By Bill Delaney
Whatever is the truth behind the incident on Friday night, it is clear that it is a result of increased tension in republican circles in west Belfast.
Pressure is being brought to bear upon all republicans as Sinn Féin becomes increasingly embedded in the political process. That pressure is being directly and deliberately applied by the two governments and Sinn Féin's political opponents.
The galloping around by Mr Murphy, Mr Ahern, Mr McDowell and Mr Blair on their high horses - which began on Saturday and continues apace - is hypocritical and counter-productive.
The most outrageous invoking by our Welsh Direct Ruler of the Joint Declaration - a series of commitments both goverments have serially reneged upon - could be described as the straw that broke the camel's back.
If the two governments are seeking an end to paramilitary activity, their best best would be to refer to that document and begin practising what they preach.
But the incident in Kelly's Cellars was wrong. No-one has provided justification for the beating meted out to Mr Tohill, and again, no-one has denied that it took place.
Unlike punishment attacks -- directed against acknowledged anti-social elements in republican areas, in the absence of an accepted police service - the incident has taken on political overtones because of Mr Tohill's standing as a dissident.
This may or may not have been intended. But the right to dissent - whether it is against British rule, the Catholic church, or mainstream organisations - is the essence of republicanism and must be defended.