|You are in: Talking Point|
Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Can the bombing be stopped?
Police say a car bomb that injured seven people in west London was the work of Irish republican dissidents opposed to the peace process and who were planning "mass murder".
The bomb - which contained up to 40kg of homemade explosive - blew up near Ealing Broadway railway station seconds after midnight.
The attack, which has been blamed on the dissident group the Real IRA, comes at an extremely sensitive time in the Northern Ireland peace process.
The latest bombing comes at a time when the parties are considering whether to accept a political package from the British and Irish governments.
How should the government respond to this campaign of violence by dissident groups? What can be done to stop the bombing? What does this mean for the peace process?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I'm Irish I don't need a United Ireland to prove it, I'm Irish cause I feel it, and nothing can take that away from me. When I vote, I vote for peace in whatever guise that may be, I don't vote to keep up the divides in this place, I don't vote to give a mandate to those who maintain the conflict and in a perverse way I think enjoy the conflict. If the conflict ends they become nobodies.
How sad to see politicians hailing the latest IRA statement (via Chastelaine) as a "historic breakthrough". All they seem to have proposed is a means to put their arms beyond use. The means was never the issue - it has always been the timing, and Mr. Adams (Sinn Fein) criticises the Government proposals for lack of specific timing! Must we wait yet another generation for a resolution?
Since the unionists won't accept the Patten proposals on policing why should the IRA decommission? Everyone accepts their right to believe that the north should remain part of the UK. The rest of the UK don't have royal in their police force's name. Until they accept the Patten proposals in full the IRA should not even consider decommissioning. It is a non-issue anyway. They could rearm the next day if they wanted to. Sinn Fein recently broke the 20% barrier in the general election. If the Provos went back to killing they would loose support. Also I am sick of hearing about concessions to the IRA and Sinn Fein. The whole process is about ending violence and giving the nationalists back the respect they deserve in the north.
Why on earth should us UK mainlanders get hurt and threatened by the troubles in Northern Ireland. The majority of people I know are fed up with Northern Ireland and do not wish for it to be part of the UK. We resent the fact that "Northern Ireland" appears on our passports. Why can't Northern Ireland break away from the UK, and be an independent country - then the British people on the mainland (mainly England) would be safe, and detached from NI's petty bickering and violence.
Now is not the time to condemn the Peace Process or lose faith. Remember it was only a matter of years ago when widespread killing was going on. For the sake of our children and for a better future for all "give peace a chance".
If you were a member of R(IRA) would you: -
a. Keep hold of your weapons, continue living of illegal earnings i.e. drugs, protection, retain your influence over peace proceedings.
b. Hand over your weapons, go back to living off the dole, be a small fish in a large pond.
Now you know why the terrorists will never decommission
It is about time the British Government stood up to the terrorists and said enough is enough - you will get nothing more until you decommission your weapons. The only way to ensure peace in NI is to get rid of the weapons. It is about time that Sinn Fein/IRA gave something rather than taking all the time. What do SF/IRA want - blood? they've already got that.
There will be no settlement to peace while their are dissident movements intent on destroying any such hopes. They have an enormous amount of power, and history dictates that they are always successful. So unless this problem is addressed as priority number one, it's futile to waste time on peace accords. It's just common sense really.
The Irish situation is somewhat similar to India's fight for freedom. When India was fighting for freedom from British rule, Indian freedom fighters initially resorted to the elimination of British soldiers and their Indian collaborators. But what ultimately won India's freedom was non-violence, as epitomised by the ideals and strategies of the great Mahatma Gandhi. Peaceful and credible Republican groupings such as Sinn Fein and the SDLP are committed to an equitable solution based on non-violent negotiations. The British Government must move away from its historical legacy of colonialist rule by force, if progress is to be made. The first step to an equitable solution is the withdrawal of British troops from Ireland. Under such conditions, the joint British and Irish proposals have a chance of working.
Lee Roy Sanders Jr, Phoenix City, AL, USA
The tone of some of the comments on this Talking Point from UK citizens who think that by handing Northern Ireland 'back to the Irish', or making it an independent state, will solve their problems, appals me. I'm as much a British citizen as the rest of you and as such have the rights you have. One of those rights is for my, and I stress MY, government to defend my right to be British.
Looks like the UK is going to have to do what a lot of other countries do to keep control of thugs and terrorists. Clamp down on them hard, to hell with their civil rights they don't deserve them. Your security services should be hunting them out and getting their hands on them before they kill more people.
I was in the Town Hall pub and left the place just minutes before the explosion. I passed the area where the car was parked and had a look at it. A shattering feeling made me run towards the other direction and it exploded. I just can't explain how I felt.
I was shocked and dismayed to get an early morning call from my sister in Ealing who informed me of this latest IRA attack on what was once the neighbourhood in which I grew up. I never dreamed that the IRA would target Ealing Broadway! This may be a defeatist attitude but I wish England would withdraw its troops from Ireland and allow the Irish to iron out their own problems. Either that or keep better track of explosive materials coming across the Irish Sea. After all these years I am absolutely tired of this wanton terrorism! Innocent people are being targeted and no street is safe anymore.
I really hope that the bombings will end! I do like the UK, but I also like Ireland. It's really time for peace and most people I met in the UK want the same thing as I do.
How can anyone do this? These are not the actions of a sane rational person. What do they hope to accomplish?
Duncan Thorp, Scotland
The Labour government released all of the IRA terrorists they had in prison, then they gave up just about everything. Of course the IRA started bombing again, the whole bombing campaign rates a big Well Duh!
"Can the bombing be stopped?" is your question, but isn't it more appropriate to ask "Will bombing change anyone's mind?". I feel that in over 95% of cases that it would harden views against the perpetrators, and act against the cause that they are fighting for. What a senseless waste of time and suffering.
Comments such as Dan H are a little dated and may have been effective in 19th century Europe. These problems arise from ignorance and arise from peoples understanding that the world is green and orange in Northern Ireland. This is not true and ignorance on mainland UK and within Ireland from politicians and press play a huge part in the continuation of violence. We are moving away from war and conflict and into a new phase in Ireland lets not be bullied by ignorant people who have no understanding of the conflict and by people who have not grown up in these communities. Generally these people have no understanding of the complex problems faced by both communities. Education and bravery will aid the peace process. Anyway is he going to put all the members of the Royal Irish Regiment etc on the register and is he going to tell them personally?
To the gentleman that (indirectly) prefers terrorism over "restriction on travelling and sniffer dogs in every corner": I prefer the opposite. I'd be very happy to being stopped by the police for check, to have them breaking in my home to search, etc, because it would be for my own safety. I think what has boosted terrorism and crime in general is these hysterical "liberals" that perceive law and order as oppression. I for one want to go out shopping without the fear that I may not return back.
Even after this first bomb in a few months, which caused so few injuries and killed none, people on this message board, and indeed generally, feel that a tough line needs to be taken with the terrorists. I'd just like to ask people to draw a parallel with Israel, who bares the brunt of far more serious and numerous bombs every week (including many dozens that don't make the British news). If people want Britain to take a hard line with terrorists already, then how can they expect Israel to sit back and not act when it is under constant bombardment, during an equally non-existent ceasefire?
Can the bombing be stopped? This is a very difficult question to answer. I am a British subject and a Canadian Citizen. I have lived 25 years in Canada. I believe Jean De Chastelaine is trying to mediate an agreement in the Irish Question. It deeply concerns me to see the violence in Ireland and in the Middle East and I trust in my lifetime Peace will truly be accomplished. Respite is required for all war torn peoples and Bienvenue and Welcome to Canada for such a respite.
The children from the Chernobyl disaster area visit Canada already and I feel that children in trauma in any fighting turmoil need to have respite in a country such as Canada.
From a Canadian perspective it all seems quite ludicrous when English, Irish, Catholic and Protestant all live together peacefully here. The Real IRA (or the next derivation) will unfortunately always exists in reference to the "Irish Troubles". We can only pray that Northern Ireland can one day become sufficiently busy economically, that they put their feuds to rest, and concentrate on enjoying peaceful co-existence, in whatever political form that brings.
If we all thought and acted like these people we'd still be bombing the ancestors of the Romans for invading us 2000 years ago.
Adam West, UK/USA
Why is this country so quick to take on the role of peacekeeper for countries no-one's ever heard of, yet doesn't even raise a finger to help the people of this country that really matter i.e. the voters. I have two possible solutions, the first is to attack back with a full military strike and the second is to just give the country back. We've all seen what the unhappy medium is when the government just sit there, we get the proverbial poo blown out of us because we have spineless people in power. Try smiling in the face of a bomb blast Tony, it won't smile back politely like Gerry Adams does so falsely well!!
As a descendant of folks who left Ireland to get away from the "troubles" over as century ago, I find all of this appalling. Who can dare to call these loathsome, cowardly, criminal acts "nation building"? I am proud of my Irish heritage, but ashamed of these garden slugs who slither under cover lest the light of day shine upon them. In my zeal for all things Irish, I am applying for my citizenship under ancestry rights, but these lovers of destruction and death do not represent me. At heart I am a Republican, but it seems to me that violence is no way to unite Ireland, but to divide it. And sadly, judging by their actions, that seems to be what the mad bombers want. Peace and prosperity will inevitably lead to union. So let us all promote peace, and stand up and point the finger of shame at the destroyers.
Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion and I can understand perfectly people wanting to have a united Ireland - I would probably want the same in their position. What makes me sick is people like the so called 'Real IRA' using this and religion as an excuse to murder innocent people! How can you justify killing women and children who have nothing to do with politics? This also goes for the so-called 'Loyalists' who can be just as bad! I don't believe for one minute that these bombs, punishment beatings or telling young teenagers that they have 24 hours to leave the country because they went joyriding have anything to do with 'Ireland'. These people are just gangsters wanting power and control!
Douglas Kay, USA (English)
The terrorists are trying to scare us into succumbing to their demands, but they should realise that the more bombs they set off, the more they are hated by the rest of us. They should get a grip and learn that the only way forward is to talk. Unfortunately their behaviour suggests that they don't have the intelligence to realise this.
When they catch the people who planted this bomb, if they were released under the last "amnesty" and have gone back to bombing, then I want a commitment from our government that the remainder of their old prison sentence will be added to the new one and they won't run concurrently. That would be a good start in getting them off the streets that even Gerry Adams couldn't object to.
Remove all media coverage of these terrorist attacks and there will no longer be an incentive to commit these acts; modern terrorists are publicity animals and unfortunately the media give them exactly what they want. This will be a successful operation for the bombers as they have detonated their device in the capital and achieved maximum media interest with none of the lasting bad press that fatalities would have brought to their cause.
These are the people that the Prime Minister of Britain wants in our government. Well done Tony!!
You can never stop the bombs, the reason: there are too many weak- minded people with no education willing to listen too idiots who advocate violence. As a deterrent I would suggest raising the penalty for terrorism too the death penalty, it may not stop the bombs, but it will make them think a little more. An eye for an eye. Fight fire with fire, etc.
Debbie Curnes, USA
*Shrug* It's Ireland. You are never going to solve this.
Real change doesn't come about at the drop of an incendiary. How many people did Gandhi firebomb? How many kids did Martin Luther King kill? The answer, obviously, is none. But they actually changed their societies for the better, unlike Real IRA and the other splinter groups. As in any other part of the world, any lasting, positive change in Northern Ireland will come from those men and women who have worked and continue to work for change without using violence. Sadly, every time a bomb goes off or a building is set on fire, their honest work is made much more difficult. The terrorists have done more to harm the cause of Catholics in Northern Ireland than any British government since the time of the Earl of Essex.
Lets give Northern Ireland to the Americans! Then they can take their "war" to America who gives them most of the money they need to sustain it.
I am Irish, living in Dublin, and when the news broke on Sky TV, I prayed to God that it was not another "Omagh" atrocity. I love to visit London, and I have great respect for British people, many of whom work alongside me, for the same Irish company. The Real IRA did NOT bomb Ealing on behalf of all Irish people, we are ALL very shocked and sickened that this has happened. Dan, who posted below, is very insulting and offensive to the majority of Irish people. Perhaps we should start a register and ban all British Stag and Hen parties coming into Ireland just in case... they might get drunk as heck, and do a streak or pull a mooner in Temple Bar? Get real, you Anti-Irish racist.
Get real, you are now as in the past dealing with the Real IRA. They know Neville (sorry) Tony Blair will cave in to their demands
I have sympathy with Dan H. It is quite simple, if certain Irish people want to bomb and kill British citizens, let's exclude them from our country.
To Stephen Brookes (Member of the Best Educated). I ask you, Sir, could you please explain how the man in the corner shop, who makes money from selling fertiliser to gardeners so that they can have a nice lawn, is making money from human suffering?
As an Ulsterman/Irishman who lives and works on the UK mainland, I am heartened by the scorn shown for Dan H's comments. One other wee flaw in your argument Dan - how do you know that all the terrorists in the Real IRA (or PIRA, or the many varieties of loyalist terrorist) are Irish? They might be Scots, or English, or even other nationalities. Where do you think the IRA got much of its bomb-making expertise? From ex-British Army soldiers (only a disaffected few - the overwhelming majority of UK security personnel work flat out to prevent acts like that seen in Ealing from happening). Will the bombers be caught - who knows? It is very difficult to stop small, "clean", cells with no obvious support structure. A security crackdown won't stop it though - in fact I doubt if anything will. How do you reason with people who really believe that killing and maiming for a cause is right?
Dave, London, UK
Surprise, surprise! The police announce that the bomb is the work of the Real IRA. We knew that as soon as it went off! Can the IRA itself not put pressure on this splinter group to desist? The Real IRA do not understand anything less than a united Ireland, they will not accept anything less. Until that is achieved, the terrorists will remain active.
Dan, England - Not all Irish people are terrorists, in the same way that not all English football supporters are hooligans.
Kevin Hutchens, Scotland
What the UK Government need to do is to display some determination to hold these gangsters' feet to the fire and make them accountable for their actions. What they have done instead is to release prisoners, overlook breaches of the ceasefire and ignore their own deadlines on decommissioning. They have muddled right and wrong, and replaced the rule of law with that of political expediency. The terrorists and their frontmen are no fools; they are now having to make up ever more ludicrous demands (ie dropping of prosecutions for OTR terrorists and judicial excoriation of police and security forces for their actions) in order to keep pace with the rate at which the Government is making concessions.
No heed has been paid to the increase in support for the DUP and Sinn Fein at the middle ground's expense at the elections, and no one has been held to account for the Omagh bomb. The illusion of peace will not last indefinitely and the finger of blame for what ensues must point clearly at the Prime Minister.
If London could survive several hundred tons of incendiaries and high explosives PER DAY during the Forties, then these bombs are mere pinpricks by comparison. If it were not these people doing it, then somebody else would find a cause.
It is obviously difficult to stop the bombings, but if the press coverage of these events was minimal then it would make bombing a less attractive tool for the terrorists. Do we really need the blanket coverage that follows a bombing? I suspect not. I do not wish to encourage censorship, but there is nothing to stop the press collectively agreeing to simply report what has happened and leave it at that.
As with many other residents of West London, I heard the bomb go off last night. I am incredulous that this is still an issue that affects my personal safety. After so many years of talking and posturing and earnest rambling, we are still in the middle of a 'peace process'. When will the process actually yield peace? All parties involved should see this as a kick in the arse, compromise their interests and come to a permanent solution that allows the everyday citizens of both countries to live without the threat of terror.
Dan H of England's comment is very upsetting to myself as an Irishman. I can understand anger at what has happened, I am angry myself. But would such a proposed registration and tracking of Irish people not be the very kind of bigotry that has destroyed Northern Ireland? The terrorists and bigots are the ones that discriminate by race, nationality and religion....
England has become a place for terrorists once more, now I remember why I left and came to Australia. Why cannot people just learn to live in peace?
Ed Vista, UK
I'd like to say that Dan H is bang out of order! Keeping a register of Irish people is probably the most immature and ludicrous idea I have ever heard. Shall we register all skinheads, on the chance that one or two of them may be racist? Get a grip and grow up!
Well done Dan H. You've managed to lower yourself to that of a racist in the space of three sentences. I suppose in your eyes all Irish people are called Paddy, live on potato farms, and make bombs in their spare time. I'm surprised you've got the intelligence to type on a keyboard.
It is simply not possible to prevent incidents of this type, no matter how many attempts are thwarted by the security services to use their own words the terrorists only need to be lucky once.
What amazes me about this latest atrocity is that anyone can be surprised it happened. What other result could there possibly have been to releasing convicted terrorists and murderers back onto the streets with their entire armouries intact.
BB London, UK
If we don't want to live in a police state, we'll just have to put up with a few sad old terrorists who can't face up to a life without mayhem.
Everyone has a right to protest, and if appropriate avenues of discussion are not open to them, then some minor violence can be understood. However, The Real IRA does have the opportunities to participate in the peace process, and it is their choice not to take them. If they think they are hard done by, they really ought to consider Afghanistan and other areas where people don't have the option to participate in round-table discussions. These people don't want peace.
The bombing in the UK mainland would stop if Northern Ireland was given back to the Republic but then I don't really think the Republic want it do they? As soon as the papers would be signed the bombs would move from London and Belfast to Dublin and Belfast. Maybe the Real IRA should ask themselves if the want their sons and daughters killed by loyalist car bombs for the next 30 years.
I resent Dan H's view that Irish people in Britain should somehow be "registered" to "keep track of them", as if all of us living in the UK were a potential threat. We abhor the terrorists, as you do, and don't forget that some of "us" have suffered innocently at their hands too.
Whilst there are obvious civil liberty implications, so long as Irish people are able to live, work and travel freely within England we are going to have these problems. We should institute a register and keep track of them that way.
With the current state the country is in, of course the bombing cannot be stopped. The Police and RUC are demoralised and undermanned, the Government wants to bow down to Sinn Fein/IRA and give them even more concessions and yet still does not demand that their weapons are destroyed. The IRA claim to be an army and that they are soldiers, however if they are shot they claim compensation and violation of human rights, what about the human rights of all the innocent people, police, RUC and soldiers that have been killed. Spin doctoring will not bring peace to Northern Ireland and the murderous campaign will continue.
The tragedy is that in real terms the group who planted this and similar bombs do not want peace at any price.
The way to reduce this kind of incident is to find out who is making money out of it, i.e. supplying the hardware or chemicals for profit. Because that is all it is. Money making out of intense human suffering.
Those who know can help stop it.
Of course, nothing's going to stop the determined, but this sort of thing, along with the taxi bomb and the lorry bomb we had in the City of London, highlights how poorly we keep track of vehicle ownership in this country. Improving this would help in a lot of crime involving vehicles.
Terrorists thrive on media coverage for their cause (no matter how misguided they are). Take that away and you are hitting them where it hurts.
What can they do when these cowards hide bombs in cars outside pubs and then run away and hide?
Severe restrictions on travelling would help with police and sniffer dogs on every corner but who in their right mind wants that?
03 Aug 01 | UK
Car bombers rock west London
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy