As John O’Sullivan points out in his Chicago Sun-Times, it’s not all over for Sinn Fein either. The violence has continued after previous IRA acts of decommissioning. But he also believes that Unionism’s case for holding the higher moral ground was severely damaged by their acquience to the Loyalist rioting and intimidation campaign of the late summer and early September:
Strong rumors suggest that what the IRA destroyed is the heavy stuff it no longer needs against the British Army. It is quietly keeping the smaller arms it needs to enforce its authority against dissenters in the Catholic ghettoes. That will be enough, however, for London, Dublin and Washington to declare that the IRA has purged its sins and that Sinn Fein is eligible to return to power.
Until two weeks ago political resistance from Protestant and Unionist parties might have obstructed this. It still might. But the moral authority of the Unionists to resist has been seriously undermined by the Protestant ”loyalist” riots that erupted across Northern Ireland a fortnight ago and changed the political atmosphere of the province.