Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hope Against Hope Against Violence

There are days that no matter which part of the UK you come from you hid your head in shame. For the English there are football and cricketing failures. For the Scots the general, annual malaise in most sports. But for the Northern Irish is usually comes some time in July as regular as clockwork.

Yesterday evening as the news started to break through of the annual trouble surrounding the marching I was wondering how bad can it get. Being somewhat closeted over in Scotland I went to bed hoping against hope once more that full scale civil unrest or war breaks out overnight.

You see in Northern Ireland shots being fired at the police and Molotov cocktails don't just exist in the world of Grand Theft Auto, oh no! They have long been an existence in reality for the youth growing up, even from the time before I could crawl.

On Saturday I blogged about 6 new style beacons that were lit on Sunday evening, beacons that were trying to recognise one part of the culture of the people and while not doing away with it bring it up to date for the modern age, bring it into harmony across the divides. But of course it is not the pyres that are lit at this time of year that are the most contentious issue it is the rights to march and the rights to not have sectarian triumphalism thrust down your throat if you don;t want it.

Of course there are signs of light on the marching issue, earlier in the week the First Minister Peter Robinson met with the residents' group leaders of the Garvaghy Road. Significant steps were made towards that 12 year stand off that often is the high or low light of the marching season. The nationalist residents said that the DUP leader was open minded and understood the residents' concerns.

Sinn Féin were also condemning the violence in the Ardoyne and Rasharkin yesterday, Gerry Kelly MLA saying:

'This evening’s actions expose very clearly the anti-peace process and sectarian agenda which feeds these factions. It has nothing whatever to do with Irish republicanism.'

'They [The Real IRA] chose to try and use the opportunity presented by this parade to further an agenda which has time and again been rejected by the republican community in Ardoyne and everywhere else.'

So looking at who is working together to forge a peace I am glad. The extreme edges of Northern Ireland society appear to be getting smaller. The majority wanting peace is getting bigger. However, that just makes the steps as Gerry said of an 'anti-peace process' all the more magnified as the people of Northern Ireland are striving for a greater normality than at any time in my lifetime.

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