Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Irish Republican Army were at their height and blowing up the English and Northern Irish with alarming regularity. Rather than take the Blair approach to terrorism which involved invasions and dropping a massive amount of explosives from a great height, the ruling Conservative Party held meetings with the IRA which resulted in the Good Friday Agreement and the laying down of weapons for a political solution. Although Tony Blair is quick to take the plaudits for it, it was actually John Major who did all the spadework and Blair just stepped in to cross the t's and dot the i's at the tail end after Major lost the 1997 election.
After a decade of relative calm it seems that the IRA, or rather splinter groups from the IRA, are keen on a return to the bad old days with news that a 1000lb van bomb was discovered under a flyover in South Armagh, three months after the find of a 600lb bomb in the border region.
The Real IRA, as they call themselves, recently staged a show of strength in Meigh where they patrolled the village with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket launchers.
There was a marked increase in republican terror attacks last year with attacks on police and army personal escalating and officials warning that the three splinter groups, the Continuity RA, the Real IRA and Oghlaigh na hEireann, have come together to intensify their campaigns. They have been blamed for a series of 'punishment attacks' on young men with 18 shot in Derry City during 2009.
The worry is that soon, one of these huge bombs will be discovered too late and the massive loss of life will spark the Unionists into retaliation and we will slide back into those dark years of the troubles when the Government did not need to play up the threat of terrorism on the street of Britain, it was very much here.
We could find ourselves in the same situation as Iraq and Afghanistan where to remove the forces will result in a bloodbath but to stay will only provide a justification for further violence.
I don't know the answer but the politicians had better start paying a bit more attention to events across the Irish Sea.