Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Fighting Against The Current

In A Terrible Beauty, author Katie Hanrahan presented a vivid picture of Ireland on the precipice.

Before the Easter Rising of 1916, two sides were manning their respective barricades, to fight for their beliefs.

Those two sides are fighting today, fighting the same battle, almost one hundred years after the world thought that the issues were settled.

Over time, the faction in Northern Ireland that wishes to remain a part of Great Britain has been losing ground. The Empire isn't what it used to be, and the world doesn't look on empires with the same admiration and awe that was visible when Victoria reigned.

Now another blow against loyalism has been struck, and the unionists turned to the streets, to violence and rioting, in a throwback policy meant to show their strength.

It worked for them back in 1914, didn't it? They created themselves an army, ready to take up arms to prevent Home Rule. Except that these days they've got Stormont and Northern Ireland's own assembly doing a bit of governing, putting a little distance between Belfast and London.

The Union Jack doesn't always fly over the government buildings at Stormont, and the Belfast City Council decided that they wouldn't fly the Union Jack over the City Hall on a daily basis either.

The result was a riot by unionists, outraged that a symbol of their power will come down.

Gangs stormed the building, attacking anyone who got in their way. To make their point even more clear, they attacked a Catholic Church in a nationalist area, just to show that they are the lords of the Six Counties and the Catholics shouldn't get any ideas about equality.

The nationalists learned years ago that violence didn't win them any friends in the international community. The unionist politicians recognize that fact as well, which is why they condemned the violence.

There is no sympathy these days for a faction that seeks to suppress religious liberties, that attempts to segregate a group of people because of their faith. Still the loyalists fight to preserve their ever shrinking turf, fighting against a current that is running against them.

The beginning of the fight is laid out in A Terrible Beauty.

As for the end, it's yet to be written, and it looks to be a long way off.

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