Mary Lou McDonald - Peace Process can never be taken for granted
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the IRA ceasefire. In those twenty years an entire generation has been born and grown up in a society free from armed conflict. And the enormity of what has been achieved cannot ever be taken for granted.
I’m a Dubliner. I remember growing up that the war was the background noise to everybody’s life. The response of thousands of young men and women to what was going on in the north was the same in Derry, South Armagh, Kerry and my own city Dublin. They stood up against a deep injustice, and it was no different to what my grandmothers generation in county Tipperary faced in the 1920s.
We have come a long way. We have a long way to go. The war is over. The peace must be built.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising we know all too well that national reconciliation is not possible without coming to terms with the past. Dealing with a legacy of conflict and division. Recognising the hurts endured and the hurts done. Republicans have never shied away from our responsibilities. We know that people in the unionist community were hurt and suffered and feel anxious about the future. We recognise that. We also know that those in leadership in that community have to lead. They must also recognise that many republicans and nationalists also suffered, including IRA volunteers and their families.
There are some who want to re-write history, to make believe that one upon a time all was well in the north. To lay the blame for conflict at the feet of those communities and individuals who fought back against a rotten, sectarian state. The same people who abandoned northern citizens, who stood idly by as the pograms raged and the British troops came onto the streets, those same people wanted northern nationalists to roll over in the face of the orange state. Those people were wrong and the orange state is gone forever there is no going back to that past.
Some, not least in recent times, have tried to use the past to vilify republicans. Their cynical abuse of the suffering of some victims, to avoid answer questions about corruption in this state is shameful. Their exploitation of some victims suffering to suit their party political ends and to bolster their election campaigns is utterly dishonourable.
Instead of resorting to the cheap soundbites in the Dail it would match Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin better to do what they have been elected to do and stand up for the interests of the people of this country. That’s means re-engaging with the peace process –not just by making speeches on the media – but by being involved in real discussions and planning on the outstanding from agreements which they signed up to and promised to deliver.