The Irish Republican Army's decision to bomb innocent civilians in London, killing two completely innocent newspaper vendors and injuring many others, is yet another example of what happens when you try to negotiate with terrorists. This attack is now known to have been planned more than four weeks before the commission headed by Sen. Mitchell reported its findings (making the reaction to the report by the British government irrelevant.) Sen. Mitchell stated that the IRA was unwilling to give up even one piece of its weaponry in order sit down and talk. The senator also suggested that an election be held to establish the will of the Irish people, and this the British government accepted. But, it must be remembered that most terrorist groups are made up of small numbers of fanatics and do not do well in popular votes.
Hence, in order to bypass inevitable defeat in the polls, the IRA does what it does best, kills innocent people. This is why the IRA is equally illegal in both Southern and Northern Ireland. Having lived and worked in Northern Ireland for a number of years, I have seen and heard a great deal about the "troubles." I have seen firsthand the extortion that takes place between the IRA and local businesses. It's pay up or be blown up. The IRA controls illegal drugs and gambling in its areas of influence. The IRA has very few active members, yet is able to terrorize the population in Northern Ireland and England by bombing, kneecapping, kidnapping and assaulting innocent people until, out of fear, people lend them passive support. The IRA is not fighting a political war; they are criminals on both sides of the border. It must be noted that it is not just the IRA who does this in Northern Ireland, but also the Loyalist Paramilitaries, who, by the way, are also illegal. The British Army went into Belfast and Londonderry to keep the two sides apart.
In the same way, the NATO troops have gone into Bosnia. They went in to defend the ordinary citizen from the threats and bombs of these terrorist groups. Of course, as in all these types of conflict, the "peacekeepers" become the target for both sides.
This is what has happened in Northern Ireland. The army went in to defend the ordinary folk against both sides in this conflict. How much easier it would have been to say, "Let them kill each other," and do nothing. But, Belfast and Londonderry (Derry) are cities like Boston and New York. It would be an outrage if the U.S. Government stood by and did nothing while a paramilitary group was formed who started shooting policemen, bombing businesses, bombing Washington D.C., demanding money through extortion, and pleading a political end as justification. I have been in London and Belfast during IRA bombing campaigns, and I know what it is like to walk down the street and wonder if there is a bomb in the trash, or around the next corner. I was at the "Ideal Home Exhibition" when it was bombed, and a little girl was killed. I was also in Oxford Street when Harrods was bombed, and a 19-year-old girl was killed. I have also been in Belfast, where the people are kind and fun to be with, and had a friend whose factory was blown up (burned to the ground), because he could not pay what the IRA said he should pay.
The IRA has no right to bomb anyone any more than the neo-Nazis had any right to bomb the Federal Building in Oklahoma. The IRA deserves no support from this country (although it receives most of its funding from the U.S.) unless it is to help them go to the negotiation table and denounce violence and killing of innocent civilians. The IRA is a criminal organization that is banned both by the Irish and British governments.
Read the Irish papers if you want to see what the Irish government thinks of these terrorists. But, don't blame John Major for the actions of the IRA.
Christopher C. Lovato