Malachi O’Doherty points of a long term pessimism that often seems to want to long tail conflict rather than tackle the heart of it. He points to the problem of Belfast’s walled interfaces, in the context of past fatalism:
What was routine back then was the conviction that Northern Ireland’s problems could not be solved.
Read almost any of the books about the Troubles published right up to the early 1990s and the ending is the same, a dispirited resignation to the intractability of the violence, the unlikelihood of our two main communities ever integrating and living at peace.
One small indicator of possible change is the disclosure that the Executive is thinking of working to bring down the peace walls in about 10 years from now. By then the first of them will have been up for 53 years. The Berlin Wall, which stood as a daunting symbol of the Cold War, was only up for half that period.
What are we reduced to when our ambitions for peace and progress are so modest and timid?