Sunday, 6 January 2013

Another young family attacked in the name of a flag

Is it any wonder there are fewer women in politics in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK?

Cllr Claire Hanna with the damage
Picture via BBC
Today there is the news that SDLP Councillor Claire Hanna, who happens to be chair of the East Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership, has had air pellets shot at the windows of her home. Fortunately she, her daughter and husband Donal were all out at the time of the attack. But yet again a woman working to serve the community as an elected representative with a young daughter has has the windows to her home smashed in an intimidatory but also potentially injury causing way.

Like Cllrs Michael and Christine Bower, I happen to regard Claire and Donal as friends, because in post Good Friday Agreement Northern Ireland my generation, and those younger than me, do find it easier to make friends of people irregardless of religious background. That is the way that a shared future can best be defined. With all of these political people mentioned in this paragraph I still have political disagreements at times but these are not based on the nature of my religion, they are based on political ideology more than anything. It does not matter where they choose to worship and that is what the majority of the people in Northern Ireland want to get to, that is normal, that is the goal.

It is discussion not violence,debate not shouting, listening to all and gathering a balanced view. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on a issue, but if your government perfectly fits all your opinion then you must be the dictator in charge rather than someone serving for the benefit of all opinion.

Therein lie the problem that our sectarian politics is still failing to reach. I think it is especially true of the Unionist community who at the moment seem to be retracting and retrenching into their old ways and not attempting to reach out. Too many feel there is only their way to do something, because they cannot face what the opposite side want. However, often we need to find a compromise here, it is what the Good Friday Agreement was and the consequential meetings at Belfast, Hillsborough and St Andrews.

To make Northern Ireland work no one sides opinion can be the only way things are done, if we carry on like that we'll never achieve anything. This protests and the violence that is riding on the back of it is an attempt to maintain a dictatorship. As a son of Derry (which all Protestants called Londonderry in casual conversation before it became a "political" matter), and Cityside at that, I know the consequences such dicatorship from the Unionists had on the families who shared my family's side of the city. The current protest and violence is another attempt to impose rule by force, intimidation and fear rather than through diplomacy and debate.

I've said it before this is madness and anarchy. We the people who want a peaceful, normal existence do not want mob rule, do not want those who serve us to live in fear, nor to be be fearful for contacting them. We live in a democracy goddammit last time I checked.

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