WHAT IS PEACE , ANYWAY?

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Have unionists lost out on the peace process? Apparently many living in east Belfast think that is the case .Why would that be, do you think? What was the peace process supposed to deliver anyway , besides peace?

I actually thought that “peace” was a good enough result in the first place.Peace is a funny abstract concept anyway.To most  of us  in Norneverland it’ll mean not having to worry about people killing each other with automatic weapons, cutting throats in alleyways or blowing each other up with bombs.It means being able to do normal , everyday things without  being frisked before you go into a shop or having to take the odd glance at that CCTVscreen behind the bar in a pub to check that no one has planted a bomb just inside the door;  it means , not having to press a buzzer before showing your ID card and  being vetted before being allowed to go into the pub in the first place.; It means not having huge concrete bollards alongside  various businesses in the towns so that bomb-loaded cars cannot park too close to the shops. We lived like that.

All those things were our “normal” lives for many years from the late 1960’s for some thirty years .They were what we called “normal” life in Norneverland.We even got used to it . I always thought we hardly noticed the trappings of “non-peace” until the helicoptors stopped flying. i was aware that the racket had stopped when the rotors stopped whupping and chopping in the skies  and you could hear the birds and the bees again in the garden. The new silence was a revelation….something almost lost in time…a memory from childhood almost…I’d gotten used to those big chinook double-bladed choppers flying over with their slings bulging with supplies for some army base. Some days and nights were noisier than others, but you know what…? People will get used to anything ; they are very easily trained to accept anything as “normal”.There’s a generation like that , with all that stuff in the back of their minds…some thirty years of it, all cluttered in there.

Well we all accepted our cars being stopped late at night , coming home from work, by men in uniform and blackened faces . Most of the time we had no idea what they were doing out so late at night anyway.Who were they looking for? Were they just sent out to look as though somebody “in control” actually knew what they were doing? I had no idea. I used to wonder how anyone could do a normal job after traipsing about  armed in uniform in  the small hours of the night. How could you keep your eyes open and be on -the- ball  at your daily work, if you were doing this as a  sort of social hobby in your time -off. They were the part-timers .There were other full-timers out there too of course.They were apparently planting bombs, shooting each other  in  villages, vans, clubs and haysheds.. and the like.They wouldn’t have had much time to paint the kitchen or mow the lawn , or do the school -run I always thought.How would they be able to switch all that killing off and do something normal and “peaceful”.

Anyway…this “peace” argument seems to be about something other than “peace”.It appears to be about a perceived imbalance in “financial investment” in the “communities”.{It should be stressed  that there was only ever one “big community” anyway, with nebulous  imbalances already built into it.}That might be financial or cultural investment, of course.It appears  rather to be an  argument about  seeming disadvantage or advantage rather than “peace” or a “peace process”.. That’s the same kind of thing that might go on in Harlesden  or Mossside in England though ;that struggle for better living conditions..it has little to do with any real sense of “peace” anyway.It’s to do with how well you are living .

These Belfast areas appear to be very insular and the people concerned, and in interview,  reflect that.. the people talking about these concepts seem to  believe that they are the only people living in Norneverland  and that “peace” and the “peace process” is solely all about them. Me…me …me …me !!Their entire experience is locked into these tiny compressed streets at the edges of one city .. more so than anywhere else in Norneverland or further afield..They are really concerns that are no different anywhere in the world .

The argument seems to be that Sinn Fein, or “Nationalism” ,has done better than the loyalist parties after “the Troubles “ended.  Well, that is indisputable , but who’s to blame for that ? Nobody suddenly gave them that secretly. Surely that is in the hands of the voters.In so-called working-class “Loyalist” areas , the citizens have consistently voted for people who  are not actually on the same page as themselves. They vote for people who do not actually  live their kind of life or support their experience .They vote for people who don’t actually represent themselves at all.Apparently there are similar amounts of money being pumped into  all these areas .Someone out there probably has all the figures at their fingertips. I don’t think governments would get away with that kind of imbalance now anyway .If it happened there’d be yet another departmental quango  set up to dig into it.

Where is the money going and how is it being used ? Those are the questions to ask . Follow the money! Where is that money going? whose pockets are being padded?

Sinn Fein have obviously very good organisational skills and have cultivated them in terms of electoral heft. The figures are there to see, as are the professional bustling surgeries on the streets.That’s indisputable.That doesn’t mean that they are right or wrong .It means that they are very  effective.They actually do the hard work for people. There is also the fact that even going back to the interned factions , the incarcerated combatants…Nationalists apparently held greater stock in education than their loyalist working -class counterparts in a similar situation. That’s also evident in some of the poor performances of some of the more vocal loyalist representatives .Is that a social thing?

Things like the “fleg” debacle only exposed an insecurity . Nobody’s life changed because of it .The price of food didn’t suddenly rise. The rates didn’t suddenly go up or the price of a pint wasn’t changed. Nobody actually lost or gained anything there, but unionism used it as a distraction and the losers were the loyalist working classes. They were made to look foolish again. They were brought out onto the streets to gain nothing more than prison records and a greater sense of communal  loss. Their political leaders did that for them.They never actually lost anything. Nationalists never got anything cultural from any of that either.  They never got their own  “cultural  flag “represented . What they got was the same as everyone in the UK have  always   had  … but for the first time ever in history .  Norneverland and Belfast, overnight  simply  had the same flag- flying procedure as everywhere else in the UK. Let’s bear in mind that there are other republicans in the UK  too. …Scottish, Welsh and English ones too…all wanting  their own political change ..They are all working at that politically too. That’s a perfectly plausible political aim and is in no way nefarious.

.As far as the promises of the Agreement are concerned , unionism has consistently dragged its collective feet, to the detriment of everyone else. Someone needs to say it  loud and clear ..”It was an agreement!”…..understand ? “We agreed!!”  …”Agreed!” that took a long time to hammer out …but it was an agreement in the end.

Well nationalism got some  little peace too , just as unionism did, but they never got the promised idea of a respect for their “Irishness” which was always at the core of their argument anyway . That’s what  the whole thing has always been about. Respect..Their choice of a  respect for language and differences in cultural outlook is actively disparaged by  unionist politicians  who think it is quite a joke  to laugh about someone’s culture and language and then go on to pretend they are not actually racist.Well, unfortunately, they’ve since proven that  is exactly what they are in many little ways.Immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals,  are not getting the respect that should be a given in a modern society.Unionist politicians dance around “british” laws in that respect.They wnat to be british but they want to cherry-pick  their “britishness”.

This seems to be what is panning out in terms of political gains for unionism. They see it in terms of holding back “Irishness” ….holding back social changes that would benefit everyone , homosexuals, Jews ,Jains and  themselves included…as a gain rather than as  a loss …something to be embraced by all sections of a caring citizenry. Something to give to everyone and protect everyone.Their responsive to this inclusiveness  is a negative one anyway and it will only provide a tit -for- tat response like some underlying “sham war”.That’ll never provide “peace”

They do always  seem to enjoy a sham fight , somehow..

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