Learning lessons

In discussion this morning on BBC Scotland, I found myself back on home territory – debating the government’s proposal that MI5 should take control of intelligence gathering in Northern Ireland.  I found myself expressing the frustration of all who try to build new relationships in such situations – that progress is easily and instantly destroyed by terrorist outrage but can also be destroyed by insensitive or inappropriate action on the part of politicians and security agencies. If that is true in Belfast or Portadown, it is also true in Leicester and Bradford and East London. The challenge is to undertake the work of community building and community healing where security-driven responses to politically-motivated terrorism are also being pursued. The former ne seeks to create good and wholesome community in the long term. The latter, at best, seeks to protect the community in the short term but often has a different long term aim. They are both necessary but are almost incompatible.