Monday, March 09, 2009

'The war is over' - Ulster unites to condemn soldiers' killers.

When the news came out that two soldiers had been killed in Northern Ireland by dissident republican paramilitaries there was a sinking in everyone's soul, the feeling that we surely can't be going back to all that violence and blood shed.

And the hope was that this was a blip, an action by a group of dissidents who carry no real weight.

The good news is that this is exactly how Adams and McGuinness have chosen to view matters.

In a historic moment for Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness last night backed the police manhunt and denounced the attackers. McGuinness, the deputy first minister, said: "I was a member of the IRA, but that war is over now. The people responsible for last night's incident are clearly signalling that they want to resume or restart that war. Well, I deny their right to do that."

In an emotional interview, he said: "I will stand for all democrats against their attempts to plunge us back into conflict; to see soldiers on the streets; to see more checkpoints; to see houses being raided and to see people being dragged back to interrogation centres. Those days are over. They can never come back again."

In an unprecedented statement, Adams said: "Sinn Féin has a responsibility to be consistent. The logic of this is that we support the police in the apprehension of those involved in last night's attack."

Time will tell whether or not this was a one off event, but the reaction from both Adams and McGuinness would have been unthinkable a few short years ago.

It's good to see Northern Irish politicians uniting in condemnation of mindless violence. And it's a unity which was also evident amongst the populace.
Sunday morning prayers at churches across Antrim town were cut short as congregations came together in an ecumenical show of solidarity. Hundreds walked silently to the edge of the police cordon and stood together amid floral tributes at the Massereene barracks.
Northern Ireland has surely come too far to allow dissidents to undo all that has been achieved.

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