Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Belfast Telegraph - IRA shoots itself in the foot. What's going on?

Belfast Telegraph: "IRA shoots itself in the foot. What's going on?
First came the 26m bank raid. Then, Provisionals were implicated in the murder of a popular republican. The IRA looks split, and confused,with the peace process in jeopardy

By David McKittrick
24 February 2005

The good news from Belfast is that no full-scale return to conflict is expected: the bad news is that, in most other ways, the Northern Ireland peace process is in bits. Weeks of turmoil and sensational developments and disclosures have rendered what was regarded as a basically sound process, often fraught but generally resilient, into something dangerously close to a quivering wreck.

The years of progress in which the prevailing culture of Belfast politics mutated, step by laborious step, from confrontation to negotiation have come to a sudden, shuddering halt.

A robbery and a killing have cast the process in a new light. This was not in the script: the process was supposed to be about coaxing the IRA and Sinn Fein into conventional politics, not about them corrupting the system.

Are the republicans unreconstructed incorrigibles who have lured everyone into a moral quagmire? Is their ambition not to merge with the political mainstream, but rather to subvert and pollute it?

There is as yet no clear answer to these questions, which have left the peace process in its present disarray. But events have changed the process itself irrevocably and altered its course."

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