Law of the gun jeopardises peace
It seems the dogs in the street were right when they barked that Kevin McGuigan was shot dead by members of the Provisional IRA in retaliation for the earlier killing of Gerard Davison.
Police who had earlier warned against any speculation on the identity of the killers have now gone on the record to point the finger directly at current members of the IRA working in association with criminals and dissident republicans who make up a paramilitary-style group called Action Against Drugs. Of course, we are not privy to the evidence or intelligence on which the police are basing their assertion of who was responsible, but what we can be certain of is that it is soundly based for them to go public.
The significance of this cannot be overestimated. There was the hope that the IRA had disbanded, or at least that republicans would only pursue their ambitions solely through the medium of politics. It now seems that Gerry Adams' infamous quote - "they haven't gone away, you know" - was true indeed.
That being the case, it now poses a problem for this entire society. What do we do now?
First Minister Peter Robinson warned in the immediate aftermath of the McGuigan killing that if mainstream republicans were found to be involved, that would cause serious political repercussions.
It is clear that political and public patience is fast dissipating at the imperfect peace which exists here. The peace process has been going on for nearly two decades. After two brutal murders with political overtones on the streets of Belfast, when will peace arrive and the process end?
We need to stop pretending that republicans or loyalists have shunned violence completely, because both are capable of random acts when the occasion demands.
The Assembly must also endorse the following actions if we are to be considered a truly democratic modern western society.
The killers of Davison and McGuigan need to be pursued relentlessly by the PSNI, irrespective of any political fallout, as would happen elsewhere in the UK. To do otherwise is to give the green light to lawlessness. The members of Action Against Drugs must also be pursued and prosecuted and any overlap between that group and the IRA made clear.
One thing is perfectly clear - it is law by the gun, not the pursuit of the gunmen, which jeopardises the peace process.