“It’s about blackening Sinn Fein to let David Trimble off the hook – it is politically unbelievable.”
The First Minister himslef did little to dispel such a notion:
“David Trimble said it would have ‘grave implications’ for the future of the power-sharing government at Stormont. He said he suspected IRA intelligence was ‘directed at the upper echelons of the government, having penetrated the Northern Ireland Office’. He added: ‘This is on a par with the activities we believe republicans have been engaged in for some time. We have long suspected that this sort of activity is going on.'”
Other voices like Peter Robinson of the DUP and Jeffrey Donaldson were already drawing major conclusions from the raid. Alex Attwood of the moderate Nationalist SDLP called for caution in making judgements.
Gary Kent speculates that the tables may have finally turned on Sinn Fein, with the previous date for the collapse of Institutions being rapidly fast forwarded to a possible expulsion of Sinn Fein from their seats on the executive.
He claims, counter to earlier reports, that “…the police are looking for forensic links between Sinn Fein and the raid last year on the Police Special Branch headquarters in Castlereagh, East Belfast, which netted important intelligence documents.”
This, Kent suggests, could put serious pressure on the SDLP to join with Unionists to pass a motion to expel Sinn Fein.
Keep watching this space.
Update: Trimble demands direct action.