Friday, 16 January 2015

Paris, Belgium........

Recent atrocities in France and the police operations in Belgium the other day prompted me to think of this:

In the dark days of Irish republican terrorism I found myself on a professional study week, in The Netherlands, in a white transit personnel carrier, with several other of my then work colleagues. A double murder by automatic weapons in nearby Roermond was reported to our hosts and we were told that we should up our vigilance as we were in a British registered vehicle and being as we all looked like police officers (because we were), or military personnel, we might be at a slightly enhanced risk. We pointed out to our hosts that we had been at a `slightly enhanced risk` in our own country for our entire service.

The perpetrators drove across the various borders with ease, impunity and their weapons. The `Shengen Agreement` helped considerably. In the light of recent events I suspect that it still does.
Our Prime Minister at the time the agreement was proceeding through the Eu Parliament was Margaret Thatcher. She did not like it one bit. To this day the UK remains outside the `Shengen Group`.

We are in a different place today than we were then, but if you read the attached, particularly the final paragraph, you will see that it still resonates.

Names and faces simply turn into statistics after the tears dry up.


Anonymous said...

Nothing changes, some of us have long memories and remember these events, the threat comes from elsewhere today but for those on the street the threat will be the same, it just comes from a different area.
I always remember that Belgium was mentioned as a source of weapons for various crime/terrorist groups way back into the 70's and was renowned for lax enforcement.
If you want a bit of conspiracy theory fodder have a look at the 'Brabant killers'.

TonyF said...

Hi HD,
As Anon said, I remember Belgium being 'friendly' to the IRA and others. Not intentionally so (Unless it was revenge for us holding most of our wars there). Maggie, love or hate her, probably saved many of our lives in the mainland.

We had to be vigilant all the time. remember, the murderers only had to be lucky once. We were, Tern Hill wasn't. They got blown up, we got.. Well, looked at.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Ret'd, noted.
Tony: The RAF were targets too, as you said.

Interesting that no PIRA acts were committed on Spanish soil. Estimated Time of Arrival......

Anonymous said...

perhaps because ETA and PIRA shared ideas, tactics and a bit more perhaps? We forget how much was going in the 70's and 80's in Europe. Have at look at the various groups active at that time from the left and right wing. No side had a monopoly on violence, see the Bologna railway station bomb.
We have a short collective memory and a political class that operates in the now and will not/can not learn from history.

TonyF said...

I suspect all the 'terrorist' groups were pretty much hand in glove with each other irrespective of their alleged political colour. After all, most PIRA activities in NI were more of a turf war over protection rackets/drugs and prostitution hidden under the guise of religion politics. As a terrorist, they got away with much more than ordinary murderers would.

Hogdayafternoon said...

TonyF: Which is why, `post Good Friday` I'm sure they all went back to their day jobs :-/

Hogdayafternoon said...