#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
John Caldwell’s Attack and the Ramifications for Future Generations

The risk of Northern Ireland cascading back into a reality of violence is very real. A country so entrenched in political division and violence is on the precipice of reverting back to the troubles of old. Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was mercilessly gunned down in front of his own kin in Northern Ireland last month, marking the most aggressive action from the New IRA in a number of years.


John Caldwell, a respected member of his local community was coaching his son’s football team at Youth sport, located in Killyclogher. With his son, the distinguished police inspector was unloading the boot of his car of footballs when masked attackers broke from the shadows and attacked Mr Caldwell, leaving him with life-altering complications. Shooting him multiple times in front of his own son and a number of other children.


Children Traumatised


The principal of Omagh High School, of which 15 children present on the night of the shooting attend, Christos Gaitatzis said that “It is very difficult as some of the children were next to the son of John and were helping him to get sports equipment out of the car. They saw everything.” They saw everything. A statement as resounding as it is terrifying. The mark this incident has etched into the psyche of the young children, I fear, is being overlooked.


Northern Ireland’s History


For the unfamiliar, Northern Ireland’s history is one marred with sectarian violence based on political beliefs. A conflict ensued between two main political ideologies, unionist and nationalist. The unionists were predominantly made up of Protestants who believed Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Nationalists on the other hand comprised of Catholics who held the belief that Northern Ireland should be free of British rule and adjoined with the full Island of Ireland. These are two greatly contrasting ideologies and as a result, bloody chaos reigned.

What resulted was a generation of lost innocence. Children bore witness to countless atrocities. Acts of terrorism carried out by governmental organisations and paramilitary groups from both sides resulted in shootings, bombings and innocent lives being lost. One of the most tragic events of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland was ‘Bloody Sunday’, six of whom were under 18 years of age. Innumerable events like this meant that children growing up in Northern Ireland were robbed of a childhood. Their biggest worry should have been how much ice cream they could have after dinner. Instead, a generation of children grew up in fear of suffering discrimination, economic disparities and the very real fear of death.


The Focus of the Investigation


Police investigations into the shooting of DCI John Caldwell are centring around the dissident republican group, the New Irish Republican Army. This is a sub-branch of the Provisional IRA, which themselves were a paramilitary organisation that declared a ceasefire in 1994 and made steps alongside unionist and nationalist parties to achieve the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This entailed establishing power sharing between unionists and nationalists, the release of political prisoners and the decommissioning of paramilitary activity. This was not a universally accepted outcome, and thus members of the Provisional IRA splintered off to form the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA and the New IRA.

The re-emergence of a paramilitary group such as the New IRA is a stark reminder of the unfortunate history of Northern Ireland. Children once again have to look over their shoulders, worrying over similar attacks occurring to them. The president of the Irish Football Association, Conrad Kirkwood poignantly reminded us that places such as football pitches should be a safe environment for children. “These actions have no place in our society… For me, football pitches should be safe spaces and provide opportunities to promote health, well-being, inclusion and diversity.” The Irish FA have since reached out to offer necessary counselling for the children who were unfortunately entwined in the shooting.


Recent Election Shift


This most recent attack represents an assault not only on Mr Caldwell but also on the next generation. There is an unerring sense of unease not felt since the late 60s right through to the 90s. It is an example of just how fragile tensions are within Northern Ireland, that there exist dissident groups willing to jeopardise the lives of children to portray their own political beliefs. Violence is not the answer in pursuit of change, history has shown us that. Recent elections have placed Sinn Féin as the majority party for the first time in their history with 27 seats, eclipsing the Democratic Unionist Party total of 25 in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

While the devolved Government is not functioning to its intended promise, this victory for Sinn Féin represents a shift in attitudes and demographic. It offers the chance for change through the correct avenues. Would be First Minister Michelle O’Neill at the time stated it was a chance to “reimagine relationships in this society on the basis of fairness, on the basis of equality and on the basis of social justice”. The violence witnessed by school children last month goes directly against this. It serves to strike fear, and psychologically inflict irreparable damage upon the next generation. It seeks to achieve change through terror. History dictates that these methods are outdated in the extreme and have no place in today’s society.

Edited By: Kavya


Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in