So, Farewell Then, IRA Terror Campaign

By london_will Last edited 164 months ago
So, Farewell Then, IRA Terror Campaign

The IRA's renunciation of violence has already been splashed over the press, and it is effectively national (indeed, international) news. But it is also London news, so we make no apologies for marking it here. It's also a Birmingham and Guildford and Enniskillen and Warrington and Omagh story. And many dozens of other places.

In a time when fanatical nihilists are running around our city setting off bombs because ... well, who knows why "because"? Because of Iraq. Because of Palestine. Because of the "decadence" of the West. Because of oil politics. Because of a hopeless thirst for wanton anarchic destruction. Because of injustice. Because of an opening moral chasm. Because of absurd dreams of a restored Caliphate. Because of equally absurd dreams of a Muslim Britain. Because of colonialism. Because they're just bad to to the bone. Who knows why because? They might not even have a "because", and are just giddy with hate and bloodlust. Or all of the above. Or none of the above. Answers on a postcard.

Anyway, in this time when there is an organised band of people running around making the death of as many Londoners as possible a top priority, it is worthwhile reflecting on the lasting impact and legacy of the IRA on our city.

More after the jump.

The IRA terror campaign in the UK, and in London, was a brutally effective way of bringing the violence experienced every day in Northern Ireland home to British citizens. It was lethal, random and bloodthirsty.

However, confronted as we are with coordinated suicide attacks on the Underground, the IRA's minimal niceties - such as telephoned warnings, code words, that sort of thing - begin to look as civilised and peaceful as a Japanese tea ceremony.

But the IRA was a terror organisation and its business was murder. It managed to seriously wound people this Londonista knows in the Docklands bomb. They killed many other Londoners.

At last, the IRA is fading into history. Or rather, perhaps, hopefully, finding itself a new role outside fear, and a new voice beyond bloodshed, in a peaceful democratic process. Yet London is not safe from nutters and bombers, as no world city is ever safe from nutters and bombers. As extremists are no doubt doing their best to hit us again, it's worthwhile remembering the unintended legacy of the IRA.

For a start, there's the Swiss Re Tower, aka 30 St Mary Axe, aka the Erotic Gherkin. It would not be adorning the London skyline - and becoming part of the city's global image - had it not been for the IRA bombing of the Baltic Exchange.

Also, the Tube and railway stations are cleaner thanks to the IRA. one of the first - and most sensible - reactions to the mainland bombing campaign was the removal of litter bins from stations. The Tube and railways had to provide litter-pickers to pick up the slack. Our stations have been cleaner ever since. Goodbye, overflowing bins.

Last, but far from least, is the effect of Londoners. Suspicious package? We know the drill. Bomb scare? Same old, same old. Fear? Sorry, too busy.

Goodbye, IRA. Thanks for doing the sensible thing. You won't be missed.

Picture from the BBC.

Last Updated 29 July 2005