Few Irish people know there used to be an equestrian statue of King Billy, William III, victor of the Battle of the Boyne, proudly imposed on Dame Street in Dublin.
It went the way of Nelson’s Pillar but earlier, blown to bits in 1929.
Are there any conceivable circumstances in which Dubliners could go back to living with an effigy of the Prince of Orange?
It’s necessary to ask in order to confront the same blithe, of-course-not complacency – on both sides of the Border – among a generation that has grown up without personally knowing anything of the murderous effects of the bomb and the bullet for nearly 30 years to the end of the last century.
Could Northern Ireland regress to violence? No matter how seemingly unlikely, it very much could – because it hasn’t emerged from the chrysalis stage that came with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
To successfully advance toward a normal society, it still needs the help of others. That is why the British government’s reckless and absentee parenting in recent years has been so shocking and irresponsible.
That’s that IRA fellow in the flesh, he might have thought, even though Mr Adams denies he was a member
The Northern Ireland Assembly fruitlessly gathered again yesterday amid the ongoing protocol impasse.
The DUP would not allow the election of a speaker, because that in turn might allow the election of a successor to the DUP’s first minister position.
Sinn Féin would have the right to occupy that office for the very first time.
Yet it has been three months since Northern Ireland went to the polls, with a result that produced a rebuke to the DUP but which has only seen that party persist in dog-in-the-manger politics.
However, that dog is only a pup when compared with the big dog in Downing Street, as prime minister Boris Johnson was called in a campaign to keep him in office at the height of Partygate.
It may be that the inadvertent last gift to the peace process of the original first minister, David Trimble, lies in having forced Johnson to attend his funeral this week.
He may have spotted Gerry Adams at the Harmony Hill service in Lisburn. That’s that IRA fellow in the flesh, he might have thought, even though Mr Adams denies he was a member. But the point is that he hasn’t gone away. The white-bearded old ideologue is a reminder of the past, one that was drenched in the blood and tears of all sides in a cruel conflict.
Good enough for Johnson, now a lame duck, to have clapped eyes on the reality of Northern Ireland, not knowing if any old combatants surrounded him in the dreary pews.
Mary Lou McDonald’s strategic absence from Trimble’s funeral effectively said her focus is firmly on the future
It can only help make the British government, and probably incoming prime minister Liz Truss, more aware of what’s at stake in Northern Ireland.
The protocol is a practical issue and a present problem for one community – not a handy stick to pick up and use as an instrument to continue to attack the European Union.
Simultaneously, it is not a conductor’s baton with which to orchestrate baying Tory backbenchers.
That symphony has concluded in a cacophony for Johnson, but he might at least warn Truss, who looks like wielding that baton, that less discordant mood music might help in future.
Mary Lou McDonald’s strategic absence from Trimble’s funeral effectively said her focus is firmly on the future. She stayed away, while Bertie Ahern broke a family holiday to attend, with the Sinn Féin leader leaving representational duties to Adams and Michelle O’Neill. She, at least, is for moving on.
Would that London came to its senses on protocol warmongering – for that is what it might become – to allow Northern Ireland the progress promised through the achievements of Trimble and others in 1998.