ONH ceasefire is welcome but security vigilance is still needed

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The ceasefire yesterday by the dissident republican terrorist group Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) is welcome but no cause for celebration.

These fanatics have caused heartbreak and destruction. They have also been treated leniently by the authorities, due to the success of human rights ideologues in constraining state action against dissidents.

ONH say that “at this time, the environment is not conducive to armed conflict”. That leaves open the possibility that the environment will change, which is entirely plausible given the current polarisation in Northern Ireland.

Also, republicans of all shades are fostering a widespread sense of grievance among young nationalists, which could easily lead to a growth in sympathy for dissidents.

A number of Republic of Ireland politicians have, unhelpfully, come up to Northern Ireland in recent years to give weight to nonsense claims that dissidents are badly treated.

On the contrary, these criminals have been able to terrorise specific groups of people, notably Catholic recruits of the PSNI and prison officers, amid lies about harassment in jail.

It is said that ONH had no demands before their cessation.

If this is true, and if they have been given no back channel assurances, then that is welcome.
What must not happen now is any softening of the security force response to other dissident groups.

The intelligence agencies have been doing outstanding work, using high technology to monitor paramilitaries.

Their efforts have been made all the more difficult by Northern Ireland’s bail policy, which has such a determined presumption in favour of bail that even dissidents who have breached terms have been met with little or no sanction.

Prison terms for those who commit serious terrorist offences are also too weak, and need to be increased sharply.

Anyone who still wants to bomb and shoot their way to political gain must be left in no doubt that they will be treated harshly if caught and convicted.