At one level in NI there is a power-sharing Executive and the fact that former enemies reached an accommodation radiates hope. Yet the way we lurch from one crisis to another implies that what we’ve actually got is a fragile truce rather than a deep-rooted peace.
During decades of strife that caused great loss and created deep hurt the heart-felt desire of virtually everyone was for an end to bombs and bullets. As guns have given way to government and bombs have been replaced by ballots Northern Ireland has been provided with an unprecedented opportunity to move further away from the dark midnight of despair and on towards the dawn of a new day.
What’s in place is clearly far from perfect; blunders are being made along the way; there’s no such thing as a bad peace, success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. One crucial dimension of courage is for adults to think not only of themselves but also of children. For the sake of our children we must jump hurdles to ensure their future will be much better than our past.
Recrimination may be towering above reconciliation at Stormont, but deep in the hearts of Catholics and Protestants from Portrush to Portadown, Castlederg to Crawfordsburn is the growing realisation that we are in fact living in the creative turmoil of a country struggling to be born. This, more than anything, gives weary bodies new energy and tired feet new strength to persevere until we finally arrive at our destination of hope.
If only peace could be achieved by reverting to a ready made mix and stir formula. Sadly no quick fixes exist. Reconciliation takes time. Changing destructive attitudes and behaviour is difficult and slow. Notwithstanding, if we persist in doing and saying the right things and in behaving in helpful ways to one another, we can look forward to a prolonged and indefinite period of peace and prosperity.
When the years have rolled past and the light of truth is focussed on this period of time, people will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land and a nobler people and all because dedicated men and women were willing to pursue peace with a warrior’s resolve secure in the knowledge of the single greatest difference between peace and war namely, in peace everyone can win!