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KATIE is 17 years old. I want to see her doing her Leaving Certificate. I want to see her going to college.
Someday I hope I will have the pleasure of walking her down the aisle. Maybe she will have kids and myself, and my wife will enjoy grandchildren.
Last Monday night, Katie went to the gym in the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth. She came home to say that police and fire brigades and emergency services were rushing into Maynooth. I learned that as Katie walked home that night, she walked past a viable explosive device in a bus, which army bomb disposal experts later made safe.
I grew up in Belfast in the late 1960s. I joined the Irish Defence Forces in the 1970s. I was happy to work at home assisting the gardaí to fight the very real threat of the Provisional IRA. I celebrated the signing of the Good Friday Agreement which brought a sense of normalcy to the lives of my family and friends in Belfast and the Glens of Antrim. I was also happy to work abroad with the UN in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Somalia and Bosnia.
In my present job, working for an aid agency, I have campaigned against the proliferation of small arms in the developing world and the use of indiscriminate cluster munitions in conflict situation. I have been involved in aid operations in conflict zones including Angola, Darfur, Haiti, Lebanon, Pakistan, south Sudan, Zimbabwe, North Korea and Burma. I am not unfamiliar with bombs and bullets. I sympathise with all those, across the globe, who have to seek to meet basic needs and obtain fundamental human rights while looking down the barrel of a gun or fearing an explosion around the next corner. That is my job.
The people of Ireland, north and south, have overwhelmingly voted for constitutional democracy. They have voted against the bomb and the bullet.
England is our most important economic partner. If, as a result of your misguided republican idealism, you disagree with the visit of the queen then hold up a placard or write a letter to the paper. But how dare you make my daughter walk past a bomb in a hotel car park. That is unacceptable.
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