We hear a senior Republican has been arrested in connection with a punishment shooting at the weekend in West Belfast – though it has yet to be confirmed officially. The victim of the attack has since lost a limb, but, if the identity of the individual arrested is confirmed, the real significance may lie in its relationship to the proposed deadline of 24th November, since the person arrested appears to be a mainstream, rather than a dissident Republican. In which case, serious questions would certainly then arise.
Update: In this case, it would seem that the person in question is a Republican, but is not a member of the mainstream Republican movement.In which case, these questions do not immediately arise:
Was this ordered from the top in anticipation that the deal of the 24th is off, and with it all other bets? Or was it simply a case of an individual trying to keep a lid on a situation where, under the current terms of negotiations and in the effective absence of a police force, a theoretically gunless IRA no longer has the means to enforce order on local ‘miscreants’?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty