by Kerry Dexter

Following on a historic vote in the six counties of the north, it seems at though contol of the political lfe of the north of Ireland will be returned to Belfast from Westminster (a process known as devolution), and that there may be closer ties and co operation with the 26 counties of the republic in future as well.

What are the prospects? Four decades of violence and bloodshed, and four decades of political policing in return have left their scars across the Republic and the North (not to mention eight hundred years of conflict and oppression and a century of political division, but that’s for several other stories). Recent years have been somewhat more peaceful: the strength of family ties and connections and the dimming of extremist action on both sides suggest hope, as does the practical fact that both Loyalists (DUP) and Sinn Fein leaders would like to exercise political power.

Hard bargaining is expected from all parties. Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein and Ian Paisley of the DUP sat together in the same room earlier this week, a moment many thought they’d never see. They were meeting the March 26 deadline mandated by the results of the vote to get things in line — and they’ve set another deadline to have the basics of a government agreed to by 8 May. British Premier Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bernie Ahern each know it is a situation filled with possibilities, some good, some less so. Right now people across Ireland are, radio broadcasts report, “feeling pretty good about things, it’s a cheerful day,” presenters said, as a big controversy in the North seems to be about water charges and rights, not bloodshed.

and rock star Bono changed his plan to make a low key acceptance of a knighthood from the British goverment on Thursday to making a public event, in part, he told the Belfast Telegraph, because of seeing Paisley and Adams sitting down together.

When you walk across the border, be it at Newry, at Derry, in Donegal or in Louth or Armagh, it’s a dark and bloody ground of history still, and a healing one still, as well. Here’s to the healing, political and personal.

Bloody Sunday a dramatic film about one of the darkest days of The Troubles

A look at the last decades of the conflict in songs by contemporary songwriters, based on stories from people who lived the events:
Radio Ballads: Thirty Years of Conflict

Children of the Troubles to read the stories and memories.

Kerry Dexter writes about musicians and creative practice, and a lot about Ireland, at Music Road.

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