Two pensioners were attacked in Shantallow last Sunday night. A bomb, potentially as devastating as a military hand grenade, was tossed under a car.
The lives of a mother and her baby were equally put at risk. It was attempted murder. People in the area were forced to flee their homes with only a minute’s warning. Disruption in the area continued for several hours.
These are the plain and terrible facts of what happened. Dissident republicanism would no doubt have us believe a different version of events. We’re not fooled. These are the facts.
It is important that another number of facts are also added into the equation and the coverage of what happened.
The collective condemnation of this city must ensure that its message is consistently instilled with a robust political response to the perpetrators as well as a proper extension of our compassion to those victimised by this attack and others.
The political reality is that this was an attack on the family home of an Irish police officer. It was not merely equivalent to an attack on a member of the Gardaí, it is and was the same.
The new policing structures in the North, delivering and managing the PSNI, have the support of the Irish Government, all Irish political parties in Dáil Éireann and Stormont as well as having the support of the Irish people. This is the same body and breadth of national representation which supports the Gardaí.
The fact is, this was an attack on the family of an Irish police officer. The family attacked in Shantallow know this, so too does the family who suffered the loss of Constable Ronan Kerr in Tyrone.
It is not very far from Drumleck Drive that the flags of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement fly, declaring themselves ‘In Defence of the Nation’.
One of their spokespersons, at a recent Easter commemoration, confidently declared that there was no constitutional path to a United Ireland. The arrogance of their statements is only outdone by the nihilistic violence of those they politically preach for.
Theirs is a notion of a nation far removed from the will and aspiration of the Irish people.
Their real ‘defence’ is of a futile militant republicanism, ignorant and blind of the true republican belief in the sovereign right of the Irish people to determine their own political future. Despite the natural frustration of continuous repetition, these truths cannot be repeated enough.
The next number of years in Ireland, with a succession of centenaries, will instigate a reflection on our nation’s historical memory and experience.
Much of this analysis and coverage will rightly reflect on the scars inflicted by our history of violence. The position of the present demands however that this history is not used to undermine the still young architecture of our current politics.
It is this same architecture which will allow us to peacefully transcend past impediments to our constitutional aspiration.
This coming time must also be used as an opportunity to face down those who would violently stand in the way of this path.
Militant republicanism has been rejected time and again, in the past and in the present. Dissident republicanism stands not in opposition to the British government but in opposition to the Irish people.
This is embodied by any attacks on our police officers, be they in the PSNI or the Gardaí.
The relative weakness of the dissidents’ capacity, in comparison to those in the past, should not breed complacency or act as a comfort. There can be no such thing as an acceptable level of violence.
If allowed to fester, it will not only be corrosive for us in the North, it could be fatally corrosive to the new Republic which we hope to be part of.