BELFAST — People from many backgrounds in Ireland, North and South, will join a ``Peace Train'' journey tomorrow across the Irish border. They will go from Dublin to Belfast to protest a bombing campaign by the outlawed Irish Republican Army (IRA), which has disrupted the rail link on many occasions for the last 20 years.
The attacks have increased in the recent past, and many people have had to complete their journeys by bus or have chosen alternative transportation. The situation became so bad that there were questions about whether the rail link had an economic future.
The Peace Train was organized by a committee of people from both sides of the border.
``The trip is intended to express the revulsion felt by a broad section of the community at the long-running attacks on the railway service,'' says Sam McAughtry, the chairman of the campaign and a well-known writer and broadcaster in Ireland.
The rail link runs about 100 miles between Belfast and Dublin and it is particularly vulnerable in the border region of South Armagh, where the security forces cannot guard the entire open countryside. The railway is a prime target of the IRA. Attacks disrupt the North-South link that helps maintain business and commercial communication between the two parts of the island. The campaign uses large numbers of soldiers and police officers, thus diverting them from other duties.
The Peace Train is supported by many prominent members of the community representing churches, trade unions, the arts, industry, politics, and the professions.
But the Provisional Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing, says the initiative is designed to score political points against Irish Republicans.
``An end to the controversy surrounding the rail link would not end the violence which bedevils our community,'' says Sinn Fein councillor Mitchell McLaughlin. ``The Peace Train, therefore, is a lost opportunity for placing real peace on the political agenda. This is regrettable.''