For many people, particularly students of history, 3rd August is deeply connected to either the first or second world wars. On this day in 2014 German troops marched into Belgium and war was declared on France.
Similarly, this date has resonance for students of World War II. On this day in 1934 Hitler declaring himself Fuhrer having merged the positions of President and Chancellor.
For me however, 3rd of August has a much more personal meaning. At the time of this posting (12.02 am) on 2011 I was asleep in Ealing, West London. I had been out for a meal and a few drinks and had an early night (mainly because too many sherries had done for me). So – I was in the land of nod!
The next thing I remember is hitting the floor having been either shocked or blown out of my bed (I’m never really sure which). I remember coming around with a sense of disbelief and a cacophony of car alarms, building alarms and the sound of cars blowing their horns.
I had no way of knowing at the time but I was close to the site of the car bomb planted by members of the real IRA outside the Ealing Broadway tube station. Although shaken and stunned by the events, I was unhurt – unlike the 13 people who were killed by the explosion and the dozens who were seriously injured by the blast.
That day has become something of a milestone each year. It seems unbelievable today, but this was seen as the start of a major new terror campaign focused on London. The ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland were diminishing from their previous peak of activity, however the peace process and growing normalisation were still some way off.
Today, without making any political statement it’s reassuring to see how much progress has been made on all sides. Today events such as this seem alien and almost impossible. Long may it continue.
It’s worth commenting on the bravery (political and personal) demonstrated by those on both sides of the political argument for the greater good of lasting peace in Northern Ireland and the wider island of Ireland. Perhaps this ‘problem’ which seemed intractable in the early 2000’s indicates that other ongoing disputes could reach a similar route to a lasting peace.