Professor Paul Bew argues that for all the PR damage done to Sinn Fein this St Patricks holiday, the party remains strong with its home support. And:
Above all, the Blair Government still wants to facilitate him. Senior Dublin government sources now openly declare that Mr Blair wanted to sideline the issue of IRA criminality throughout the negotiations which took up most of 2004. The message from Downing Street is still “business as usual”. The Prime Minister, a very late convert to the concept of a DUP-Sinn Féin deal to revive the Good Friday Agreement, now believes that he can bring it about this autumn. And there are some in the Sinn Féin leadership and the DUP leadership who still share the Prime Minister’s perspective that a deal cannot be ruled out.