Pre-Conflict, Conflict and Post-Conflict

As I have said before, there are only three stages to the Irish (now Northern) “Problem”. There is Pre-Conflict, Conflict and Post Conflict. In terms of a “Problem”….Ireland has always been “A Problem” for England and England has always been “THE Problem” for Ireland.

Really we were all born into this…we are all born into some part of the Arc of Irish History. Thus a child born in 1952 (not exactly a year I choose at random) is born into the Post-Conflict stage and will spend his childhood happily before the great watershed year of 1969.

A child born in 1962 is born into a Post-Conflict stage but will spend his/her childhood in a Pre-Conflict stage and spend decades living in Conflict.

A child born in 1972 will be born into the worst years and spend the best part of twenty years living with no memory of “peace” and little expectation of it. But a child born in 1982 will be born into bad years but grow up knowing that the worst was over. The child born in 1992 will be born as History is moving from Conflict to Post-Conflict and grow up in a Post-Conflict world.

But I choose 2002 …not entirely at random…because my first grandchild is born into Post-Conflict and and the Troubles are seeming of little relevance. I wont see most of his life…what phase he and his own family will live thru as adults.

More so…my most recent grandchild…born in 2012. She is without doubt born into Pre-Conflict. Thats how it is. Make no mistake, there is a date out there as relevant in Irish History as 1798, 1916 and ….1969.

And to be 17 years old and have no real resiliance to the daily trauma of Conflict. Because its a simple fact that everyone born and brought up in 1952….in Falls Road, Ardoyne, Short Strand, Shankill Road , the Village, Sandy Row, Tigers Bay, the Markets…is as crazy as I am.

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8 Responses to Pre-Conflict, Conflict and Post-Conflict

  1. Acrobat 747 says:

    This is a quite shocking and perhaps prescient post.I have three main points that I would like to mention to you. However on the whole I feel you are perhaps correct.

    1) In 1952 the Catholic population had minimal civil rights. This fermented to such an extent that violent reactions became inevitable. This environment does not exist now, so conflict has absolutely no justification.

    2) The legacy of the troubles is so profound that nobody could reconsider sustained violence. War is consigned to history for evermore, and like the Germans and the Japanese, we’ve learned our lesson.

    3) With globalisation so well developed any sustained violence in Northern Ireland would be met with such strong international revulsion that the organisations involved could only be seen as heinous and shameful, even in their own heartlands.

    However, I have a concern in the direction of unionism. For a number of years I have seen unionism take on an extremely defensive stance. The DUP did experiment in ‘letsgetalongerism’ but it is backfiring now that the UUP has wakened up.

    If Sinn Fein manage to push the republican agenda too fast and too soon I would not be surprised if unionism revolts en mass. I would expect large ‘peaceful’ protests on the streets of Northern Ireland soon. Where this may lead is a matter of speculation but perhaps it is the transition out of post conflict and into…. well who knows.

  2. This post is essentially the first in a series and maybe some of the points you raise….and they are all legitimate will be addressed in upcoming posts.
    I dont think there is an “end” to History.
    It continues and at various stages the Irish problem has been “solved” by Plantation, Cromwellian Settlement, Glorious Revolution, Act of Union, Anglo-Irish Treaty and Good Friday Agreement…the real issue is that it re-invents itself.
    The Creative Ambiguity in the Good Friday Agreement might well have been necessary but only in the context of the process not stalling. The Agreement does not really withstand close scrutiny and layers of more Ambiguity (the existence of IRA for example) only add to the problem.
    Something has to give.
    You are probably right that the next Conflict will not last thirty years …but there will be one. I am absolutely certain of that.
    An Agreement that was sold as one thing to unionists and anther thing to nationalists will not endure. It is really that simple.
    I am not so sure that I agree that the 1969 Conflict was inevitable…in some ways we just stumbled into it…and I suspect thats how the next Conflict will start.

  3. I had a wonderful English teacher at school who explained the cycle to me as repression, rebellion, passivation, dissatisfaction, repression etc. I believe that we are now into dissatisfaction. Nationalism is still second class. How long this phase will last we do not know. But move on it will.

    • Yes I think youre right.
      Really the Good Friday Agreement is just a piece of paper and the only eople really satisfied with it as an end in itself is the British.
      But Nationalists gained something but not nearly as much as they thought.
      Unionists did not gain as much as they thought.
      And not even the LetsGetAlongerists.

  4. Political tourist says:

    It could also be that any conflict might be decades away.
    1921 to 1969 is the best part of 50 years.
    And there was the odd riot/hot summers in the 50 years.
    Plus there was the add on the civil rights in American/Vietnam students protest as a safety valve.
    The unionist government/police/people completely over reacted to events.
    And Britain had copped out yonks before.

    • But dont forget a major world war and the establishment of the Welfare State.
      As the Welfare State is abolished and another global conflict seems more likely, nothing will stay the same here.
      Scotland….European Referendum…Migration….Demographics….New “Rights” issues….Global Finances….Norn Iron election turnouts falling…Justice issues….Political Policing (the PSNI are as wedded to the DUP-SF regime as RUC was to the Unionist regime) and the unplanned incident where someone gets killed….
      We have been lucky since 1998.
      We cant be lucky forever.

  5. Unfortunately I think you are correct to some extent. One can see it in certain areas, not just stereotypical places like Kilwilkie, but elsewhere across the north-east. There is something that I can’t put a word on, a feeling or sentiment. It doesn’t have a name but I recognise when I see it. More than dissatisfaction or disappointment, less than militancy. However I’m not sure what would cause that to move to something more belligerent, or at least anything likely to happen. People are not going to support a war to bring back a devolved assembly at Stormont, should it fall.

    I would imagine some form of joint-authority post-Stormont and unionist violence is a more likely spark to light a new conflagration.

    • Oh its definitely in the air. The assorted hard nuts, “Republicans” and “community activists” are now part and parcel of the new regime. Its not just about Executive, Assembly and Council seats. The largesse stretches a long way down.
      Chief Constables and senior local police officers are now on first name terms with ahem….those who havent gone away ya know.
      The extent of the toleration of “crime” might be a factor…yes it doesnt have a name…but there are rumbles of discontent about “she has a house in Donegal”, “look at the car he is driving”. There is a point where the patronage runs out…and thats where the discontent is heard.
      When the money is withdrawn from “community projects” or police really go after fringe former republicans in fuel smuggling and assorted real or perceived criminality…thats possibly a trigger.
      But when the spark is lit, its likely tto be in an unlikely scenario.

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