It may be a bit too soon to assume that Northern Ireland is on a downward spiral toward the dark days of the IRA fuelled terror. It must not however be forgotten, that two Soldiers based at the Massereene army base in Antrim, were executed by terrorists, for no real reason. Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham and Patrick Azimkar, 21 from London were killed, because a group of Republican dissidents would like to see Northern Ireland free from British Rule brought about through violence. It didn’t work when they bombed Brighton in 1984, it didn’t work when they bombed Omagh in 1998. It wont work now. Their short sighted ambitions only include slaughter rather than the political ends that Sinn Fein hope to achieve peacefully. They thrive on conflict. If Northern Ireland were freed from British rule today, these people would find something else to kill for. I’m all for giving Ireland back to the Irish, but that should never be achieved through violence.
On Monday, Constable Stephen Paul Carroll was shot and killed by Republican dissidents. There is no “because…”. They simply want to inflict terror. Their excuse is freedom for Northern Ireland. They are simply thugs who thrive on violence. Over 500 British soldiers have died in Northern Ireland, and yet Northern Ireland is still British. The majority of it’s residents are non violent, peaceful people; evident when 5000 people took to the streets in peace rallies in Northern Ireland, eerily similar to the sombre peace rallies of the past thirty years. There is a genuine yearning for the success of the peace process. No one supports these dissidents. They do not command the support and respect of the population of Northern Ireland. Patrick Corrigan in hisAmnesty International blog remarks “My generation have been there, done that and we don’t want our kids wearing the hand-me-down t-shirt.”. And he’s right. His generation brought about the Good Friday Agreement, the strengthening of the police force and the withdrawal of troops on an unprecedented scale. They did not achieve all of that, purely so that their children could live in a new age of fear.
Peace is flimsy, when Patrick Magee, the IRA’s Chief Explosives Officer, responsible for the 1984 Brighton Bombing in which five people died, was released from prison just fourteen years after being found guilty, only to come out and say “I stick by what I did“. I’m not quite sure how that sends the right message out. Kill, and you’ll be free in no time? End a life, and you’ll get a slap on the wrist? Become a terrorist….. you’ve got nothing to worry about?
Northern Ireland is struggling again. The Guardian reports today, that Intelligence services have discovered a bomb plot, but have not located the bomb now thought to be in Northern Ireland. The security forces now have a task of extreme proportions on their hands, because this isn’t just an easy situation, even if they find a bomb before it explodes; there will be another. We now know that those dissident groups are still at large, still very much armed, and still very willing to kill. And so one wonders when the Northern Ireland conflict will ever end.