Condemnation of murder bid from politicians isn’t enough

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The attempt to murder a police officer by placing a device under the officer’s car was found in Shandon Park golf club on Saturday.

It is said not to be clear whether the bomb was planted while the car was at the club, in east Belfast, or prior to that.

It is a chilling attack, along the lines of the device planted under the vehicle used by the prison officer Adrian Ismay, in which he was murdered, also in east Belfast.

This shows that for all the uproar over the murder of the journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry, when dissident republican terrorists were instead trying to shoot dead a PSNI officer, it has had no impact on the would-be murderers.

They know that, for all the condemnation, it is very hard to secure a criminal conviction, which has to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. They know that there are influential voices calling for talks with them. They know that the sentences for serious terrorist offences in Northern Ireland, such as being found in possession of a weapon or a device, have sometimes been of the slap-on-the-wrist variety (although sentences for those actually convicted of murder or attempted murder are in fact longer than they once were).

So there is no point in politicians lining up to condemn this latest attempt to murder a PSNI officer, unless they are prepared to do something about it.

Theresa May and Leo Varadkar last night issued a joint statement calling for progress in the talks. But Sinn Fein will not accept a deal that does not have an Irish language act, and the Irish government supports key nationalist demands.

Simon Coveney also said the detention of the dissident Tony Taylor raised tensions in the northwest. He was in effect blaming Britain. And the UK said nothing to challenge him.

Given that red lines are permissible for Sinn Fein, why don’t unionists and London issue their own? Top of the pile might be unequivocal support from all ministers for the security forces and robust security measures against terrorism.