THE IRA bombing and bomb hoax campaign will be a continuing nuisance through the British election on May 1. The probability is that a Labor government under Tony Blair will be elected with a policy on Northern Ireland identical to that of the Conservative government of Prime Minister John Major. Then there will be a chance of restarting the peace process.
Since most acts of terrorism are publicity stunts, the bomb scare that postponed the 150th running of the Grand National steeplechase was a success. No one was hurt. Some 70,000 racing fans were forced to evacuate. A quarter-billion people around the world who would have watched it on TV did not.
No one was angrier than the Irish in Ireland, in whose alleged behalf the IRA pulled this caper, since they are per capita greater racing fans even than the English. And it did not stop the race from being held on two days delay, with 50,000 fewer people but Princess Anne and Prime Minister Major among them. And it did not prevent a 14-1 shot from winning under a Catholic jockey from Northern Ireland.
But this and the tie-ups of London rail stations, subways and British expressways in recent days are not all in good fun. They accompany murder and the torching of Catholic and Protestant churches in Northern Ireland as loyalist terrorists respond to IRA terrorism in kind and the Unionist and Orange Order leaders approach the summer marching season with greater intransigence and bigotry.
IRA bombing has been so counter-productive of its claimed objective of driving Britain out of Northern Ireland and unifying Ireland that this can no longer be claimed as the purpose. It clearly worsens the daily life of the Catholic population of Northern Ireland. They are its victims and in no way its beneficiaries.
IRA terror is its own purpose and its own reward. The terrorists conduct it for the sake of doing so, and out of fear of the political process it prevents. Bombing and murder is what they know. Like the 150th running of the Grand National, the British election will take place as scheduled on May 1, however inconvenienced.
Pub Date: 4/10/97