Last night's bombing of a London bus bespeaks a deep, calculated wickedness which perhaps even the most pessimistic had hoped might not fully manifest itself at this time. The Wellington Street attack, close: to the Strand, was preceded by no warning. The unfortunate victims did not have even the slim chances of reaching safety afforded to those caught in the Canary Wharf attack of nine days ago.

At this writing the full details of the atrocity remain unclear and there has been no claim of responsibility. But few will be inclined to believe that its authors are anybody but the IRA or some aligned group. As the casualty details were assembled during the night it appeared that as many as eight people have been injured, a number of them seriously. Early reports of three deaths had not been confirmed. The fact that no lives appear to have been lost must owe more to luck than anything else given the scale and circumstances of the explosion.

It is impossible to find words which can adequately express the sense of betrayal, the outrage and shock with which the overwhelming majority of Irish people now feel themselves confronted. If the slightest spark of hope remained alive - the possibility that Canary Wharf was a once off and that Cambridge Circus was a deadly warning that spark has now been extinguished. There can be no mistaking the dark and evil realities which are now settling upon us all once more. Even the pretence of attacking so called economic targets has been abandoned in choosing a London bus with its complement of innocent civilians.

The sympathies of every peace loving person on this island will go to the unsuspecting victims of this terrible outrage, to their families and their friends and once again to the people of Britain as a whole. Those who perpetrate such deeds in the name of Irish nationalism, are not merely criminals; they are traitors to the very ideals which they purport to represent and whose legitimate aspirations they have usurped.

It defies belief that those who perpetrate, such outrages can see them advancing their stated objective of having themselves included in political negotiations. Each successive act, of violence simply adds another layer of impossibility to the problem facing the governments and the elected representatives - including Sinn Fein. Only the most fractured thought processes can reconcile a declared wish for, a negotiated settlement with the scenes of carnage which have been witnessed first at Canary Wharf and last night in Wellington Street. And the fact now must be faced that there will be some who will probably place themselves beyond the pale of political accommodation in any set of circumstances.