The murder of British Parliament member Ian Gow, apparently at the hands of Irish Republican Army bombers, is a grim reminder that, however brightly the hope for a new Europe may dawn, it will have to be very bright indeed to illuminate all the Old World's dark corners.
Ulster is one of those regions on which history's shadow rests most heavily.
Gow, a hard-line supporter of British rule in Northern Ireland, resigned from Margaret Thatcher's government in 1985 in protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
His assassination is part of a new terror campaign designed to disrupt efforts by British Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Brooke to arrange talks between political leaders of Ulster's Protestant and Catholic communities. The IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein, fear that such talks will push them even further to the province's political margins. They have only minority support--and it is eroding. Such brutal cynicism is bound to evoke a deep revulsion in those possessed of a genuine goodwill toward the Irish people and respect for the wishes they have so frequently expressed at the polls.
Unfortunately, this latest outrage also serves to remind us of the harm that can be done when Americans sentimentally lend their support to foreign groups whose actual activities have nothing to do with humanitarian aid. There are more than 40 million Americans of Irish descent. All but the tiniest fraction of them are united in their unwavering respect for the rule of law, the democratic institutions of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and, most of all, the sanctity of human life.
But that tiny fraction is quite indifferent to such values. These are the people who give to Noraid and its latest splinter group, the Friends of Irish Freedom. Since 1984, Noraid, which is headed by an insurance broker and a city liquor commissioner in Albany, N. Y., has been compelled by the Justice Department to register as an "agent of the IRA, a foreign principal." The "Friends" are led by a self-admitted gunrunner.
Every American who drops a nickel into their coffers is an accomplice to a murder campaign whose real consequences they never will have to see.