The SDLP’s Dominic Bradley is annoyed with dissident republicans: “Their so-called cause is going nowhere and they are going nowhere, except to jail”. Now I’ve met Dominic Bradley and he struck me as an intelligent man with a nice sense of humour. How then can he come out with bone-headed statements like this? “Their so-called cause”: you might reject the dissidents’ cause – a united Ireland – or you might embrace it but reject their violent means of achieving it; but to suggest that they don’t have a cause is to invite ridicule. “Is going nowhere”: there can be few people in this society who want to go back to the violence we’ve gone through in the last thirty or forty years. But there can equally be few people who aren’t at least fearful that the dissidents’ campaign could gradually develop traction and go places few of us want to go. The past year and more would suggest that their cause is going somewhere, given the increased level and co-ordination that their activities are showing. Until a year or so ago we were assured they were tiny and were hopelessly infiltrated by the security forces. You hear a lot less of that kind of talk now. If you’re going to defeat someone, you need to start by making a cold-eyed assessment of his/her present strength and future potential. On that count, Dominic Bradley and his ilk are going nowhere.