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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 15:51 GMT
How can we end the violence?
Home Secretary Jack Straw has condemned the weekend's car bomb attack on the BBC's news centre in west London as "mindless".
He said that attack was a clear bid to undermine the Northern Ireland peace process.
No group has yet admitted carrying out Sunday's bombing, but police say the attack was part of a campaign by dissident Irish republicans from the Real IRA.
What does this latest attack mean for the peace process? Can Northern Ireland's pro-Agreement politicians, who meet this week, re-gain the initiative? How can we end the violence for good?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Michael Day, Britain
Without politicians, there will be no violence.
That war has going on for too long and we now need divine intervention. There is a God in Heaven who hates bloodshed and He can stop all this fighting.
Peace process? What peace process? Labour has appeased the terrorists for too long. Where did this lead us in WWII? Will we never learn from history? Time to take a stand - draw the line and get tough Mr Blair. You are sending out the wrong message to the terrorists and anyone else who wants to use terror to further their cause.
I don't agree with violence or bombings but why is it we only hear of these events when they happen in England and carried out by Republicans. Loyalist are taking lives with great ease regularly in Northern Ireland yet this very rarely gets press coverage. No wonder Nationalists feel let down and cheated.
The "Northern Ireland Peace Process" is no more than a label on an empty package, much as the "Serbian-Albanian
Peace Process" would be.
Ethnic conflicts are the virtually incurable diseases.
The only possible cure, if there is one, is to
demonstrate to both sides, quitting the war
will put money in their pockets. It's often wonderful
how a mutually profitable relationship will promote tranquillity.
This is clearly an attack designed to create the maximum publicity, it is no coincidence that the attack takes place in the run up to the expected general election. Whichever group carried out this attack wants Northern Ireland firmly on the agenda.
Good to see so many contributors working
themselves into a frenzy of indignation,
but not a word to be heard from them the UDA/ UFF and UVF hurl countless pipe-bombs into Catholic homes for the last three months.
As for the guy who quoted Conor Cruise O'Brien, does he not know that O'Brien's most famous achievement is his ability to never assess any situation correctly and to be constantly proved wrong - do some reading it might add to your knowledge.
Albert Devakaram, India
I fail to see why the "peace process" is so called. What was the point of turning the IRA into a political party if they have no power over the more militant factions of the IRA. The problems will continue until the funding stops (America) and the hard core leaders are rehabilitated and given proper jobs.
No agreement can prevent those for whom violence has become a way of life, from perpetrating violence. Sadly some people have no respect for the lives of others. Maybe one day this will change, but when people have been doing this sort of thing for so long their cause no longer matters it's simply a way of life. If an agreement can be met maybe future generations will not produce people of this type.
A succession of politicians have fudged
their way through the 'peace process'
by assuming that in order to obtain peace you
appease the men of violence. This
has now demonstrably failed but with
the number of lessons from history both
recent and ancient to draw on this
was hardly surprising. It failed for
Neville Chamberlain, it failed for
John Major and it will just as surely fail
for Tony Blair.
There is not going to be an end to violence in Ireland unless Northern Ireland is given back, unfortunately this is not going to happen as there are factions of the population who want to remain part of Britain. Why can't they actually just forget that there is an artificial border and just get on with life in the rest of the UK multi-cultural life works fine, we don't go round bombing Catholics, Muslims, Hindus or whatever, yet in Ireland we have a daft terrorist struggle that has gone on for so long that the 'warring factions', if you can call these pathetic act war, can not end the bloodshed.
Brian W, U K
We have to differentiate between a crime and the Irish issue. The latter is a matter of grave concern to all thinking men and women and no stone should be left unturned in addressing it. There is no excuse however for murderous threats against innocent members of the public. The anger that motivates these bombings is senseless and irrational. As long as we even start to consider that a solution can be negotiated in the context of criminal violence we are legitimising the actions of the perpetrators.
What can you expect? The government releases 500 Bombers, Killers and Thugs, and are surprised at the situation.
The IRA, Real IRA what next the Really Real IRA.
This again shows what terrorism could do to disrupt ordinary life in a democratic country. No sensible country with dignity should bow down to terrorism and succumb to negotiations which are any way going to be futile. Terrorists whether they are IRA or LTTE are basically the same and should be militarily handled and beaten to allow people with democratic thinking to take over any negotiations.
Why should this be a threat to the peace process, these people were never part of it and have made it clear never will be. The main groups should continue with the peace process and isolate the thugs on both sides who wish to continue violence. In addition, anyone arrested for terrorist activities committed after the Good Friday agreement was signed should not receive any amnesty and be treated as the bullies and thugs they really are.
What peace process?
The reality is that all shades of IRA are one movement, with one broad membership, and one eventual goal - wake up Mr Blair, you released these killers into the wild!
Irish history has shown that any time a push for peace comes the Republicans will splinter. This does not mean that every time the splinter group resorts to violence the political process should stall.
Realism must prevail and it is clear that there are always going to those on both sides of the sectarian divide who will never accept any peace deal. Knee jerk reactions of locking people up will not work and neither will constantly hinted at further concessions to both sides.
Political leaders must lead and reduce the support for the terror groups by showing that peace does work and that the vast majority support peace.
However these events will carry on happening for the short to medium future and nothing will change this.
Suzanne McMillan, Japan
The latest attack demonstrates what clear-thinking, peace-loving democrats have known all along - a lasting peace cannot be obtained by appeasing irrational, violent non-democrats who seek to compensate for their lack of a political mandate by committing murder and extortion. Plane hijackings, once a common occurrence, were not ended by making concessions to the hijackers. They were only ended when the hijackers were denied support and safe haven by governments throughout the world.
The terrorists for Ireland currently have nothing to lose by keeping their weapons and allowing the occasional bomb to go off in order to "focus the minds" of those who would disobey them. The terrorists must be held accountable. Only when the governments of the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the USA end all active and tacit support for men of violence, stop treating petty murderers and thugs like dignitaries and statesmen, and end the concessions to the political wings of dishonest, manipulative and heavily armed terrorist groups will there be any chance for a lasting peace.
Violence is not something that can be ended by violence. It is the act of desperate people that find themselves in situations that they can not control. Like the student that strikes out with a gun in an American High School, this people are starved for attention and know of no other way to get it. No we can not stop people from doing bad things, but we do have to deal with them.
Seems to me the "Agreements" were established on pretty shaky ground anyway. No IRA decommissioning of weapons plus the freeing of scores of IRA activists from jail. In the N. Ireland morass there are always going to be small groups of people prepared to commit violent acts - it only takes a handful of determined people to shake the foundations of a modern state. A little less publicity (which the terrorists crave) would help. The steady grind of good police detection work seems to be the only way forward.
The RIRA need to be isolated, not only from all trappings of the political process, but in our minds as well. They are nothing to do with the peace-process. They are thugs, gangsters and murderers who have more to loose from peace than they have to gain. These people should rightly be condemned in the media, by both governments and by the public at large. The security services need to "crack down" on them and "crack down" hard. If the services know there's between one and two hundred of them, they likely have a good idea who they are, where they operate from and how they get their money. Its about time we stopped the softly-softly approach with these people! They don't show us the same courtesy. Anybody who deliberately explodes weapons of mass murder has proven that they are unfit for any sort of sympathy or tolerance.
Fifty pipe bombs go off in nationalist homes in NI and not a word. One bomb goes off in London and immediately we have it on Talking Point and nationalists are blamed for sinking the peace process. I think this is called "spin".
The violence in Northern Ireland has
been going on for centuries and I am
not optimistic that the warring
factions will ever achieve a true
peace. Generation after generation
of people in Northern Ireland have
never known anything but war and
violence; to them it's a way of life.
There are also terrorist groups on
both sides and extremists who have
a vested interest in keeping the
violence going. The best that can
be hoped for is to keep both sides
from killing each other and keeping
violence and terrorism to a minimum.
Sue Sterling, UK
Why is it thought acceptable by republicans to cut the numbers of the RUC if this threat is still on our doorstep?
There seems to be little point in trying to find these terrorists as they will only spend two years in prison under the terms of the Belfast agreement.
I am deeply saddened by the incident. How can peace be achieved through these threats of violence. Irrational and cowardly acts show the world how selfish these people really are.
Conor O'Neill, Northern Ireland
Whatever form peace eventually takes, there will always be extremist splinter groups who oppose it and who are prepared to resort to violent means.
However, as with Omagh, bombings will almost certainly be a PR disaster and therefore counterproductive for the perpetrators if doesn't win popular support amongst Republicans. One hopes that peer pressure will ultimately make the difference.
The worst possible consequence of this bombing would be if the British Government were to brush this incident under the carpet. This must not be allowed to happen. The fact that no one was killed or seriously injured must not mean that we forget what the Real IRA have tried to do here.
We must not put up with this attempt to further stall the peace process in Northern Ireland. Can the dissidents not see that all that happens when they continue pursuing violent tactics is that, ironically, they make the will to achieve peace more likely.
The peace process must go on. Our resolve should be strengthened, if we abandon it now we allow these terrorists to reach their objective. It must be clear that Britain shall never surrender to terror. Their actions will only make us all the more determined to find a just and lasting peace.
Peace means negotiation and compromise, so far we have done all the compromise and it still isn't good enough for them.
Get tough Mr Blair, maybe then we will gain some respect and then they may start to listen!
Releasing the terrorists is the worst thing they could have done and it is only a matter of time until one of them commits another murder. What will the politicians say then?
The Irish problem has no longer got anything to do with politics, that's simply a smokescreen. It's all about gangsters, money and power. All these groups have leaders who live a very comfortable life because of the troubles. It is not in any of these groups' best interests to see an end to it. Until we treat these terrorists from all sides with the same tough attitude, they will continue to walk all over us and our leader Tony Blair who gives in all the time.
Oliver Kamm, UK
The so-called "peace process" is a figment of imaginative wishful thinking in Whitehall.
The situation is quite simple. Republican terrorists have only one aim, the take-over of Ulster by Dublin, and will not cease operations until it is achieved, whilst loyalist terrorists will fight with all means available to maintain the status quo.
I can't help thinking that the so called "splinter groups" the "official IRA" and Sinn Fein are all but one cohesive unit formed so that they can exert pressure from all directions in order to force everyone to accept their terms.
What's changed? The real IRA have been planting small bombs in London over the last two years or so. Just because this one happened to be outside the BBC you pollute us with drama.
I think those 'people' in the Real IRA want to continue the violence not because they believe it will lead to a British withdrawal, but because they crave the power and status they believe being linked to a terrorist organisation gives in some sections of Northern Ireland. I wish the Real IRA would listen to the majority of people in NI and give the peace process a real chance (say 30 years!!!).
Whoever is leading the IRA should hang his head in shame over cowardice bombings.
There can be no peace until these men of violence on both sides are back where they belong: in prison.
This means nothing to the peace process. These people are dissidents, not the provisional IRA. More to the point, what do the 50+ pipe bombings this year, attributed to members of the loyalist UDA (who are supposed to be on cease-fire) mean to the process?
The people who committed this, and the other recent atrocities in London are nothing more than animals, and deserve to be put down. My thoughts are with the family of the child who was recently blinded and maimed for life, in the name of what the Real IRA call "Progress". No matter how you look at it, the Real IRA is not interested in a lasting peace whatsoever - I only hope that this Government realises that, and starts to get tough with this band of Republican thugs.
How can we end the violence? How about putting the terrorists back in prison for a start. It is appalling that these killers were released in the name of peace in the first place.
The dissidents have got to realise that bombing didn't work. Bombing London in WWII didn't work, bombing Baghdad during the gulf war didn't work, nor will this. Even the IRA have finally conceded this point. Northern Ireland cannot entirely belong to either side - it has to be shared. When the dissidents realise and accept this, they will have grown up and matured just like everyone else involved in the peace process.
Alex Banks, Wales, living in Sweden
These mindless bomb attacks will continue for the foreseeable future, simply because Tony Blair has shown these individuals that terrorism gets results.
05 Mar 01 | UK
UK braced for bomb campaign
05 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Bomb condemned as 'mindless'
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