Category: Archive

A great day

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

So let us succumb for a moment. Anyone who witnessed or remembers the darkest days of the troubles in Northern Ireland would have been smiling from ear to ear Tuesday. It was, quite simply, a day to bottle up and remember in the most positive of ways.
The sight of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness standing side by side, with Paisley grinning broadly to boot, would not have been imaginable just a few short years ago.
But there they were, not necessarily the best of pals but, far more importantly, functioning politicians in a corner of the world that has for so long needed politics, just politics, even the dullest and most mundane politics.
Of course, there will be days ahead when the mundane will not suffice, when old wounds will rupture, when conflicting visions clash sharply.
But we suspect that there is more than enough serious intent on the part of all the major parties in the new assembly and executive to ride out the inevitable political storms ahead.
It will be interesting indeed to see how Northern Ireland’s new politics play out. What we would urge is that those with the loudest voices resist the temptation to dig too deeply into the past when directing criticism.
In order for the assembly and executive to properly function, it will be necessary to resist the temptation to use history as a means of simply scoring points.
That’s not to say that all the politicians in the new Stormont should engage in collective amnesia. They should not, and they will not. But they might have to show more than a little restraint on the inevitable less than glorious days.
But for now, there is cause for much satisfaction. Many people and groups have worked for many years to bring about this sea change, not just for Northern Ireland, but for the entire island of Ireland.
Obviously, the more prominent politicians are easy to pick out. No matter what happens in their futures Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair have secured their places in history. The same goes for Bill Clinton, George Mitchell and, indeed, Edward Kennedy who was present in Stormont to witness history, both for himself and on behalf of President Bush.
Irish America has been at the forefront in the effort to secure positive and peaceful changes in Northern Ireland for generations. Those of lucky to be alive to witness the new political dawn should spare a thought for those who have not made it to this point on the long and winding road.
The road now ahead will have its own sharp bends, forks and bumps. Nobody is under the illusion that Northern Ireland is all of a sudden a profile in perfection. But it is a different place as of this week. And it has a chance to be better, and better again.
The task now is to seize the chance and not let go.

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