lundi, mars 26, 2007

An Irish Blessing

Can we consign the hatred between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland to the dusty pages of history?

Those of us who grew up with the "Troubles" could not believe our eyes when we saw former terrorist spokesman Gerry Adams and that old firebrand Ian Paisley sitting in the same room. Can we dare to hope that with the power sharing agreement between Sinn Fein and the Unionists the centuries of bloodshed are banished?

It's amazing that it has been ten years since the IRA ceasefire and nine since the Good Friday peace accords. Paisley and Adams have got to be two extremely stubborn men. Yet even they came to see how ridiculous it was to carry on in the old manner. It doesn't mean that either party has changed its view on governing Northern Ireland as commentators noted. In case you have forgotten their platforms, the Unionists still want close ties with Great Britain, and Sinn Fein still wants Northern Ireland to be a republic.

Why did the two sides finally decide to share political power, to move from a cold peace to compromise?

Just a few guesses-Prosperity in the South, which allowed the North to see peace benefits. A less doctrinaire government in Britain. An Irish and a British Prime Minister devoted to working with both sides. The inexorable forces of globalisation, changing the political map not only of Ireland but of all of Europe.

More than 300 years of fighting-old wounds that were passed on to children's children like hereditary illness. Finally, we can pray that this next generation will identify itself as Irish first, and Protestant or Catholic second. Perhaps our children, and our grandchildren, will be not be embarrassed by the stain on the Christian Church, where brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ were killing each other in the name of cultural, rather than spiritual identity. God bless the Irish tonight.

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