Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: IRA memorabilia belongs in the past

No matter what it says on the badges or other memorabilia the Troubles were a sordid conflict in which thousands of ordinary civilians suffered death or maiming for a cause they wanted no part of. (stock photo)
No matter what it says on the badges or other memorabilia the Troubles were a sordid conflict in which thousands of ordinary civilians suffered death or maiming for a cause they wanted no part of. (stock photo)

Editor's Viewpoint

The appeal of IRA merchandise appears to be waning as the company selling its badges, memorabilia and publications has reported large losses and laid off staff. If all the items for sale are as tasteless as the Bobby Sands green, white and gold football jersey with the dead hunger striker's face emblazoned on the front and the numeral 81 - the year he died - printed on the back, perhaps it is no surprise that sales are plummeting.

Twenty years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement perhaps it is inevitable that the romanticism some misguided people, especially among the Irish American community on America's east coast, attached to the IRA's terrorist campaign has matured to a more realistic vision.

No matter what it says on the badges or other memorabilia the Troubles were a sordid conflict in which thousands of ordinary civilians suffered death or maiming for a cause they wanted no part of.

It would be encouraging to think that a similar mature outlook was emerging in Northern Ireland but, as the current General Election campaign demonstrates, the guns may have been decommissioned but the sectarianism and hatred which afflicts the two communities here remains as potent as ever.

At the slightest sign of tension - manufactured or real - the unappealing spectacle of people deliberately causing offence or seeking to be offended becomes evident.

As Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said at the launch of her party's manifesto yesterday, seldom has she seen an election campaign so disfigured by lies and smears. The peace process has brought benefits, but these have been lost to an extent due to the toxicity between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Once two decades ago this peace process was hailed as one of the great political breakthroughs in modern history and was held up as a model for other countries emerging from conflict.

Sign In

Anyone from abroad spending any time in Northern Ireland at present and reading the writing on the walls would wonder if they had arrived in the wrong country.

No longer is the province seen as an exemplar for other countries trying to build a new society. Ancient allegiances are held onto like treasures. Little wonder tourists or online shoppers are shunning the memorabilia of conflict. Only we still carry our prejudices like badges of honour.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph