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NPR's Weekend Edition (Sunday)
Broadcast 15/08/1999, Story 9


This is n. p. r.'s weekend edition

I'm liane hansen one year ago today a car bomb exploded in oman northern ireland twenty nine people were killed over three hundred were injured in this devastating attack by a splinter group of the i. r. a. indiscriminately killed catholics and protestants men and women the young the old the political

The apolitical it shocked the country that after thirty years of guerilla war thought it was used to shock the grief united opponents for a while it was hoped that the tragedy would hasten the peace process but they've been ireland are never easy

The nineteen ninety eight the friday agreement unravels a few weeks ago at the beginning of the protestant marching season when tensions are at their highest yesterday those tensions erupted into violence the protestant apprentice boys commemorating their victory over catholics and sixteen eighty nine were allowed to parades through catholic neighborhoods to protest quickly turned ugly

Joining us to discuss the situation is kevin collins of the boston globe welcome back kevin harris and how serious was the violence yesterday this is going to have an effect on this peace process

Well i guess there were serious in the sense that this happened and it was violent and people were hurt miller's scenes of people who had voted in the context of northern ireland though it wasn't as bad as it may appear it was i think a a measure of the frustration typically on the nationalist side

That things have been allowed to go into free fall and also there has been a low intensity campaign against nationalist wage by loyalist fringe groups most of the violence has been directed that the nationalists in the last few months and the fact that uh the will of institutions were rewarded with the ability to march with a baby to sleep and i think that was the spill over the frustration

You think it's possible to have a peaceful protest in ireland

There have been very isolated cases of that but he noted that it often takes two to tango

The protesters some of them seemed bent on provoking a confrontation with the police and the police in northern ireland are not experienced in handling civil the demonstrations in the first place they tend to go and wielding batons and ask questions later

He went back to a mom this past week when the house the community there and bomb

I no longer fairly well because they're gonna many times over the last ten years or so it's an extraordinary tight community to begin with um it had entered into a community relations between catholics and protestants in most parts of northern ireland that said what happened a year ago really have the potential to drive people apart and and i think anecdotally i didn't see that things are very very good strong community people that

We've had a reluctant at all this attention is coming to them but determined to see through the anniversary was also a study done by professor at oxford university which found more than a anecdotally uh and certainly the people in the town still tighter than ever before they identified themselves as being from home and not from one side of the community of the other so did in in all respects it's it's a community that pop up on the face of it is doing well but that said

It was almost impossible to interview people and when this if i talk to people less than five minutes things are fine if it's hard to tell me for more than a half an hour they inevitably cried and um so the very wanted to see what about the lead

In a minister blamed being given to those of the catholic community quote

No and now this is a positive sign i think people are very firmly that from me and in the belief that we're this

Came from and the vatican said i don't think anybody blame the i. r. a. for say they believe they believe the people who did it was a dissident group within the i. r. a. quote they call themselves the real honor

But there is an enormous frustration and anger

That the perpetrators had not been caught because there is a belief that within the republican community they know who did it and they're not giving them up to the police is typical

Absolutely and i don't think anybody i mean the other thing is everybody thinks they know who did it um and this is all hearsay of that i think if there's any real strong evidence beyond here say the police would have made arrests in this case because there's really no sense of the anywhere in ireland for the people who put them on the moment

Because aside from the pain obviously of the of and what about the process itself and the fact that there's a lot of inertia now how how are the people are reacting to them

Well a number of the people that i talked to who was lost loved ones and um

Said that they had taken consolation from the fact that there's a reaction an omen that clearly the intent of the bombers and oman which to split the community the air and that's what the wider community in northern ireland that didn't work found that the genuine reaction notion that were repulsed and thrown around after a bombing that usually overused in northern ireland because most bombings to one side or the other the victims of this was spread right across

There is also was genuine and that was on both sides of the irish sea the people to consolation that the peace process seems stronger not weaker after the old opponent in the killing was a lot of the peace process could survive the worst atrocity in thirty years there really was strong and that will withstand the future test

And yet here we are year later in the peace process is really not much further it was a year ago except in one critical area and that is a sense of oman only nine people have been killed because of the conflict in northern ireland by any measure that is an extraordinary success

Kevin collins of the boston globe thanks a lot kevin thank you liane

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