I'm Northern Irish, I'm Irish, and I'm British, (Scoff at this if you will). I grew up in "Bandit Country", but I let myself arrive at my own conclusions with regards to politics. I arrived at the moderate “side”, wanting Northern Ireland to function as a normal place, however, the 15 years since the GFA have deepened my dissatisfaction. Sinn Féin and their “Don’t worry, eventually there will be a United Ireland stance”, The DUP and UUP (Can they be classed as separate political entities anymore?) with their staling rhetoric, homophobic, racist, and boldly sectarian outbursts have made me lose hope somewhat. It disappoints me to see a deep, trench-like divide in politics, instead of working for the good of NI, (or so they will claim) they frequently only seem to think of their votes, not voters or constituents, but votes.
Simply put, they cannot agree on anything. They cannot agree on a bridge. On a flag. On economic support for the less fortunate among us. On integration of education. On dealing with the past. The list goes on.
Where is the next generation in all this? Where are their voices? They struggle to make themselves heard over chants of TIOFAIDH ÁR LÁ! And NO SURRENDER!
Inspiring young people like Hanna Nelson, who said in her speech upstaging Barack Obama, “As a 16 year old I don’t want to live in the past, I want to live for the past. I want to live in a country where it is not my religion that is important but my value as a person which is significant”; have their bold, impassioned and exciting sentiments praised by politicos like Peter Robinson, only to have them utterly forgotten about and ignored the next day by those same people.
Some vain hope is laid on the shoulders of the Alliance party, the SDLP, and new parties such as NI21. NI21 is an excellent example of how attitudes can change, perhaps more can in the future, but for now, these parties strain to project their ideas, or, indeed, take action. They remain as silent as the majority they represent. Again, heartbreaking for those among us who just want peace.
It seems to be a boorish and disgraceful cycle of bombs, bullets, rhetoric and incompetent leadership.
Can it change? Yes. Everything can be changed, if we try hard. If young people speak out, against the deadly cycle, and the sectarianism, break down barriers, and re-think our mentality. Only then, will we truly see change, and truly see human respect for everyone. I will not lower myself to saying “sides” as it makes me cringe.
Where are the silent majority? We want to hear you!
A disheartened 15 year old.