Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 12:44 | SYDNEY
Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 12:44 | SYDNEY

A 'peace constituency' against terrorism


Rory Medcalf


10 March 2009 08:12

The Taliban, it seems, is finding help in an unlikely quarter — a splinter group of the IRA. The two British soldiers killed on Saturday had been due to deploy to Afghanistan.

At a time when the UK's security capabilities are under strain dealing with Afghanistan, domestic terrorism and, if this article is to be believed, looming domestic unrest courtesy of the economic crisis, a resurgence of terrorist violence in Northern Ireland is the last thing the UK or its allies need.

It is also downright lunatic in its futility. The marginalisation of violent nationalism in Northern Ireland was one of the success stories of international peacemaking in the 1990s. The Northern Ireland peace process might have limited utility as a model for others (though from Kashmir to Iraq, some have tried to impart the lessons).

The sheer weight of political and material capital invested in that process, from the 1993 Downing Street Declaration onwards, makes it a hard act to follow. But the exceptionally broad peace constituency it has produced in the six counties, and the years of normalcy the population has become accustomed to, mean that acts of violence will simply further isolate the perpetrators.

If the weekend atrocity has any immediate political effect, it will be to erode the opposition from moderate Irish nationalists to recently-revealed plans to send small numbers of British special forces to the province to assist with intelligence gathering on extremists. And the sad bunch that calls itself the Real IRA might discover that a decade's worth of advances in intelligence capability and technology, honed in the campaign against a much larger terrorist threat, might make its own so-called struggle a short one indeed.