Thursday, June 28, 2012

Packing Up The Troubles

The Second World War ended with the surrender of the Empire of Japan in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd 1945. The ceremony on board the USS Missouri concluded with the stentorian words of General Douglas MacArthur:

Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always - these proceedings are closed.

Yesterday's cordial meeting in Belfast between Queen Elizabeth and a former IRA Chief of Staff thus brings a similarly conclusive end to the lengthy and convoluted peace process stretching back through the St Andrews and Good Friday Agreements and to the 1994 Republican and Loyalist ceasefires. If the entire framework of gradual demilitarisation, devolution and decommisioning be literally sourced to the Enniskillen bombing of 1987 it has therefore lasted my entire working life almost to the month.

During that same period of time the face of the United Kingdom in general has changed beyond recognition - both culturally and politically - and by way of fateful geopolitical military engagement, historic demographic shifts, banking criminality of unprecedented scope, the loss of much individual life security for the average British citizen, the death of any public respect for our political system and monumental changes affecting working life off the back of globalisation and technological creep alike. And even the end of Glasgow Rangers.

The Queen's visit to Northern Ireland over the past two days - in tandem with last year's visit to the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin for the fallen volunteers of the War of Independence from the British Empire - has thus without question ensured that the Ulster Troubles can now finally return to the darker shadows of Irish history from where they should never have emerged in the first place in the mid to late Sixties.

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