ETA, the Basque terroristy group killed two policemen last week in a bombing in Majorca and also injured 60 people in a seperate bombing.

Those of us from Irish America and Ireland can say: "There but for the grace of the Goood Friday Agreement go we."

Those hardliners from the Real IRA in Ireland who want to resume the armed bombing campaign can say: "Look what we are missing out on; terror killing, scores of innocents injured, but look our flag of endless violence is still flying."

ETA, the armed wing of the Basque nationalist group were the equivalent of the IRA for decades.

They started their drive for independence back in 1959 and have continued it since.

Like the IRA they drew major support from their own population in their case in the Northeast corner of Spain where they have legitimate claims for autonomy.

The Irish peace process had a major impact on ETA and drew them into negotiations with the Spanish government. Many Irish played a leading role in securing those talks, none more so than Father Alex Reid,the unassuming Belfast priest who played an incredible role in the Irish peace process.

Reid, a Redempterorist priest based in West Belfast was the man who brought Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and his nationalist rival John Hume together for the first time.

In a series of secret meetings at Clonard Monastery in Belfast Reid got both leaders to hammer out what became the foundation document for the Irish peace process.

Then he acted as a go-between for over a decade between the Irish gvernment and Sinn Fein, a thankless and frustrating task he performed with incredible skill.

Reid was the man the ETA sent for when they wanted to talk to the Spanish government - and he obliged.

He created, along with many others,the opening for talks to begin between ETA and the government of the day.

Alas, there was no Gerry Adams o nthe Basque side and no Tony Blair or Albert Reynolds on the Spanish government side.

The talks broke down and the violence has now resumed.

Many of the leadership of ETA are now behind bars and a younger and much bloodier group has taken over.

An incredible opportunity was missed and we see the result last week in yet another spiral of violence.

Amazingly there are still some in Ireland who would like to resume an ETA-like campaign in Northern Ireland.

All I can say is lunatics is too kind a word.


The aftermath of the bombing in Majorca