Thursday, 12 July 2012

Does the handshake with the British Queen spell the demise of Republicanism as a radical alternative in Ireland?

The handshake that lasted 3.7 seconds kept the broadcast media on knife-edge as the crowning moment of the so-called peace process. However, beneath the carefully choreographed piece of political theatre is a settlement built on sand, on managing sectarianism and regulating division, rather than confronting and removing the causes of conflict in our society.

As former IRA member Tommy McKearney summed up, ‘Therein lies the real difficulty many of us have with this contrived handshake. It was merely a piece of theatre, which does nothing to address the real problems faced by the people of Northern Ireland. If anything, this type of symbolic posturing is actually harmful. It displaces and/or prevents mature and necessary debate and reflection on the unequal nature of our society and the detrimental impact of Britain’s ruling class upon the public’s wellbeing.’(1)

The media hype may have receded for now until the next showcase of ‘normality’ but the reality of living in an unequal class society where inequality is at its worst since the second world war (2), came back as a ‘monsoon’ arrived on our steps. In the face of a crumbling water and sewage system and neglect from our local political class, we were left fall back on the spirit of working class mutual aid and solidarity to tackle the devastating floods and damage to homes and communities caused by the Belfast floods.

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