Gerry Adams was right when he once declared ‘‘they haven’t gone away you know’’.
The killings by members of his party’s military wing may have stopped at that time but he was making clear the ideology for a united Ireland remained and would be pursued.
His followers feel strongly enough about this ultimate aim, so strong in fact they feel confident enough to ecstatically clap and cheer when an Irish rebel band – I won’t name them as I don’t feel they should get the oxygen of publicity – sang sectarian hatred in a concert at Ardoyne Fleadh held in a north Belfast primary school recently, a school don’t forget, which is funded from the hard earned taxes handed over by the rest of us.
The sectarian rant that it was time both the British Army and ‘‘their Orange comrades’’ had ``f****d off back to England’’ was followed by a sectarian chorus. How the crowd loved it.
But it could all backfire on the organisers who now face the wrath of their sponsors Ladbrokes bookmakers, the Community Relations Council and the Department of Culture. Surely all three organisations could find more worthy events to sponsor than a rebel band’s sectarian laden concert?
The Minister for Education John O’Dowd is a Sinn Fein member. Does he think it’s a good idea to use publicly funded schools for such a purpose? His party has, of course, condemned the on-stage sectarian remarks describing them as ‘‘wrong’’ and ‘‘having no place at music or cultural events’’. It’s time got that message through to their supporters.
Many of us thought this sort of publicly declared hatred was coming to an end. Obviously not as there are rumps on both sides of the religious divide who think they can get away with it. This is surprising given the perilous times we face from an enemy none of us saw coming.
Isis, the richest terrorist organisation in history is now cutting a swathe through the Middle East, plundering and beheading victims as they go. We have everything to fear from this as our politicians are realising.
Home Secretary Theresa May says she has plans to introduce ‘‘anti-social behaviour orders’’ for extremists. God help us if that’s all she can come up with. I prefer Boris Johnson’s approach – draconian changes in our terrorism laws. Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve believes the Johnson’s approach would ‘‘throw away very important legal principles’’. It’s not the time for such weak kneed drivel. It will be too late when Isis comes knocking on our door.
Rest assured that’s its ultimate aim. Let’s not forget how easy it was for two muslim extremists to killed soldier Lee Rigby in a London street. If Isis adopt the tactics of guerrilla warfare the west will be left struggling. We need to be toughening up our terrorism laws now and that should include preventing the jihadists who left Britain to fight with Isis from returning.
We all have our ideas on how to keep our country safe but are hampered by the weaknesses of democratic politics. The IRA was allowed to create havoc in our country for more than three decades before its political wing agreed to negotiate. But its central plank is still there – a united Ireland – and that gives encouragement is to those from the old school who still feel free to sing sectarian songs in a British primary school.
Our laws were never strict enough to deal with this kind of hatred and the result is a new generation cheering and clapping it on under our nose. That feeling of impotence in the face of the enemy sums up what it is to be British today. The time has come to toughen up.