Northern Ireland peace plan near…

Northern Ireland peace plan near collapse

If there were a political equivalent of lobbing a hand grenade into the middle of Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly, then the events surrounding the weekend’s drama at Stormont would certainly come close.

The images of baseball-capped policemen and women stampeding down the marble staircase after searching Sinn Fein’s offices on Friday, with the party’s health minister, Bairbre de Brun, screaming after them, said it all – terrorism at the heart of democracy. Now it looks doubtful whether that fledgling democracy, already under attack from hardline unionists, can survive.

Police had already seized hundreds of documents and arrested three men and a woman in dawn raids on their homes, among them Denis Donaldson, Sinn Fein’s chief administrator at Stormont and a former IRA prisoner, who appeared in court last night, charged with five counts of having information likely to be of use to terrorists.

This has the potential to car bomb ugly, dead bodies in the street ugly, rather quickly.