Divide and rule..

BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Panorama, has just aired. This week journalist Declan Lawn returned to both Londonderry and Ballymena, where he grew up, and visited Belfast to look at the physical and mental separation that persists here – and the programme discussed the financial cost that entails. iPLayer has the programme available for the next week. And there’s an online report on the programme here.

So how come, ten years after the Good Friday Agreement, that in some parts of Northern Ireland the sectarian mindsets seem as strong as ever? It is a sobering reality that there are more physical barriers, or so-called peace walls, between communities today than there were ten years ago. Some are now blaming the very political settlement that brought an end to violence. They see the Stormont assembly as a sectarian carve up that doesn’t lessen sectarian divisions so much as it consolidates sectarian divisions. If that analysis is correct, it may be a long time yet before the walls come down.

Which is, in part, what Bertie Ahern was talking about.