Just as we in Northern Ireland were appalled by the murders by the Real IRA/Continuity IRA of 2 English soldiers and a Catholic policeman and the attempted murder of two pizza delivery men earlier this year, it is repulsive to hear of the latest sectarian killing.
As an Ulster Protestant and like any right-thinking person, I am disgusted by the murder of Kevin McDaid in Coleraine (where I went to university for 6 years). He was killed by a mob because he was a Catholic. And the violence occurred after Rangers winning the Scottish Premier League – hardly, a reason to kill someone (so much for celebration – why target Catholics because of this???).
The Belfast Telegraph reported that:
The son of a father-of-four who was killed on his doorstep as he tried to save another man during sectarian clashes in Coleraine, said today he is devastated by his dad’s death.
Kevin McDaid (49), a plasterer, was kicked and beaten to death in front of his son Ryan in the Somerset Drive area of the town at around 9.30pm yesterday.
His wife Evelynn was also attacked during disturbances involving a crowd of 40 loyalists armed with homemade weapons.
Mr McDaid’s son Ryan (22) today described the people who killed his father as “thugs” |and “animals” and added that he hopes they will be brought to justice.
In the run-up to the European elections – and the marching season, usually a powerkeg in some areas – and with the Devolved Institutions in Northern Ireland in good shape (and delivering for the people of the province), and despite the CIRA/RIRA killings earlier this year, we do not need another round of sectarian bloodletting. Sectarian attacks are on the decline, although occasionally (for example, the devastating and brutal murder of 15-year-old Michael McIlveen in Ballymena in 2006 and various other atrocities.
Politics, in particular through the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, is the only way forward – we can’t go back. But that won’t erase the hurt felt by Mr McDaid’s family at this heartbreaking time. Such attacks have to stop: for our children’s future. And they have to stop now.
Thank goodness that terrorist suspects can be held for up to 28 days – this reform of the detention period has ensured that the police in Northern Ireland have had enough time to question the Constable Carroll murder suspects, whilst obtaining evidence from elsewhere, and have now charged a 37-year-old man as well as the 17-year-old suspect charged yesterday.
Clearly, this case is still sub judice so the case must now proceed through the Courts and the law must be applied. The charges must be proven by the Prosecutors and the highly-paid Defence Barristers can make their case against. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – or, to highlight its cross-community nature, Seirbhís Phóilíneachta Thuaisceart Éireann (Irish) or Polis Core o Norlin Irelann (Ulster-Scots) – has lost one of its most gallant officers. Whether we are Catholics or Protestants, we overwhelmingly support our police service.
Constable Carroll (top),
Sapper Azimkar (left) & Sapper Quinsey
As yet, no one has been charged for the murder of Sapper Patrick Azimkar and Sapper Mark Quinsey of the Royal Engineers – and the attempted murder of two pizza delivery men – but already the Republican dissidents have been protesting outside Antrim police station against what they call “internment” (as well as an unfortunate intervention from the “bearded devil” himself, Gerry Adams MP MLA). They are ably assisted by the “Human Rights Commissioner”, Professor Monica McWilliams (a former Assembly Member who lost her seat and should, by rights, have been retired and who was once, apparently, introduced to Bill Clinton as ‘Monica … er … Lewinsky’), and the usual suspects of human rights lawyers from the Human Rights Industry.
I have already had my say on 42 days, but maybe the atrocities at Massareene and in Craigavon – and the need for at least 28 days detention in order to gather evidence to charge the suspects – will lead Dan Hannan and Iain Dale and the many others to question their unfortunate reactions to the DUP MPs’ and UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon’s understandable decisions (and, now especially, proven correct) to vote for 42 days. If they had helped to vote the Government down, things would be difficult here for them now. Though I for one found it very difficult to make up my mind on 42 days, some wise words were spoken last June:
A clear majority of the British people favour a longer detention period. We believe that the British people are right. They won’t readily forgive any politicians who allow a major atrocity to occur because our detention procedures prove to be inadequate.
It seems that Tim Montgomerie was right on 42 days, just as he is right on 45p today.
The 42 days issue seems to be dead and buried, at least the unelected and unaccountable House of Lords saw to that, but thank goodness for 28 days. Let’s only hope and pray that this period is enough for the police to gather the evidence to charge those who are suspected of murdering these two brave, murdered Royal Engineers – young English boys who died serving their country in the most unexpected of circumstances.
The UK security forces, although they sustained big losses, beat the IRA by containing them and forcing the Sinners down a political route.
The dissident Real IRA and Continuity IRA (my predictive texting tries to give me Iran or Irritation – quite appropriate) have tried to cause division and bring down the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.
By killing 2 soldiers (a Brummie and a Turkish Cypriot Londoner) and a Catholic policeman and injuring two Catholic pizza delivery men, the terrorists have brought us together and engendered trust between Protestants like me and our Catholic brothers and sisters, not divided us. We’ve been through this together before, after all.
RIRA and CIRA have failed, and they should crawl back into the gutter they squirmed out of.
Andrew Allison, one of few bloggers from the UK mainland who seem to have a handle on what is going on in Northern Ireland, has a superb post on how the recent terrorist atrocities will not derail the political process and the Executive and Assembly that has been so difficult to achieve.
Sinn Féin have acknowledged long ago that the war is over, and that Irish Republicanism will use exclusively peaceful and political means – and not the gun and the bomb – to attempt to achieve its aspiration. While a United Ireland is a frightful concept, in a democracy they have the right to argue the case.
What the CIRA/RIRA splinter groups do not believe in is democracy. They are trying to collapse the Institutions that are a lynchpin in the peace. It was difficult for the Democratic Unionist Party to agree to restarting the Executive a few years back, as no doubt it was difficult for Sinn Féin to support the police. But it has meant that we have moved on immensely in Northern Ireland.
The Republican dissidents, however, having failed in their objective to bring down the Institutions (the local politicians haven’t panicked), may well launch further attacks – but to what end?
One of the worrying aspects to these attacks was the lack of security; for example, at Massarene, civilian security contractors had one handgun and did not shoot the gunmen. Army marksmen would have given the terrorists their rightful swift descent into Hell where they belong. Now they must be caught and tried for their diabolical acts.
What Brown and Labour need to realise is that demilitarisation and weak security hasn’t worked. Appeasement of Al Qaeda wouldn’t work – just as appeasement of the RIRA/CIRA thugs. It has given such devils time to breed and has enabled disaffected ex-Provos to join these splinter groups.
The reaction to the Massareene atrocity shows how Northern Ireland has moved on … and yet Labour policy has failed
It used to be when there was a terrorist atrocity in Northern Ireland that there was equivocation from some people, who were not prepared to fully criticise the attack because of fear.
While the “Real IRA” itself has even gone as far as condemning the 2 Catholic pizza deliverers (one of whose mother works in a Catholic school in Antrim, and the other who is a young dad from Poland) as “collaborators” for daring to carry out lawful economic activities and for earning a living, everyone else has condemned the despicable attack.
Cllr Thomas Burns, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Assembly Member for Antrim South, has to be credited in particular for his impassioned call hours after the attack for such incidents to stop and for the need for peace.
These soldiers deserve posthumous Victoria Crosses, as Slugger O’Toole quotes:
The Sun is reporting, that one of the pizza delivery boys was ‘saved’ by one of the soldiers, who subsequently died as a gunman shot him whilst laying on top of the pizza boy. The soldiers told the boys to get down and one of them jumped on one of them lying on top of him whilst bullets flew above them. Apparently the gunmen kept on firing as the men lay dead on the ground. A friend of the delivery boy said: “The guy with the gun then just walked over and executed the soldier as he lay on top of Anto.”
People know that if such attacks continue, and retaliation occurs, it could be they or their families who suffer. What must the Irish-Americans, who once donated money to the IRA and yet who lost many of their own number (policemen, firefighters, etc) in the Twin Towers, make of this diabolical act?
Northern Ireland is a better place than when I was a kid, when we had to travel through military check points in our school bus in order to get to school.
People don’t wish to go back to those dark days. The Real IRA atrocity – in which they have done the dirty work of the Taliban, as these soldiers were due to go to Afghanistan – has probably put a stopper on the devolution of justice and policing to the Assembly.
Right now it’s painful for Catholics to look their Protestant neighbours in the eye, and vice versa, but that mutual friendly smile says we won’t go back to the dark old days. The Real IRA is irrelevant when what really matters is the quality of our lives, jobs, security and providing a decent future for our kids.
There are 12-year-olds and younger in Northern Ireland – who must be very puzzled by this attack – who weren’t even born when the last soldier, Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick, was murdered by a gang who were later released early within 18 months under the most despicable element of Blair’s Belfast Agreement and was a key element in the political annihilation of David Trimble.
For the sake of these kids, let’s hope that it wasn’t prisoners released early who have committed this atrocity.
Update 23.29: Following tonight’s murder of a policeman in Craigavon, the SDLP’s Dolores Kelly, MLA for Upper Bann, and their spokesperson on Equality, Victims, Policing and Parades, has been on the television condemning outright the attack and calling for people to report these “murderers”. Joe O’Dowd, Sinn Féin MLA for Upper Bann, has just called for people to report any information they know to the police. The murderers will not bring down the Institutions.
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