Monday, February 28, 2005

Bomb Threat

I drove into town today and discovered a bit of a traffic snarl up- the police (quite a few of them) had cordoned off a street and were diverting traffic. It was only later that I discovered that the street was closed because of a bomb threat- a suspect package had been discovered behind a local business. When it was announced on the news (I was in Subway for lunch) no one batted an eyelid. It was a total non-event. It made me wonder how the same news would have been greeted in an American town, or even an English one. Terrorism is a way of life here- it was in the news every day, almost everyone I know knows someone who has been killed, and only here in all of the UK are the police armed and dressed in flak jackets. Only here do the Army launch foot patrols and armed check-points. Only a few years back if you wanted to enter a shopping centre you had to subject yourself and your bags (handbag, rucksack, shopping, etc) to a cursory search by security guards. Again, unlike the rest of the UK, we have photographs on our driving licences as a replacement ID card.

The so-called peace process which has been dragging on for about ten years now has served only to reduce the bombings. The terror gangs, loyalist and nationalist, carry on their business of extortion, drug dealing, robbery, punishment beatings and kneecappings. Now and then someone will be killed on one side or another but this is usually put down to "splinter" groups. Meanwhile under the "peace" deal the British Army has drastically reduced its presence here and nationalist politicians, members of the IRA like Martin
McGuiness, pocket the pay of a member of parliament and gain the benefits of that office, all the while refusing to take the oath of loyalty required. All this and the IRA still have their weapons and have been just implicated in a £26.5 million bank robbery. The bomb threat in town may (hopefully) be just that but the accepting attitude of the people who live here made me realise how much we have come not just to accept random bombings and assassinations, but to expect them.

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