Bombers send shivers through peace process

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Republican bombing of a small hotel in Co Fermanagh last night sent shivers through the peace process, sparking memories of the bad old days of the Troubles.

The Republican bombing of a small hotel in Co Fermanagh last night sent shivers through the peace process, sparking memories of the bad old days of the Troubles.

No one was injured in the attack, which was aimed at a target of negligible political significance in a border village with a mixed Catholic and Protestant population. But the wave of condemnation it attracted was in itself a symptom of the tension in the air.

The most striking note of criticism came from Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, who condemned the bombing and said those responsible were not representative of the peace process and called on them to disband immediately.

The group believed to be responsible, the Continuity IRA, is a small renegade band of republicans who broke away from the mainstream IRA. It hasnever declared a ceasefire and regards the peace process as a sell-out of republican ideals. The group is separate from the Real IRA, whose bomb killed 29 people in Omagh in 1998, but in some areas security sources believe their grassroots members co-operate.

With last night's bomb the group will have hoped to raise tensions within the peace process, thus making a resolution of the present crisis even more difficult. It may also have wanted to send a message that a recent setback has not removed its capacity to carry out a bombing.

The organisation suffered a severe setback two weeks ago when Gardai in the Irish Republic seized a van carrying explosives in Co Tipperary. Police chiefs on both sides of the border have warned that both the Continuity IRA and Real IRA pose minor but distinct threats.

The hotel that was attacked was, in paramilitary terms, the easiest of targets.

Sean Farren, a Social Democratic and Labour Party minister in the Belfast executive, said the bomb was deliberately timed to heighten community tensions. He added: "It is madness. It has no purpose but to drive people apart. Given the looming crisis, the attack was clearly calculated to exploit the situation."

Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, said: "We had hoped that the days of having to condemn bombings in Northern Ireland were over. Unfortunately, it appears that there are still those who refuse to acknowledge the will of the overwhelming majority of people."

Ken Maginnis, an Ulster Unionist Party MP, said that the bombing showed the wisdom of his party's insistence on paramilitary decommissioning.

Comments