THE savage murder of 57-year-old Kieran Wylie in Lenadoon is perhaps the most stark illustration yet – and we have had plenty – of the moral bankruptcy at the heart of violent dissident republicanism.

While the community faces a health crisis the like of which we’ve never seen before, while the heroes  of our Health Service put their lives on the line in the selfless act of helping others, while frontline workers take their courage in their hands in bringing us the esssentials for living – these irrelevant micro-groups plan murder in the shadows.

We have no way of knowing what reason prompted these men to destroy the life of a father in front of his family in such a barbaric and cruel way. What we can be certain of is that it has nothing to do with a so-called military campaign. It has nothing to do with bringing an end to the British presence in these six counties. The military campaign of which they speak when they choose to emerge in public has in truth never existed. A campaign is by its very nature an active and continuing process. But the campaign which these micro-groups claim to be their raison d’etre has for a quarter of a century been a shambolic series of cack-handed publicity stunts, punctuated by the occasional and inevitable ‘success’ of a death or a maiming. Their campaign has no timeline of attacks that strike fear into their declared target, rather it has been marked more by infiltration, by failure, by arrests – and by attacks on the very people in whose name they claim to exist.

It’s a familiar pattern: an extended period of relative calm, during which we hold on to the slim hope that the armchair generals have finally realised the futility of their endeavours and called it a day, and then an act of extreme violence to remind us that they are still here, still consorting with, enabling and taxing criminal elements.

This latest outrage may increase the grip of fear that these micro-groups exert on the communities in which they live, but it has provided further proof – if indeed further proof were needed – that these people act in the interests of no-one but themselves. The vast bulk of the community wants nothing to do with the perpetrators of this crime, but even among their minuscule support base their credibility is crumbling with every latest shameful act.


THE limited relaxation of the lockdown rules that came into force across the north this week is sensible and proportionate, although, like the lockdown itself, absolutely useless without the buy-in of the people.

The opening of churches is particularly to be welcomed, especially given the common-sense advice that has come with it and the willingness of the churches to implement it and even to go that extra mile as and when required. What is likely to be most problematic is the increase in the number of people now allowed to congegate in public (while practising social distancing). This increase in the number of people seen out and about may contribute to an already growing sense that the worst of the crisis is over – the danger of the complacency which may be engendered by that has been seen elsewhere, with lockdown easing having to be reversed.

Within this amended framework, discipline is required every bit as much today as it was two months ago.