William Johnstone asks questions about yesterday's arrest of three Belfast Sinn Fein members as part of a PSNI inquiry into the murder of Kevin McGuigan. William Johnstone is a Ballymoney Unionist with an interest in history and politics
Question: Were Bobby Storey, Brian Gillen and Eddie Copeland arrested today because they were featured in last night's Spotlight programme or were they featured in last night's programme because they were going to be arrested today? One has to wonder.
Cosmetic exercises are the order of the day, as we all know, so the lifts today can be regarded as more of the same. Certainly it is a marked contrast with the NIO ban on arresting Martin McGuiness for the Enniskillen massacre but the policy of arresting Republicans seems to have no rhyme nor reason.
Bobby Storey was televised last night mouthing a not-so-veiled threat after the arrest of the Teflon Don, Gerry Adams. Did this prompt his arrest or were the PSNI forced to make the arrests because of this televised reminder of Storey's threats?
When Adams was arrested, it was in connection with the murder of Jean McConville. He was released shortly thereafter to no one's surprise. Ivor Bell was not so lucky - he was arrested and charged with the murder though some reckon the decision was made more because he had split from mainstream Republicans than due to any proof the police had connecting him to the murder.
The charmed lives of senior Mainstream Republicans has long been a source of wonderment to us outsiders. The most honest and candid account last night came from Anthony McIntyre who spoke clearly as one with a unique insight into the workings of Republicanism over a few decades. The fact that he's not part of the in crowd leaves him vulnerable when he speaks out but it doesn't stop him. Kevin McGuigan clearly knew who had it in for him and what his end would be. He probably also knew that he was expendable and that few eyebrows would be raised if and when they came for him. Internal housekeeping is an acceptable part of society today. Republicans will contend that he must have deserved it, Loyalists will say, "Well, sure he was one of them".
I doubt that the Assembly will fall. After the hue and cry dies down folk will have trouble remembering who Jock Davidson and Kevin McGuigan were. That's the peace process and that's how the untenable became acceptable.