While it may once have been strange to think of Sinn Féin as the arbitrators with terrorists in Northern Ireland, it is not something that after the last three years I’m apprehensive about.

Since they took over co-leadership of the power-sharing executive with the DUP they have proven over and over that there has been a sea change in their outlook and way to working and co-operating for the betterment of Northern Ireland. Therefore it seems natural that after a week of bombs that went off, bombs that failed to go off and bomb scares that Gerry Kelly will lead a delegation in talks with the 32-County Sovereignty Movement the political wing of the Real IRA. Kelly said:

“We have been very clear that we are prepared to talk with these groups, and that they have the absolute right to disagree with the Sinn Fein strategy.”

adding

“These small groups have the ability to do damage; two or three people can do a lot of damage if they go undetected and they have the expertise.”

That is the thing when you are dealing with a cell of guerrilla activity. They don’t have to do a lot, because they can’t because there are few enough of them. However, if they hit a high profile target and can co-ordinate attacks with other cells they have the ability to cause damage, injury or death. The 200lb explosion that went off in Derry on Tuesday could have had a major impact throwing Northern Ireland back to the bad old days of fear and suspicion.

But if we are to move forward as was eventually done with Sinn Féin dialogue is a stepping stone along the way. Many of us hoped for the day that the Republicans would be working alongside the rest of Northern Ireland on a peace; though many of us doubted we would see it happen. Now that it is we need to let them talk to the next level of extremist feeling.

It may well be no longer a case of “Ourselves alone” and more a case of “We’re all in this together”.

Advertisements