Sunday, 5 September 2010

An End to Nationalist Violence?

An End to Nationalist Violence?
I was reading Guardian reports of Tony Blair's visit to Dublin yesterday, and it seemed to me very much that new coverage escalated as the day went on.  While there were some people on the comment pages foolishly trying to compare the bombs that fell on Iraq to the eggs being thrown at the signing, there were very genuine questions being asked about whether it was reasonable to close a large section of a city centre and incur a large policing bill for what amounts to a commercial book signing.

It set me thinking about why a 200-strong group of protestors would even bother to turn up for such an event.  Blair was one of the main (albeit certainly not the only) politicians responsible for the peace deal that was brokered in Northern Ireland - surely he should be popular in Ireland?  Regardless of his record in other areas, his influence there is generaly regarded as a very positive one, and there are those who would say that without him, the deal would not have been reached.

Some reports yesterday suggested that men with Republican sympathies were heard to shout, 'How many kids have you killed today?' at Blair.  If this is true, it is staggering hypocrisy given the IRA's record of casual violence towards civilian targets during the troubles.  In the last few months, there have been increased numbers of attacks on police stations and officers in the province by Republican splinter groups, and it is fortunate that the response to those attacks has been dignified and measured.  It seems that the political will exists to work with the communities to bring perpetrators to justice without resorting to the tit-for-tat violence that existed in the past, and all involved in those communities should be congratulated for their resilience.

On the world stage, ETA, the Basque separatist movement has announced a retrospective ceasefire and announced in a video sent to the BBC that it is now trying to further the cause of Basque nationalism through a non-violent democratic strategy.

As I touched on yesterday, violence is the anathema of civilised society, and it is obviously very good news that a terror organisation has agreed to end its sustained campaign of violence that has resulted in 800 deaths since its formation in 1959.  However, ETA has previously agreed to this course of action on two other occasions, and both times talks broke down due to incidents of sudden violence.  It is very much to be hoped that this time, ETA will see sense, renounce their past activities and go into dialogue with the Spanish and French governments.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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