It was in the 70s, and the violence was at its height. Many of my friends and colleagues served there and some died, and my own life was affected by the violence and terrorism in Britain which derived from Ireland. Anyone who was part of it, for whatever reason and with whatever motive, will never forget.
Hatred and bigotry was in the bones of those who fought for independence from and those who wanted union with the United Kingdom at whatever cost: it was about politics and about religion, and it was as if the anger and beliefs of generations before them were fixed in the genes of those who protested with fists, guns, bombs and defiance even before they were born. It was a terrifying way of life when many lived in fear of brutal death at any time because of their name or address or their job or their cause.
The people of Northern Ireland do not forget, and to some the Good Friday agreement for peace is an agreement of appeasement as they see alleged IRA leaders, once possibly heavily involved in murder and reprisal, directing their affairs from Stormont. Others use any opportunity there is to create violence and anarchy on the streets of Belfast. The weariness that there was over lifetimes of war which led to the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement did not eliminate the societal divide, and the recent clumsy decision to take down the Union Jack from official buildings some of the time was enough to reignite the wounds and memories, an excuse to capitalise on political weakness and public reaction.
Much of the truth about what happened in the dark years is hidden, and I see collusion, hypocrisy and deception in the state of the Province and also in government over these matters. Others know this too, including those whose relatives died a hard death in defence, right or wrong, of their homeland or their beliefs. Until the truth, the real truth is acknowledged, the wounds of resentment will continue to fester and Northern Ireland will maintain its undercurrent of unrest. A great deal has been achieved to reconcile communities in the long years of adjustment, but until there is seen to be justice, balance and fairness, and honesty in this power-sharing system the Troubles, sadly, will continue. It is so much more than just a flag.
Claire Montanaro is a spiritual teacher, channel and blogger with special interest in esoteric philosophy and the world in transition. Loves nature and wildlife. Author of “Spiritual Wisdom”.