Thursday, March 28, 2013

Irish Peace Process & Llywelyn's 1999

From yesterday's BBC editorial "Can Northern Ireland act as a template for Colombia?"
Fifteen years on from the Good Friday Agreement, there may be scepticism at home about the weaknesses of the Stormont assembly and executive. But in some other parts of the world Northern Ireland's 1998 peace deal is still being closely studied as a potential model for resolving conflict. 
As many as half a million people are thought to have died in the long running war in Colombia between the government in Bogota and the Marxist FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which control areas in the south of the Latin American country... 
Thousands of miles apart, the two conflict zones became briefly linked in 2001 when three Irish republicans were arrested by the Colombian authorities, and later convicted of training the FARC guerrillas. Around the same time the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian government held a series of peace talks - but the process broke up amidst bitter recriminations. Now delegates from both sides are once again at the negotiating table - although this time they are keeping the details of their discussions under wraps and staying well away from the Colombian media in seclusion in the Cuban capital of Havana. 
Some key issues - like land reform - have no obvious parallel in the Stormont process. But others - such as disarmament, the treatment of victims, and discussion of how former combatants might participate in politics are more familiar.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't go into much detail about parallels between the two peace processes or which elements of the Stormont process could be applied to Colombia. Oh well.

For a novel about the Irish peace process, try 1999: A Novel of the CelticTiger and the Search for Peace by Morgan Llywelyn:
Barry Halloran, strong, clever, and passionately patriotic... Now a crippled photojournalist, he marries his beloved Barbara Kavanaugh, and steps back from the armed struggle. Through his work he documents the historic events that take us from the horrific aftermath of Bloody Sunday through the decades of The Troubles to the present.
For a little more action and a little less emphasis on the historical background, I recommend The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty:
At the height of conflict between the Catholic IRA and Protestant paramilitary factions in 1981, Sean Duffy, a Catholic police sergeant in the Protestant town of Carrickfergus, near Belfast, gets an unusual case. Two gay men have been murdered, their right hands severed (the classic modus for killing an informant) and switched between the two bodies. Duffy initially suspects a serial killer, but when no more gay men are targeted, he comes to believe that the second killing was done simply to cover up the first, in which the head of the IRA’s feared internal security force was the victim. Even after the case is reassigned, Duffy defies orders and keeps digging, coming up against corruption and collusion. Everything in this novel hits all the right notes, from its brilliant evocation of time and place to razor-sharp dialogue to detailed police procedures.
McKinty's novel is set during the early 1980s, but the as-yet-unpublished third book in the trilogy is expected to be set in the late 1980s/early 1990s and involve the peace process.

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