Tuesday, July 23, 2002

There is an inevitable gloom gathering once again over North Belfast, in the wake of the killing of Gerard Lawlor early yesterday morning. Loyalists claim the killing, but insist that it was in response to “…the onslaught against the Protestant community by the republican gunmen”. Further action is threatened if there is no abatement.

That gloom will not be helped as we approach Trimble’s deadline of tomorrow night. For what seems like the umpteenth time in the four years since the Belfast Agreement was signed democratic institutions are on the verge of collapse. Shawn Pogatchnik:

“At times the 12-member Cabinet has worked surprisingly well. The Democratic Unionists’ two ministers run their departments with zeal, although they refuse to attend meetings when Sinn Fein is there. Sinn Fein’s ministers for health and education, meanwhile, are among the most ambitious and active.”

“But the system stays glued together because Trimble’s Ulster Unionists and Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan’s Social Democratic and Labor Party maintain good relations. The extremist parties participate but do not control. If Paisley defeats Trimble next year, he could knock the whole power-sharing house down.”

And as aside, here’s an interesting piece on a peculiarly Belfast pastime; wall murals.