Is the creation of an annual Sorry Day a good thing for Northern Ireland ?
by Abid Fatem, journalist for Wathever News
A few years ago, a movie entitled “Hunger” have released. It dealt with the 1981 Hunger strike, where MP like Bobby Sand were incarcerated, and led a hunger strike to protest against the Iron Lady's policy for Eire's independence.
The Anglo-Irish war (after the end of the First World War) between the Unionists against the Irish Republican Army fighting for the independence of the whole Ireland. This is a bloody stain on UK's history. However, after many ceasefires, treaties, and talks, an agreement in 1998 succeeded to calm down both sides : the Good Friday Agreement.
The question is therefore whether this day of memory is for family and family a moment to share, to celebrate activist's bravery, or it is a way to remind that revolution against government has a big cost. This day could also wake some old claims...
Northern Ireland had really bad time during 60-70's, especially for his MP. They led 3 strikes in prison in 1981 : the first one was the blanket strike, MP refused to wear prisoner's clothes because they didn't considering themselves as prisoners so they were naked. It was a way to protest against their unfair situation.
Then they made the dirty protest, putting they're excrement on their wall's cells. Finally, the hunger strikes, during 66 days prisoners stop to feed themselves. The Iron Lady was inflexible, and that's the reason why Bobby Sands died, after 66 days without foods. His death provoked many riots.
People created murals on memory of those like Bobby Sands who fight for the Ireland's independence, until the death.
Another tragedy happened 10 years sooner, in 30 January 1972 in Derry. Protesters were used to walk peacefully, demonstrating for more civil equal rights as usual. However, soldiers (depending on British authorities) shot 26 civil unarmed. This event is one of the most disastrous and significant events during The Troubles.
Nonetheless, past is past, and now Ireland and Northern Ireland are in peace, even if they still need “peace walls” to maintain security. Little by little, scars heals, and those both countries began to accept each others, this bring me to mind the growing opening of mixed school, or opening of peace walls in some parks.
It was not before 2007 that Northern Ireland could recover its own parliament, which had been dissolved after the troubled year of 1972. The British authorities had to wait until the IRA was
really willing to disarmament. Some troubles still occasionally happened in Northern Ireland between the Protestant and Catholic communities. However, the main struggle happens on the political scene, and a return of violence like in the 1970s is not seemed plausible.
Irish President Michael D Higgins came on April 8th to the UK, for the first official state visit by an Irish President. He spoke of his country's "deep and enduring" friendship with Britain.
Relationships improves between those both countries, so as far as I can judge a memory day is a supplementary step on the peace's road. This day will call back some bad memories, but also proves that violence between Protestants and Catholics communities only brought pains, and deaths. This day will be a memory day, and a teaching day for both sides.