Saturday, May 3, 2014

Peace in Northern Ireland



Peace in Northern Ireland is very problematic. It is very similar to the current struggle in the Ukraine as well as the problematic nature of Quebec Separatism. One side wants to separate but the other side does not. Clearly the recent arrest of Gerry Adams is an attempt to derail the peace process. Some want that process to fail. Most do not.

The struggle in Northern Ireland is not a two way struggle it is a three way struggle. It's not just the Irish fighting the British for self determination any more like it was in the south. In the north, half the population is Protestant and want to remain affiliated with England. The Catholics in Northern Ireland do not. They want to be free and independent of England. One side wants one thing while the other side wants something else making the conflict very problematic indeed. Setting up Storemount and self representation is a step in the right direction.

There is a crazy legend in Northern Ireland which comprises the province of Ulster involving the O'Neils. "According to one myth, the kingdom of Ulster had at one time no rightful heir. Because of this it was agreed that a boat race should take place and that 'whosoever's hand is the first to touch the shore of Ireland, so shall he be made the king.' One potential king so desired the kingship that, upon seeing that he was losing the race, he cut off his hand and threw it to the shore - thus winning the kingship."

Legend has it this was the O'Niels thus their use of the Red Hand of Ulster in heraldry throughout the generations. One could say that they were losing the boat race and cheated. Others would say if they want the land that bad, let them have it.

Wikipedia claims "Another variation of this story concludes that it was none other than Niall of the Nine Hostages who severed his own hand in order to win his crown from his brother." I don't believe that version. Niall of the Nine Hostages was the High King of Ireland seated in Tara outside of Dublin in county Meath. He wasn't in competition with his brother for anything. His son Eogan went north and settled Ailech just outside of Derry in the north. Well Donegal which is technically in southern Ireland but is in the north of the Island.

Eogan's heraldic symbol was the red lion which his grandson carried over to Scotland. Muirchertach mor mac Ercae was the grandson of Eogan. His brother Fergus mor mac Ercae went to Scotland and married into Scottish royalty there. As a wedding gift Muirchertach mor mac Ercae gave his brother Fergus the Stone of Scone which rests in Westminster Abby as recorded in the Anals of Ulster. The O'Neils red hand of Ulster was adopted later on. My father's father was a descendant of Eogan. Although he was born in London he was of Scottish ancestry. Originally the surname was O'Cahan but it was changed three times in Scotland after subsequent heirs.

Anyways, my point is the O'Neils are freaking crazy. No disrespect intended. The O'Neils themselves are fine but all this crazed obsession among the self professed loyalists is really toxic. "Londodnderry Westbank Loyalists still Under Siege, No Surrender." They are passionate about their right to live in that land and I have to admit they have just as much right to be there as anyone else. That's what makes the whole peace process problematic. You can't just kick them all out and do what you want. You have to include them in the process. Which is in itself problematic because I personally wouldn't want to live with those nutbars.

I rather find somewhere else to live which I have. Or at least my father and his father has. In my opinion it is a better land with mountains, forests and the ocean. I'm just a rider on a western highway. I am from Vancouver. That is my home now and that makes this land holy too. It is where we live. It is where our children were raised and it is where our fathers are buried. It is a multicultural community where people don't care what religion you are. We have no place left to go.

Not long ago I was on Grouse Mountain checking out the latest movie they have about local history in their viewing centre. I picked up on the accent the girl who was hosting the show and asked her where she was from. She said Ireland and I asked where abouts? She said Donegal, Letterkenny. Letterkenny says I with a big grin on my face. The land of the rebel safe houses. She smiled and her eyes grew wide and said shhhh. People here don't know about any of that. Indeed they don't. People here aren't interested in those kinds of conflicts.

I do hope and pray for peace in Northern Ireland but I do recognize that peace in Northern Ireland is going to have to represent both sides there who want two different things. Justice does not mean ignoring one to reward the other. One thing is certain and that is the violence needs to stop. Nobody wants that to continue any more. Just a handful of extremists that have no right to highjack the democratic will of the majority who just want to live in peace.

Are we going to go back in history before the signing of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord and retry every Protestant, every Catholic and every British insurgent for past murders? Because if you do one, you have to do the others as well. That would be a daunting task indeed that would clearly leave everyone blind. I don't think it would support the peace process either.

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