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A Lasting Peace


When Bernadette Devlin MP for Mid Ulster, Northern Ireland crossed the
floor of the Westminster Parliament in 1972 to slap the British Secretary of
States face for saying the British Army fired in self-defense at the Bloody
Sunday massacre in Derry, she probably would have found it difficult to
imagine Sinn Feins Martin McGuiness shaking hands with his nemesis Ian
Paisley as co-leaders of the Stormont Parliament in Belfast today. But back
then, Ms. Devlin a leader of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement, and
survivor of Domhnach na Fola (Bloody Sunday) was caught up in the
struggle for equal rights in housing, education, and employment, all the while
trying to avoid being killed herself.

The survivor of an attempted assassination in which she was seriously

wounded while British troops stood by, Bernadette Devlin whose name in
Irish means ferocious bear was understandably outraged by the English
governments tolerance of miserable conditions of the native Irish in the north.
Not to mention the covert supplying of arms to Loyalist terrorists running
rampant in Belfast and Derry. The fact that Martin McGuiness also a
survivor of Bloody Sunday, and current MP for Devlins previous constituency
has managed to put aside the brutalities of British rule in his homeland to
participate in power-sharing arrangements in the Northern Ireland Assembly,
is testimony to both the determination of Sinn Fein to establish a united
Ireland, as well as to their commitment to never return to the terrible violence
of The Troubles they lived through for thirty awful years.

If theres a lesson to be learned on the island of Ireland, and there are indeed
many, it is that the hunger for liberty and the need to be self-determined
cannot be denied when the will and unity of a subjected people remains
strong. It can only be delayed, and with much bloodshed at that. We only
hope the Good Friday Agreement will usher in a lasting peace in Ireland,
something for which the indigenous Irish have suffered enormously for over
eight hundred years. Ironically, the name of their island in Irish Erin is the
Gaelic word for peace.
[Jay Thomas Taber (ONeal) derives from the most prominent tribe in Irish
history, nEoghan Ua Niall, the chief family in Northern Ireland between the
4th and the 17th centuries. His maternal family name in Irish means champion.
Jays ancestors were the last great leaders of Gaelic Ireland, and in 1999 he
walked the fields of Kinsale where they once fought. His grandmothers
grandfathers grandfather emigrated from Belfast to South Carolina in 1768.]