Gerry Adams was released from police custody with no charge levelled against him as of yesterday. Whether the matter ends there is yet to be seen and indeed, for his part, the Sinn Fein leader has protested about the way the police had dealt with the matter, saying that the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) did not need to use “pernicious, coercive legislation to deal with a legacy issue”. Martin McGuinness had said on Saturday that. with regard to Sinn Féin’s support for PSNI, that it would continue if the situation with Mr Adams is resolved in a satisfactory manner. “If it doesn’t, we will have to review that situation” he said. Hundreds of Sinn Fein supporters took to the streets of Belfast to protest against the continuing detention of their leader Gerry Adams, matched equally, but separately, by loyalists protesting Adam’s release.
This situation shows disturbing parallels, though in different measures, with the situation in Ukraine, where the pro-Russian protesters in Odessa laid siege to the central police station and set about getting over sixty rebel protesters released, those who were allegedly involved in the violence and death in Odessa on Friday when pro-Russian rebels used a city center trade union building as a means of attacking pro-Ukrainian demonstrators, who were largely kept at bay outside. In the course of a volley of missiles and Molotov cocktails being thrown that set the building ablaze. The latest death toll indicates that it was largely pro-Russian rebels that died in the building, but the death toll also included some Ukrainian nationalists.
McGuinness’s threat to rethink Sinn Fein’s support for the PSNI shows a tendency to polarise opinion into lawlessness. Those of us who remember Northern Ireland 40 years ago, see something of its inglorious past in what is happening in Ukraine. Happily, Eire is not Putin’s Russia. McGuinness would do well to support the rule of law, regardless of his partisan leanings.