Northern Ireland news

Derry bomb attack shows futility of political violence

Forensics officers examined the remains of the car bomb that exploded outside Derry court house. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

Twenty-six years after the IRA killing of police officer, Michael Ferguson in Derry, Ireland remains partitioned.

More than a quarter of a century on - a life time - Ireland is as divided as it was in 1993. Police yesterday morning staged a re-construction of the shooting of Michael Ferguson at Shipquay Street just yards from the wreckage of the New IRA van bomb which exploded the night before. The two scenes graphically highlighted the utter futility of political violence as a means to achieve the re-unification of Ireland.

Those behind Saturday's bomb attack at Bishop Street courthouse could not possibly have believed they were striking a blow for Irish freedom never mind grinding the Northern legal system to a halt. The bomb exploded outside the heavily fortified security entrance to the building causing it little if any damage.

What they did achieve was widespread disruption and the focus of the world on Derry for all the wrong reasons.

Derry relies heavily on tourism. Since Derry's year as City of Culture in 2013, earnest efforts have been made to build the tourism industry and there has been considerable success. However, tourists don't visit areas where there is a real danger of being caught up in a bomb attack. Derry city centre manager, Jim Roddy said Saturday's attack did not cause any serious physical damage to the city's fabric but caused major "reputational damage".

Ireland is no nearer being re-united this morning than it was on Saturday morning. Apart from the jobs that may be lost by any fall in visitor numbers, Saturday's attack also further divides Irish unionists and nationalists – it's a strange way of trying to achieve unity. Is the message of the bombers still the same; if you don't agree with them, they'll try to bomb you until you do? Is that really the Ireland they're offering?

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