Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Newspaper column 18 November 2015 - The attacks in Paris

The events in Paris last Friday night are a shocking affront to all who love peace and freedom. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost loved ones, the injured and the authorities who are dealing with the aftermath.  As I write this the full extent of the loss is still not known and families remain concerned for loved ones who they cannot reach. 

We all watched with horror as the events unfolded.  And then we woke on Saturday morning to the news that over 120 were declared dead and many more injured.   Since the attack against Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January, the threat of terror attacks has once more become real for all of us in Western Europe.

Friday’s terror attacks were an escalation from the previous attack.  This time multiple sites were targeted, places where people had congregated to enjoy the end of the week, places where the attacks would inflict the maximum damage and create the maximum fear.

There have been calls for a response to stand with France and this is the position that the UK Government has rightly taken. But let us pray for wisdom for those to whom it will fall to decide the right course of action.  We should not react out of a sense of retaliation.  We need a considered response that in the end will be in the best interests of our nation and all who share our values around the world.

These are dangerous times but we need to be sure our actions do not make the world, or our country, a more dangerous place. It seems an escalation is inevitable. There are no easy answers. Peace for all must be our ultimate aim. But as we know from our own history there is a price to be paid to secure peace.

I have said before that the deployment of our Armed Forces is the gravest responsibility that a Government has, and I will continue to listen to all sides of the argument before casting any vote, should I be required to do so.

I am also aware that the events of this weekend have understandably raised concerns once again about immigration and the risks of people being able to come to our country intent on doing us harm. Our security services have already thwarted plans for several terrorist attacks.  The Government has announced additional resources for our security services and clearly we need to have robust processes in place to maintain our security.

Many of us remember living under the threat of terror in the past, and it seems that shadow has been cast again.  We must do what we have always done, be vigilant, but refuse to let those people intent on harm change the way we live our lives. 

With Remembrance Day only two days before the Paris attacks, we should not forget that those who died in active service did so in the defense of our way of life.   We should honour their memory as well as the victims of the Parisian attacks, by continuing with that life and refusing to live in fear.