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Fireball: The explosion on Bishop Street, Londonderry was caught on camera.

Terrorism has reared its ugly head again in Northern Ireland, it seems – although interestingly the mass media are steering away from the word.

A car bomb – in a hijacked pizza van, we’re told – exploded outside a courthouse in Londonderry at around 8.10pm on Saturday (January 19).

Police were informed at around 8pm, leaving less than 10 minutes to evacuate people from neighbouring buildings which included a hotel, Freemasons’ hall, and a youth club. There were no casualties.

The lack of notice has led police to describe the attack as “unbelievably reckless”, and it is these words that the mainstream media have adopted, rather than referring to terrorism.

In fact, there seems a strong attempt to play down the incident:

But investigations have centred on the New IRA, one of a handful of republican groups that have rejected power-sharing and the Good Friday Agreement, and which makes a point of targeting police and courts.

Two men have been arrested. But the incident raises an important question:

Why now?

The timing seems significant as not only has the power sharing system brought about after the Good Friday Agreement stalled, but it seems Theresa May is determined to sideline the needs of Northern Ireland in her Brexit deal with the European Union.

There has been no government in Stormont since early 2017, after a row between Sinn Fein and the DUP over a botched renewable energy scheme.

And of course Brexit has revived concerns over the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and over NI’s constitutional status.

The Conservative government in Westminster seems conspicuously relaxed about both situations.

Doesn’t the attitude of Theresa May and her government seem deliberately provocative to people in Northern Ireland who were unhappy with the peace process in the first place? I’m not suggesting she is responsible for the actions of other people, but she certainly has a responsibility to prevent any return to the so-called “Troubles”.

Aren’t the delay over restoring the government in Stormont, and the failure to overcome the border controversy, an opportunity for such republicans to claim the peace process has failed and go back to violence?

Isn’t that what happened in Derry on Saturday night?

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