Sunday 15 September 2019

Editorial: 'We must stop terrorists from deepening divisions'

'The chilling events at Wattle Bridge, near the Border, show the shadow of the past will creep up on us' Photo: PA
'The chilling events at Wattle Bridge, near the Border, show the shadow of the past will creep up on us' Photo: PA
Editorial

Editorial

Only the tiniest of margins has foiled suspected dissident republicans in their bid to mangle hope and history in the wreckage of a murderous blast.

The PSNI said it was a miracle no officers were killed in the sinister plot to lure them to their deaths.

Evidently they sought to cause carnage - they also sought to destroy the peaceful legacy of the Good Friday Agreement. Anything that brings people closer together or unites in a way that does not fit their rigid, poisoned view is regarded as a threat.

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We know the agenda of hate and carnage they offer. Their bloody footprints have stained our history but they cannot be given a foothold in our present or our future.

We saw how they will exploit any vacuum in power or weakness in Government.

But only if they are allowed.

The role of all decent politicians in the service of democracy is to stop them in their tracks.

There must be unanimity of purpose in sending an over-powering message that violence has been sealed in the vaults of history. The days of division are over. The use of force to subvert peace will not be tolerated and those who try to manipulate prejudices, fears or ignorance will meet overwhelming resistance at every turn.

The terrorists will swoop to twist events to serve their ends, deploying whatever diabolical degree of force they deem appropriate.

Loss of life is nothing. So the clearest signal possible must go from London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels that peace is here to stay and will not be undermined.

The dissidents in their delusion imagine they can turn back the clock on two decades of peace with a timing switch on an improvised explosive device. They can not.

But the chilling events at Wattle Bridge, near the Border, show the shadow of the past will creep up on us if we do not cherish and protect the shared gains we have made by asserting the primacy of assent at the heart of our democracies.

There are those standing in the wings all too happy to take advantage of any weakening in our resolve to co-operate or work together to copperfasten peace.

Each atrocity is a manifestation of a dark decision made coldly and calculated from the comfort of a safe distance. Such decisions are always made a safe distance from the broken bodies and scattered limbs they leave in the aftermath.

Our political leaders have a heavy burden of responsibility to make sure there is no hiding place or space for such shadowy figures to return. Progress in settling differences is made by sitting down together and finding common ground, even when the terrain is difficult and the distances are far apart. Nothing would suit the trigger-men better than to deepen the divisions and darken any prospect of engagement.

The only way to leave these guerrillas lost in the mists of time behind us - where they belong - is by moving on. Finding a way forward is a moral as well as a political imperative.

Irish Independent

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