Terror in the North - We have to do more than vote for peace

THE Continuity IRA yesterday, when they admitted murdering PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, a married man with a family from Banbridge in Co Down, joined the Real IRA in a terrible fantasy world where the democratic wishes of the great majority of the population of this island stand for nothing.

It is a fearful possibility that even before this day is out that the other gang of murderers lost in this Bermuda Triangle of hate — the INLA — will do their bit for “the cause” by killing someone to try to reverse the great progress made over the last decade.

These last few days Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams faced a lot of criticism over the delay and the feeble language used in his initial response to the murder on Saturday night of two young soldiers at the Massareene Barracks in Antrim. Be that as it may he did say one thing that we should all consider. He warned that there cannot be a security response and that politics must find the answer. He may have hit the nail on the head.

Junior Cert history lessons tell us that the population of Dublin booed the men of 1916 as they were led through the capital’s streets after their revolt was suppressed. They did not become heroes until the British authorities executed the leaders one after another.

More recent history shows that the bitter, and deeply divisive intransigence of Margaret Thatcher at the height of the Troubles did more to bolster the Provos than any intervention by any other politician.

Tempting as it might be to fight fire with fire let us hope that the calm resolve we advocated yesterday leads to a different approach.

These three gangs — President McAleese described them as “a tiny, isolated band of throwbacks, using tired, old, failed strategies” — cannot survive without the support of the communities in which they live.

It may be that we all have to do more than vote for peace and democracy.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness put it well when he described the killers as “traitors to the island of Ireland”. At a joint press briefing with DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson and Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde yesterday — an event that would have been unimaginable two decades ago — Mr McGuinness said the perpetrators had “betrayed the desires and political aspirations of all the people who live on this island and they don’t deserve to be supported by anyone”. He appealed to the nationalist community to assist the police services north and south to defeat these people.

The only way these recidivist terrorists can succeed is if we all turn a blind eye and stay silent. We must all do what we can to ensure they have neither refuge nor comfort, hiding place or safe house. If that means picking up a phone and pointing the police in the right direction then so be it.

They don’t have a mandate and we don’t have a choice. It’s either that or get back to the hatred and bigotry of the dark ages.

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