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Approach to empathy in Northern Ireland requires a change in tune

Máiría Cahill


If republican sentiments about a shared future are genuine, it will take a great deal of self-reflection to nurture a climate of zero-tolerance of toxic abuse

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Aftermath of an IRA bomb blast in Botanic Avenue, Belfast on Bloody Friday, July 21, 1972

Aftermath of an IRA bomb blast in Botanic Avenue, Belfast on Bloody Friday, July 21, 1972

Aftermath of an IRA bomb blast in Botanic Avenue, Belfast on Bloody Friday, July 21, 1972

‘Backward knuckleheads.” West Brit.” Some comments to Arlene Foster after sharing my article on stereotyping unionism last week. One user even wrote: “Hope some day the pro Brit Tory lovers in Ireland would accept their Irishness not English pro union crap.” Charming. She was also accused of victimhood for merely suggesting journalists from a nationalist background should seek to “understand the Orange culture rather than demonise it”.

Welcome to the New Ireland, Northern Ireland’s Protestants. Those posting messages like this see absolutely no irony or hypocrisy in urging unionism to partake in conversations around a shared future, when they are incapable of either sharing the present without causing offence, or of making an effort not to do so.


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