The IRA statement issued today must be welcomed by everyone interested in peaceful, political advancement of devolution in Northern Ireland. The IRA seem to have realised what we could have told them twenty years ago – namely their chances of achieving a re-united Ireland by violent intimidation of the British people were nil. Conversely, by peaceful negotiation there is a really possibility of a future status for the Province that allows everyone to get on with their lives together.How ironic it is that as we move away from the spectre of terrorism on one front, another group now believes it can achieve anything by terrorising British citizens going about their ordinary lives. The ballot box is more effective than the bomb in British politics. The disaffected must engage with our political process.
At the busy junction above Bank tube station, you could have heard a pin drop. Every vehicle stopped and every engine was turned off. The quiet resolve of Londoners of every race and religion could be palpably felt. London is indeed a very special city.
In a few minutes, we are going down to the streets to show the world that the spirit of London has not, and cannot be broken. This feeling is wonderfully summed up on the website werenotafraid.com
where you can now purchase ‘We’re not afraid’ T shirts in aid of the Red Cross London Bomb Relief fund.
It’s been too long since I wrote anything in this column. It seems, now, like a lifetime since Live8. By the middle of last week, we also learned that London was to host the 2012 Olympics. Sitting on the tube on Thursday morning, I’ll bet a lot of us were feeling rather proud of what the world had seen of London of the last few days.Thursday rapidly turned into every London commuter’s worst nightmare. I was one of the fortunate ones; the knock on effect of the tunnel collapse at Gerrards Cross meant that I wasn’t following my regular Circle Line journey from Baker Street to Monument – instead I was trying to Central Line from Ruislip to Bank. My own inconvenience was as nothing to what was suffered by some 700 families.
I found the weekend very depressing – a mixture of anger and sadness. But London bounces back quickly. The people who perpetrated the attacks are evil, twisted individuals. But the truth is that London is a glorious melting pot of peoples and cultures. People from many backgrounds who make London the wonderful, loud. colourful vibrant city that it is. The tube was packed this morning, and the open-topped buses full of tourists are passing the window of my office again.
The attacks on ordinary people going about their daily lives were obscene. But they (whoever ‘they’ are – terrorism that is so cowardly it doesn’t identify itself) will not intimidate us. We live in a fantastic city in a fantastic country. We value our freedom and our diversity. They will never take that away from us (though many have tried).
They are wasting their time.