By Orly Gilat, translated by Orna Raz
Violent and bloody conflicts around the world have been resolved, let’s plant the seeds of hope, to remind us that it can happen here too:
This time: Northern Ireland
For hundreds of years, Ireland was the scene of the fiercest fight between Protestants (the supporters of English royalty) and Catholics. This conflict had its roots in the conquest of the Irish Isle by English settlers in 1169. This is the historical background. In the 1960s Northern Ireland suffered violent struggles and terror attacks that cost the lives of more than 3500 people, mostly civilians. There were 50000 wounded and more than 20000 imprisoned. Naturally those years of fighting took an economic, social and educational toll on Northern Ireland.
It seemed that Northern Ireland would live forever on its sword. However, on April 10th 1998 a peace treaty was signed “The Good Friday Agreement” which included mutual recognition of the suffering on both sides of the violent conflict. It also acknowledged disagreements between the two sides, and a commitment to reach an agreement in a democratic way. Not surprisingly women on both sides of the conflict played a significant role in furthering the agreement. They were part of the process with demonstrations, protests, and declarations.
Although there were still some dissent following the agreement , violence ceased almost completely. The two sides adhered the treaty. To this day there is an on- going dialogue and decisions are reached in a democratic way. Both sides, the royalists Protestants and the Catholics, who in the past refused even to negotiate, are collaborating and work together to heal the wounds of the past.
Today Ireland has a political party which consists of Protestant and Catholic women. It happened in Ireland, it could happen here as well