A timely reminder of the fragility of peace
THE price of a setback to the Northern Ireland peace process was set out in Omagh yesterday. Twenty years ago, on August 15, 1998, the town in Co Tyrone was turned into a war zone when a car bomb exploded. Twenty-nine people were killed, including a woman who was pregnant with twins, and more than 200 others were injured in the atrocity.
The victims came from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England and Spain.
In the wake of the great hope inspired by the Good Friday Agreement earlier that year, it served as a reminder of how swiftly the peace could be shattered.
Now, Northern Ireland stands at a crossroads again with the uncertainty around Brexit and the future of the devolved institutions. The hard-fought peace is being taken for granted with the Northern Ireland Assembly not sitting and the Executive showing no signs of getting back up and governing for the people it should be serving.
The vacuum is of concern.
Every effort must be undertaken to ensure there is no going back to those dark days and the environment cannot exist for dissidents to operate.
It is quite clear the implications for Northern Ireland were not on the agenda in the Brexit referendum and those who want to leave the EU regard the Border issue as an inconvenience which should be brushed aside.
There is too much at stake to merely pay the future of Northern Ireland such lip service.
In this newspaper today, the potential consequences of Brexit for pension payments for returned emigrants is outlined. It’s another detail left unaddressed by the Brexiteers. But there are even bigger matters at stake.