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Tue. September 25, 2018
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Reflections on new violence in Northern Ireland
Comments (2)

By Dr. Christos Kyrou The violence in response to calls from the Police Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde for the need of more British troops back into N. Ireland was more than anticipated and one could even wonder why Sinn Feinn went so far in condemning the violence and supporting politics. Strong words such as "traitors to Ireland" coming from Martin McGuinness might have an enormous political cost to their republican constituency. Yet Sinn Feinn's confidence comes from another two fronts... First, the money purring into NI from the US even at the current terrible time for the US economy demonstrate that both Catholics and Protestants can benefit from Republican influence in Northern Irish politics. Building confidence to republican leadership among Protestants on the critical issues of economics and security has been for Sinn Feinn a strategy for re-unification as early as the late 80's even during the troubles. Second the rapid progress of the Northern Ireland Bill to becoming a Law in the British politics. The process was completed last week in the House of the Commons and just days later last Wednesday in the House of the Lords. This is as historical as the Self-Rule Act back in the 1800's towards devolution but the media missed it completely. All this with violence at the background and an enormous solid support of the peace process and the political option by the majority of the Irish North and South. And talking about South... the so-called "South dimension" is a double sword factor: on one hand those small groups have been using the borders as a place to hide and in a way acting without having to pay for the consequences of their violence, on the other hand, the immediate collaboration of North and South policing structures in response to that violence opened yet another avenue to a unified North-South field that may even further strengthen the Protestant sense of security and therefore may accelerate a de-facto Irish re-unification. At the end of all this... we have three more families wrecked in the UK over the game of patience and taste on whether the process of devolution in Northern Ireland is moving forward, remains frozen or goes backwards all together. The political parties of Northern Ireland managed to consolidate their constituencies around a unified strong response in support of peace. However without progress in the devolution process and at the presence of increasing sectarian violence support to peace by the political parties will come at the expense of some serious political capital and new dimensions of politics and violence will emerge that may challenge progress as we've seen it the last two decades. The combination of the decommission of a major party to the conflict with lack of progress on police reform have opened a vacuum of control opened to small extreme groups. Unless such reforms are sped up this vacuum will increasingly be exploited. There is space here for good new ideas and strategies for re-adjustment that can prevent bad surprises. Dr. Christos Kyrou is an Assistant Professor at the School of International Service (SIS) at American University. He is a Project Manager and Practitioner at the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (IISD), and also Member of the Resource Board for the Center for International Relations in Washington, DC.

Comments in Chronological order (2 total comments)

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Tue, May 19, 2009 06:49 AM (about 81996 hours ago)
To add a brief point - aside from the specific policy matters discussed here, from all I've heard, I get the impression that the people of Northern Ireland are truly committed to the peace and perhaps this is the most significant lesson that can learnt from these latest events. Political leaders on all sides, as well as various other civic figures, we quick to condemn this violence without qualification. We may also note the lack of any substantive backlash. To me - and I'm willing to be contradicted on this point - this suggests that while acts of this kind may continue to occur occasionally, we have just cause to be optimistic about the future.

-- Andrew Pickering
 
Thu, March 22, 2012 07:54 AM (about 57083 hours ago)
Dear Andrew thank you for your contribution to this analysis. I feel that it does not necessarily contradict but complements, in a way balances kindly the alarming character of this article much influenced by the atmosphere from the assassinations. I share with you your optimism and belief in progress and peace in Northern Ireland. I have met very few people as brave in peace as those in Northern Ireland. Thank you again for your comment.
 
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