Last week began with the dismal argy-bargy about the ‘Raymond McCreesh’ play park in Newry. It’s a symptom of our chronic illness.
It’s the age-old sickness of sectarian division. It’s a plague on this part of Ireland. OK, this particular row is in Newry, but there’s no room for smugness in Derry or anywhere else. Are we incapable of seeing things from the other’s perspective?
It’s also a row about the war we’ve all been through. We can keep on verbally re-fighting it for ever; or we can try to get over it.
We know why the war happened. We also know it didn’t deliver the ultimate republican objective of a united Ireland but it did bring change. The old unionist-dominated ‘statelet’ has been swept away.
Unsurprisingly, some unionists find that hard to accept. They can’t recognise that differing perspectives are legitimate; that one side’s hero is another’s villain. Unionists think it’s fine for them to honour their war heroes or those of the original rebel UVF but not OK for republicans to honour their more recent heroes.
Now it’s a battle for the supremacy of one narrative over the other. A so-called “united” Ireland with the same old bitterness won’t be much better than the old dis-united Ireland with the same old bitterness. We need to come to more tolerant, respectful terms with each other. Fighting over children’s play parks, the Irish language, or flags, or parades or whatever just won’t help.