Time to sideline the hardliners

The Cast Stone

VIOLENCE Thugs hurled petrol bombs at police vehicles from inside a cemetery during disorder after a dissident republican Easter parade in Derry last week.


The Cast Stone
Michael Gallagher

War is all around us – or so we think. War games can be found in game consuls, war can be found in countless television shows, war can be found in every cinema in the world, war is being hinted at on the northern streets of our island every day lately. We think we know about war, that we understand what war is. I don’t think the majority of us do, particularly the rabble-rousers hinting at it during anti-protocol rallies in Antrim and Down over the past few weeks or the duck-stepping idiots who paraded paramilitary style in dissident Easter republican rallies.
I have a huge interest in history, but more importantly a huge interest in people impacted by history. Therefore, over the years I have striven to learn from those closest to many of the seminal moments in the roller-coaster of life on this island and beyond.
I have been blessed to speak with people with real experiences, and the message they deliver is very different from those who view war as a glorious thing or something to be embraced.
I make no secret of the fact that I view myself as a republican – a man who believes the island of Ireland could be a wonderful place if we all worked and lived together without the shackles of religion or loyalty to flags. I fervently believe this island could be a fantastic place where diversity and difference could be celebrated and tolerated, but idiots threatening war have no place in my Ireland.
The handful of people in paramilitary uniforms stepping to their own beat for republican Easter commemorations in Derry and thugs throwing petrol bombs at the PSNI have no place in a realistic, proud Ireland. Nor do the exaggerated crowds of marchers mired in anti-protocol protests. What future does either group offer? Both offer hatred, self-indulgence and hint at war. They really haven’t a clue.
The Troubles, the war, the long war – whatever one wants to call the period from 1969 onwards in Ireland – must never be revisited. We tore each other to shreds and ended up talking. Now the game-consul warmongers are harping back to those (in)glorious times and seeking relevance where there is only death and devastation.
The situation isn’t helped by a British government that makes the inept resemble Einstein. They really don’t care what happens on this island, but constantly stir things up with idiotic and rambling pseudo support for hard-line unionists, only to let them down when reality bites.
Then we have a government in Dublin who are hamstrung by their apparent desire to appease hardline unionists. They haven’t the nous to understand the impossibility of this approach. Hardline unionists want nothing to do the Dublin government, the same as hardline republicans want nothing to do with the British government. There is huge room for progress outside of these two cohorts, but both governments cannot see that and the avenue to a brighter future is clogged with hesitancy and half-truths.
This is an island filled with promise – a people full of passion, expression, talent and tolerance if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, those in charge take too much notice of a few lads goose-stepping in Derry or a lad standing on a wheelie-bin in Belfast hinting at war when he would be better off having a day off for himself.
Talk to the people who know what war really is. Talk to them about the pain of loss, the nightmares, the recurring visions of a youth destroyed forever. Talk to them and ask how glorious it was. The answer will be an unexpected one.
Why are the Dublin and London governments hamstrung by hardliners? Why must they be appeased? Why are we mired in the past? Why is war being threatened again?