February 17, 2004
The Troubles and John Kerry
The British press is interested in the continuing social, political, and religious problems in Northern Ireland, and today, in how John Kerry proposes to respond. A rash of suicides among Catholic teenage boys in Belfast highlights the ongoing problem of violence and terror, especially for young men. Depression and other forms of self-destructive behavior, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, are also common, but the suicides are raising greater alarm. Meanwhile, Kerry has criticized Bush's failure to advance the peace process, and is also urging the IRA and the all republican and loyalists paramilitary groups to disarm. Kerry's criticism of the Unionists for "refusing to form a government with Sinn Fein" should also be popular with the Irish-American population. However, these recent suicides and the violence around Belfast is largely attributed to the Irish National Liberation Army, a paramilitary offshoot of the IRA that has probably gotten a lot of its funding from Irish-Americans, who don't understand the realities of the terrorism they support. Kerry can gain a lot of supporters in the US by siding with Republican Irish activists, but he might want to keep focusing on the disarming part.