Friday 27 April 2018

Maurice Hayes: If McGuinness and queen can move on, so can we

WHEN Mary O'Malley started her little theatre to celebrate the works of Yeats in the back-return of her house on Belfast's Derryvolgie Avenue all those years ago, she can scarcely have conceived that her Lyric Theatre -- in a splendid new award-winning building on the Lagan Embankment -- would become the setting for a historic meeting and a handshake that Yeats would not have dared put in a play.

When that great man Brendan O'Regan founded Co-Operation North in the darkest days of the Troubles, not even he, the eternal optimist, could have dreamed of an outcome in which, at the end of a bitter and divisive conflict, had cost so many lives, caused so much pain to so many and split society, that his organisation, or its successor in title, should host an event which more than any other to date symbolised an end to hostilities.

By a happy symbolic coincidence, the meeting took place in a section of the theatre devoted to creative learning -- also, the cynic might remark, to storytelling for toddlers. But this is no day for cynicism. It must be wondered which of the parties concerned, and which of the communities they represented, learned more. There were lessons there for both.

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