Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How Long Must We Sing This Song?

From the New York Times:
CRAIGAVON, Northern Ireland — Barely three days after two British soldiers were shot to death by a dissident faction of the Irish Republican Army, another I.R.A. breakaway group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for an ambush that killed a police officer on Monday night in this town 25 miles southwest of Belfast.

That's the bad news. The good news (or at least, better news), is this (from the same article):
Politicians on both sides of the divide between the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in the province denounced the killing as the work of “terrorists” [...]

The reaction in Craigavon [...] suggested that for now, [concerns that the peace might be destroyed] might be overblown. The town, in the county of Armagh, a major sectarian battlefield in the past, has a mixed population of Catholics and Protestants, but people approached at random at the site of the shooting and in shopping malls seemed confident that the peace would survive the shootings.

A 25-year-old Catholic man who gave his name only as William said that he supported Sinn Fein, the main nationalist party in the power-sharing government, and that he “feared something like this was going to happen” when I.R.A. sentiment split over the peace agreement. “There is still a small minority out there who agree with shootings and all that,” he said. “I don’t agree with it myself. There was a time when I may have agreed with it. But it is the wrong time. Violence is in the past.”

It looks like most Northern Irish people have put the Troubles behind them, and that the latest violence is nothing but disaffected youths doing what disaffected youths do. This is now a social issue, I think, and not a Republican one. Give people hope for their future, and they are much less likely to turn to terrorism (see "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time", by Greg Mortenson).