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Violence and terror brings only suffering

Two weeks on from the slaughter which shocked the world, Paris yesterday held a memorial service for the 130 dead, a sombre ceremony which reminded us of the dreadful consequences of violence, terrorism, intolerance and extremism.

Unfortunately, we in Northern Ireland do not have to look very far to find those same malign factors at work, from murderous gun attacks on our streets to the intimidation of someone because they are of a different religion or ethnic background.

West Belfast on Thursday night was the scene of yet another reckless murder bid on police officers carried out by dissident republicans, who are determined to pursue their campaign of death and injury despite having derisory support or clear strategy.

Two officers escaped with their lives after a high powered rifle was used to spray their patrol car in Rossnareen Avenue in Andersonstown.

Up to eight rounds struck the vehicle and it is only thanks to armour plating and bulletproof glass that lives were not lost.

This attack took place in a densely populated area and as Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw pointed out, the lives of local people were also put at risk.

It is believed police had been in the area for a number of days following the shooting of Martin Gavin in a murder bid last week.

However, it is essential the PSNI is able to conduct its investigations and perform its role in protecting the community without fear of being targeted by evil groups who offer only death and misery.

Those tempted to support these dissidents should think about Paris and the anguish and pain inflicted on ordinary people. Is this what they want to see, people in the depths of despair because someone has decided to lift a gun or plant a bomb and wipe out a life?

We saw a further example of the hate-fuelled attitudes that cause so much suffering in Antrim yesterday morning.

A car belonging to an Indian couple, who have young children, was set on fire outside their home in Meadow Drive in the town. This despicable act came at an already difficult time for the family who were recently bereaved.

It is understood the husband and wife both work at Antrim Area Hospital, providing a vital service for the wider community.

For them to be singled out by racist thugs in this way is quite appalling.

Police are treating the arson as a racial hate crime and we must hope anyone with information comes forward to ensure the attackers are caught.

Those who intimidate and terrorise cannot be allowed to prevail.

We have had too many years of violence, too much suffering and the vast majority of people simply want the gunmen, the bigots and the bully boys to just go away.

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