Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation – Peace and Conflict

22 Jul

Conflict is such a small word with such a powerful meaning.  Conflict is understood in a few ways and in many different contexts at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.  The basic idea of conflict is when two opposing ideas become more than just ideas and turn to action which in many cases is of a violent nature.  With that scope a discussion can be had about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. 

The Troubles stemmed from years of conflict and oppression on the island of Ireland as a whole and more concentrated in Northern Ireland after the Irish war of independence.  That conflict took a violent turn in the late 1960s until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.  So much focus has been directed on the conflict rather than the peace process afterwards.  It is much easier to compromise or push the past away rather than working on establishing a real and lasting peace. 

At the Glencree Centre there was mention of the concept of a divided peace which is a rather contradictory idea.  While there is no fighting and a joint government in Northern Ireland there are still great divisions in many aspects of life such as communities and schools.  Peace walls in Belfast serve as a protection between communities which goes directly against the idea of peace.  If there was true peace in Northern Ireland why would there be a need for walls to divide?  There is still a concern of safety in Belfast and a fear that if the walls were not there fighting would breakout again. 

After nearly 16 years after the Belfast Peace Agreement there is still work that needs to be done to ensure peace and that is what the Glencree Centre wants to help with.  After a visit to the Centre it is easy to see why there is so much hate and also why there is such a strong need for a real and lasting peace.  The longer a divided peace exists the longer it will take to achieve a lasting peace and more prone the area is to slip back into violence.  

– Tracy Venella

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