David McKittrick, one of the veterans from the worst days of the troubles casts an elegiac eye back over the bloody road travelled by the IRA and its one time fierce opponents the Loyalist paramilitaries:
Unless something goes horribly wrong, it [IRA statement] has the potential to go into the history books as one of the most decisive of all the “historic” moments that the last decade has seen. It was a statement that has been keenly awaited for years. Though some reacted initially with deep scepticism and suspicion, it was hailed in other quarters as a historic change of heart.
But it is too late for all those widows. Nobody knows how many the IRA created, but the figure runs into the hundreds. The organisation killed 1,700 of the 3,700 people who died in the Troubles, leaving men, women, children, families to grieve.
The guns and explosives it now promises to do away with caused decades of destruction as it sought to unite Ireland by force. But instead of achieving Irish unity it caused all those deaths, ruining lives and shattering families. The bereaved and injured will have mixed feelings about this latest move: the main hope of most of them will be that no one else should suffer as they have. Some of those affected are deeply bitter; others have shown transcendent qualities of forgiveness.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty