Once a Terrorist…

From the March-April 2000 Trumpet Print Edition

Do leopards change their spots? Is it fair to imply, once a terrorist, always a terrorist?

There is rising concern in Britain at the effects of the prisoner early release program negotiated as part of the 1998 Northern Ireland “Good Friday Agreement.” Over 300 prisoners, previously indicted for terrorist crimes in Northern Ireland, have now been released through this program. However, early indications are that many of these ex-prisoners have not become ex-terrorists.

Authorities are increasingly being forced to return some of these terrorists to jail due to criminal offenses committed since their release. Still others presently await trial for crimes ranging from the assault of police officers, grievous bodily harm, armed robbery and drug offenses.

In their utter naïveté, those who drafted the terms of the early release program had sought to convince the public that terrorists granted release would accept the conditions of not supporting banned organizations, nor be involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland.” Prisoners undergoing early release are also supposed to subscribe to a condition of not becoming a danger to the public.

As each month goes by, it becomes increasingly evident that many of these prisoners are simply returning to their old ways or have taken up residence in Britain deployed within the ira structure waiting for the call to violence. The Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman, Andrew Mackay, recently stated: “It has already been clear that many of those released early have not renounced violence or crime.” The negotiators of the Good Friday agreement, through their endorsement of the prisoners early release scheme, have simply tossed a terrorist time bomb back into Northern Ireland and the British community.