Picture; The Flags – The Ulster Banner, of Northern Ireland, The Union Jack, of The United Kingdom, The Irish Tricolour, of The Republic of Ireland, and The Dove of Peace.
We think of this period as one of rebirth. For those who enjoy it as a Spring Awakening, it is that. For others who know it as the Easter Celebration it is that indeed. For me it is both and more. My wife and I first got together at this time of year and because of that, got married a couple of years later at this time of year. Then only in my twenties, now a number of years later, it is my favorite time of year.
In 1998, we had been married three years and the Good Friday that year was our wedding Anniversary. It was too, the day of the Good Friday Agreement. This momentous day brought a peace process that had been going on behind the scenes and in the public gaze, to a conclusion, and to a new beginning. The conflicts of decades cannot be solved in days, true all the more if those conflicts have their origins in centuries past, with bitterness continuing in the present.
The Good Friday Agreement Anniversary this year is on Easter Monday. It is this year, the twenty fifth Anniversary. It is a period to think of a peace that has endured, not wholly peaceful, but mostly hopeful. Like a marriage of two people, an agreement between two peoples, is an achievement. Marriages now more than ever are various and different. And so too must we accept and celebrate the same of treaties. Northern Ireland has seen one that has worked. The parties to it have, like a couple, almost separated, nearly divorced, recently argued. Northern Ireland needs marriage guidance, relationship counselling, ongoing therepy. But it, like a couple, needs to realise, it is better together than apart.
Peter Ustinov, whose work inspires this site and our Forum, wrote a play with a title I have always wondered about and liked. It was “No Sign Of The Dove.” The play, though satirical, had nothing to do with this issue, but I think of it now. For at this period of the year, with this particular subject in mind, I seek the sign of the dove, and I see the sign of peace, in the air, amidst the flags that might fly, for Northern Ireland, The United Kingdom, and the Republic Of Ireland.
Peace is a process. It is true in public and in private life. It is true politically, and, importantly, personally. Whatever this period is to anyone, I know what it means to me. And I know how much it means to Northern Ireland and beyond.