The raid and its consequences

An article in the paper version of today’s Sunday Independent, the Assembly is likely to be suspended this Thursday, when David Trimble will cite this intelligence gathering activity at Stormont by Sinn Fein as sufficient reason for withdrawing from the Executive. Henry McDonald describes how it would happen. Though it seems clear that Tony Blair will not allow that to happen, without a major initiative coming before then.

David Lister provides more detail on the raid in and those arrested.

However the editorial in the same paper suggests that whichever way this issue falls out the nature of the process may have changed irrevocably:

“…unionist politicians are anticipating that a smoking gun will surely be found which will once and for all put an end to Sinn Fein’s participation in Government. They will see this as proof that violence, conspiracy and subterfuge are inseparable from Sinn Fein. The republicans will be hoping that the high profile raid will backfire and that the security chiefs from Chief Constable right up to the Northern Ireland Secretary will be left looking red faced.”

It goes on to sound a warning:

“In both scenarios, the political consequences will be grave. The tragedy for the North may be that in either case trust, that fine cement which has to date stopped the peace process from crumbling, may have been critically damaged.”

And finally that the whole process now rests in the balance:

“Due process must be respected. Nonetheless, one senses that we have reached a defining moment in the North. Whether it proves to be a breakdown or a breakthrough remains to be seen.”