Violence in Northern Ireland Renews Old Fears
A car bomb rocked the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland on the evening of January 19, part of a recent outbreak of violence, which is the worst Northern Ireland has seen in two decades. Police suspect that the bombing was perpetrated by the New Irish Republican Army (ira) militant group.
The Londonderry car bomb exploded outside a downtown courthouse, only moments after a group of people had walked by. They narrowly escaped injury. Not long after, two van hijackings by masked men occurred in the same city.
Brexit is raising questions about how the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the European Union, will be administered. Some fear a return of The Troubles, a time of deadly violence and terrorism between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists in Northern Ireland and beyond.
For the past couple of decades, such violence has been rare. The last car bombing was in February 2017. Other politically motivated murders have occurred, but not in large numbers or close together.
Minor security alerts are a normal part of life in the region because the tensions from a few decades ago are still present. Militant groups like the New ira are continually recruiting, and other paramilitary groups still exist. After last summer’s riots, it became apparent that these violent groups are able to influence and mobilize younger generations that did not live through The Troubles.
The city of Londonderry is itself a symbol of division. Those opposed to being part of the UK simply call it Derry, which comes from an Irish word for oak grove. However, those who promote union with Britain call it Londonderry, a historical reference to Londoners who rebuilt the city in the 1600s.
Londonderry still retains its old stone walls, which were built in the 17th century to divide the city between Catholic and Protestant districts. The city has historically been home to a Catholic majority, which is one reason why it has struggled to attract investment, remains poorer than the average UK city, and to this day, lacks a major highway connecting it to Belfast.
Those who fear violence is returning to Northern Ireland have reasonable grounds to be concerned. Surely we should be concerned when the Londonderry city council can barely pass a motion to condemn the deed.
The Irish border backstop and Brexit do not make up the central cause of the violence, but they could greatly inflame it, according to Politico’s Naomi O’Leary, who fears that Brexit has the potential to aggravate the sense of inequality that exists between factions in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to the south.
Europe is using the Ireland issue to make Brexit happen on its own terms, in a form of “punishment” on Britain, as conservative Member of Parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg said in October.
Now, Prime Minister Theresa May is caught between two seemingly impossible options. Currently there is no “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Both are in the EU, and so there’s no need for custom inspections. And the UK and Ireland have a separate Common Travel Area agreement that does away with passport checks. However, the UK and Republic have not yet agreed on the matter of customs inspections at the border. The EU demands that the border issue be resolved by March, when the UK formally leaves the EU. Prime Minister May must either conform to EU demands on Northern Ireland and create chaos within her own government, possibly losing her parliamentary majority, or resist and draw out the Brexit process even longer, angering her own people.
Northern Ireland’s politics are also in paralysis. Stormont, where Northern Ireland’s government meets, has been in deadlock and accomplishing virtually nothing since January 2017, following a dispute between the two main parties. Important decisions by the government have been deferred. Violence could result from this stalemate alone, without the additional pressures imposed by Brexit.
There is abundant speculation over whether or not violent groups from Ireland will make a comeback, what will happen with the Irish border, and generally how Brexit will come about. In the midst of such a complicated situation, can we have any concrete answers about the future? Are those who fear renewed violence simply exaggerating, or is there a real danger here?
The answer may surprise you.
There are specific answers to what will happen to Britain and Ireland in the years just ahead of us. The late Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Plain Truth magazine, wrote in depth about Britain’s future. One of his most widely distributed books was The United States and Britain in Prophecy. In it, Mr. Armstrong used Bible prophecy to prove that the British people are descended from the tribe of Ephraim, one of the 12 tribes of the biblical nation of Israel. (Request your free copy to prove this for yourself.)
The Bible has much to say about Britain. In fact, it gives a detailed warning that unless the people of Britain repent of their rebellion against God’s law, their nation will be engulfed in violence and riots.
The Prophet Ezekiel gave one such warning. He wrote of Israel, meaning America and Britain today: “A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them” (Ezekiel 5:12).
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explains this verse in his book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet:
The word pestilence just means destruction or death (see the Gesenius’ Lexicon). One definition of the root word is “to lay snares, to plot against, to destroy.” So this pestilence could be a plague of violence or burning—not necessarily a physical disease at all! It can be defined as a plague of violence or rioting—such as the Baltimore riots in 2015 or the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks! Why would the first third be burned with fire (verse 2), if it refers to a disease epidemic?
Don’t we see that same plotting and spirit of violence today in the tensions simmering over Northern Ireland and Brexit? That tension boiled over only a few decades ago. Could it do so again? As Europe continues using the Irish border dispute as leverage to gain power over Britain, renewed violence could be a result.
Regardless, violence will engulf Britain’s cities. But there is good news: You can be protected from it. To find out how, and to read more on the subject of Britain’s future, request your free copies of The United States and Britain in Prophecy and Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.