A rapid and decisive but calm response

Reactions to the latest murders here must be considered and careful. The first thing to state is that all our thoughts and indeed prayers should be with those injured and the families of those murdered in this attack. In the immediate aftermath that is the appropriate response. We must then await what we are told by the police and the army.I gain absolutely no pleasure from pointing out that I never believed that we had seen the end of violence here in Northern Ireland and that the sectarian hatreds (on both sides) which caused and sustained over 30 years of murder here did not vanish when the terrorists called their partial ceasefires. I always suspected the first of the murders would be here in Fermanagh, the fact that it was in Antrim should simply show that terrorists are still capable of striking anywhere in Northern Ireland.

There will, however, be significant political repercussions from this event. Whoever committed this wicked and murderous act there can be no doubt that the forces of law and order must be given every help to apprehend them and prevent further attacks. Only this week Hugh Orde announced that he was calling in specialist military personal: this must now be welcomed by all. It is quite clear that terrorists still represent a grave danger in Northern Ireland. These specialist soldiers are clearly necessary to protect the community. It is now time for all in positions of political responsibility to support their deployment and tell Hugh Orde that he will have their full support in implementing whatever other security measures are necessary. In addition all political and civic representatives must give wholehearted support to the rule of law and support their constituents reporting information to the police. Only by sustained support from the whole community can these criminals be apprehended.

There are also other issues which must be considered: it is necessary to deal severely with this threat but also it is important not to overreact. This is a democracy and the rule of law must be upheld by all. As such all must support the arrest of the perpetrators of this crime; arresting them would be infinitely preferable to the production of further “martyrs” for the cause of violent murder. This episode should also lead to questions being asked about weapons. It is unclear where the automatic weapons used in this murder came from. However, it is vital that all weapons are accounted for and those who know what happened to the IRA’s weapons must cooperate with the security forces to ensure that all have indeed been destroyed and that any which eluded destruction are tracked down. There can be no fudging or obscuration over this issue and it would be important for public confidence if we were all told what was previously decommissioned. In addition this episode should be a spur for the Secretary of State to demand the absolutely immediate surrender of all loyalist weapons. No one apart from those lawfully allowed should have any access to firearms in this society.

It is also important to very clearly demand that no so called loyalist terrorists commit any form of retaliation whatsoever. The only people in this society as loathsome as those who committed this act of murder are the loyalist terrorists who have also committed so many murders: they must be pursued with the same alacrity as the perpetrators of this latest crime.

This is a sad day which many in Northern Ireland thought would never happen again. I confess that I always thought it would. However, it is now vital for all of us of whatever persuasion to now unequivocally support the rule of law and support and actively encourage the whole community to go to the police in order that these murderers are arrested and imprisoned quickly but in accordance with the rule of law.

  • picador

    Turgon,

    I agree with the vast majority of what you have just written (very elegantly I might add).

    However there is one sentence from the first paragrapgh that really jars with me.

    We must then await what we are told by the police and the army.

    Really! Do you honestly believe this!?

    I can’t believe that you would be such a willing fool. There is ample evidence to suggest that the police and army tell lies in these circumstances. would it honestly surprise you if you later found out that an agent was involved in this?

    Anyway, like you said. These murders must stand condemned. Let us hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice quickly.

  • Susan

    I must say I’m disgusted at the previous post – what an absolute hypocrite!! You question whether or not the police will tell the truth about this and add a sentence at the end – almost as an afterthought – condemning the murdering scumbags that carried out this deed. You should be ashamed. Innocent people were MURDERED! can’t you understand that?

  • Fergal

    If anyone that carrys a gun is innocent, i’d like to know about it, say a wee prayer for the innocents of Iraq while your at it.
    Trained to kill, and were killed.

  • KieranJ

    Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.

    They have sown the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.

    The troops are an occupying enemy of the people of Ireland.

  • picador

    Susan,

    You seem to read selectively:

    These murders must stand condemned. Let us hope that the perpetrators are brought to justice quickly.

    YOU should be ashamed

    Eat your words!

    I am long enough in the tooth to know to treat anything coming out of the polica and army with a healthy degree of caution.

    Thus Turgon’s comment surprised me.

    Collusion? Shoot to Kill?

    Furthermore I would say that anyone who doesn’t is a willing fool.

    And you don’t do yourself any favours with your hysteria either.

  • LURIG

    Turgon

    I wouldn’t disagree with most of that. This is the REAL test of the Executive, the PSNI, Sinn Fein AND the Loyalists. If the usual elements resort to type we could be facing a very dangerous situation but if calmer heads come together this could be the Rubicon that cements powersharing and condemns the dissidents and Loyalists to history. It’s our choice and I know the one I want. I sense nothing but sheer disgust, total anger, annoyance and sadness across ALL communities and people tonight.

  • picador

    Comments 3 & 4 absolutely pathetic.

  • Ben

    These callous murders should be and will be condemned, hopefully from all the sides that matter. There are people sittng around a fire tonight or on a ferry off the island genuinely believing they did a big brave thing for Ireland tonight, and that’s a genuine tragedy.

    Track them down, bring them to justice and let the full extent of their rights be open to them; try them in accordance with the rule of our laws.

  • Henry94

    Only this week Hugh Orde announced that he was calling in specialist military personal: this must now be welcomed by all.

    It would certainly be welcomed by the dissidents because it would increase their support. What they and you must understand is that we have been down the road of military solutions and it is a dead end.

    Anybody who has information about this attack should go to PSNI.

  • KieranJ

    In the words of the great Irish patriot, Eamon de Valera, on the assassination of Field Marshal Henry Wilson in London…..

    “I do not approve but I must not pretend to misunderstand”.

  • 2050

    Condolences to the families. Needless & Pointless loss of life.

    Senseless attack which defies any kind of logic and will achieve nothing.

    Building upon the years of progress on the peace process & indeed strengthening would be the best response to anyone who thinks violence & murder will advance their aims.

  • Ben

    Mark Durkan’s comments are excellent, and utterly to be welcomed:

    I utterly condemn the murderous attack at Massereene Barracks in Antrim. Those who committed it are steeped in the mindset and means of past violence. Such terrorism achieves nothing but grief and injury for victims and shock and disgust across the community. So-called dissident republicans are not proving anything that we don’t know. We know they are opposed to peace and we know their capacity to attack, threaten, disrupt and even to kill. They need to understand this is not an attack on the British army but the Irish people who have voted for, and value above all else, peaceful politics and democratic accommodation.

  • Patrick

    fergal there is no justification for this offensive act. We in Ireland have the privilege of hard won peace and progress was being made toward a future based on improving welfare. I am 25 and have/had hopes that ni politics would eventually evolve to tackling the real problems like creating jobs, encouraging peace in gaza, basra, by proving peoples lives are more important than some warped homicidal inherited notion of patriotism. The people who did this are not only trying to kill soldiers but also the hope of Irish and british citizens that NI can be a prosperous and peaceful place to live. We won’t let those isolated maniacs do that to us.

  • Fergal

    Why? Not as pathetic as the fact, your army kills, children, mothers, fathers and anyone who is not a part of an outdated establishment you see as a democracy which is one of the most murderous nations in modern society.
    I don’t agree with the murder of anyone, seemingly you do because of your ignorance to what the brits and yanks are doing in the world.

  • This event means that democratic republicans (contemporary Sinn Fein) will have to do what Michael Collins, WT Cosgrave, Eamon De Velera, Sean Lemass, Jack Lynch and Charlie Haughey all did before them. They will have to actively and aggressively go after the dissidents. No more half measures. No more avoiding the responsibilities that come with governing.

  • Billy

    Can’t wait to hear Marty’s response. Should be good.

  • picador

    your army

    Which army is that then?

    Go back under your rock, know-nothing.

  • Fergal

    “I wonder if you’d be spouting the same trash if we’d heard tonight that the army was out blowing away some of your heroes in some backwater part of the border area”

    Blowing away, aye the language of why we resist you and your likes, Your words say it all, you’re a bigot through and through.
    If an Irish soldier died close to the border, of course i would mourn him, i certainly wouldn’t be crying on a web forum about it.
    The British Army are trained to kill, and when they suffer what they are prepared to administrate it’s sad, sorry, explain that.

  • KieranJ

    In the words of the great Irish patriot, Eamon de Valera on the assassination of field marshal Henry Wilson in London:

    “I do not approve but I must not pretend to misunderstand”.

  • shea

    wheren’t the sas brought back yesterday, wasn’t security levels apparently raised yesterday, and today some people just drive into a barracks. did they not get the memo or something or was orde waffleing,

    agents here agents there in ni there are agents every where

  • Fergal

    Hi, know-nothing here, i’ve buried a good part of my family at the mercy of whatever you want to call the murderers you seem to aspire to, i’m a pacifist, sadly, you and the scum you think are peaceloving hippys aren’t.

  • Dan Breen’s Revolver

    “I am 25 and have/had hopes that ni politics would eventually evolve to tackling the real problems like creating jobs, encouraging peace in gaza, basra, by proving peoples lives are more important than some warped homicidal inherited notion of patriotism. ”

    One of the real problems of NI politics is “encouraging peace in Gaza”????

    Good luck with that one

  • picador

    I’m sure there is a psychiatrist out there somewhere who can help you, fergal.

  • Fergal

    Who mentioned patriotism?
    Aye, you did.
    Are you drinking?

  • Dan Breen’s Revolver

    These killings will accomplish nothing and are the work of depraved, nihilistic thugs

  • Michael

    Sad to say I am not suprised by this latest atrocity. A government content to let the RIRA and their like operate with virtual impunity for fear of upsetting the peace process is guaranteed to encourage more attacks.

    These terrorists will only respond to strength, not the pathetic weakness that has been demonstrated by this spineless Labour government. So no more half measures, no more weasel words – time to bring the SAS back onto the streets and crush these people once and for all.

  • not impressed

    If anyone that carrys a gun is innocent, i’d like to know about it, say a wee prayer for the innocents of Iraq while your at it.
    Trained to kill, and were killed.
    Posted by Fergal on Mar 08, 2009 @ 01:37 AM

    i wonder if you’d be spouting the same trash if we’d heard tonight that the army was out blowing away some of your heroes in some backwater part of the border area.

    i doubt it.

    its really interesting logic to suggest that the soldiers who were just hanging about in barracks causing no hassle to anyone should have expected to be murdered but the guys, also with guns, who took the trouble to plan this attack and rocked up in a car at the front gate aren’t given a mention in your post.

    back under your rock chump.

  • Fergal

    You have a lot to say about me Picador, i wish you had as much to say about your country’s shortcomings on the matter of human rights and justice.
    However, i am shocked i have afforded you so much of my own time because you are blind when it comes to death of non-combatant innocent people for obvious nationalistic reasons which i hope you will grow out of.

  • Déaglán

    A tragic disgrace and waste of life for no logical reason. It was quite refreshing to here some of the reactions however. The most sincere and well-reasoned response to the evening’s attrocity that I had the chance of hearing was that of Jeffrey Donaldson. Mark Durkan also spoke well. Thoughts to the berieved families.

  • Rest in peace to the victims. This is a sad and futile action by stupidly misguided people.

    As a nationalist I say this…If you’re a nationalist and you condemn this (as you should), be proactive and do whatever you can to help bring these perpetrators to justice. Assisting the police doesn’t make you any less of a nationalist. It makes you a better one because you’ll rid society of a cancer that not only destroys lives but also seriously threatens to undermine any advances nationalists have made in recent times. It goes without saying that the loyalist community needs to be assured that whatever our political differences, there is no difference between us when it comes to our disgust at cold-blooded murder and the desire to see the guilty brought to justice and brought to justice swiftly.

    No empty soundbites. Sinn Fein needs to step up to the plate and help root out these fanatics for once and for all. Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way. You’re either for peaceful, consitutional nationalism/democracy or you’re not.

    Sincere sympathy to the victims’ families tonight.

  • ??

    will the executive survive this? If SF do not come out with a totally clear and unequival condemnation and call on those responsible to be brought to justice, pressure will mount on the DUP.

    Likewise, pressure will now mount on SF for more British troops active in NI

  • amber valence

    Why would testosterone fizzing lads, brought up on tall tales of the brave boyos way back when, not want the status, privilege and power, that’s POWER,now denied them by “peace”?
    In another Age, they would have had to go out and kill a bear or dragon or an enemy before they were allowed to breed.
    No change there then.

  • Scaramoosh

    Perhaps before more of the dysfunctional types, who clearly relish in murder, and like to talk of “an army of occupation” jump on the bandwagon, they may want to read what was one of the more insightful books written about the troubles, John Lindsay’s “Brits Speak Out;”

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brits-Speak-Out-Soldiers-Impressions/dp/0946451516

    In this book, Lindsay manages to portray the young men who joined the British Army and fought in N.Ireland for what they are – people. It is sometimes easy to forget that fact behind the Irish mist.

    And to the rest of the inadequate baying mob, who this morning will be sitting over their cornflakes with big smiles on their faces, I would like to ask …so this cowardly act is republicanism rising from the ashes….don’t kid yourselves. Inadequate, dysfunctional and deranged little people, who hide behind guns.

  • SGC

    Cheap words from Mark Durkan of the SDLP. His member Dolores Kelly along with others in Sinn Fien subjected the Chief Constable to a torrent of verbal abuse in relation to the imminent attacks by so called dissidents, they have given succour to this people and the consequences of their actions. SHAME ON THEM ALL we now have several families thrown into grief for what political ideals I will be praying for the families of the dead and injured.

  • “We must then await what we are told by the police and the army.”

    Turgon, it’s unlikely that police or army spokespeople will be permitted to say much about this atrocity. They have to operate within political constraints.

    The words of Pearse and De Valera are apposite. The ‘war’ may be over for some but for others it continues and for some it probably hasn’t yet begun. It’s probably impossible to decommission an idea.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    This is an appalling attack. My guts twisted and wrenched when I heard the news last night. Obviously some psychotic folk want to hurl NI back to the bad old days. It’s up to decent folk today to band together and stop them.

    Regarding the incident it has all the sinister overtones of the Troubles.
    NI society may be coerced again in a direction by people high and low playing the game.

  • Greagoir, the pleas of decent folk, sadly, are unlikely to be heeded by the ‘dreamers’, the creators of nightmares.

  • veritas

    when loyalists were fighting a drug war and killing each other, the silence of Unionists on this forum was sickening….

  • Gregory

    “Obviously some psychotic folk want to hurl NI back to the bad old days.”

    They want to take it into the future.

  • not impressed

    when loyalists were fighting a drug war and killing each other, the silence of Unionists on this forum was sickening….
    Posted by veritas on Mar 08, 2009 @ 02:40 PM

    thats probably because a lot of unionists couldn’t give a flying **** if so called loyalists are killing each other. i’d say let them get on with it.

    that’s the distinction. it’s why “unionists” haven’t voted the likes of the PUP into government whilst “nationalists” give SF a lot of cards to hold.

    that’s the sickening bit.