Monday, 9 March 2009

Death once again stalks this land

On Saturday night two soldiers were shot dead and four others wounded during an attack outside an army Barracks in Masserene, Co. Antrim. My deepest condolences go out to those people and their families.

The Real IRA has claimed responsibility for the attack through a statement issued to the Dublin based Sunday Tribune newspaper.

The attacks took place just one day after it was announced that the Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), part of UK Intelligence Services, were to be deployed to the North to counter the recent and considerable increase in dissident Republican activity.

There had been considerable political fall-out off the back of this announcement with both the SDLP and Sinn Fein claiming that the Policing Board had been undermined and should have been informed prior to the decision.

Republicans and nationalists were only informed about this issue through media sources after Friday’s meeting of the Policing Board.

This action was counterproductive and only served to undermine the authority of the Policing Board and cause affront to hard fought democratic and accountability mechanisms.

Regardless, this attack has laid bare the severity of the current situation. Dissidents have proven beyond doubt that they still have the capability and determination to carry out attacks against the security services and against the democratic will of the people of Ireland.

Dissident republicans must realise that they are not the chosen few. They have no mandate or popular support for their campaigns- their actions are not legitimate. They have no political direction and do not have any clear strategy, or any strategy, to create a united Ireland.

History has shown that violence can not and does not work. Violence only serves to beget violence. These actions will only serve to further put off the prospect of a united Ireland and buttress unionist opposition to it.

Ordinary people want to get on with their lives, get a decent job, a decent and normal life. They do not want this. The overwhelming majority on the people of this island, North and South, voted for the Good Friday Agreement. They do not want this.

The signing of the GFA was a clear message that rejected the use of violence and committed popular support to the principle of consent. The consent principle is the only tool now to further nationalist and republican goals.

Former SDLP leader and Nobel Peace Laureate John Hume once said ''it is people who have rights, not territory, not land. Our people, unfortunately, are divided and cannot be brought together by and form of coercion, only through understanding, reconciliation and agreement''.

I sincerely hope that in this dark time, with all the progress that has been achieved perched upon a precipice, we must reflect on these words and our own experiences and reach the conclusion that peace is the only way forward.

We must all come together in opposition and in solidarity against these attacks and reaffirm our collective commitment to the paths of peace and democracy in the North of Ireland. We have come along way over the years and we must not and will not give up on building a Shared Future together.

I appeal to those responsible to please cease this activity. Ask yourselves deep down do you really want to go down this violent road again?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. These people are scum! However, I believe the problem is not that they don't know they have no public support or any type of mandate - the problem is they simply just don't care! They couldn't care less about the democratic will of the people, the peace process or even (in the short term), a united Ireland!

    The entire point of these dissident organisations is to force more British troops and armed police back on to the streets of Belfast, Derry, Newry and other nationalist strongholds. (hence the why they are targeting the security forces). Once the nationalist people believe they are living in a police/militarised state again they will, of course, lose trust and faith in the peace process.

    These guys aren't looking for a United Ireland just yet. If anything they actually want more British presence in the North because they will justify their existence! So I think they know only too well that such actions distances the possiblity of a United Ireland in the short term - which in their eyes can't happen anyway with power sharing with the DUP.

    The worst thing we could do is follow the DUP demand for more troops and armed police on the streets in these areas because it will only give them support. In a sick twisted way, they are trying to re-enact 1916 and hope that the British/Unionist response will bring the harden nationalist and republicans over to their side!

    Unfortunately they really do wnat to go down the road of violence! These people can't be reasoned with so pleads of peace, and appealing to their moral conscience is a waste of time. Since the IRA knows exactly the membership of these organisations I think a feud might be a possiblity depending how successful the Real IRA is in trying to de-rail the peace process. A feud would actually suit all sides. The unionists will see republicans kill eachother, the security forces don't have to get involved, the British government won't have to divert more troops to Northern Ireland away from Afghanistan, and the IRA could claim to be the saviours of the good friday agreement. It may sound horribly cynical but that's Northern Ireland politics for you!