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Northern Ireland will not slip into chaos

As tragic as they are, the recent killings in Northern Ireland will not lead to a return to the country’s violent past.
IRA funeral
Would anyone cry today? (via The Revolution, Flickr)

On Christmas Eve 2007 I wrote a very optimistic posting about the future of Northern Ireland. Despite two assassinations in two days, I remain optimistic. As tragic and senseless as the acts of some IRA splinter-groups (”Continuity IRA“ , which split in 1994 and the “Real IRA”, founded in 1997) may be, this is not the seventies.

The actions may have been triggered by the deployment of an underground intelligence unit to keep track of the groups’ future plans. It may lead to other militants to prove their determination to hurt everyone who is ready to compromise and follow the Good Friday Agreement, most notably deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, who is seen as a traitor.

In the long run, things might calm down, though: The former IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein is sharing power with the Democratic Unionists, and the militants do not have much support in the Catholic community. Ulster’s younger generation does not know what these groups are even fighting for, though the economic downturn could remilitarize them.

Northern Ireland may have to live with occasional eruptions of violence: It will remain on its way to peace if all elements of the Good Friday Agreement come into force and let the violent past seem like a relict from another century.

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