Friday, June 24, 2011

Northern Ireland, Part 2: Tweets from the Journey to Peace

Northern Ireland, Part 2: Tweets from the Journey to Peace

There was a time when Palestinian and Israeli flags were ubiquitous in Belfast, with Catholic Republicans flying the Palestinian, and Protestant Unionists the Israeli. When an Israeli filmmaker knocked on the doors of a Unionist and asked why he was flying the Israeli flag, he shrugged and said, "I have that flag because it bothers them (Catholics) over there."

Wherever there are trees, the blackbird's song.

I am ashamed to say I barely knew the existence of John Hume before I arrived in Northern Ireland.  Was he the least known figure in the Northern Ireland Peace Process?  Despite racism and violence, Hume held to nonviolence: "Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity."

"The night can sweat with terror as before/We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,/And planned to bring the world under a rule,/Who are but weasels fighting in a hole."  W.B. Yeats
A wee something going on in my neck of the woods; one hundred "loyalists" in balaclavas hurling stones over the wall against their mirrors.  I won't be going anywhere near the interfaces on East Belfast tonight.
Later, our driver to Derry recounts that he lives in the Short Strand, the Catholic enclave in East Belfast, and was hit by something thrown over the wall, ended up with seven staples in his head.  "I woke up in an ambulance."
The legendary Baroness May Blood, on Northern Ireland: "I liken it to cosmetic surgery. We have changed the appearance of the place, but we haven't dealt with the underlying problem."

First smell, upon arrival into Belfast, was manure, from nearby fields somewhere we couldn't see.

I never thought I would say this, but the riot police in Northern Ireland use Gandhian methods of nonviolence to keep sectarian mobs from assaulting each other. Peace-keeping, indeed.

A former IRA killer: "every day I pass the pass I shot the British soldier, it's just up the street there, I cross myself and pray for his family."

A former UDA killer, after talking with the other side, gets questioned about it by his own.  His reply: "What's the craic?  His blood is red, just like yours."

A girl from Donegal, in a Derry mall, recommends a sight to see.  It has nothing to do with any bloody history.

The curator of the Museum of Free Derry, whose brother was killed on Bloody Sunday, and who once said that he'll "never forgive the bloody British bastards," was oddly at peace, after the Saville Commission report vindicated his brother's innocence.

I heard a gunshot from my behind, and I felt a pain in my temple and my eyes started to fill up with blood, and I thought, if I can only keep my eyes open, I'll live.

"I am content to live it all again,/And yet again."

I am content to live it all again,/And yet again.

No comments: