Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Posted on July 5, 2012 by stephennicholl Recent events have been promoted as representing continuing progress in what is termed our “peace process” yet the truth is that while a handshake can mean a lot, it can also hide a lot. Magicians the world over make their careers out of convincing people to focus on gestures of the hand and as a consequence they miss the more radical happenings elsewhere. The current and previous Peace programmes have focussed on the need to build relationships on a North-South basis as well as between communities in Northern Ireland. A feature of the funding source this prioritization has seen many from Unionist communities travel south to find, for the most part, a society with its own financial difficulties whose only desire is to be a good neighbour. For Irish Republicanism there has been a limited engagement locally and certainly none of note at a national level. The war continues in a different form and Republicanism will have no truck with the reality that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and will remain so for a very long time if not for the lifetime of everyone alive today. As members of the Unionist community have travelled south to engage with those who share this island there has been no balancing engagement between the Republican movement and those who share these islands on an East –West basis. When we talk of peace do we mean the absence of violence or real peace between people who respect each other and their cultural identity. When we talk of reconciliation do Unionists mean the coming together of communities in a shared understanding of each other, do Republicans mean the national reconciliation of the territory of their dreams. Is shared space about creating space for everyone to use or is it, in Republican terms, about neutralizing space as part of the transition of perceived Unionist territory to perceived Nationalist territory. If we do not have a common agreement on what the terms that we use mean then are we not involved in a sham of a process designed to deliver an absence of violence for a generation with a guarantee to return to the conflict later. Is this really the process we should be touting as an example to the world. Orwell in his novel 1984 stated “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’” If we all accept the lie that the society we are building was worth the pain of the last 40 years, the lie that we have a clear and unambiguous understanding of the way forward, the lie that we are not storing up problems for our children then what becomes of the truth of the past and who really does control our future.