Monday, 9 March 2009

A deeper sickness

It is difficult to know what to say about the horrible events which took place in Antrim on Saturday night. It is a struggle even to turn one’s thoughts this morning to Northern Ireland and its politics. The only words which are not freighted with futility are words of sorrow and sympathy for the men who were shot so mercilessly, and their families.

Sad, indeed tragic events, unfold in our newspapers, on our television screens and occasionally in front of our very eyes, daily. To an extent we become inured or else we seek comfort in the mutuality of our revulsion. The nature of this weekend’s horror was somehow particularly difficult to stomach, accompanied as it was with the unedifying, hollow charade which masqueraded as condemnation from Sinn Féin.

For fourteen hours the party remained silent. Its reaction, when it came, was laced with equivocation and qualification, heavy with the implication that republicans remain the troubles’ real victims. ‘Counterproductive’, ‘an attack on the peace process’. And Martin McGuinnness and Gerry Adams could not temper their veiled attacks on the British armed forces for one afternoon. .

These are men who clearly still believe that, but for considerations of tactical expedience, a British soldier in Northern Ireland, whether in an operational capacity or not, represents a potential legitimate target. ‘No mandate’, ‘no strategy for a united Ireland’. If the killers had had a little more support, if they had had a little more tactical ‘nous’, then evidently Adams and McGuinness couldn’t have faulted their actions.

As ordinary politicians queued up to express their disgust at the attack, it was hard not to adjudge their words ultimately impotent. The murders are the symptom of a deeper sickness in our society which has not been adequately addressed.

Although the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland naturally feel repugnance at Saturday’s events, it is worth reflecting, will the killers be receiving a popular mandate to govern in twenty years time? Will they be accorded the status of 'victims'? Will they have been retrospectively exonerated by their own communities?

One of the most common reactions to this attack has been to resolutely vow that it will not disrupt the peace process. Certainly that is important. No-one wants to return to a place whereby murder and mayhem becomes a commonplace on Northern Ireland’s streets.

The characteristics of a normal society, however, will not be discernible here until both main communities feel as much revulsion for the moral compromise of voting unrepentant murderers and their apologists into government, as they do for the freshest murders which have been committed.


Anonymous said...

I do not have any time for terrorists or by and large SF, however let us not make too much of SF's statements; that they would ever make such statements even 10 years ago would have been unthinkable.

Can we give them some room to manouevre their way to blocking these people from their deeds, they have a difficult balancing feat to achieve - keep the peace process on track and at the same time keep the republican hawks in check.

I hope they can achieve it, if they don't we will all suffer.

Timothy Belmont said...

My sentiments entirely, Chekov. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Hernandez said...

We all know that SF will never actually 'condemn' the actions of fellow Republicans, so perhaps their statements are not surprising. I was however quite surprised to hear Adams state that his thoughts were with the soldiers' families.

Anonymous said...

Surely thou according to government circles and all political parties these guys that carried out those murders are victims as well. SICKENING. IRA FILTH.