Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Attack on police was not normal

Normality is a relative term and nowhere more so than in Northern Ireland. As we move towards leading what other parts of the UK would regard as a normal life, there are reminders that we still have some way to travel.

That said, the progress since the dark days of the Troubles has been enormous. Outrages such as the murder of prison officer David Black shock us, even though some of us lived through more than 3,000 killings during the decades of terrorism. Violence of that nature seems so at odds with the new society being built here.

But as the pipe bomb attack on police officers in west Belfast on Monday night shows, we merely shrug our shoulders at what we regard as low level violence. In other parts of the UK an attack of this nature - even though no-one was injured - would have been headline news.

Pipe bombs are not thrown in most communities. Yet the condemnation of the attack was muted, even ritual. The activities of dissident republicans are a throwback to darker days, but very few people want any association with them.

Even the families in the 30 homes which had to be evacuated while the device was made safe bore their ordeal with stoicism.

They may have had to go outdoors on a bitterly cold night with no certainty of when they could return, but hardly a voice was raised publicly in anger. It was just one of those things which might happen occasionally and has to be accepted.

Of course we should be appalled at such incidents. It was a potentially lethal device thrown at police officers lured into the area by a hoax burglary report. They were providing a community-based policing service and could have paid for it with their lives. So too could any local resident or passer-by as the hurling of a bomb in a built-up area is the height of irresponsibility.

We should not take such attacks in our stride, but instead speak out against those responsible and, if possible, provide information to the police to take them off the streets and into prison.

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