In Churchill’s words, the proper response to violence is to keep buggering on, (not necessarily literally)

Not that anyone need have noticed,  but I’ve been away for a while in Italy and in rural France where on the day after the horror, fellow oldies like me checked out their adult kids in Paris before turning  back to Sunday lunch and the weighty tax burden as the favourite  topic of choice.  With only just a touch of embarrassment, this version of normality has been elevated to the status of brave and almost heroic response to the terrorist threat. Remind you of somewhere?  Perhaps Professor Liam Kennedy would disagree. Or perhaps not.

Professor Liam Kennedy from the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast said there is a “degree of acceptance to dehumanisation over half a century” at the Paramilitary Intimidation Within Communities event held in conjunction with the Children of the Troubles group.

Prof Kennedy called on politician, police and wider society to do more.

He said the 6,000 recorded instances of paramilitary “punishments”, including shootings and beatings, from 1973-2013 is an underestimate and spoke of the ongoing “astonishing toll of human suffering, directed particularly at young, working class males, from loyalist and republican areas”.

“Inevitably there is a degree of dehumanisation and acceptance of horrific forms of punishment which in the 1960s would have been regarded as absolutely beyond the pale but now have become accepted in some areas…In effect forms of torture and on a vast scale,” he said.

What we ought to have learned over thirty years is that for most people, the shock or guilty thrill of a response to a new level of horror subsides as quickly as orgasm. But in quite a few it feeds an appetite for more which can persist long after the cause that inspired it has faded.

So more or less normal life goes on in Northern Ireland. Would outsiders who can be bothered to look in on us regard it as normal?  Looking at Fresh Start from the continent, I was struck by two things. One was the rosy responses of FM and DFM.

The departing  Peter Robinson has said “Northern Ireland is a place transformed” in his final leader’s speech to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) annual conference.

He told his party devolution had brought “peace and prosperity” and added that he looked back “with pride at all that we together have achieved”.

He said after three years of problems at Stormont, the latest ‘Fresh Start’ deal means “politics can work again”.

And the ever continuing Martin McGuinness.

I have worked closely with Peter Robinson in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister since June 2008.

“During that time we have had a close and professional working relationship and, despite media perception it has always been courteous and amicable.

“We have faced many challenges together and over the last number of months have worked very closely together to bring about the Stormont House ‘A Fresh Start’ deal.

So what was all the fuss about then?   It may be that we’ve become as desensitised  to political failure as to violence. Not a good thing.

The other noticeable factor was that failure to agree an approach on the Past was treated with equanimity. Martin said it had been “parked”, Peter, that it wasn’t my fault, guv, read the transcripts of the talks. (where are they, by the way?)

Here is an admission at last that the principle that the future depends on sorting the past has been abandoned.   This just might be a good thing. It lifts a burden from both and raises hopes that past, present and future may be addressed with less drag and greater realism.

If you’re looking for a mission for the future, pause and consider a Report that   although very focused on England, amazingly, took in Belfast.

The report also points to “negative practical consequences of selection by religion” in faith schools. One-third of schools in England are publicly funded faith schools, the vast majority of which are Christian. In Northern Ireland, more than 90% of children attend schools that are either Protestant or Catholic.

“It is in our view not clear that segregation of young people into faith schools has promoted greater cohesion or that it has not been socially divisive, leading to greater misunderstanding and tension,” the report says. “Selection by religion segregates children not only according to different religious heritage but also, frequently and in effect, by ethnicity and socio-economic background. This undermines equality of opportunity and incentivises parents to be insincere about their religious affiliation and practice.”

  • barnshee

    I think that was sort of the intention

  • Anglo-Irish

    You really are a ‘special case’ aren’t you?

    NI is not ” divided between two competing nations “.

    Northern Ireland is a part of Ireland, the clue is in the name.

    It is temporarily partitioned, in the same way that East and West Germany were partitioned .

    No, nationalism has not been eliminated from any part, in fact Irish CNR are in the ascendancy, and about to become the majority in NI.

    Yes, elements of one section ‘remain on the wrong side of the divide, the PUL elements.

    Britain wants rid of the embarrassing connection and ongoing cost so no ” not in any way like Cyprus”

  • Anglo-Irish

    It really doesn’t matter which of it’s people, does it you nincompoop?

    All that matters is that Britain knows that that is what’s happening, which it does, and has resolved to rid itself of the problem, which it has, and will.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Bloody hell!

    We agree on something!

    Hopefully, for the sake of our children and grandchildren the world will come to its senses.

    Not counting on it.

  • John Collins

    Spot on, but look at Germany where a determined policy of birth control, with every second pregnancy ending in abortion, has led to them begging North Africans to migrate there.

  • Greenflag 2

    What task ?

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘It’s vital to be war like ‘ So Jihad is ok then ? After all it says in the Koran its ok . And the Bible contains verses admonishing the children of Israel to exterminate the Moabites including women and children among others . What did the Moabites do that required their biblical extermination ?

  • John Collins

    Well Banshee you have a point. Between 1956 and about 2005 the Global population doubled. However the biggest increase in population is in the developing, or even poorer, countries. In most of the developed World, and especially in affluent European countries, the population seems to be static or even falling. While visiting the Bercanow Concentration Camp we encountered a fine English couple of our own advanced vintage. The gentleman made an interesting point when he said that in the event of a ground war between Islam and European we (the Europeans) would not just have the numbers to defend ourselves. A sobering thought.

  • barnshee

    seems rather hard on thse who are not “sponging off the taxpayer”

    Nincompoop?? -investive the answer when debate is lost

  • barnshee

    Don`t need numbers when we can nuke em

  • Anglo-Irish

    Nincompoop was the kindest and least offensive description that I could come up with.

    Which particular ‘side’ is taking the most advantage doesn’t really matter, does it?

    Britain has always been pragmatic, if not ruthless, in its dealings.

    The fact is that Northern Ireland is a drain on the UK economy.

    Additionally, it is an ongoing sectarian embarrassment, which does the UK no favours with the US where the Irish-American vote is important.

    Investive? Did you mean invective?

  • John Collins

    Well what if they have the capacity, plus conviction that they, and they only are right, to nuke us back? And remember how good we are in the West at identifying where WOMD are.