Another Northern Ireland shooting: A return to the 'Troubles?'
Irish politicians from all sides reject any backsliding toward violence.
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Local Sinn Féin legislator John O'Dowd extended his condolences to the victim's family and called the shooting "an attack on the peace process. It is wrong and it is counterproductive. … As with what happened in Antrim over the weekend we condemn it. Whoever carried out this shooting was not doing so to advance Irish republican or democratic goals. They have no strategy to deliver a United Ireland."Skip to next paragraph
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Some fear counterattacks by pro-British loyalist paramilitary groups. "We are staring into the abyss and I would appeal to people to pull back," Dolores Kelly, a moderate Irish nationalist SDLP lawmaker, told Sky Television.
A public employee in Belfast, who wished to remain anonymous, says of the violence: "It seems utterly senseless and arbitrary and has no backing from any section of any community. I'm a little scared of reprisals – it could create an opportunity for far-right loyalist groups, giving them an excuse to return to violence. The progress that has been made so far is better than what we had before."
Some dissident republicans are opposed to the Good Friday Accord that brought the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly and a shaky, but consistent peace to the streets after almost three decades of violence.
Some observers say that the dissident groups are trying to force the British Army back onto the streets in order to undermine Sinn Féin, the main republican party that is now in government in Northern Ireland.
Republican writer Liam O'Ruairc argues that the groups are not dissidents and are responding to Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA's abandonment of armed struggle: "As a [Belfast] News Letter editorial noted: 'Sinn Fein also needs to sort itself out. The irony is that itis Adams, McGuinness et al who are the real dissident republicans, because they are the ones who have reached an accommodation with unionists and the British Government.'"
Mr. O'Ruairc says that the limited operational capacity of the small groups does not make them irrelevant. "The fact that CIRA and RIRA are tiny groups is of no consequence. What makes them relevant is that they are now an intrinsic part of the political equation. Their campaign might be limited in nature, especially compared to PIRA, but what matters is that it has determinate political effects.
This story was updated at 3:52 EDT on Tuesday, March 10.