An act of incomprehensible barbarity

I remember hearing about “Enniskillen” on a car radio yesterday evening a quarter of a century ago. I think every civilized person with a link to Northern Ireland of a certain age would remember it as a real low point of the Troubles, an act of incomprehensible barbarity.

Even aged 10, I wondered quite how fellow citizens, nay fellow human beings, could be so utterly callous and destructive.

Even though I thought terrorist campaigns in Ireland futile, pointless, frightening, crazed and so on, if I’m honest I could begin to understand how someone could be brainwashed enough to target a soldier (even though my father was one) or bomb a town centre to cause economic destruction (even though I was myself evacuated from two in early childhood).

But a no-warning bomb designed to murder and maim people themselves remembering those who had sacrificed themselves? That was beyond even the remotest comprehension. It was so obviously uncivilized, so obviously barbarous, so obviously inhuman as to be beyond words.

Even at 10, I was frightened that there were human beings capable even of thinking of such an act against fellow citizens at prayer. I still am.

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