But before there was any question of court proceedings being taken to enforce the tapes hand-over, the Moloney/McIntyre book, based on the words of a dead man, constituted a journalistic hand grenade hurled into contemporary Six County politics.
The explosion has not merely taken place during election campaigns, north and south of the border, it has also taken place in an unusually heightened period of loyalist emotion. We have already had the anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant swearing to resist the introduction of Home Rule and this year's centenary commemoration of the Larne gun-running. Taken with the effect of the flags controversy stemming from restrictions on flying the union flag in the Six Counties, Dublin’s lack of initiative, and the failure of the Haass mission, the North already felt as though a continuous twelfth of July snake-headedness was in progress.
The black ops swoop on Adams was part of a larger scene – probably masterminded by Belfast and London securocrats – and it has heightened tensions. The depressing scene needs to be alleviated by the addition of some counter-balancing figures from the Irish American world.
The peace process is in trouble.
Tim Pat Coogan is Ireland’s best- known historian who has written many best sellers including definitive biographies on Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera and on the IRA.