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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.

Your reaction

Peace cannot be forced upon another

Michael Day, Britain
The only way is by doing it ourselves in our own hearts. And the way is through prayer and meditation. Peace cannot be forced upon another, but love can melt a angry heart.
Michael Day, Britain

Without politicians, there will be no violence.
Prayad Wesnarat, Thailand

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.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

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.
Anthony, UK

There's a hard core of senior terrorists on both sides who dread the end of the conflict

Paul, UK
There's a hard core of senior terrorists on both sides who dread the end of the conflict. For them, peace would mean a massive drop in the income they currently derive from drug trafficking and protection racketeering. It would mean suddenly becoming nobodies, surrounded by enemies eager to settle old scores, with no armed henchmen to hide behind. Any political solution, no matter how advantageous it might be for their community, would be disastrous for these individuals.
Paul, UK

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.
Nick, Scotland

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.
Warren Abrams, USA

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.
Jim McWilliam, Scotland

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.
Sean, Ireland

The car bomb attack outside BBC TV Centre in London was clearly aimed at derailing the peace process in Northern Ireland

Albert Devakaram, India
The car bomb attack outside BBC TV Centre in London was clearly aimed at derailing the peace process in Northern Ireland. The blast is probably a result of the British Government's failure, for whatever reason, to get the IRA to decommission arms, a vital component of the Good Friday Pact. Sinn Fein would now be under intense pressure to get the IRA to begin decommissioning. The explosion is also a serious setback to the demand for reducing security in troubled Northern Ireland. The only lasting solution to explore the way for durable peace would first be for the terrorists to immediately lay down arms without pre-conditions.
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.
Stuart, London, UK

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.
Colin Wright, UK

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.
John, Scotland

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.
Tom OD, UK

At least some of the blame for continuing violence must be lain at the feet of the Irish-American lobby in the USA

Brian W, U K
At least some of the blame for continuing violence must be lain at the feet of the Irish-American lobby in the USA, which for years has funded arms purchases by Republicans and arranged arms shipments. Let us hope that the new Bush administration clamps down on terrorist supporters rather than looking for international kudos by interfering in the so-called peace process.
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.
Simon Cameron, UK

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.
Maurice, UK

I've always been puzzled about why the UK government was never able to contain the terrorists through close monitoring

Paul, UK
I've always been puzzled about why the UK government was never able to contain the terrorists through close monitoring. Surely this job should be much easier these days, what with there being only a few overtly terrorist groups left. I mean, it's not as if these people are fantastically intelligent or anything - for the most part they're just self-aggrandising, moronic thugs. And yet they continue to get away with it. How?
Paul, UK

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.
Ajith Dissanayake, New Zealand

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.
Gerry, Scotland

What peace process?
Bazil, England

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!
Jim McAllister, South Armagh

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.
Julian, UK

The peace process has been nothing more than a roller coaster facade

Suzanne McMillan, Japan
Conor O'Neill said "We must not allow them to drag us back into the past" We still are in the past - the peace process has been nothing more than a roller coaster facade. It has always been understood that a bomb in England is worth more publicity than anywhere else. This most recent incident outside the BBC has done nothing more than show that attitudes remain the same and permanent peace is still holds a place in fictional news.
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.
Alan Murphy, USA

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.
Ken Klakowich, Canada

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.
Pete Harvey, Canada

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.
Justin, UK

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".
Krow, USA

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.
Jeff, USA

I believe in peace and I am sure it will come, we just all have to do our bit where we are

Sue Sterling
What a terrible thing to happen when all the TV stations do so much for peace. I would like to ask these questions: 'Who are the real IRA?' and 'What do they need?' I believe in peace and I am sure it will come, we just all have to do our bit where we are. So sorry that happened to you and God bless.
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?
Keith Fulton, Down

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.
Allan Robertson, Scotland

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.
W . Nasser, Liverpool,UK

We must not allow them to drag us back into the past

Conor O'Neill, Northern Ireland
The only outcome the Real IRA can hope to achieve from bombings in London and elsewhere is the destruction of the Northern Irish peace process. If knee-jerk responses are made - such as re-arresting members of organisations that are maintaining their cease fires - the Real IRA will get exactly what they want, and Northern Ireland will be plunged back into the misery and fear of pre-Agreement days. There will always be those on either side who are determined to continue the violence - we must not allow them to drag us back into the past.
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.
Andy Millward, UK

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.
Campbell, Scotland

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.
Seth Black, West London, UK

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!
Jo, London UK

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.
Mike, England

Terrorism is itself a denial of the notion of constitutional politics

Oliver Kamm, UK
There is no constitutional arrangement that can end the violence, for terrorism is itself a denial of the notion of constitutional politics. As the former Irish cabinet minister Conor Cruise O'Brien has long observed, there is no 'political solution' to terrorism, only a security solution. Crack down on the bombers by reintroducing internment on both sides of the border, and make no political concessions to any party that fails to abandon violence and give up its weapons forever, unconditionally.
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.
Brian W, UK

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.
John Martin, UK

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.
James Bason, UK

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!!!).
Alex P, UK

Whoever is leading the IRA should hang his head in shame over cowardice bombings.
Des Mc, USA

There can be no peace until these men of violence on both sides are back where they belong: in prison

Shaun, UK
What peace process? The terrorists who have maimed and killed British citizens and servicemen have been freed, the IRA still has all of its guns and explosives, they continue to administer punishment beatings to those who cross them and continue to let off bombs in both Northern Ireland and the mainland UK.
There can be no peace until these men of violence on both sides are back where they belong: in prison.
Shaun, UK

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?
CP, Ireland

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.
Alex, Glasgow, Scotland

Centuries of effort by politicians has failed and I see no sign of hope from that direction

John, UK
Centuries of effort by politicians has failed and I see no sign of hope from that direction. The only solution is for the ordinary people of Ulster to get onto the streets in there thousands and say 'enough is enough; give us peace.'
John, UK

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.
Owen, UK

It doesn't mean anything. A bit of a mess was made and some glaziers will make a bit more cash than usual

Alex Banks, Wales
It doesn't mean anything. A bit of a mess was made and some glaziers will make a bit more cash than usual.
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.
You cannot build "peace" on appeasement and continual concessions to terrorists.
Brian, West London, UK

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See also:

05 Mar 01 | UK
UK braced for bomb campaign
05 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Bomb condemned as 'mindless'

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