A Closer Look at 25 Years of Relative Peace in Northern Ireland – World News
By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart
As I sit in my Kailyard I often wonder about the future.
Try before ye trust…
25 years of trying, and now there is a degree of fragile trust….
Joe Biden is coming to the United Kingdom to celebrate the fact that we have had 25 years of relative peace in Northern Ireland, thanks to a brokered agreement to lay down arms, which included significant investment and pressure from another Democrat President – Bill Clinton.
I say relative peace as the bombings and the killings ended. Violent disorder has not quite managed to find a sweet spot and stop.
But at least, that is the same for most of the rest of the mainland of the United Kingdom. Of course, occasionally, there are significantly violent events in Northern Ireland, like the recent shooing of an off-duty police officer by a dissident terrorist group that cause issues and make us question how far down the peace road we have gone. Condemnation from both sides of the previous conflict comfort us that things are now in a better place.
Because they are.
A generation of young people have grown up in the province without the daily patrols of the army, checkpoints asking them where they are going and housing estates managed and patrolled by paramilitary presences.
It does not mean there are not significant barriers and issues to overcome. We are still debating about the atrocities committed in each sides’ name. We are still working out how to mark the desire of one to celebrate the fact that Northern Ireland is 100 years old, whilst the other side believe it should never have been a thing in the first place.
And so, let’s just draw attention to what the issues happen to be.
Simply put – there are two sides – loyalist/unionist and republican/nationalist. For the purpose of simplicity, the titles are interchangeable.
The loyalist/ unionist side are mainly of the protestant Christian faith, whilst the republican/ nationalist side are principally of the catholic Christian faith. As the bible teaches both that Thou Shalt Not Kill nor Covet Thy Neighbor’s Possessions, it is an arguable point that neither side are good examples of either faith. (I am hardly one to talk as I think all religious conflict is basically an adult version of my invisible friend is not talking to your invisible friend.)
The loyalist/ unionist side believe that Northern Ireland should be a part of the United Kingdom, whilst the republican/ nationalist side believe in a united Ireland.
Things are so contentious that even by putting the loyalist/ unionist side first in each of the above paragraphs someone would conclude I was biased in favor of them. We even have one city – Derry /Londonderry referred to by both names to avoid people getting upset…
Politically, the principal parties are the Democrat Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein. I am sure you can work out which is which…
In terms of terror organizations there have been many. The big two were, the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Both are meant to have got rid of their weapons and embraced peace.
But there are stirrings. When the UK decided to leave the European Union, we found a problem. Ireland, as in the rest of the island of Ireland was in the European Union. Northern Ireland was to be taken out of it, but the agreement from 25 years ago said there shall never be a hard border between the two sides of the island.
A stupid agreement was put in place which upset everyone as it meant that Northern Ireland were in the EU for some things but out it for others. Instead of a hard land border there was an imaginary one in the Irish sea.
It was a mess that needed fixing.
Now a new agreement has been reached that has satisfied some but further upset others.
Uncle Joe will come into the middle of that.
Northern Ireland is as excited that he is coming as when Clinton came to visit after the original agreement was signed. The pomp and the ceremony involved shall allow the tensions to be eased a little as there is much, jointly, to celebrate. There is peace. There is prosperity. There are less guns on the street and hidden under beds and that should never be lost.
But as Sinn Fein has, for the very first time, managed to draw more votes form the electorate than the unionists there is a real possibility that, over the next few years, a vote as to whether Northern Ireland shall remain in the UK or shall be given back to the Irish shall happen.
When partition, in the early 20th century occurred, it took until the 1960’s for the IRA in Northern Ireland to find its feet and fight back as the British and the unionists were guilty of some of the most appalling prejudice.
In comparison if the people of Northern Ireland vote for a united Ireland there shall be little time wasted in the UDA and their other compatriots who shall arm and fight back. Civil war could be a very real possibility, though the longer time that elapses from when paramilitary bloodshed was a daily occurrence the less likely that the young and impressionable will join up and launch a Molotov cocktail at anyone.
This can be added to the wrangling in Scotland over independence, meaning that the UK is on the brink of its own new dawn. There are people desperately trying to keep it together and some of us desperate to pull it apart.
As the Chinese say, we live in interesting times, but for a moment there are some who will be excited to see Joe…
A view from the new Kailyard or, how you look over there, from over here…
(Kailyard n. a cabbage patch, often attached to a school of writing – the Kailyard School – a genre of overly sentimental and sweet Scottish literature from the late 19th century where sentimental and nostalgic tales are told in escapist tales of fantasy, but here we seek to reverse it by making the Kailyard Observations of effective invective comment from that looks not to return to the past but to launch us into a better future by the one Donald worth believing…
Try before ye trust… – Advice often given as young people come to adulthood.
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