The unspeakable in pursuit of the [apparently] irreconcilable

I hope I have got better at squeezing Ireland out of my system.  But I’ll allow myself one grumble at the performance of the NI politicians this week when challenged by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern to find agreement by November or face close-down.  I listened to Martin Maguinness on the Today programme talking, talking .. until they thanked him and faded him out.  And the Unionist politicians were little better.  I know better than most how difficult it is and the record of the churches is less than wonderful.  But somewhere at some time some real leadership is going to have to enter into the situation.  What people outside find difficult to understand is how the ending of violence has actually made the gap and the bitterness between the communities seem greater than before.  It’s because enhanced expection of change [in the Catholic/nationalist/republican community] meets enhanced fear of change [in the Protestant/unionist community]


  1. I partly agree with that. Except that it doesn’t do justice to the subtlety of sectarianism. Real bigots are not as numerous as you would think – and they are hard to miss. Indeed they blow their cover almost immediately. What makes this situation so intractible is systemic sectarianism which permeates everything and makes it reflect the inherent divisions of NI society. And the public face of that is the mutual support which bad religion and bad politics give to one another. I’ve always believed that whatever benefits there are in denominational education are outweighed by the loss to society as a whole from a segregated system.

  2. Too many Catholics and Protestants and not enough Christians springs to mind. Bigotry on both sides is inbred and children see and learn from their parents. There are those who will hate “the opposition” because its what their parents did. A way should be found to bring harmony and understanding to the young of Northern Ireland. One way of starting off would be to get rid of seperate schools for catholics and have mixed schools United Kingdom wide.

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