Negative campaigning continues to bring positive poll results for Sinn Féin
Ten years ago Sinn Féin were caught in a vortex of debate around a series of incidents which led to many difficult questions for the leadership of the organisation.
The first of those issues was the robbery of £26m in cash from the Donegall Square headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast on December 20, 2004. The other issue was the death of Robert McCartney, who was involved in an altercation on May Street in Belfast city centre on January 30, 2005. He was found unconscious with stab wounds and he died in hospital the following day.
These incidents were set against the backdrop of an extremely fragile peace process. There was a growing frustration with Sinn Féin's intransigence on a number of key political issues, in particular on decommissioning. At that time, it seemed as though national and international diplomatic patience with Sinn Féin was reaching breaking point.