Can one act of forgiveness bridge the divide of segregation in a troubled region?
by John Cochrane
Both now gray-haired, the Queen of England and former head of the Irish Republican Army Martin McGuinness shook hands for the first time in June. It has been hailed as a significant step in Northern Ireland’s long and turbulent road to peace, but the question has to be asked: will this figurehead reconciliation make any difference to the people of a very troubled province?
There is no doubt that this meeting has helped heal some wounds. The Queen of England lost her cousin Lord Mountbatten in 1979 to an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb, and McGuinness witnessed the atrocities carried out in his own community in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972 by British Paratroopers. Even after a ceasefire was finally established in 1998, 30 years of armed conflict left behind ongoing segregation, violence, and mistrust. Northern Irish society, which is still deeply divided between the traditionally Catholic, nationalist/republican communities and the traditionally Protestant, unionist/loyalist communities, still has a long way to go before …
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