Saturday 3 December 2016

Martina Devlin: North moved on but we didn't take leap of faith

Published 13/10/2011 | 05:00

Fairytales are comforting because what happens during them is fixed: evil is thwarted, while the virtuous are tested but pass with flying colours. History, on the other hand, is troubling because it can be difficult to assign hero and villain labels.

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We are most comfortable with the kind of history where there is consensus: the rats that carried bubonic plague, the assassin who was the spark plug for World War One. But when confronted with an alternative version of events we grow uneasy -- and some seek to defend the narrative they feel safest with, no matter how unsustainable.

One such threadbare account holds that the Irish state was founded as a result of 'good' violence from 'patriotic' gunmen acting with the support of the people. The Troubles in the North, on the other hand, were characterised by 'bad' violence from 'terrorist' gunmen acting without any support from the people.

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