ColumnistsRichard Sullivan

Can't move on while we've poppies, parades and parks

Raymond McCreesh park
Raymond McCreesh park

Can't move on while we've poppies, parades and parks

Poppies, playparks, parades and the past – the news agenda of a ‘peaceful’ Northern Ireland.

It was all meant to be so different.

Seventeen years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement elected representatives continue to fight the war over and over again.

At least they’re using words and not bullets or bombs,  but the language and intolerance  is every bit as vitriolic as in the dark days of the Troubles.

Switch on the radio, pick up a paper and our daily diet of news is a cruel trade off in atrocities.  

Like some macabre game of poker they play the Kingsmill card, which is seen by the Ballymurphy card and raised by the Pat Finucane card.

La Mon, Shankill,  Droppin’ Well, Enniskillen, Bloody Sunday, Dublin/Monaghan bombs, Loughgall, they have all been cited and relived in the last few days as a way of illustrating how one side is being treated better than the other.

And this all sits in a strange parallel to a power sharing Executive whose mission statement is to represent all sections of our community.

It doesn’t take long for us to blunder into the trip wire of the past. 

The furore surrounding the naming of a children’s playpark in Newry after IRA hunger striker Raymond McCreesh has reach hysterical levels.

The tit-for-tat argument of who was or wasn’t, is or isn’t  a terrorist can never be settled. So let’s leave it at that.

It’s 14 years since the park was named after him and to my knowledge the sky hasn’t fallen in and it hasn’t had an adverse effect on anyone. 

Move on.

Equally the decision by Mid Ulster Council to ban the sale of poppies has simply served to raise sectarian heckles.

Why? It’s origin as a non political totally neutral symbol to the memory of those lost in the Great War has become blurred in recent times. 

It was never meant to be a symbol of unionism, to its detriment it is viewed as such by nationalists and used as such by unionists.

The only outcome is more sectarian point scoring and no resolution.

A good old sectarian row might make good television, but the predictable tit for tat, finger waving and insult trading allows the combatants to avoid the truth.

We don’t have to be the same, difference is inevitable.  

It’s just taking some of us a very, very long time to realise it.