Northern Ireland’s veneration of past violence

This is the only snippet I could find of Monday night’s programme on UTV. It contains some points worth repeating. Note especially Glenn Patterson’s piece on the contradiction he contends is at the heart of the new dispensation:

This is a place where there was brutal violence used regularly and celebrated: quite a lot of it used against very, very young people right across Belfast and Northern Ireland. I think we do have to look at the problems of policing, but also at our own attitudes violence and our attitudes towards those who have been involved in the violence of the past. If you go to the part of Belfast where I live and you look at the war memorials that have sprouted up all over the place in the last couple of years, and then you look at the names on them, and think about some the deeds they were responsible for, you have to say we have a kind of ambivalence towards violence.

There is a line somewhere in Jung’s vast cannon of theoretical work in which he describes a psychological complex as a secret whose owner has forborne it’s telling for so long that it becomes a secret from himself. Everything that person does becomes driven by that secret. It begins to dwarf the individual’s wants and needs and drives them in ways that they can neither articulate nor understand. The only remedy, according to Jung, is a sharing of the secret. The problem is that by the time it becomes a full blown complex, the victim is often unaware of his/her own drives.

In the last six months three men have been brutally beaten to death by gangs in West Belfast. Patterson’s points to Northern Ireland’s very own dirty little complex, and its outworking is nonetheless shocking, for the progression towards parliamentary democracy on the hill. Peace, as we have tasted it, is undoubtedly richer than war. But some of those now charged with leadership in NI’s divided (and mostly working class) communities are faced with a culture they helped set up and brutally re-enforced for thirty/forty years.

Talking about, however intemperately, has to be more useful than closing all criticism down at all costs.

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