Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The real 'seismic shift'

The key to the next 10 years in Northern Ireland lies in the hands of Rev. Dr. Ian R. K. Paisley, an octogenarian who will probably not survive them.

No doubt Republicans would prefer to be dealing with David Trimble, the moderate Ulster Unionist Party leader who accommodated Sinn Féin into power but fell from grace when its terrorist alter ego, the IRA, committed the UK's biggest-ever bank heist and gouged Robert McCartney to a slow, agonised death in Magennis' Bar last December. The subsequent polarisation of political sympathy has propelled Paisley's right-wing Democratic Unionist Party to unprecedented popularity. And with votes comes power.

The Protestant people whose fathers, brothers and sons have been shot to death and blown up by the IRA for 30 years are naturally fearful that the leopard's spots have just been temporarily airbrushed, convincing though its political leaders look before the cameras. However, as Paisley contemplates his medium-term response to IRA decommissioning, the question is: does he want to represent his voters' fears, or does he want to represent their best interests? There's a difference.

Anyone who has lived in a divided society - be it Northern Ireland, South Africa or Alabama - knows how awful it is, and what sustains it is fear. Fear of being exploited, fear of losing control, fear of the pendulum swinging too far the other way. But fear is unproductive and, in Christians, shows a lack of trust in God's ability or willingness to give protection. Christian teaching and Biblical history show that God rewards his people when they step out in faith. That opportunity is now wide open.

The best interests of Northern Ireland's Protestant and Catholic populations lie in a united Ulster where people choose to mix freely and to take pleasure in each others' cultures. We're a long way from that, but what a goal! The first step towards it is to seize the moment and stop playing broken records.

The truth is: the real groundbreaking, historic event will not be IRA decommissioning - they should never have terrorised us in the first place - but rather a new tone of Christian reconciliation from the DUP. Because those are real people out there, Ian. People who have a right to be heard and respected and to sit alongside you in governing Ulster.

Late in your political career comes your greatest chance. Let your legacy be one of reconciliation, not harsh words. Let your legacy be a new, inclusive, peaceful Ulster.


At 1:49 p.m., Anonymous levee said...

Amen, John :)

At 8:14 p.m., Blogger Parsifal said...

you are a credit to unionism, even though I am diametrically opposed to the statelet of ulster


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