The "sharp downturn" in the mood in Ulster has meant that there is now a "valid comparison" to be made between recent church burnings in Northern Ireland and events in pre-war Germany, according to Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
"Some people will say `Oh, that's shocking. Oh it's alarmist, it's extremist. We haven't got as far as that yet'," he said of the possible television commercial. "No, we haven't got as far as that, but I wonder how many people have in their minds the unspoken word `yet'."
A spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland Office confirmed yesterday: "There will be possible use of comparisons with the early Thirties in Germany ... illustrative parallels between behaviour there and then and behaviour here and now."
The new advertising stance is in stark contrast to that used in the wake of the IRA and loyalist ceasefires in 1994. Then it was images of two young boys - one Catholic and the other Protestant - playing on a sunny North Antrim beach, backed by Belfast musical star Van Morrison singing Days Like This, with a voiceover commenting: "Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time?"
Sectarian violence comes to the fore in the Ulster marches, but legislation to curb disorder in the marching season is expected to be postponed until after the election to avoid clashes with the Ulster Unionists.
Two mortar devices were fired at army patrol Land Rovers in the Springfield Road area of West Belfast last night, an RUC spokesman said.
Two women were treated in hospital for severe shock following the blasts, which missed the vehicles, but there were not thought to be any serious injuries.Reuse content