It wasn’t perfect—and peace will always be a process. But going through my mum’s newspaper clippings is a potent reminder of what the Agreement meantby Sarah Creighton / April 11, 2018 / Leave a comment
A few weeks ago, my Mum invited us all over for tea where she fed us till our stomachs were full and my youngest brother fell asleep on the sofa. At some point in the evening, the conversation made its usual turn to politics. I can’t really remember how we got there, but my Mum mentioned that she had a stash of old newspapers and magazines up in her room. In the end—to show us how much she had—she brought down the bag.
Cut to now, and it’s my first full week at work after Easter. I’m flat out. I’ve half a mind to write something about the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement—as a Northern Irish woman with an interest in law and politics—but I’m not sure what to say. Head full of random ideas and thoughts, I dander up to my Mum’s house after work. Over coffee, we look through her stash of old papers.
It’s an odd experience looking back. It’s only by doing so that you realise how far you’ve come. The Good Friday Agreement deserves to be celebrated. But it’s important to remember that it’s one part of the story. Peace is a process, and it doesn’t happen in a day.
My mum, like a lot of people, gets very angry when she talks about the old days. We didn’t lose anybody in the Troubles but my parents grew up in the worst of it. My family’s story is one of trying to live a normal life while chaos reigned. My Granda was a civilian searcher in Belfast City Centre. He checked vehicles as they passed through checkpoints.
31st August 1994-the IRA declare a ceasefire. I'm 7. pic.twitter.com/gqjFHxzjt8
— ?Sarah ? (@Saraita101) April 9, 2018
It’s significant, I think, that the oldest newspaper my mum owns is about IRA ceasefire of 1994. It’s a copy of the Belfast Telegraph and the headline reads, ‘It’s Over.’ The articles in the paper are cautious, but there is catharsis in that headline. The pages are spattered with hope. It’s hard to look at, in a way, because of what happens later: in 1996, an IRA bomb rips through Canary Warf killing two people. The ceasefire is over.
On that day though, August 31st, 1994, there was a moment when people thought: maybe it’s finally done.