Welcome signs of change in Northern Ireland

Share
Related Topics

The last few months have been uncomfortable for the IRA and its political representatives in Sinn Fein. First there was the breakdown of disarmament negotiations. Then there was the accusation that both were responsible for a £26m bank robbery. But perhaps most damaging of all has been the murder - allegedly by members of the IRA - of Robert McCartney in a Belfast pub.

Yesterday, hundreds of protesters marched through a nationalist area of Belfast in support of Mr McCartney's family and their demands that his killers be brought to justice. This unprecedented groundswell of opposition has stunned the leadership. Three IRA members have been expelled as a result of the murder, and one presented himself to the police after Gerry Adams told those responsible to come forward. Sinn Fein even sent its Assembly member Alex Maskey on the march.

This demonstrates just how much Northern Ireland has changed. The willingness of nationalist communities to accept violence and intimidation by paramilitaries appears to be slipping. Graffiti such as "PIRA scum", seen in the Short Strand in the wake of the murder, would never have appeared a few years ago.

Sinn Fein may be in difficulties, but the party is unlikely to suffer in the forthcoming Westminster elections. With the moderate SDLP virtually a spent force, Sinn Fein remains the only real show in town for nationalists. But what really concerns the party is the potential of these allegations to cost it support in the Republic, where it is trying to enlarge its vote, in part at Fianna Fail's expense. The Irish government is now alive to the Sinn Fein threat, and much less likely to temper its criticism of the IRA for the sake of the peace process.

Recent events in Northern Ireland are forcing people to face up to some things that it has long been easier to ignore: the links between the Sinn Fein leadership and the IRA, the endemic criminality across much of the north, the fact that paramilitaries seem to be above the law. These are unsettling times, but if it leads to true reform within the republican movement, this may turn out to be a healthy process for Northern Ireland.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam