In the Guardian, Peter Preston, with echoes of a point he made in 2007, identifies the limits of the “politics of peace” – and our current ‘indigenous’ arrangements. From Peter Preston at Comment is Free
Yet this commonsensical chorus only takes you so far. It clears the bloody detritus of the past; it provides a suitably united response to the murderers who remain; but somehow it still fails to address or secure the foundations of a quite different future.
Nationalism (as chronicled by the Guardian in Catalonia and the Basque country last week) is an itch that can never be quite scratched away. It is the politics of real or supposed deprivation. Those bastards over there – in Madrid, or London – aren’t being fair! Only we, ourselves, alone, can provide such fairness. Wreathe that struggle in mists of rhetoric and selective history and there’s a potent refrain that declines to die. It may fall silent for a decade or two. But you can’t ever be sure that it’s gone forever unless other fresh tunes totally drown it out.
So here’s the next challenge, beyond simple condemnation, for Westminster, the Dáil and for Stormont. It’s been vital for Catholics and Protestants to come together in government, for the polar opposites of the Democratic Unionist party and Sinn Féin to show they can rule in relative amity. This was always the mandatory first stride towards sanity and away from the turmoil of terror. But it was only a first stride – and until something more akin to normal politics takes over, with one lot in and another lot out because the electorate says so, until the essential arguments are all about schools, hospitals, roads and taxes, then the past will never be wholly exorcised.
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