Thursday, January 29, 2009

In Belfast

To Belfast for the launch of the report written by the Eames-Bradley Consultative Group On The Past. This brave attempt to start the process of putting the troubles into some sort of official perspective was done at a public meeting at the Europa Hotel, which as everyone knows is one of the most bombed hotels in Europe. It was attended by victims groups from both sides of the sectarian divide; some of these people it was explained to me have not - and cannot - 'move on'. Their loss has been extreme and there has been no justice for many of them. Indeed some of them point out that they have had to witness the men who directed and inspired the violence attain political respectability.

There is a lot of shouting by a minority and not a great deal of listening but finally the speeches get underway. It is an upsetting experience to witness as an outsider but I am struck by the age of the people doing the shouting; taking a tape outside to the truck I look around and realise that outside the hotel the city is full of young people getting on with their lives.

Then later on I meet Alan McGee who helps run a trauma centre for young people called 'Wave'. It is a gentle and warm place to end a tough day with teenagers from both communities sat joking, watching TV and drinking coffee. McGee lost his wife in the Shankill bombing but he has no time for hate these days. He wants to see a line drawn but the scars of the conflict more openly admitted and dealt with. Maybe a commission of some kind can start to do it, but the obstacles are great.

No comments: