Northern Ireland and Me

Years of hatred, bloodshed, revenge, misery, fear and discrimination. And we thought it was finally over. We were wrong.

I don’t ask for much in life. I never have. All I ever want is for me, my family and friends to be healthy, happy and safe. I don’t think that is a lot to ask. We all want world peace, but it’s a sad fact of life we have come to accept that this will never be achievable. But I don’t think it is too much to ask for the country I was brought up in to be at peace after years and years of a deep-seated war.

My family still live there, and one day, if I decide I want a family, maybe I’ll return. Yet with the selfish acts of violence and terrorism at the hands of dissident republicans, Northern Ireland might not have a future.

I often get asked what Northern Ireland is like – was I affected by the Troubles and what is it like now? Being from a border town which was almost ruined by the Troubles in the sixties, we were, for a very long time, affected by things. You couldn’t leave my town from either side without having to go through an army barracks and produce papers, telling the soldier with the gun where exactly you were going, what the reason was and when you were planning on coming back. Being a child, one of the only things I remember was thinking he spoke with a funny accent. I also remember his gun.

Similarly, I remember British soldiers patrolling my neighbourhood, with their guns. Just walking and looking. Sometimes they’d squat and take aim at something, though they’d never shoot. Sometimes they were in my garden hiding or watching or just passing through. It was just something I learned to grow up with.

On July 12, things usually took off. I was never allowed to leave the house. When I got older, things died down a little bit more year after year. But there were still riots. One burned car, a couple of petrol bombs and police in riot gear still constitutes a riot, however small.

But things came to an end and we finally got our peace. Northern Ireland’s political leaders made history. Yet I think all of us, in some way, were waiting for the inevitable to happen. The hatred has run too deep and too many tears and blood have been shed for people to simply forgive and forget.

And the inevitable did happen. The Continuity IRA and the Real IRA have ruined the hopes of everyone in Northern Ireland. Parents’ hopes their children won’t have to grow up with what they grew up with, the older generation’s hopes they will die having seen peace in Northern Ireland at last, political leaders’ hopes they have put an end to years of sectarian war and my hopes that one day, maybe I can return to where I came from without having to worry about whether or not it is safe.

Gerry Adams, Martin Mc Guiness, Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson all united in their opposition to the murder of the three innocent men in the space of three days. After decades of these men opposing almost everything the other stood for, maybe everyone else can take a leaf out of their book and realise Ireland does not want a war anymore. Even the IRA have said their war is over.

The people responsible for these attacks cannot think they can bring the peace process to an end.  I am confident and pray every day that this is not the end. I know I am not alone.

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2 Comments on “Northern Ireland and Me”

  1. Reece Emmitt Says:

    Interesting take from someone directly linked. Just a few things I find interesting though:

    “Yet with the selfish acts of violence and terrorism at the hands of dissident republicans, Northern Ireland might not have a future.”

    A bit harsh? Three people dead (all ‘valid’ targets rather than civilians) and a people united against the terror. That sounds like a future as bright as anywhere to me.

    “And the inevitable did happen. The Continuity IRA and the Real IRA have ruined the hopes of everyone in Northern Ireland.”

    Again, from an outside perspective: Really? Or have they just reaffirmed the people of NI dedication to ensuring a lasting peace. (Especially as considering two of the killed were British soldiers!)

    If I recall correctly, too: Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams, both at one time members of the IRA Council, weren’t opposed to the murder of the two British soldiers, rather, to the xyzIRA putting the peace process and power sharing at risk.

    • rachelq82 Says:

      Maybe I’m just pessimistic but I simply think it will never end, there are always going to be these sporadic acts of violence, whether it is from republican groups or loyalist groups, like I said, things are just too deep-seated. Though it is reassuring to see so many people come together in opposition to the killings and now that loyalist representatives have said they will not retaliate ( But I simply think all it takes is one killing, never mind three, to start things off again. It will never be as bad as it was but even the fact that people, albeit a small majority of them, still feel the need to show they are against the peace process (and are determined to show it) is a sad day for peace in Northern Ireland. Plus I dont really think it matters who was killed, “valid” targets as you say or civilians. I is neither here nor there. The point is their lives were taken for no reason. Northern Irish people have united against the terror, yes, but two attacks in three days is enough to panic anyone, and speaking to most people from back home, they are all waiting for the next one. But maybe they are pessimistic too.

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