Upsurge in NI violence is a threat to all of us
The sudden upsurge in violence in Northern Ireland is an indication of a shifting of underworld power from the Provisional IRA to criminal gangs, mostly involved in the lucrative drugs trade.
There can be no doubt that the assassination of a former IRA commander on the streets of Belfast would have drawn bloody retribution just a short few years ago. Now that the Sinn Féin strategy of "an Armalite in one hand and the ballot paper in the other" no longer holds sway, criminal elements have become emboldened enough to take on the once-powerful Republican movement by killing such a senior and respected figure. The PSNI and Sinn Féin were both quick to point out that this murder was neither sectarian nor terrorist linked, and local opinion is that this and other attacks against prominent Republican/Sinn Féin figures is an open challenge to the once-powerful control that they exerted.
These events come on the eve of a general election in Britain and Northern Ireland and the impending visit of a senior member of the British Royal family, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, to Ireland.