Editor's Viewpoint: Cowardly bombing an attack on us all
The bombing of Newry courthouse, quite rightly, has been condemned in strong language right across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland.
It was an act of recklessness, callousness, cowardice and sheer disregard for life. The warning given to police was inadequate with the bomb exploding in half the time given to clear the area. It was only by good fortune that no-one was injured or killed.
While the bombers — dissident republicans — represent few but themselves, that does not mean they don’t have the capacity to cause destruction. The size of the bomb, an estimated 250lbs, and the increasing frequency of attacks on police stations, particularly in south Armagh, demonstrates that the dissidents possess both the will and the expertise to wage a limited terrorist campaign.
In the wake of recent attacks some concerns have been expressed about the capability of the PSNI to counter the terrorist threat. That is more of a kneejerk reaction than a considered response and we have to accept the word of the Chief Constable that overt and covert operations are being directed against the dissidents. He is the person best placed to determine if the PSNI has sufficient resources. His best response to implied criticism is to bring the perpetrators of terrorism before the courts.
But it also has to be remembered that the dissidents are not just attacking the police or state institutions. Their campaign is again blackening the reputation of Northern Ireland and could hit vital business investment and tourism. Essentially every attack is an attack on everyone, no matter what the immediate target. Having survived more than 30 years of intense civil conflict, we all have a responsibility to ensure that fanatics do not drag us back to those days of evil. That means giving the police any shred of evidence which could lead to the prosecution and imprisonment of those engaged in the present campaign of violence.