The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland came into effect on Dec. 2, 1999.
71.1%of the population in Northern Ireland voted for it.
94.4 %of the Republic of Ireland voted for it.
Once firebrand politician Rev Ian Paisley said he would NEVER sit down and negotiate with a Catholic Republican like Martin McGuinness.
Well that is exactly what happened and he and Paisley were the 2 First Ministers of Northern Ireland, to lead the Province and represent their respective communities.
McGuinness the Catholic population of Northern Ireland and Paisley the majority Protestant population.
McGuinness was once an IRA Terrorist, responsible for among other things the murder of Prince Philip’s Uncle Earl Mountbatten of Burma and his daughter in law and Grandson.
Nevertheless in the pursuit of peace, even The Queen met McGuinness and they shook hands!!
I was back in Northern Ireland with my sons in 2016.
Gone were the roadblocks.
Gone were the restrictions on cars in the City Centre.
Gone were the security barriers blocking traffic.
Gone were the queues of people waiting to be searched, who wished to do some shopping in Belfast City Centre.
Gone was the security at the SINGLE entry to Department Stores.
I grew up with all of that.
In fact, in my first year at Art College, I remember standing outside Woolworths in Manchester looking for the single entry into the store, when it suddenly dawned on me there were at least 4 entries and I could choose whichever one I wanted!
I was amazed because I never grew up with that.
A whole new generation of Northern Irish youngsters have grown up without experiencing The Troubles of their Parents and Grandparents.
I could walk around Belfast in total freedom, it was absolutely wonderful!
There were accents I’d never heard there before.
There were people from all over the world visiting.
There were English accents of parents who actually moved from England to live in Northern Ireland.
This is called a peace dividend.
Yes there are still challenges, but it’s nothing in comparison to what was before, and remember a whole new generation have grown up in peace.
Moving East, we are nowhere near such a scenario, not even close.
I’ve been here nearly 32 years and we are still no closer to peace.
There is barely any centre.
Left and right are more extreme.
The Palestinians are STILL taught to hate.
Their leaders still pay off terrorist’s families.
Massive ego and history gets in the way of making any progress for peace at all.
Among our own politicians we also have our extremists and my worry is it will grow and become “acceptable.”
Folks we’re not moving forwards, we’re actually moving backwards!
How can we negotiate with someone like Abbas who the other day spoke about 50 Holocausts on his own people!!!
He’s in his 80s; he isn’t going to change.
There has never been a true leader on the Palestinian side to take their people by the scruff of the neck and say enough is enough.
They never had a Ben Gurion or a Begin, not even close.
The Palestinians should look at Northern Ireland and see what peace can bring, and so should some extreme elements on our own side.
IF and it’s a big IF the Palestinians were truly interested in peace, there would be peace a long time ago.
If a generation of kids can grow up in peace, that’s extra insurance that peace will continue.
There needs to be a LEADER who can say to the Palestinians and indeed to some on our side too.
Like the rabbi said to the priest about marriage, when the priest continually offered him a ham sandwich and he kept saying, “Taste it, you’ll like it, it’s nice.”
The rabbi got fed up and said that his wife will have food for him when he gets home, won’t your wife have food for you, he asks the priest?
To which of course he said his religious vows forbid him to be married.
The rabbi replied, “Taste it, you’ll like it, it’s nice!”
Someone needs to get through to the Palestinians that peace is good for them and will bring all sides prosperity.
“Taste it, you’ll like it, it’s nice.”
Like Lennon said “Give peace a chance, ” or we’ll never get off this never-ending cycle of violence, this roundabout of fear and hatred that just keeps on turning from generation to generation.