‘I thought of what it’d be like to move away’

What 10 Northerners say about life since the IRA statement

Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 01:00

 

‘I thought of what it’d be like to move away’

Dr Michael Paterson Clinical psychologist and former RUC member. He lost both arms in an IRA rocket attack in 1981 After I was injured I went to Edinburgh to be fitted with an electric arm. I remember sitting in the park, just enjoying watching the people go by. At that point I thought of what it would be like to move away from Northern Ireland. But I stayed on.

In my clinical work I’ve seen a number of former police officers who still fear that they are targets. Whether that’s rational or irrational remains to be seen. I had a client from north Belfast who coped as best he could, but then he was involved in a minor road traffic accident, in which the other driver shouted in his face, and he just went to pieces psychologically. Sometimes all it takes is one more little thing.

‘Had the ceasefire been earlier, my wife would be alive’

Alan McBride Victims’ campaigner, member of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. His wife, Sharon, was killed by the IRA in the Shankill bomb in 1993 For me this place has changed almost beyond recognition. There’s no real appetite for going back to conflict. Had the 1994 IRA ceasefire been in place earlier, my wife would probably still be alive. But I can’t look back too much. It’s not to say I don’t feel for the past – I do – but we need a process that deals with the past.

We need to do what we haven’t done yet, and that’s bring victims together. That’s what needs to be in a peace plan if it’s going to work. I’d have much preferred if this had been discussed at the time. Now the prisoners are out of jail, and all our bargaining chips are away. There’s little left to bargain with other than generosity of spirit.

‘The basic animosity is still there’

Prof Richard English Historian and author The republican movement now has a pretty good relationship with the UK state, but they have much more difficulty dealing with other Irish people. They get on better with their old enemies in Britain; they’ve more chance of having a nice evening dinner with the queen than with other republicans.

What hasn’t changed is the view of the past. The basic animosity is still there. When somebody from Sinn Féin stands up, a unionist can only see the IRA, even now. There’s still an awfully long, slow journey to go. Of course, if you talk to London politicians they think it’s a fantastic success story. If they could make parts of Iraq look like Northern Ireland, they’d jump at you.

‘It’s the difference between night and day. And this is the day’

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin politician and businessman, lord mayor of Belfast 2013-14 The big difference for me is that the horizon is bigger and brighter. The ambition of the city is greater; the air is full of electricity. I’m tickled by the transformation among young people: they will save us because they don’t have any idea how terrible things were.

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