Belfast Telegraph

London's pain at the latest terror attack one we can all share

Editor's Viewpoint

The attack in London that left four people dead and at least 20 injured was terrorism in its purest form. It was totally random, using a car as the primary weapon and designed to cause terror.

Who expects the driver of a vehicle on a main thoroughfare near a major tourist attraction, the Houses of Parliament, to deliberately mow down pedestrians on a bridge over the River Thames? And then, when he crashed, he stabbed a police officer to death before being killed himself.

It was yet another example of the brutality and deviousness of Islamic terrorism which has spread fear throughout major cities in Europe, including Berlin, Paris and Nice, and came exactly a year after suicide bombers killed 32 people in Brussels.

Today it is London that is coming to terms with what is now a global terrorist threat. The Islamic fanatics see everywhere as a potential target, but are sufficiently publicity conscious enough to strike at leading centres of population which they know will earn them the greatest news coverage.

And with each incident fear grows. Visitors decide to shun what they perceive may be potential target cities and although many planned attacks are thwarted, there is a public feeling that the intelligence and security forces are unable to guarantee their safety.

We in Northern Ireland can empathise with those who have come under attack from terrorists after decades of violence which was equally vile.

The one lesson that we have learned is that a terrorist incident does not end when the casualties are buried or even when the guilty are brought to justice.

Today the impact of killings which happened in our province decades ago are still felt by the bereaved and by their children. One only has to read the words of Kathleen Gillespie, whose husband was shackled to a van bomb that was then detonated remotely, killing him and five soldiers, to understand some of the hurt of those still wondering why their loved ones had to die.

Her poignant words strike to the very heart of what the legacy of the Troubles really means. On hearing of the death of Martin McGuinness - the bombing happened during his time as a senior IRA commander - she said she hoped that his family had been with him at the end. She never got that chance, and did not even have a body to bury.

While much has been made, quite rightly, of Mr McGuinness's later years as an important political figure in the peace process, the tears and the anguish of the bereaved - by the IRA and other terror groups - still demand the answers they want and whatever justice can be delivered.

Their case stands on the moral high ground and it is shameful that legacy issues have not been addressed in any meaningful manner nearly 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement. While Mr McGuinness and others made the journey from war to peace, there can never be peace of mind for the bereaved until their case is answered.

And we also have to remember that there is still a live terrorist threat from within our own community. Dissident republicans tried again to kill police officers in Strabane on Tuesday night, and continuing political instability can only strengthen their resolve to continue their senseless campaign of violence. And what of the loyalist paramilitaries who feel sidelined from political developments but who still retain the capacity to terrorise, as seen recently in Carrickfergus? Terrorists have not gone away, you know.

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