Denouncing terrorist bid to kill PSNI officer isn’t enough, we must get tough on dissidents

News Letter editorial of Wednesday April 21 2021:

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 8:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 8:10 am
News Letter editorial

The attempt to murder a female police officer in a fireball bomb attack which might have burned her and her young daughter to death has been widely condemned.

Such denunciation from across the political spectrum and across the community is of course welcome.

But there is a risk it will ring hollow.

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There have been dissident murders in Northern Ireland since 1998. Such republican terrorists are the only major faction that is killing people for political reasons.

Other thugs, including some loyalists, have killed people for gangster reasons. But dissidents are trying to keep alive a tradition of using terror to get concessions from London.

It is hardly a surprise that some republican elements think violence will secure their aims.

It has achieved advances in the past, particularly after the Troubles, and its latter 1990s phase in which the IRA targeted the City of London.

More recently, the threat of violence was cited, including by the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, as reason why there could not even be CCTV at the Irish land border. Theresa May agreed it was unacceptable to place such infrastructure.

Boris Johnson was even worse. He talked tough in his bid to replace Mrs May as prime minister, a leader towards whom he was flagrantly disloyal, then when he got the job he implemented a border in the Irish Sea. A despicable act of betrayal, cowardice and dishonesty, the scale of which is still becoming clear — as Jim Allister’s article opposite on the threat to the flow of medicines underlines.

So dissidents have reason to cheer.

They can also hardly have failed to notice the light jail sentences that have been handed down to dissidents found guilty of very serious terrorist offences, or the shambolically lenient bail policy that applies to people facing such charges.

So we are all agreed that the attack on the PSNI officer was an outrage. But are we going ever to make clear that violence will not pay?

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Alistair Bushe