Monday, September 11, 2006

9-11 five years on

So there we are... five years on from one of the 'big' terrorist shocks of recent times - although coming from Northern Ireland, terrorism is terrorism, and things seem to soon move on, as we're grabbed by the next big atrocity.

I can well remember the day. The sun was shining, I was standing in work, on the last day of my summer job in an industrial estate in Lisburn, in the last summer before I graduated from university, so this was my last summer job (well, until I became a student once again...) We were probably talking about football, or the sun, or moaning about the poor pay, as we worked on the production line, with the radio on - normally Radio 1 or Cool in the morning, but after lunchtime, it was switched to Radio Ulster so the older supervisor could hear the songs from her youth, as Hugo Duncan broadcast them...

When suddenly, Hugo wasn't on any more. Reports were coming in that a plane had crashed into a building in New York. One of the guys went buck daft, cos he recognised what the building was from films... And as he was trying to explain what it looked like, and how we should all know it from whatever film, suddenly, reports came in of another plane hitting the other tower... What on earth was happening?

And then home (eventually) from work forever, and seeing the tv footage, the carnage, the damaged lives. Dear oh. Shocking altogether.

And what has changed? Has there been anything good come out of the bad? After all, the terrorist attack on America provoked the war on terror by Bush and Blair... in which they hunt ghosts and claim it in the name of security. Yet I think we have seen some good come from it - without being rude, suddenly America saw what terrorism was all about - those who had funded and supported 'the struggle for freedom' in Ireland were seeing firsthand what it is really like for terrorism to be operating... to have the loss of life, the devastation, the economic problems, the emotional damage. And connected to this, but also more far-reaching, suddenly terrorism wasn't seen as an acceptable weapon for use by the IRA. On the world stage, terrorists are now listened to less, and not quite as acceptable as before.

I do believe it is for these reasons (as well as political expediency, don't get me wrong here...) that we haven't seen the IRA killing as many people recently, and certainly not trying the big disasters... because it isn't fashionable and doesn't fit on the world stage. But what happens if they decide they are going to kick off again? After all, are the dissidents really dissident, or is it a way of the top boys keeping them happy during the 'ceasefire'? Even recently we have seen what damage a couple of fellas can do with incendiary devices - ruining was it 5 businesses in Newry. How long before it spreads?

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