying itself for the next opportunity.
In Milltown Cemetery in Belfast, Fergal Moore of Republican Sinn Fein was more direct. The Irish News reported that he "recalled the words of republican Maire Drumm who had said the slogan "up the IRA" should be replaced with "join the IRA". Mr Moore echoed her calls by adding: "Join the Continuity IRA".
So the Number Three bastard Oglaigh, which does a modest amount of bombing and shooting and killing for Ireland, is recruiting.
Not that CIRA think they're Number Three. They may be the smallest and the poorest private army but theologically, they're top dollar. Republican nutters believe that political sovereignty derives from the Second Dail, which owing to the civil war never met to hand over formally to its successors.
When what became Republican Sinn Fein split from the Provos in 1986 over their decision to take seats in the Dail, Tom Maguire, last survivor of the Second Dail, announced that political legitimacy had now passed from the Provos to RSF. So, to purists, Ruari O Bradaigh is Taoiseach and CIRA are the true Oglaigh na hEireann. And I'm Victoria Beckham.
Many of us who are not purists and who think the Irish Republic is a functioning democracy deserving of the allegiance of its citizens, are pretty alarmed that the Government tolerates three private armies all claiming to be legitimate and swanking around unchallenged in paramilitary gear.
The most distinguished of us is ex-Taoiseach John Bruton. In a shockingly under-reported press statement last week, he said that - rather than focusing on secondary issues like Gerry Adams's disputed membership of the IRA or what can be proven about the IRA's criminal activities - we should be concentrating on "the primary issue - the fact that the IRA exist at all, and the fact that its continued existence is supported by a political party, Sinn Fein, which has seats in the Dail.
"Quite literally," he went on, "the mere existence of the IRA is a crime. It is specifically forbidden by both the Constitution and our laws. "Its existence is an affront to the authority of our state, and a standing insult to the real Irish army. The foundation of any democratic order is an acceptance that the democratic authorities of the state have a monopoly in the use of force.
"Sinn Fein and the IRA reject that and that is not tolerable in a democracy. People appearing in military uniform, in military array, at Sinn Fein celebrations over the Easter weekend is something that would not be tolerated in a normal European democracy."
He's right. Anyone who supports a bastard Oglaigh is actually committing treason. Yet Ireland - the success story of the EU - not only tolerates such treachery, but votes traitors into the Dail.
For anyone thinking all this is a bit arcane, Bruton's last paragraph hit the point home:
"I profoundly believe that democracy is something that can be taken for granted in no European state. We have seen how the Mafia ate away at the heart of Italian democracy, until a few brave magistrates took them on. The IRA is a Mafia. It works in secret, is accountable to no one, and uses violence.
"The only difference is that the Mafia killed proportionately far less people than did the IRA."
We have a cancer at our heart. It calls itself Oglaigh na hEireann and does so with impunity.
I doubt if this is where Estonia wants to be in 10 years.