Editorial - Unhappy anniversaries

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Anniversaries have become very troublesome events in the North in recent years.

Ostensibly marking key events of the past, anniversaries now say more about the state of affairs in the present than anything else.

Our recent history over the last five decades has many dates and events which are worthy of commemoration, both publicly and privately. Difficulties arise, however, over the manner in which such events are remembered and whether anniversaries are celebrated or commemorated.

What one section of the community regards as a commemoration can be viewed as insensitive triumphalism by another.

This is not just a difficulty with the past; it is an ongoing problem that shows no sign of abating.

The coming weeks will see the first anniversary of the decision by Belfast City Council to restrict the flying of the union flag on its premises.

The decision, taken democratically and backed by a majority, sparked anger and violence controlled by loyalist paramilitary elements. Those same elements are planning a mass rally at the end of the month, to mark 12 months from when the compromise vote was taken, thus creating a new contentious anniversary.

It is difficult to see what can be gained from marking such anniversaries. Certainly nothing positive can come from bringing people onto the streets to fight again an old battle.

We cannot and should not forget our past, uncomfortable as it may be, but in remembering it we should all be careful not to add to the pain and hurt of others.

Creative and imaginative thinking is needed to ensure anniversaries and commemorations of important events of the past are handled sensitively and in a dignified manner, instead of the tired and troublesome old round of parades and rallies.