Tuesday, 5 October 2010

What Northern Ireland Doesn't Want?

Image from the BBC

Since I've been back in Northern Ireland I've spent one or two (ok maybe more) nights enjoying the night live in Belfast. I think I've already spent more nights out in Belfast this year than I did during my five years back here, one advantage of a more reasonably timed last train (or possibly a wider variety of places to crash in Belfast).

There is even from those days a decade ago a lot of change to the city. Even more architecture beauty has sprung up giving the City a modern face. Even more brand names now have outlets in the city centre, I could as easily be shopping in Edinburgh or Livingston as Belfast. Indeed Wagamama is coming to Victoria Square in November, me and Mícheál are already salivating at the prospect.

It is a very different place from when I was growing up, or is it?

Mícheál posted in the early hours about another bomb blast in Derry. With the unfortunate advantage of a few extra years I remember the the 70s vividly.

I remember going shopping through the barricades, hindering ease of access for the old or infirm to our town and city centres. Once we got to those shops having to be searched upon entry.

My father's school, RBAI at the time, looked down Wellington Place often hearing, sometimes seeing, bombs going off. Pupils were sometimes being told not to take a certain route to the train home because of an incident blocking their way. Once at the station or on the train there may have been a suspect device on the tracks that delayed your return, while relatives sat at home waiting anxiously watching the news to see if you were ahead of behind the incident.

Then when you driving around there were restrictions in place. Roads blocked off or the police with their army escorts carrying out spot checks. Acting on a tip off of terrorist activity in the area, trying to flush out their men.

These are all things we don't want to go back to. After years of unrest the people of Northern Ireland are enjoying their peace. There are cross-community projects of all sorts going on across the province. There is hope.

But then there is the dissident republicans. Who instead of seeing the economic, social and well being benefits of the peace that has been largely in place still want more. They plant bombs which destroy livelihoods, re-open emotional scars, even lead to physical injury or death.

As Mícheál said in his heading enough is enough.

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