Hitchens: Northern Ireland 'Peacemakers'

Good article by Christopher Hitchens.

[quote=“Slate: Hitchens”]I suppose I can understand why people are glad when they see Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting down together and consenting to “power sharing” in Northern Ireland—and just in time for Good Friday, too, as if to consecrate a Protestant-Catholic brotherhood just on the verge of the various feasts of the resurrection. But the phony photo-op still made me want to spew. There will be no return to life for the thousands of people who were murdered in these men’s quarrel, and it seems indecent to me that we should be thanking them for their mercy in calling off the bloodshed, let alone calling it off on condition that they alone are declared the winners.

What has been achieved by this cynical sit-down? An agreement to divide the spoils of Ireland’s six northeastern counties and to refrain from flagrant homicide while doing so. Well, all that and more was on offer four decades ago. In fact, a better idea—that of a nonsectarian politics that shed no blood—was on offer as well. It was inscribed on the noble banners of the civil rights movement that marched in Derry in October 1968, and it was fought for in the parliaments of London and Dublin. The main force that opposed it initially was led by Ian Paisley, a brutish Calvinist street thug with covert sympathizers in the police force. The main force that opposed it eventually was the Provisional IRA, which gladly accepted the sectarian challenge and which preached the insane idea that Irish Protestants could be bombed into some deranged concept of a Fenian republic. The British laws of libel forbid me to tell what I heard when I was a young reporter in the pubs and back streets of Belfast, but I’ll put it like this: Both Paisley and Adams know very well of things that happened that should never have happened. And both of them, in order to arrive at that smug power-sharing press conference, have had to arrange to seem adequately uninformed about such horrid past events. Both have been photographed carrying coffins at political funerals—funerals that were at one time the main cultural activity in each of their “communities.” One day, their private role in filling those coffins will be fully exposed. In the meantime, they are the recognized and designated peacemakers.
It would be nice to be wrong about this, but I don’t think for a single moment that such gangsterism could have hoped to be so successful in a civilized world had it not been identified with religion. Paisley happens to be the leader of an extremist Protestant church as well as a political party, and Adams is the leader of an ostensible political party and also, allegedly, of a guerrilla movement with no respect for human life, which the New York Times used to refer to with exquisite discretion as “overwhelmingly Catholic.” (I never know whether it’s the “overwhelming” bit or the “Catholic” bit that makes me laugh the most.) Shall we just say that it was without the overwhelming disapproval of these two characters that power drills on kneecaps were used as a means of coercion, and that children were taught hatred, and that explosives were left lying around in such a way as to achieve the most carnage?

If we were discussing Baghdad or Basra here, we would be tut-tutting, rightly enough, about inter-Islamic fanaticism. Yet Paisley is commonly referred to as “the Reverend,” and is safe in his pulpit at the Martyrs Memorial Church on Ravenhill Road in Belfast, where I have often heard his frenzied incitements. Meanwhile, Adams is not unwelcome on Roman Catholic premises in New Jersey, New York, and beyond. Blessed, then, are the peacemakers. May Easter week and Good Friday bring unconfined joy to all concerned.[/quote]
As he says, not so different, save for the reaction.

Yes, well, I’ve so much to say on this topic, but I could be here all week if I do that.

But in brief…

A LOT of people have been hurt by the conflict, and dwelling on the past will not make things better. The only way to make inroads is for compromise to be made on all sides. If this means having to look at the faces of people that make you want to spew, then so be it. It really is the only way to move forward.

I’ll leave it there for now.

I suppose so. Peace matters.
Putting justice on the shelf ain’t pretty, though.

I’d much appreciate your further thoughts, when you’ve the time.

(If it’s that Hitchen’s is often a deliberately offensive ass, I take that as a given.)

I suppose so. Peace matters.
Putting justice on the shelf ain’t pretty, though.

I’d much appreciate your further thoughts, when you’ve the time.

(If it’s that Hitchen’s is often a deliberately offensive ass, I take that as a given.)

OK, I’ve got a quick 5 minutes. Having read the article, I really can’t disagree with what the guy’s said. It’s just that I don’t see him offering any other solutions. So many people have complained about one side or the other (or both) for so long, but have not offered any better alternatives. Finally we have a chance at some sort of lasting peace in Northern Ireland. I for one would like to see that. The recent election had a huge turnout, so obviously most others want to see it too. Things ARE getting better (slowly) and we are at least moving in the right direction. It’s painful having to let murderers out of prison, or see (ex)terrorists being elected into office, especially if you have been directly affected, but like I said, it seems to be the only way to move forward.


Yeah, read all about it here: portadownnews.com/finalnotice.htm
Unfortunately that site will no longer be updated, but the Previous Issues link is worth a look. That should give you a good idea of what most normal people from Norn Iron think of their politicians, including me.

Hilarious! Thanks for that, Mr Stew.

The one thing uniting us is contempt for the shower of wankers in politics.

This is class!


OK, I’ve got a quick 5 minutes. Having read the article, I really can’t disagree with what the guy’s said. It’s just that I don’t see him offering any other solutions…[/quote]

Hickens is a good writer. I have read a number of his books for this reason. He isa cynic of religion and the church. He has gone after people (like Mother Teresa and Ghandi) who he would consider fundamentalists. Can’t say I necessarly agree with everything he says, but he does make you think about some of these things

Here he seems to be going after religion (again) as a cause or perhaps a tool used by both sides in the NI conflict

He has got one thing right though: If this is the “settlement” we are getting now, why didn’t we bring the bloody IRA into government thirty years ago before they started killing all those people? It could have even been done before the Provos were formed… and so on for another 400 years… There is a touch of the Yasser Arafat about it: conflict for conflict’s sake…

I guess without having examining history…………….the papal bull issued to invade Ireland in the first place through to the royal lodge created to protect industrialists to ignorance of English people to the Irish situation/history to the igonorance of Irish people to English history, to the Catholic churchs idea of spreading the Catholic faith by emigrating the Irish abroad to Cromwell who comitted genocide by killing 25% of the population of Ireland to the famine in part cause by the Napoleanic wars to the great fallen of 1916 to the treaty that split the island of Ireland, to De Valera that said that we would have to “wade through the blood of Irish people to get a Republic” to the civil war to the gernamdering of the elections in NI to the sectarian bombingand murders of both sides creating fear and ditrust to where in school we learned a revision of history to terrorism which seems to have a end to its means to where people just had enough…………………………………… you could never have an answer that suits this question or the rationale and beliefs of a number of people

Yes - no matter what you do there’s always someone going to say it was the wrong thing to do…