One of the defences (and it is legitimate as far as it goes) is that Unionists were perfectly entitled to protest the reduction of the flag flying hours at City Hall, and take to streets. But, as we’ve seen in the limited terms of the highly circumscribed democracy we have in Northern Ireland when senior government parties take to protest, the politics of the streets returns.
Malachi O’Doherty focuses on Republican activism around the arrest of party ‘friends’:
Gerry Kelly, a former junior minister, called for Wilson’s immediate release and accused the police of being “politically motivated”. He said: “…someone who was crucial to bringing people along in the peace process and political process is now behind bars, where he should not be”.
This is not the sort of language that abjures the principle of political interference in policing; it’s precisely the opposite. Gerry Kelly seems to think that, if you have been a peace-processor, you should have a waiver on (alleged) criminal activity. Imagine how that reads in Dee Street.
I don’t doubt that real problems exist for Sinn Fein. Either the climate within wider Republicanism is changing (evidenced in the ongoing attempts of dissident paramilitaries to restart what SF believed they had finished), or an attitude of mind is changing within the judiciary.
As Steven McCaffrey of the Detail, as the politics of the Peace Process™ dribbles away, something dark is crawling out from underneath.. Cartoon by Ian Knox..