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As the Apprentice Boys march in Londonderry, a small bomb explodes in Lurgan

By Paul Goodman

It's appalling to read that three children were slightly injured by a small bomb in Lurgan earlier this afternoon, though reassuring to gather from reports that they weren't seriously hurt.  It's the marching season, and just as July 12th was marked by riots, so today - the day that the Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry - is marred by an explosion.  This month's seen attacks by republicans in Londonderry itself, Bangor, and Kilkeel.  A bomb went off outside a police station in the first place, and explosive devices fell off cars in other two.  A child was strapped into a seat in Kilkeel.  A soldier had a lucky escape in Bangor.

Three quick points.  First, some people persist in believing that riots in republican areas during the summer months are a response to Orange parades.  This view's usually wrong, as reports from July confirm.  Second, there's been little if any recent loyalist violence.  This suggests that loyalists are reasonably satisfied with the political situation, which helps to prevent the present trouble from worsening.  Third, Northern Ireland isn't on the verge of slipping back into its recent past.

None the less, Matt Baggott, Northern Ireland's Chief Constable, warned recently that dissident republicans could inflict another Omagh bomb-style massacre, citing the Real IRA, Oghlaigh na hEireann and the Continuity IRA.  There were claims recently of secret talks between some of these republican groups and the intelligence services.  Patrick Mercer said in response that it would be "naive" not to expect this to happen.  What's certain is that innocents in Northern Ireland have been lucky recently because terrorists haven't yet mastered the equipment they're using.  This good fortunte may not last long.  For those of us who don't live there, the province is worth keeping an eye on.


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