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It has been dryly observed that many people involved in the Northern Ireland peace process did so without having been terrorists first. Perversely, a terrorist who changes course when murder proves unfruitful as a sole strategy is seen as having made a greater contribution than those who were always whole-heartedly in favour of peaceful politics. By some absurd logic, ex-terrorists are commended for having travelled further on some journey of discovery. Greater the sinner who repents than the victim who was walking along the street, who has renounced nothing but limbs or life.
I provided services to some of those, and one of my friends held the hands of the dying at the Harrods bombing, bodies severed by plate glass. We ran a trauma clinic together. Does this make my opinions less valid? Could be.
I understand the need for realpolitik. I agree with Churchill’s observation:
The reason for having diplomatic relations is not to confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience.
In searching for that convenience lives were probably saved, at the cost of altering course in accommodation to violence.
Can anyone remind me of the name of the journalist, I think an American, who began his interview with the other IRA leader by saying: “Tell me, do you do the actual killings or just the PR for it?”