My latest OurKingdom piece:
I learned of the London riots last week when I got back from a night out in Belfast only to be greeted by scenes of riot police and burning buses in Tottenham on the TV news. It felt like an uncanny vantage point from which to be watching part of my hometown in flames.
The sense of cognitive dissonance only grew the following evening on my return to a London that was witnessing calls for plastic bullets, troops on the streets and other measures whose disastrous consequences I had spent the previous week learning about.
This August marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland, perhaps the most draconian attempt to suppress civil unrest by a British government in modern times.The Féile an Phobail festival in West Belfast last week witnessed testimony from internees and the families of civilians killed during the period. The picture that emerged was one of a disastrous policy that exacerbated the Troubles for decades.
In a new departure, the Féile also heard from two ex-soldiers visiting West Belfast for the first time since the early 1970s as part of a delegation organised by the Tim Parry – Johnathan Ball Peace Centre in Warrington.