On air: Staring into the abyss?

stephen_nolan_bricks_2523Hello I’m Stephen Nolan. Today I’ve been asked to present World Have Your Say from my home town of Belfast. On my phone-in radio programme that went out on BBC Ulster today, I listened to Angela the wife of a police officer who told me how her son clung to her husband terrified he would be shot, begging him not to go to work. She echoed the fear and shock for many in our province that dissident factions have murdered two soldiers and one police officer in the last few days.

From the woman who fears that the dark times of Northern Ireland’s 30 year trouble are returning, from those angry on the streets that the hard-won peace process is in jeopardy, my listeners and the whole of Northern Ireland is talking about it.

Now, we’d like to hear what you, the WHYS community, think about this and your worries or hopes for the future of Northern Ireland. I and a small audience will be at the Headliners newsroom, which is a youth newspaper a stone throw from City Hall, we’ll be answering your questions. Would you like to know if the dissidents have support in communities? If we suspected or feared renewed attacks?

We’d also like to hear from others who have brought communities together, those who have had to put aside painful histories and try to calm restments – some countries in the Middle East, Nairobi, South Africa – and if you agree with David Aaronvitch in the Times who suggests we all need someone to hate.  I am going to go out now to talk to some fellow who are gathering at City Hall in protest of the attacks.

If you have any questions for the people joining us in Belfast, post them below.

26 Responses to “On air: Staring into the abyss?”

  1. 1 Steve
    March 11, 2009 at 14:17

    There’s at least one positive thing about this vs. islamic terrorism. There’s outrage and protests against these acts of terrorism. There was another bombing in iraq, yet I don’t see any protests against acts of terrorism like that. Hopefully the situation in N. Ireland will not escalate, but at least the public outcry against the terrorism is a positive thing.

  2. 2 nora
    March 11, 2009 at 14:47

    The ‘someone to hate’ article seemed to facilitate haters. It was followed by lots of fan comments which verified the thought that we should become hateful as we contemplate the latest violence . Readers weighed in with tidbits like “bring back the maze.” Sick.

    On his ‘ironic’ use of Che Guevara Lynch–are the RIRA using Che in their rhetoric or does the writer just have a hate on for a dead man?

    I am really grateful that the crazy man who killed 11 in Alabama yesterday didn’t have a political website. or even a leaflet.

  3. 3 Allan
    March 11, 2009 at 15:11

    So we have “The Troubles” – Catholics killing Protestants. Christians killing Christians.
    That’s in Ireland.
    In Iraq and Afghanistan we have Christians killing Muslims (and, of course, the reverse). Why do I limit that situation to those two nations? We have that problem world-wide.
    Oh, and we also have Muslims killing Muslims – just as with the Christians in
    Ireland – and that’s going on everywhere too it seems.
    Then there are the Sikhs who hate the HIndus (who hate the Sikhs and the Muslims).
    And the Buddhists? They want to fight a non-religious foe: China. (Well, not exactly fight but the Dali Llama isn’t happy with things and when the DLs not happy it’s just like things at home. If Mama aint happy no one’s happy.)
    I guess my question is when is someone going to speak up and say the obvious:
    “What’s the common denominator here?”
    The answer of course is the “R” word.

  4. March 11, 2009 at 15:19

    The current turn of events in Northern Ireland shows that this part of UK still has underlying trouble as the Real IRA considers it has the duty to finish the job started by the IRA but aborted by the Good Friday Agreement. It also shows that political division is still existent in Northern Ireland as there are those who still bear resentment to UK rule.

    The killing of two soldiers and a policeman shows that the security situation in Northern Ireland is still shaky, especially if there are escalations in violence through the bombing of public sites as it was the case with the IRA. In other words, the UK will have to deal with terrorism at home and abroad, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq which is about to leave.

    In view of the last incidents ,some of the questions that need to be asked:

    1- How can the UK cope if there is terrorism at home from Muslim extremists, the Real IRA, and abroad in its fight in Afghanistan against the Taliban, which many military experts still see the war against them is currently unwinnable?

    2- How popular is the Real IRA in Northern Ireland, especially among those disenchanted with power sharing among the Catholics and the Protestants?

    3- How big is the threat from the Real IRA? Is it really dangerous to the current peace in Northern Ireland?

    4- What are the economic impacts of the returning tensions in Northern Ireland as it has become economically vibrant following the cessation of hostilities following the Good Friday Agreement?

  5. 5 nora
    March 11, 2009 at 15:21

    The writer seemed to suggest that the NIRA should be shooting old IRA members for giving up armed struggle. If they take that turn, will he be partly responsible for more death?

    Let’s mourn the dead and make sense of the present.

  6. 6 Anthony
    March 11, 2009 at 15:32

    I don’t understand all of this….doesn’t the North WANT to be part of the UK? Didn’t they decided in the early 20’s to be seperate from the South, and didn’t the North VOTE to be part of the UK? I just don’t get it.

    I was suprised to talk to some N Irish guys online via Xbox Live and find out they have Eniglish accents, not Irish accents. Also, to find out that they want NOTHING to do with joining S. Ireland, and that they LOVE the UK and are VERY proud to be Englishmen.

    Honestly, Ireland needs to do something about this, or I think the UK has a right to take care of this through force.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    p.s. @ Steve, I think it’s because the Western World connects much more with the Irish, compared to the Middle East.

  7. 7 Vijay
    March 11, 2009 at 15:42

    Staring into the Abyss?

    Is this violence related to control of drugs,protection and vice crimes OR is there any political element to the violence.

    Obviously some people must miss the lifestyle(the craick ,respect etc..) of being a freedom fighter against the heretic colonial imperial enemy that is the UK.

    Maybe due to the world financial crisis these guys couldn’t make their mortgage and car payments(so went back to what they know best), Saudi Arabia is piloting a scheme where basically they buy off susceptable people by providing houses ,jobs vacations and cars.

    I wonder if they are being funded ,armed and trained in the USA like the previous incarnation of the IRA.

  8. 8 Bert
    March 11, 2009 at 16:08

    I say, shame on you, NIRA, for behaving like those yahoos in the ME.

    And I fully agree with Steve’s comment.

  9. 9 ewewale
    March 11, 2009 at 16:10

    I hope the venue in Belfast is secure?
    These attackers may want to have pulicity by hitting the venue.
    I wish you a safe presentation.

  10. 10 Shaun in Halifax
    March 11, 2009 at 16:19

    Hearing that the violence could start again in Ireland chilled me when I first heard it.

    What is of greater concern to me, is why now? After so many years of relative peace, what set this off? Was it the act of younger people who haven’t experienced the conflict first-hand and thus glorify it, or is it the old hard-liners aching for the good ol’ days? Is it a reaction to the economic crisis? Are both sides worried about what will happen if unemployment spikes? Is this a foreshadowing of it? I know that in times of great upheaval and stress, people tend to drift towards the old ways because they find comfort in it (read: fundamentalism of all types), but there has to be a better way!

    The bad blood is surely not gone, but one would think that after many years of the cease-fire, both sides can see that not fighting is better than fighting.

    @ Steve

    I suspect the reason nobody is protesting the bombings in Iraq is because they’re par for the course. These days, it’s more noteworthy when there isn’t a suicide bombing in the middle east.

  11. 11 Mallie
    March 11, 2009 at 16:24

    I couldn’t believe it when I heard; I stopped and stared at the radio in disbelief. No one wants this again. In times like these everyone should work together for the betterment of their people, not turn back to the old divisiveness.

  12. 12 viola
    March 11, 2009 at 16:26

    Yes, I’m interested in whether these killings are approved by anyone except those who planned and executed them.

    Well, of course any ideology that promotes hatred will attract haters and killers. It will also attract those whose greatest pleasure in life is blaming others for their own shortcomings. First there’s blame with an accompanying denial of personal responsibility for one’s own shortcomings, then there’s hate which will find a target. Hate just found another target in Germany with another young man running amok on a killing rampage at his former school.

    Whether that hatred culminates in a school shooting, a renewal of “the troubles” in Ireland, or a suicide bombing by a Muslim Jihadist, it is all about hate, blaming others, and loving death and destruction and believing death and destruction are solutions.

    It’s incredibly seductive and sneaky, blaming others. Everyone is vulnerable. Extreme, eternal vigilance is required by individuals who wish to remain free of it’s compulsions and who wish to deny others its comfort.


  13. 13 Steve in Boston
    March 11, 2009 at 16:39

    Questions for today’s panel:

    1. How much of what is going on in Northern Ireland is, and in the past has been, nothing other than class warfare veiled as nationalism or religious conflict?

    2. Do you think the resurgence of violence is related to the economic recession?

    3. During the Gaza offensive some posters pointed to the Troubles as an example of negotiating with terrorists being more fruitful than violent confrontation. Do you think this current wave of murders should be dealt with through negotiation?

    For what it’s worth, I think that if things get bad enough and enough people are out of work, this is the tip of the iceberg of violence that will spread around the world including the USA. I’ve said in past posts that this economic situation is merely the symptom of a much larger social problem that will eventually result in an extended period of bloodshed in the streets. More on that another time.

  14. 14 Matt in Oregon
    March 11, 2009 at 16:42

    Ending the troubles in Northern Ireland is being hailed as sucess story for conflict resolution today, and is being pointed to as an example for the Palestinians and Israelis to follow. I hope for everyones sake that Ireland does no decend in to violence again and can be still pointed to as a way to reach possitive outcome to sectarian fighting.

  15. March 11, 2009 at 17:00

    The current turn of events in Northern Ireland shows that this part of UK still has to keep on the alert. The past peaceful years can turn into a matter of the past if the Real IRA isn’t surrounded and ended. However as long as there is almost unanimous outrage at the recent killings across all the spectrum, there is hope that peace can be maintained for the benefit of all.

  16. 16 Ibrahim in UK
    March 11, 2009 at 17:30

    I think it’s wrong to compare Northern Ireland with Palestine/Israel.
    The conflict in the Middle East stems from land dispossession, ethnic cleansing and settlement of foreign immigrants. There are millions of Palestinian refugees who cannot return home because Israel wants a Jewish majority. As far as I know, no one is trying to ethnically cleanse Northern Ireland nor is anyone forbidden from returning to their homes.
    Northern Ireland is more like Kashmir than Palestine.

  17. 17 Charles
    March 11, 2009 at 17:34

    There does not seem to be the mandate of the populace behind these actions. Not only the politicians but apparently the majority of the population is united in their opposition to these actions. I agree that it is time for your country to continue through political channels in both building your country and healing past wounds. As much as I had been sympathetic towards Northern Ireland and it’s resistance towards British rule I feel that your country has moved past that point and I have no sympathy for these current actions.
    In fact I feel they are justifiably condemned.

  18. 18 Tom D Ford
    March 11, 2009 at 17:44

    March 11, 2009 at 15:11

    “So we have “The Troubles” – Catholics killing Protestants. Christians killing Christians. …

    I guess my question is when is someone going to speak up and say the obvious:
    “What’s the common denominator here?”
    The answer of course is the “R” word.”

    Yep. Religion.

    So. Some questions:

    Will mankind evolve out from under religion?

    Can mankind be educated out from under religion?

    Is it possible for the decent people of the world to help the other people to reject religion and to recognize the common humanity of all?

  19. 19 Bert
    March 11, 2009 at 17:44

    No, Ibrahim, I’m not focusing only on Palestine/Israel, but rather all the incessant acts of terrorism, suicide bombing, etc., that occur and have occurred in the ME for years and years, among different flavors of the local religion.

    It is amazing that this new violence in N. Ireland isn’t being shunned, just on that basis alone. Shame!

  20. 20 Tom D Ford
    March 11, 2009 at 17:56

    I note that these are problems left over from colonialism, from businesses using religions to divide and conquer and reduce populations to striving as cheap-labor and fighting against each and only to benefit some big global businessman.

    Let’s change businesses!

  21. 21 Ogola Benard
    March 11, 2009 at 17:56

    I just landed on the “The wounded City”, a novel by Trevor Barnes, a freelance journalist!

  22. March 11, 2009 at 18:11

    The war in Ireland represents one of the greatest examples of how negioation, debate and compromise ended 30 years of “senseless” bloodshed. If anyone who thinks that these two murders – however bad should spark off the conflict needs to have a reality check and understand what exactly they are talking about.

    The case has to be resolved in the same fashion that ended the conflict, nothing will be gained if the conflict re-ignited. Progress has clearly been made – absolutely nothing should be an excuse for un-doing this.

  23. March 11, 2009 at 18:27

    In response to the point on defiance, After witnessing the horrors of the Mumbai Attacks – no better response to stopping terrorism short is to remain defiant and not permit them to create a climate of fear that they all seek to create.

    Remaining defiant and not allowing them to reach this objective is by far the best response. Revenge is going to create a vicious circle of never ending actions and in the end benefit no-one

  24. 24 CJ McAuley
    March 11, 2009 at 19:15

    If there truly does still exist a problem in Ulster (within the HUGE amount of the roughly 1.7 million population of the entire place!); I’d say it lies with Stephan Nolan and his ilk! If Ian Paisley who said NO to peace, but changed his mind, is not Nolan showing a similar lack of faith in people, but instead going to the “dark side”? Get a grip, all you people!
    I am so thankful that my Mom moved to Montreal (now about the same population as Ulster, BTW) with her 5 also orphaned brothers in 1947!
    My Grandfather (a Presbyterian Scot who both fought in WWI and was a an RUC Constable primarily in Armagh) had a heart attack on the Falls Road in Belfast in roughly 1942 and was helped by the people who lived there then! Ergo, I have no use for the negativism of Stephen Nolan!

  25. 25 Philip Makura Nyaata
    March 12, 2009 at 15:02

    Great Britain, it is only God of Jesus Christ who can give you peace. Repent and turn to God and He will heal your nation. Do justice to everyone, abolish satanic laws such as those allowing a man to have sex with another man and have love for one another.When you do those things ,the mighty God of Abraham,Jacob and Isaac will arise and shine His face upon the face of the United Kingdom and you will have peace in the name of Jesus. I am from Nairobi, Kenya.

  26. 26 Emile Barre
    March 14, 2009 at 13:13

    The EU should decide on the future of Northern Ireland.

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