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Softly, softly is no way to combat terrorism

 

Sir Hugh Orde (News, May 25) is correct in outlining the difficulties the police and intelligence organisations have in preventing terrorist outrages such as happened in Manchester.

However, his objections to a show of force by the security services, while reasoned, are well off-beam. In his attempt to find a Northern Ireland example he had to go back nearly half-a-century to the botched, clumsy internment fiasco of the then-devolved government.

Sir Hugh and many of his colleagues in the higher echelons of the police and security services have failed to grasp that the lack of such shows of force in Northern Ireland have led directly to the woeful situation of division and fear that prevails today. It seems at times that there is a common purpose among elements at the top of government and the security services to perpetuate the isolation of vulnerable communities from the rule of law. As the Provisional IRA, the Ulster Volunteer Force and many others, sought to carve out territory for themselves and their evil actions, government and security forces adopted a "hearts and minds" strategy by holding off going in hard after terrorists in the hopes they could gain co-operation from the communities in which they operated.

Instead, the result was to effectively hand over sections of the Northern Ireland population to the brutality of terrorist control.

Most of the areas affected were social housing areas with high unemployment and low-income working families. While these people needed to see the security forces coming down hard on terrorists, they were instead abandoned by our policing and justice system.

Today, after 21 years of a so-called perpetual "peace process", these abandoned people still live under the yoke of paramilitary terrorism. It is swept under the carpet these days, with complaints from those affected being put down to bigotry and sectarianism. We must not let this situation develop more than it has throughout the United Kingdom. Let us show law-abiding Muslim communities that the police will robustly protect them from rule by Islamist terrorists and not allow them to be used as a shield by evil killers who care no more for their fellow Muslims than they do for anybody else.

Alan Love

Lisburn, Co Antrim

Belfast Telegraph

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