|These are regular editorials
produced alongside the corresponding issues on Nonviolent
This editorial includes:
While the all-party talks on Northern Ireland
taking place this month may not yield miracles, they may be
an indication that the log-jam may shift sometime in the foreseeable
future, even if direct rule is copperfastened for the meantime.
With the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin in
the ascendant, it is going to make interesting watching.
The death of old republican stalwart Joe Cahill
in the summer was the occasion of eulogies from Sinn Féin
and condemnation of those eulogies from many others. But it
is clear that Sinn Féin is trying to take its core
support with it, and part of this is emphasise the continuity
of the current, peaceful, struggle with the previous, violent
struggle. The rest of the world may not believe it but if
it works for Sinn Féin in taking its supporters with
it then it may be part of a necessary evil at this stage.
But, as with the loyalist paramilitaries, at some point things
have to move on, and whether that will be reached this year,
next year, or sometime, well, waiting can be painful but essential.
There are many paradoxes in Northern Ireland and paeans of
praise for violent deeds may be the least of our troubles.
But we remain convinced that the baby has been
thrown out with the bathwater. ‘Nonviolent’ aspects
of struggle, used in alliance with violent aspects, particularly
on the republican side, have been set aside at the same time
as violence has been discarded. The ‘constitutional’
route of party politics ignores many possibilities for campaigning
and organising which are implicit in a nonviolent approach.
In discarding violence it is ironic that the possibilities
of non-violence should not be more fully utilised, and that
only the standard party-political model should be in vogue.
However, despite the problems which beset Northern
Ireland the current reality is undeniably a vast improvement
on what was a decade and more ago. It looks like the waiting
game will continue for some time yet.
The Republic’s record in ‘cutting’ greenhouse
gas emissions has been abysmal. With the Celtic Tiger economy
growling, greenhouse gas emissions have been spiralling upwards
and not decreasing at all. The Irish government and people
in the Republic have singularly failed to decouple economic
growth from increased emissions. Now it seems the Irish government
has decided against introducing a carbon tax. This may be
for a variety of reasons – popular opposition from motorists
and hauliers, the low level of effect it would actually have
on emissions, etc.
But the question is – what is the government
going to do? Sit on their collective behind while the seas
swirl around them and the wind blows the country apart? We
need imaginative, creative, and potentially costly, action
now. Is it too much to invest massively in wind power and
biomass? If people react against windfarms in scenic areas,
well, what about locating many of them in cutaway bogs? And
the problem of commuting has to be tackled to enable people
to live as near as possible to where they work. The continued
growth in flying has also to be tackled. These are massively
big issues but one which our children, and even more our children’s
children, will judge us to have failed if decisive action
is not taken.
Of course advances in technology, and the growth
in the possibilities of hydrogen as a fuel, will help. But
we need some serious action and planning now rather than the
current approach which is to do nothing or only do anything
halfheartedly and ineffectively. Let’s show the world
that Ireland really can be green ecologically and not green
This month’s poem from Lothar Lüken:
Blues time now for us old fogeys -
we’ve worn out our ‘blue suede shoes’.
‘The famous blue rain coat’ is totally
and eclipsed by a spunk-stained blue dress.
We’ve lost the freedom of ‘blueberry
those shoes, coats, dresses, that innocence.
All emperors are naked and blue with cold.
Yet, sometimes, there’s hope - out of the blue.
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