It’s a lovely morning today. I woke up at nine, popped on the kettle, pottered about the house watering the plants. Sat myself down with a cup of tea and my brand-new ukulele for a while, before firing up the laptop to get some work done. After a quick Twitter and glance over the news, of course.
Good. This morning, I found out that someone has been trying to bomb my city. Thre devices were made safe by the bomb disposal team last night. This morning, Connolly Station- a major train station for local and national services- and Amiens St have been closed off and evacuated. Word on the street is that this is the work of what are politely called dissident republicans around these parts. For those of you who aren’t up-to-date on the details of Irish politics, ‘republicans’ here refers to those who are in favour of a 32-county Irish republic encompassing the entire island of Ireland. Republicanism, in the political sense, is a perfectly respectable kind of viewpoint to have, even if it’s seen as a tad idealistic and unrealistic by some, myself included. But hey, healthy disagreement is what having a democracy’s all about, right?
Dissident republicans are a whole different thing. They’re the ones who have decided to ignore the painstaking, painful years of work that went into the Northern Ireland peace process. To ignore the overwhelming desire of people all over this complicated, contested little island to just quit killing each other, to compromise, to figure out some way to share this space and not live in fear. These people are angry to the point of attempting senseless, indiscriminate murders by the Queen’s upcoming visit to Ireland.
I’m not sure who these people claim to be representing, but it isn’t me. It isn’t anybody I know, or anybody I’ve met. They claim that the elected governments of the North and the Republic are illegitimate- but what the fuck kind of legitimacy do they claim? Representing us by trying to murder us? And if they represent us, then what about those of us who disagree with her visit and who express their disagreement peacefully? Or those of us who see her visit as a wonderful (if expensive, in These Economic Times) symbol of how far we’ve come?
You know, when I look back on my childhood, one of the things that I always marvel at is how accustomed I was to hearing about terrorism, about attacks, murders, bombings. It seemed absolutely normal. It didn’t faze me, because I knew nothing else. I grew up with the peace process, with that oh-so-slow inching towards a place where people weren’t scared to walk down the street in the middle of the day. Or to get in their car, or open their doors. Or to simply disagree, and to voice that disagreement.
What’s happened since then is that those who advocate violence have lost. They don’t have popular support. The rest of us want a chance for all of us to grow old and cranky, to loudly disagree and to never be afraid to shout our disagreements from the streets. People have devoted decades of their lives to this, and they have won. They may not have gotten there quite yet, but they’ve won the support of the overwhelming majority in this country who are sick to death of burying people before their time.
Those who advocate killing have lost. We don’t want them. They don’t represent us. If they feel that duly elected representatives of institutions that were created through referenda passed by the votes of an overwhelming majority in both the North and the Republic aren’t legitimate? Then they have no chance. They have lost, they do not speak for us. Not only do they destroy the respectability of their cause, they harm any hopes that peaceful citizens sharing their republican views have of having their voices listened to.
They might not realise this, but the rest of us? We live in a republic. We vote, we campaign, we lobby, we protest, we demonstrate. We write letters and articles, we argue in the media, in our houses of government, in cafes, pubs and over dinner tables. We do all of this, and every single one of us loses out sometimes. We lose out, we shake hands with the people who won, we lick our wounds, go back to the drawing board, and we argue some more. Sometimes, we even change our minds.
These are the things we do.
We do not kill.