Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
- Isaac Asimov
The Bleeding Hills - A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
Isn’t it ironic – The storyline of my novel-in-the-making “The Bleeding Hills” invokes the possibility of a plot to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland, an idea that could have been viewed as somewhat preposterous. As a matter of fact, since the Good Friday agreement of 1998, there has been a period of relative calm, not as violent as the previous 30 years.
Yesterday, March 7, 2009, two British soldiers were killed and four others, among them two pizza delivery men, were wounded in what is the first major terrorist attack in the province for over a decade. The shootings occurred at the Massereene army base in Antrim, 16 miles north of Belfast, at 9.40pm. One of the injured is critical, two are serious and one is serious but stable, police said today, as a major manhunt for the gunmen continued. The two soldiers who were killed were both aged in their early twenties and were due to fly to Afghanistan on active service in the coming days.
Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but security sources said the incident was undoubtedly the work of dissident organizations opposed to the peace settlement. There are three dominant factions – the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann (Volunteers of Ireland). The latter group is now seen as the most dangerous in Northern Ireland, comprised of experienced former Provisional IRA activists although its strongholds are far from the scene of Saturday night’s double murder. The Real IRA has a presence in Belfast, just 16 miles from Antrim where the fatal shootings took place.
In my novel I refer to the so-called Real IRA as the force behind the assassination plot. The Real Irish Republican Army was founded in October 1997 by former members of the Provisional IRA, who were dissatisfied with the direction of the Irish peace process, especially the position of Sinn Fein, the – allegedly – political arm of the IRA.
In fact, the RIRA openly seeks to disrupt the peace process in Northern Ireland. They rejected the Mitchell Principles, six ground rules that were accepted by the Irish and British governments and political parties in Northern Ireland. They also dismissed the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, comparing it to the 1921 Government of Ireland Act, which resulted in the partition of Ireland.
The RIRA’s ultimate objective is a united Ireland and in their view the only viable means to reach this goal is violence against British occupation of Northern Ireland, which included the deadliest strike of the troubles, the Omagh bombing on August 15th, 1998. Twenty-nine people were killed in the blast and 220 others injured. In my view, the RIRA lacks the sophistication to ever reach their own objective; the killing of innocent people is not suited to gain support from the Irish people.
As much as I sympathize with the thought of a reunited Ireland (After all, I come from a country that has seen reunification), I personally do not approve of such cowardly actions as they took place yesterday. The reunification in Germany was an accomplishment by the people for the people and I believe, Sinn Fein is working to find a similar solution. In the same sense let me quote former German chancellor Willy Brandt (This is a quote I remember, but couldn’t find in any recorded reference and I’m trying to translate it to the best of my abilities), who said: “What belongs together will be together in the end.” Brandt had more faith in this statement than the majority of the German population and in the end he was right.