The British government sponsored inquiry into the continued existence of paramilitaries found that the IRA still existed in reduced structures and that it continued with its peace strategy with no intent on entering the fray again.

The fact that Loyalist paramilitaries have killed 50 people since the Troubles ended might give pause for thought as to why the results of the inquiry might be so, if indeed it is true.

The existence of dissident IRA members might also hint at why some structures remain.

Frankly, if they didn't, there would be nothing to stop the dissidents running amok and creating the kind of mayhem they believe they need to create to plunge the North back into the bad old days.

Peace did not come as a gift nicely wrapped with a red bow on top. It came as a major series of often messy compromises from all sides and an agreement to forge a future together rather that dwell in the past hatreds.

READ MORE: Report says IRA among Troubles paramilitary groups still in existence.

But the British had to know that in order to preserve the peace, the IRA had to retain some element of themselves to ensure that the dissidents did not take advantage and run amok as a helpless IRA looked on.

The compromise formed may not have been to everyone's liking but consider, these deaths in the North have slowed to a trickle under the current arrangement, a power-sharing government was formed and political institutions were built.

If the dissidents had considered the IRA defenseless, it would not have worried for a second about killing off the republican group's major members and taking over as a bloodthirsty new force. In fact, the split was accomplished with very little bloodshed as the IRA made clear they would defend key figures.

As evidenced by the Loyalist killings, it would not have been long before they, too, would have fostered a new cycle of violence, one which the IRA has ended, hopefully for all time.

Recently, all the Loyalist groups agreed to a long-term political initiative and no one batted an eyelid. Despite many stories to the contrary, they clearly continued to exist.

So, should we be so shocked if indeed the British report is accurate that the IRA maintains some structures but is clearly focused on making peace not war?

You don't come out of a 30-year conflict with clean hands on any side – British, Irish, or paramilitary – but what matters is the future, not the past and a Northern Ireland that desperately seeks to put that past behind them.

The unionists have made many unreasonable demands over the years and there is still, alas, a hard core who desire a return to the days of single party monopoly.

They live in hope, but they will never see those days again.

READ MORE: Forget the “See No Evil” policy - of course the IRA still exists.

They demand an end to the IRA, yet turn a blind eye to their own paramilitary links. We forget that former First Minister Peter Robinson was once involved with one of those groups, once photographed parading around in military uniform.

We cannot be dragged back to the past in Northern Ireland and it is time that the reality struck home.

The fake shock and horror should not disguise the fact that the British knew very well that the IRA kept some structure in order to ensure the peace was kept.

The fact is, without that structure, a bloody feud would have upended the peace long before now.

It is time to build for the future, not the past, and Northern Ireland has an amazing opportunity to do so.

This latest crisis is much ado about very little. Peace is a messy business, not all black and white, and Northern Ireland stands as beacon to the world having achieved it.

To throw it away now would be positively criminal.

Gardai said the cache was found as part of an ongoing investigation into the activities of dissident Republicans.Photocall