End this madness: Our message to dissidents
Posts your messages and tributes to murdered Northern Ireland policeman and soldiers
Today Northern Ireland has the chance to send the clearest message yet to the dissidents who would return us to the past at the point of a gun.
At 1pm, mass rallies at Belfast City Hall, Guildhall Square in Londonderry and Newry Town Hall will fall silent — their wordless protest as eloquent as any speech or soundbite.
In numerical terms, of course, it is no contest.
Security sources estimate that perhaps as few as 100 diehards — still stewing in ancient, half-forgotten hatreds — are hell-bent on destroying the strides we as a society have taken in the past 15 years.
Ranged against them, though, is a vast coalition of such scale that it would have been thought impossible only a week ago.
Unionists; republicans; the London and Dublin governments; the churches; community leaders; educationalists; business leaders; trade unionists; people of all creeds and none — all joined in opposition to a return to the dark days of the Troubles.
The Peace People rallies of the mid-1970s are an obvious point of comparison for today's planned demonstrations.
But the coalition of outrage — disgust, even — which has formed following the murders of the men pictured at the top of this page, Constable Stephen Carroll (centre) and sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar, promises to dwarf even those.
This coalition is swollen by those too young to remember the 30-year nightmare we are slowly, painfully, extricating ourselves from.
We stand at a tipping-point — between the past we didn't want and the future we crave so desperately.
It was an Irishman, Edmund Burke, who wrote that all it takes for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.
Today, at 1pm, is a chance for good people to do something. We miss it at our peril.
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