For people of a certain generation, the scenes of public disorder from Northern Ireland played out on our television screens, hark back to darker days. Certain characteristics of these days that included an embargo of Gerry Adams voice being heard on television will be familiar to certain people. Nevertheless, do these people that now savage the streets of Belfast remember the horrors of these times, horrors that remain unsolved to this day? This cohort of people may either remember or voted in the Good Friday Agreement which brought about an uneasy peace that has hung in a precarious balance since
The uneasy peace seems shattered recently with Loyalists engaging in disorder at the failure to prosecute Sinn Fein representatives for their breach of Covid 19 regulations. The attendance of high ranking Sinn Fein officials at the funeral of Republican Bobby Storey last June. This was further fueled by DUP leader Arlene Foster who has been immensely vocal in her feeling towards the cause of the riots, calling for Chief Constable Simon Byrne’s resignation over the matter. This was the flashpoint for the repressed anger of unionists, who continue to advocate in favour of a union with Great Britain. The unionists see their “Britishness” under threat with the decision on a sea border arising from Brexit negotiations. As I watch the events unfold in the media and the online comments from those living in the South but also from Republicans in the North. I ask myself why they are so angry and are the opposing side any different when it comes to fighting the cause they believe in? Is there a horrifying uproar because of the violence or is it because of their allegiance to England?
The riots have been widely reported on across print and 24-hour news media with the usual engagement in conjecture from the respective media outlets. However, is this a case of the youth being influenced by community leaders or is this simply just a case of ‘recreational rioting’? This is all the more worrying given the rapid approach of the traditional marching season in July.
Growing up in the South what we know about the troubles we learned from a history book or from the songs we sing joyfully after a night of drinking at a party and the barman has told us last orders. A Joyful and boisterous chorus of our favourite rebel songs can be heard streaming from all angles of the pub. Relishing in the excitement if we beat England in any sporting event. However how much do we really know about the troubles in the South and do we know if a united Ireland will benefit us? Financially how would we cope?
With the question of Irish re-unification firmly thrust back into the limelight and tensions in Northern Ireland again ramping up. The question must be asked; is there a renewed appetite for a United Ireland.
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