What’s the Point of the Peace Rallies? New Post on Slugger O’Toole

belfast peace vigilI have a new post on Slugger O’Toole, ‘What’s the Point of the Peace Rallies?’

It includes reflections on Saturday’s Prayer for Peace and Sunday’s Peace Rally, both at Belfast City Hall.

I expect to write more on this (Church Without Walls) blog in the coming days, including a response to Caroline Orr’s comment on an earlier post of mine about the prayer for peace.

(Image of the prayer vigil from BBC)

One Response to What’s the Point of the Peace Rallies? New Post on Slugger O’Toole

  1. MM December 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    When it comes to peace rallies, I’ve always taken the view that if they don’t do any good, they certainly won’t do any harm. That’s why I was happy to be there last Saturday morning. On a cold December morning it warmed my heart and restored my faith in humanity. When it comes to flags, I’ve always taken the opposite view. To me they are a luxury we can’t afford in a divided society (We can envy those countries where there is consensus on national identity and the constitution). Long ago I made a personal conscious decision to live without a flag. But it also has to be acknowledged that those of an Irish nationalist persuasion living in Northern Ireland, have for generations, learnt to live without one whether they chose to or not. It was only in the 1980s that the Tricolour began to be flown with any consistency in stanchly nationalist/republican areas. But for the most part nationalists still do without it (on public buildings for example, giving way to the fact that the State is British while their choice of nationality may be Irish). It is therefore hard for them to understand or empathise with the degree of angst and apparent deep seated insecurity that has accompanied the partial removal of this one particular flag. This is particularly in light of the fact that to them it seems the only restriction on the flying of the union flag other than on public buildings is the actual number of lamp posts in the towns and areas with a unionist majority (there just doesn’t seem to be enough posts). One can’t help but agree with Rev Harold Good when he said,”There must be another way of sitting down to talk about where these feelings and fears come from…. The last thing we must do is manipulate them and exploit them and I fear that has been happening”. Whether or not there is a flag flying on Belfast City Hall of any colour is of little or no concern to me. What does concern me though is that in all circumstances and not just when it suits, the democratic process should be upheld and not undermined by the threat or use of violence and disorder. Use the ballot box.

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