One of the advantages those who so recently, though not that recently, disavowed 30 years of violence to pursue a role in participatory democracy enjoy is that younger voters may not remember how a terrorist campaign can undermine and divide a society.
They may, unless they are particularly perceptive, see just one side of the toxic story.
Equally, those who, in 2016, imagine that there can be any legitimacy for a campaign of violence and terror to achieve political ends cannot understand — or care — how delicately poised the normalisation of relationships on this island remains.
They cannot understand how easy it might be to undo decades of bridge-building and reconciliation.
If they did, the weekend warning from the North’s First Minister Arlene Foster would not be necessary.
Ms Foster warned that the security agency, MI5, said there is a “strong possibility” that republicans opposed to the peace process will mount an attack outside Ireland.
Any such event would be an outrage and completely unacceptable to the vast majority of people living in the 32 counties of this island.
That the activities of “dissident” republicans is routinely condemned by Sinn Féin’s aristocracy adds a layer of farce to a dangerous situation.
Just as John Hume and other constitutional nationalists questioned the legitimacy of violent republicanism during the Troubles, they challenge today’s terrorists. If it wasn’t so very serious it would be laughable.
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