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New Wave of Violence Grips Northern Ireland

By Tom Rivers
London
10 March 2009

Tensions are rising in Northern Ireland as a policeman becomes the third murder victim in the province in the past 48 hours. Just like the two British soldiers killed on Saturday, the officer was gunned down. While politicians are united in their condemnation, the worry on the streets is this killing spree may be part of a new campaign not seen for more than ten years.

Over the past few days, Northern Ireland has been reliving the dark violent days of how life used to be.

On Saturday, a gun attack claimed by the Real IRA at an army base in country Antrim that left two young British soldiers dead. Then, two days later, another republican splinter group, the Continuity IRA said it was behind the shooting that left a police officer dead in the town of Craigavon.

Police chief Hugh Orde had warned in recent months that some factions were intent on bringing violence back to the province.

"These are criminal psychopaths determined to wreck what 99.9 recurring percent of people in Northern Ireland want," said Orde. "My officers will not be intimidated in this way."

And that means business as usual for the police. Locals are being urged to provide information regarding the identity of the assailants who remain at large.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward says people have gotten used to the peace of the past decade and the vast majority want to continue to move forward together. He says these new men of violence cannot change that.

"These very wicked people may have the power to take the lives of people away as they have done twice in the last three days, but they do not have the power to undermine the peace process and they will not succeed in undermining the political progress," said Woodward.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown agrees. He says this latest wave of violence is not supported.

"A small minority will never be allowed to undermine or destroy the political process," said Mr. Brown. "All the political leaders of Northern Ireland have made it absolutely clear there will be no return to the old days."

The renewed wave of violence has forced the postponement of a trip to the U.S. by a group of leading Northern Ireland politicians who were to attend a meeting focusing on investment in the province.



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