Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Handshake is Sometimes More Than a Handshake – A Glimmer of Hope in a Difficult World

Can a Thousand Years Plus of Conflict Be Ending in Anglo-Irish Relations

As has been frequently noted in this Forum, many of the world’s problems lie in some of the smallest areas.  In the Middle East, it is the small nation of Israel and the Palestinian people that are the source of a conflict that could threaten the world’s energy supplies and even lead to a nuclear war.  Taiwan is a very small nation island, yet its relationship with China can be a potential regional conflict.  The nation of Cuba has caused problems in its relationship with the United States far in excess of its importance in world affairs.

This same thing can be said of the issue of Northern Ireland and Britain.  The world has been shocked for decades by the level of violence and hatred in the relationship, and in particular in the loss of life, many of them innocent by-standers.  The hatred between the two parties is deep and historical, covering millennia.  So it is amazing that an event happened recently that was unthinkable by almost everyone.

The Queen publicly shook hands with the former IRA commander and current Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness today, in a move that has seen British-Irish relations take a momentous step forward.

The historic encounter would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago, but the ongoing success of the peace process and the Queen’s conciliatory words and gestures during a visit to the Republic of Ireland last year paved the way for the meeting.

There have been many so-called ‘breakthroughs’ in the attempt to gain peace in Northern Ireland, but it now appears that the recent ones are real.  If so, it is an example of how even the most vicious conflicts can give way to a satisfactory peace when the welfare of people and not politicians and government officials comes first.

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