“It’s worrying if they have lost control..”

I had asked how that ongoing “bid to exert control in nationalist areas in particular” was going, and in The Observer today we get a partial answer.

The British government was briefed on the warning about the dissidents’ growth in north Belfast last week. British sources told the Observer that the loss of control in areas such as Ardoyne was a worrying development, particularly with the Ulster loyalist marching season looming. The shops at Ardoyne are a major flashpoint between nationalist protesters and Orangemen and their supporters at two major parades in the city in June and July.

“The Irish were told that they [ex-IRA members and Sinn Féin activists] would be unable to police their side of the line in Ardoyne this year. In previous years mainstream republicans helped keep the peace in places like Ardoyne. It’s worrying if they have lost control because the dissidents will seek to exploit the marching season,” the British source said.

That’s without addressing the questionable desire for an apparently now purely political party to control, or even to police, such communities in the first place..