Saturday, July 14, 2012

So much for phony peace agreements!

The British government has been peddling so-called peace agreements in Northern Ireland for 13 years now to make it appear everything is hunky-dory & peace reigns in the kingdom--rather colony. That explains photos like former republican, Martin McGuinness curtsying to Betty & Phil Windsor. But the agreements, like the Oslo Accords for the Palestinians, incorporated the terms of Catholic & nationalist surrender & not a new democratic dispensation. The old colonial structures of occupation & partition supported by religious sectarianism remain in place. There can be no stable peace in Northern Ireland without addressing those problems. Public relations campaigns to mask the continuing & underlying power structure of British colonialism don’t cut it. Nothing makes that more evident than Orangemen parades through Belfast & Northern Ireland every July 12th--an official holiday commemorating the Protestant side's victory over Catholics in the 17th-century. For the 4th straight year, this sectarian & supremacist parade has provoked conflict by marching past the Catholic neighborhoods. The Orangemen fatuously insist they are defending their right to freedom of assembly in marching those routes. This year, the British government appointed a Parades Commission to defuse the conflict. Their compromise included Orangemen traveling the troublesome routes in buses flanked by riot cops & cheered on by several hundred Protestants waving Union Jacks from the side of the road. The heavily armored riot police who escorted the Orangemen wore flame-retardant boiler suits, helmets, shatter-proof visors & shields & employed rubber bullets & water cannons against Catholics & nationalists protesting on the other side of the road. If the British government wants to dress up colonialism as a peace process, it will have to do a whole lot better to restrain the triumphalism & provocations of the Orangemen. Here a Catholic/nationalist youth displays an Irish national flag as the Orangemen’s bus moves through Belfast escorted by riot cops. (Photo by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

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