Richard Sullivan: ‘Dissident gunmen have united Ireland – in disgust’

The attack on John Caldwell was a brutal echo from our past

Forensics at the scene after the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell

Richard SullivanSunday World

For those of us of a certain age there was an unwelcome sense of déjà vu when Huw Edwards deviated from the script to reveal a police officer had been shot in Northern Ireland.

I don’t know about you but it took me back to a time when news bulletins were routinely interrupted with the breaking news that someone had been shot.

I had forgotten how common it was – whether it was a police officer or a member of the public – we were routinely brought the news as we watched tv or when we switched on the radio in the morning.

Those of us not directly involved shook our heads and got on with our day, because that’s what happened in Northern Ireland.

The attack on John Caldwell was an echo from our past and a brutal reminded that there are people out there who delude themselves they can murder the British out of Ireland.

Dissidents will tell you they will not stop until the British leave Ireland, they see themselves in the same mould as Irish republicans who have gone before them and that they are simply carrying on the fight.

It’s a romanticised and outdated vision of a small band of oppressed and suppressed freedom fighters taking the fight to an invading force.

The reality is a million miles from that mindset. It is of two cowards who approached a man as he finished football training and shot him in front of his son, then as he tried desperately to get away these ``heroes’’ shot him again and again as he lay on the ground.

Dozens of kids who, minutes earlier were playing football and laughing with their mates, watched on in horror.

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell

Those kids are citizens of Ireland, John Caldwell is a citizen of Ireland, if dissidents are content to traumatise and murder their countrymen and women it’s an illustration of how morally bankrupt they are.

The Ireland of 2023 is a world away from the Ireland of 1969, a time when a section of our people were truly oppressed, a time when there was little option other than to fight for their rights.

Those were the years when more than 300,000 British troops were deployed here, that will never happen again.

It might be an uncomfortable truth for some but look what Irish republicanism has achieved – much of it in a time of peace.

Sinn Fein are comfortably the largest party on the island – Michelle is First Minister designate, Mary Lou is Taoiseach-in-waiting.

The prospect of a united Ireland is at the centre of political discussion like it never has before.

Bombing the innocent of Omagh in 1998, murdering police officer Ronan Kerr in the town in 2011 and the killing of Lyra McKee and now this will, and did nothing to unite Ireland except in contempt, hatred and disgust at these bastards.

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