Category: Archive

Editorial: political vacuum: killers rush in

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Sinn Fein organized them, trying to draw attention to what they argue with some justification was a denial of the basic democratic right to vote. Sinn Fein claims that the elections were put off in order to save Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble from a humiliating defeat from the anti-agreement Unionists. The British have responded that going into an election without the prospect of bringing back the institutions of government was a pointless exercise and would only have lead to further delays and difficulties.
People can argue the case one way or the other. But there are two things last week’s demonstrations proved: the lack of interest in the whole debate and the crisis that provoked it. In Belfast, Sinn Fein could muster only about 150 people in the their protest outside the City Hall. A vox pop carried out by the BBC showed that some natives of Belfast did not even know there was supposed to be an election in the first place.
Political apathy has set in, a feature of the political vacuum created thanks to the suspension of the government in Belfast last October. Worse, killers have taken advantage of the situation. In a sinister development, within the space of a few weeks two men have been abducted and almost certainly murdered. Alan McCullough, a loyalist, was last seen in the company of leading members of the Ulster Defense Association a week ago. Earlier, dissident republican Gareth O’Connor disappeared going through South Armagh en route to Dundalk. Police believe that both have been murdered and disposed of. If true, they may well join the ranks of the “disappeared,” victims of paramilitary death squads and whose remains have never been recovered by their families.
This is an exceptionally cruel and brutal act. Anyone involved in such killings could not make any clearer their utter contempt for the peace process and its aims. When the politicians lose their nerve, the killers find theirs.

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