Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Renegade outrages must not derail peace

Just what sort of people would even consider leaving a viable pipe-bomb in a primary school playground?

But the fortunate ending was entirely due to luck. A renegade loyalist group - mimicking dissident republicans by calling themselves the Real UFF - targeted two schools in Antrim in sectarian attacks. While it is obvious that they have little intelligence, surely even they must have some conscience? Having seen how close they came to injuring, or perhaps killing, a child, will they now think again before embarking on any more attacks? As the shocked father of the little boy said - have they no children of their own?

What the incident illustrated in a chilling way is just how fragile peace in Northern Ireland is. At any time, thanks to the insane campaigns of dissident republicans and, now, loyalists, we are just one incident away from potential conflagration. Of course, the dissident republican threat, with their more sophisticated bomb-making abilities, remains the greatest challenge to the police. But we must not underestimate what could flow from a botched loyalist attack.

Either side is capable of setting in motion a spiral of insanity, with each feeding off the other's outrages. It is imperative that the police are given every assistance to bring the terrorists of all hues to justice. Peace in Northern Ireland was extremely hard won - and at a huge human cost which must never be repeated. It is everyone's duty to help preserve that peace and to ensure that those who would wreck it are put behind bars.

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