The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there #spotlightNI

If you have not watched last night’s Spotlight programme I would strongly urge you to do so. In our drive to project a modern and peaceful Northern Ireland, we sometimes forget about some of the criminality that still plagues our province.

Stephen Dempster’s report leaves a lot of questions for the PSNI, politicians and the rest of civic society to answer. 15 years on from the Good Friday Agreement we still have not fully taken the gun out of our political system.

When I was doing my research, I covered the emergence of the UVF in 1966. The shock that came from the death of Peter Ward provoked the then Unionist government into banning the organisation. That murder was like some of our recent deaths simply written off as the exceptions rather than the rule. However, an editorial in the Newsletter on 27th June 1966 urging people to take these attacks more seriously is something that I feel is worth repeating today.

Recent armed attacks in Belfast have led, with a tragic inevitability, to a killing. The gun in the hands of private citizens can lead nowhere else. It is a truth which must be learned anew in Northern Ireland and acted upon. The time has come for the government and the people to call a halt to a drift of events that, unchecked, can only take the city and Province back to a period that lingers like a nightmare.

Perhaps our past really isn’t another country, rather it still lingers as a nightmare that we have yet to wake up from.

Update-here is a very interesting interview that Kerri Dunn did with Winston Irvine  for Lisburns98FM just a few weeks ago

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs