Belfast Telegraph

We must remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism

Editor's Viewpoint

The dramatic news from France has shown that facts can outdo fiction in the intensity and brutality of unfolding events, and that society at large is constantly under threat from terrorists with different backgrounds and agendas.

In Northern Ireland we have had more than our share of terrorism from paramilitaries on both sides who caused death, injury, destruction, suffering and despair.

The worst of the violence has diminished as the peace process has slowly taken hold, but as our security forces, political leaders and others have warned, we still live under the shadow of dissident terrorism.

Therefore, it is encouraging to be told about the apparent successes of the security forces in combating dissident republican terrorism. MI5 security chief Andrew Parker has confirmed most of the potential attacks by dissidents last year were foiled, and recent headlines have shown some of the high-profile successes in bringing people to justice.

Nevertheless, we cannot afford to be complacent, and this was underlined yesterday by the letter-bomb sent to PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton. Fortunately, the attack did not succeed, but it was not for a lack of intent.

There is no doubt that the dissidents here will continue to attempt to cause death, injury and disruption, and this is all the more reason why we need to be continually on our guard.

On a wider scale, it is clear that the tough lessons of this week from Paris underline that the murders, the hostage-taking and firm counter-measures from the police are not just "French" problems.

These are problems which face all of us, and the recent attacks in Sydney, Ottawa and elsewhere provide further evidence that terrorism is an international scourge of our times.

Constant vigilance everywhere is now more essential than ever. However, the real challenge is to change the mindsets of those who believe that violence is more powerful than democracy.

Somehow we must make these tragic reminders of our past redundant, for the good of all, but that remains a huge challenge for everyone.

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