The results of the report by a British government monitoring panel caused bemusement among observers inside and outside Ireland. Following the statement of a few truisms – the IRA still exist, the loyalist gangs are still active – the Democratic Unionist Party, who had been blocking the operation of the local Assembly by resigning their positions and re-appointing themselves in a weekly cycle, returned to their positions full-time.
Of course the report was entirely political. Its main function was to provide the magic formula that would allow the DUP to return and escape the savage criticism of their backers in the business community. A report from the Irish authorities, while much more general in tone, added to the instability by increasing the political critique of Sinn Fein in the run-up to the coming southern election.
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