Both the British and Irish governments are making moves to marginalize Sinn Fein, the political party linked to the Irish Republican Army, unless it helps break the deadlock in the Northern Ireland peace process. On Feb. 22 the British government threatened to cut parliamentary allowances for four elected Sinn Fein deputies, which would strip nearly $1 million from the party's coffers. The threat followed allegations that the IRA carried out a $50 million heist of a Belfast bank in December.
Days earlier, Ireland's Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, took the unprecedented step of publicly naming three of Sinn Fein's top figures, including party leader Gerry Adams, as members of the IRA Army Council, a charge they deny. London and Dublin want Sinn Fein to force the IRA to finish disarming, as agreed in the Good Friday peace accord of 1998. Only then can a new power-sharing government in Belfast be formed.
Edited by Rose Brady