By Bernie Bell
There will be older people in Northern Ireland who will remember what it was like living there before the Peace Process. They’ll remember the Fear – fear of even going out shopping, going to work – what might happen in any day.
The only way to deal with it would be to try to get on with your life, not let the Fear dictate. But Fear sits there in the back of your mind – whether consciously or not, it can wear away at you over time.
Then, the Peace Process was put in place – life became more relaxed – your every move wasn’t checked by men with guns. Visitors returned to boost the economy.
And now – the Fear returns – even fear of catching a bus.
The young ones have known nothing but peaceful times. The older generation will have told tales of the troubled times, but, often, the young ones aren’t all that interested. They have their own lives to live, and especially if those lives are going well, the shadow of the bad times is put aside. Maybe a good thing too.
And now the young ones must be wondering what the hell is going on – people randomly torching things, fighting at the Peace Wall. The Fear, which they haven’t known before, is back, making them cautious about simply going about their everyday lives and everyday business.
I saw what is happening in the North on the News ( not that it’s getting much coverage, considering it importance), and it saddened me. That may seem like a trite word to use in relation to this situation, but it’s the word that fits best – I was saddened, as I remember how it used to be. Not from personal experience of living in the North, but my family are Irish, living in the Republic, which was still under English rule when my parents were born.
The people of the Republic had to learn to live with having such angry neighbours. I remember one of my nephews advising me that, if I needed to travel through the North, I should keep my mouth shut and not get into any arguments. I thought he was exaggerating, until I saw the Union Jacks painted on the edges of the kerbstones.
My sister was going to go to Enniskillen to buy a telly – then the bomb went off. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_Day_bombing
For some time now the people in the Republic have been able to feel more comfortable about being ‘next door’ to the North – would still prefer a united Ireland – but at least there was peace.
And now, what can be done? How to prevent the North from careening back into anger, fire and Fear? I don’t know – if only I, or someone, did.
Maybe if what has already be started by some peaceable folk is strengthened, and the people of Northern Ireland refuse to take part in the madness.
I may be mistaken, but the impression I get is that the recent mayhem is being perpetrated by those who take advantage of a situation to be lawless and get away with it.
They are a minority, but their actions could cause a ‘clamp down’ which could fuel resentment. It could also stir up a desire for retribution again – “You messed up our lives, we’ll mess up yours.”
But maybe if all the ordinary, average law-abiding folk don’t take part in it and don’t accept those who do. They will know who they are.
This may be simplistic of me, but I do believe that action by the majority of the people, who want to live a normal life, is what can stop the minority of trouble makers.
There is much debate about why this is happening. Again, maybe being simplistic, but as far as I can see, it’s Brexit – that God-damn Brexit – which has meant that divisions have stirred up again, or been stirred up.
Boris Johnson must go down in history as the worst Prime Minister Britain has ever had, but that is scant consolation to those who have lost their lives, and those who have lost their livelihoods, through his mismanagement of Covid restrictions and his insistence on a Brexit which it had become clear would not be a good idea.
On a personal level, when Covid has gone away, we’re hoping to go to a family wedding in the Republic of Ireland. Our best route would be through the North – what will the situation be by then?