Dissidents Upping the Ante

Posted on February 1, 2011


When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is check Twitter on my phone to see what’s been happening overnight or across the world. I guess it’s the curse of the journalist; I can’t switch off my appetite for a story even when my louder appetite for food is grumbling away under the covers.


But there’s been a curious pattern for the last while, and I’ve noticed it more and more in the last few weeks. Correct me if I’m wrong but the PSNI and bomb squad has had to deal with some kind of incident every day last week. There was the big, newsworthy story towards the end of the week of the bomb near Xtravision which could have caused considerable devastation had it detonated.


Now, I can’t claim to be an expert on the Troubles but I do remember parts of it and from those parts I remember I would have to wonder about the sanity of anyone who might wish to go back to those days. I remember the Omagh bombings, the destruction, the devastation and the sorrow. I remember the Aintree Grand National being postponed because of a bomb scare. I remember other moments that jump to my mind with every rerun of Reeling in the Years. To the soundtrack of The Smiths What Difference Does It Make, I say “Jesus Christ, I remember that.”


And in a lot of cases, I think looking back and thinking about something is sometimes more striking than living through it the first time. Every year I sit down and watch the programmes about September 11th. I, in particular remember watching a programme called The Flight that Fought Back, this September just gone and being absolutely struck cold by what was happening in it. It was chilling.


It’s the same with looking back on things that have happened up North. And I’ll say it again, how could anyone want it to return to the ways of the 70s, 80s and 90s? How could anyone who remembers or who has even heard the stories about it, want it to kick off again? It boggles the mind.


My parents got married in 1979 and for their honeymoon they decided to go up North on a wee road adventure. At the border crossing my father was quizzed as to their business up there. When he said that they were on their honeymoon the officer asked, “Are you trying to get rid of her already?”


They went into a pub one day, starving and got food. Lord Mountbatten sat on one side of the table. The queen sat on the other. My father, considering the era here now, was naturally a bit uncomfortable, being a staunch Fianna Fáil, right hand of De Valera republican. (Oh how things change…)

A few weeks later, my mother was watching TV during lunch, (in an almost identical situation to that of when she saw the planes crash into the Twin Towers in 2001) when suddenly something on the news bulletin looked familiar. Yelling at my father to come inside they both realised that it was the pub they had eaten dinner in. It had been bombed to smithereens by the IRA. It’s only when you look at something like this that you realise that try as you might to distance yourself from something, in the way that many south of the border did in the latter years of the Troubles, you simply can’t do it.


Ireland’s too small a country and if anything happens anywhere you can be almost certain that you will know someone either loosely connected, or connected to someone else who is connected. It’s the six degrees of separation and if you sat down to work it out; god knows how many connections you could make to people who died in the tragedies and travesties of the Troubles. Or as you’ll find with Irish people, all across the world.


To find out that you were a few weeks shy of never existing is a bit of a scary thought, though perhaps the world might be a happier place without me, who knows? Answers on a postcard.


Coming back to the brain-dead morons tying wires together and mixing soap and vinegar or whatever the hell you put in home-made bombs, it might suit them better to pick up a history book, or better still, victim impact statements of people who survived bombings like Omagh and others. Or maybe statements from heartbroken family members who lost sons, daughters and spouses in the mindless chaos that engulfed the top half of this country for the best part of 30 years.


Maybe then they’d think twice about figuring out how to plunge us back into such a needless recycling of violence.