The Peace Process in Northern Ireland
the structures of peace will lose their foundations
by Triona Carey,
Kilmichael, County Cork, Ireland
A year ago I wrote Dromchraoi, Tromchraoi, in response the the marching season crisis there. Despite major developments in Northern Ireland, the marching season has triggered violence in Drumcree again, sending shockwaves across Ulster.
It's misting softly on the acre - if the hunger hadn't driven people from Ireland the weather surely would have. El niño is taking its toll in Kilmichael too, grey days and more grey days. But what we need is rain, buckets of it, pouring thunderously down on the happy campers in Drumcree. An Act of God, a touch of mighty wrath, might be just what is needed to shift the campsite of righteousness opposite the Church in Drumcree.
Camping in Ireland is a precarious pleasure, murky and damp more often than not, but grand, so long as the weather holds out. Up in the field at the top of the Garvaghy Road the weather is holding fine since last Saturday, when hundreds of Orange men took up residence. They look down the hill on a Catholic community under siege. The world's media are our eyes and ears on the frontline - 800 extra troops brought into Northern Ireland
In this, the marching season, we can expect over 3,000 Orange Marches throughout Ulster, celebrating the triumph of King Billy over the native Irish over 300 years ago. Most of these marches pass off peacefully but, as Drumcree shows us, it only takes one exception to turn back time, back to the dark, medieval days when papists were papists and witches were burnt. The feudal swagger of the Orange March, righteous triumphalism, drums rallying men to arms - it only takes a couple of hotheads to turn the mood, to jeer and provoke and insult.
Trench warfare claimed millions of lives in the First World War. They are entrenched in Drumcree today. Orange Men are congregating from across Ulster, thousands mill in their encampment at the top of the Garvaghy Road. Troops and RUC are in a no-man's land of barbed wire and barricades. The Catholic community of the Garvaghy Road is under siege. Everybody's dug in, there's no way of backing down for anyone.
The fledgling Northern Irish Assembly is led by David Trimble, who carved his political career on the barricades at Drumcree. His position may be untenable and, if he goes, so will the Assembly. In its place will be chaos. Over 70 per cent of voters accepted the Northern Irish Peace Agreement, selecting peace and compromise over violence and stubborness. So much for democracy! If the rule of law isn't upheld the structures of peace will lose their foundations.
We need a big raindance, for all the moderates in Northern Ireland to call for Divine Intervention - lets have rain and gallons of it- to quench the flames of extremism and dampen rhetoric. It's time that somebody or some thing defied Orange posturing. Any time their supremacy is threatened they huff and they puff. Are they bluffing? There's only one way to find out, and it seems we are about to.
|Published in In Motion Magazine - July 9, 1998.|
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