2010
08.11

“The Troubles have not returned, they just never went away”

Dissident republicans in Northern Ireland have stepped up a campaign of violence in the past week with four attempted bombings.
The attacks come more than a year after the murders of two soldiers at Massereene Barracks in Antrim and the killing of a cop in Lurgan.

Sun Security expert Andy McNab, who served in Ulster with the SAS during the Troubles, looks at why the fragile peace has been shattered.
 

By ANDY McNAB
Published: 11 August 2010

“No one should be surprised that a few extremists are trying to reignite a war in Northern Ireland. Whenever any conflict goes out of the public consciousness everyone thinks it is finished – but it never is.

In Ulster, warfare has been going on for hundreds of years and I can’t see it ever ending. Five-year-old kids in the street can quote you the dates of historic battles and why they were important. The demise of the Provisional IRA was largely due to the success of the SAS – “The Regiment” – in killing their active service units in the mid-1980s and early Nineties. But the guys who survived still believe passionately in a united Ireland.

They think the British are occupying Ulster and look upon the leading republicans such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who are now in government, as traitors. As far as the dissidents are concerned, they sold out.”

Gripped
 
“Now there is a new generation being brought up with this ideology and the belligerence is stronger than it has been for decades. You only have to see the graffiti in Derry to know what is bubbling beneath the surface. The young yobs are being financed and they have access to sophisticated bomb-makers. There is poverty, unemployment and a lack of education, which feeds their anger.

The terrorists have always been a minority because the vast majority of the people just want to go to work and get their kids to school. But it is a dangerous minority. They have always been there and there has been trouble in Northern Ireland every 25 years or so for centuries. If this latest upsurge in violence is to be stopped from escalating like the Troubles of 1969 onwards did, then the problem has to be gripped now.

The Army cannot do it. It is reckoned that 25 per cent of all security services activity is still in Northern Ireland, and Special Forces have sent a recce group back in.
Some believe one of the reasons why the dissidents are stepping up their attacks is to try to get Army patrols back on the streets. They would love to point to “an army of occupation” to justify their cause. But it would be counter-productive for security forces to get heavy.

It is down to the community not to let it escalate. They have experienced peace now for the first time in two or three generations. If they want to keep it, they need to get a grip on the dissidents in their midst.”

Source: The Sun