The latest victim of the heroic battle for a united Ireland is a 32-year-old Polish pizza deliveryman who is hanging on for dear life after the Real IRA attacked a British Army camp outside Belfast. Taken in tandem witth th ekilling of a PSNI officer it has been a bad week in the North.
The Polish pizza man is the latest example of a legitimate target as perceived by the Real IRA and their cohorts. No doubt the rafters will soon ring with a patriotic song about the heroic gunning down of said Polish citizen in the name of ridding the island of Ireland of the British Army. Perhaps “We shot a Polish man, in a pizza delivery van” might be a good opening refrain.
Maybe a few verses can be dedicated to the killing of the young soldiers, who were on their way to Afghanistan before the “men” of the Real IRA shot and killed them. Something like, “We could have left them to the Taliban, but we gunned them down man by man.”
Or perhaps the fact that they attacked a camp that was due to be closed down next year anyway could merit a line in the heroic ballad. How about, “The camp it was due to be closed, but we knew the threat it posed.”
But back to Afghanistan. The Taliban, it must be stated, has the support of many of the Afghani people. The Real IRA and their fellow dissidents number at best in their dozens, and have not a single elected representative anywhere on earth.
The fact that elections in Northern Ireland have seen a power sharing government elected with the overwhelming support of the people on both sides of the divide and all over Ireland and Britain should not matter at all, say the Really Real IRA.
The fact that three sovereign governments, the United States, Britain and Ireland, have spent a decade and a half putting the pieces in place for the peace settlement, eventually supported by every major political party in Ireland and Britain, means little to the pizza man shooters of the Really Real IRA.
Democracy shmockracy, they would argue. They have their own sacred duty, the Really Real IRA, who found it necessary to undertake the shooting of a Polish pizza man as he clearly represented a great threat to the ideal of a United Ireland.
In the process they understand all too well the Roman candle firework they intend to set in motion. Real IRA action leads to British over-reaction, which leads to Nationalist support for Really Real IRA actions, which leads to British troops back on the street, which leads to – well, guerilla war and The Troubles.
To want this kind of scenario boggles the mind, but there seems little question that there is a hard core group of “patriots” who miss the old days of the tanks and the bombs and the guns and the dead and the dying and the injured and the despairing.
We’ve seen this newsreel before. Bloody Sunday in Derry and internment without trial guaranteed a 30-year IRA war. It was Mao who stated that guerillas must have friendly waters to swim in if they are to succeed.
Right now we can say unequivocally that the Really Real IRA would safely drown in the sea of contempt washing over them because of these actions, but they may not care. These, after all, are the people who brought us the Omagh bombing when unborn children were killed alongside their mothers and fathers. Quick, let’s rustle up a ballad for that one!
They will be hoping desperately for a British over-reaction, and this is where the British have proved culpable in the past. Sinn Fein and its leadership have made it absolutely clear they are standing with the democratically elected government they have helped create.
The British need to shore up that government as well by not acting hastily and listening to the Nationalist street in this latest crisis. The Real IRA must never be allowed to claim any legitimacy for their actions.