Northern Ireland The Protestant and Catholic leaders of Northern Ireland mounted an exceptional display of unity against rising violence from Irish Republican Army dissidents — and vowed Tuesday to defeat hard-liners with the power of popular will.
Former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, who long hoped that slaying police officers would help him achieve his dream of a united Ireland, stood shoulder to shoulder with his Protestant partner atop the government, Peter Robinson, and Northern Ireland police commander Hugh Orde.
The scene itself was an unprecedented surprise. More stunning were the clear-cut words from McGuinness, whose Sinn Fein party has faced years of outside pressure to embrace British law and order. He pledged his personal support to the English police chief, and demanded that his own police-loathing supporters abandon their traditional code of silence and expose the IRA dissidents in their Irish Catholic communities.
Dissidents killed two British soldiers and a policeman over the past three days — the first such killings in more than a decade.