Killing people just isn’t a joke

I understand the power of dark humour. Well I used to think so until this weekend.

The so-called Real IRA claimed responsibility for murdering two British soldiers and wounding two others as well as two pizza deliverymen at the Massereene barracks in Northern Ireland on Saturday.

In their statement they described the Domino Pizza deliverymen as ‘collaborators of British rule in Ireland.’

Real IRA, real? yea, right! They should get real if you ask me.

There used to be a tradition of telling Irish jokes here in Britain before people started to think that jokes against other national groupings were unfair and unkind.
The basis of these jokes was, of course, that the Irish were stupid and did stupid things.

It now seems that a small minority of stupid Irishmen have identified themselves and it is they who are now making those jokes…the humour escapes me though.

Domino Pizza deliverymen as collaborators of British rule. They must be joking. A worthy target, my ass!

The Real IRA, I assume is a small group. It is statistically improbable that there are enough idiots in Ireland to swell their ranks into anything more than a tiny bunch of cowardly hero-wannabes.

On Saturday, they machine-gunned four soldiers as they were given their pizza suppers before being flown off that night to Kandahar in Afghanistan for a tour of duty involving another group of fanatical cowards, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The pizza deliverymen, by the way, were an eighteen year old local lad and a Polish immigrant in his twenties.

This is the latest “joke” in the Real IRA’s so-called campaign which started twelve years ago with the murder of 29 ordinary folk in the town centre of Omagh. An initiative following their outrage that the Provisional IRA might actually be trying to bring about change by democratic means.

The IRA, let’s remember have a long and noble history of blowing up shoppers, party-goers and babies as well as soldiers and security officers.

Well, even if they had to be over-cautious with their words, at least Sinn Fein’s leadership have called the action “wrong and counter-productive.” We should be pleased about that even if their phrasing is chilling in its opacity.

We must remember that it is too easy to criticise former terrorists who come in from the cold – their leaders are often carrying a delicate cargo on the perilous journey towards peace.

The folk they leave behind are just these ‘real’ IRA jokers.

My paternal grandmother came from Northern Ireland, I never knew her as she died long before I was born. The amateur genealogist in me traced her family back to a farm that sits right in the middle of the so-called ‘bad lands.’

Call it cowardice, if you want, but I have never been there because it just never seemed worth the risk. Do I really want to be gunned down by a small group of opportunistic snipers from a gang of fantasists?

I have been to Belfast often. I have stayed in the Europa Hotel in the bad old days when it was blown up more often that I have blown up party balloons. I have had fun in the pub across the road too consuming some of the best Guinness and oysters in Ireland. That, somehow, seemed like a risk worth taking; behaving normally in a great city struggling to retain its normality.

In those days there were British tanks on the roads and British solders on street corners. It looked like a war-zone.

It wasn’t of course.

It was an army pitted against a hidden enemy set on killing from the shadows. Their targets were shops, hotels and nightclubs as well as barracks or security patrols.

It is a fashion that has spread and a new generation of tragically indoctrinated young men and women now lose their own lives dressed up as bombs which explode wherever ordinary life-loving people come together.

It is another dark joke – and yet again, it just isn’t funny.

Another joke misfired last week.

A young woman, Leila Deen, protesting about the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport came up to an unsuspecting (Lord) Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary,in Central London and threw green custard in his face.

Afterwards Leila Deen spoke to the media trying to justify her actions in the name of freedom.

It was an assault regardless of what she threw, it could have been a bomb and in this era, we all have a subliminal fear of a terrorist attack.

Her ‘joke’ came from the school of petulance, every bit as childishly naive as the more lethal terrorists in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. It says, I don’t like this so I will throw something at it. Children, especially very young ones respond just like M/s Deen.

So well done Peter Mandelson, himself a former Northern Ireland Secretary.

Not only was he dignified under attack but he defeated his enemy with the best of all weapons – real humour.

‘Whilst I’m prepared to take my fair share of the Green revolution on my shoulders, I’m less keen on having it in my face.’

One, nil, I think against the smug self-righteous M/s Deen.

He also added a lesson to all terrorists:

‘I would rather people said it to my face than throw it in my face.’

Can we not put away childish things and change the world with intelligent argument? It appears not.

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