This song refers, not to general IRA bombings, but to the August 1998 Omagh city bombing which targeted shoppers and was planted by an extermist group known as the Real IRA. It was a severe blow to the good friday peace accord, at the time only a few months old. Bono was listening to Irish radio that day and heard the names being read out of the 29 victims. They`re reading names out over the radio, all the folks the rest of us won`t get to know, Sean and Julia, Gareth, Ann and Breda, their lives are bigger than any big idea. The spiritual references in the chorus evidently refer to Bonos failure to understand how a loving divinity could allow such atrocities. Jesus can you find the time to throw a drowning man a line, peace on Earth
Laurence Dunne codeguy1yahoo.com (11:th of October 2001)
Obviously, the aforementioned is rather true about the song: most likely, it is about the violence happening in Northern Ireland. But when I first heard this, the Catholic in me sent up a little red flag. The title is very close to a Catholic/Christian hymn, Let There Be Peace on Earth. Part of those lyrics include wanting there to be peace on earth, and to let it begin with me. Also, the reference to the drowning man in the line (Jesus, can you take the time to throw a drowning man a line) I believe is a reference to a scene in the Bible where Jesus walked on water. He called for Peter, his disicple, to walk to him on water, but because Peter had so little faith, he began to drown. By asking Jesus to save him from drowning, Bono is very deliberatley provoking this image.
Kate Finneran Jennyanydotsaol.com (14:th of May 2002)