The Troubles are over. So why is Northern Ireland still so unsettled? (+video)
Amid riots this summer by both loyalists and republicans, and with fears of more to come Saturday, some say the peace process itself has formalized seasonal violence.
Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Dublin, Ireland
In 1998, after 29 years of bloody civil conflict, Northern Ireland was euphoric: Peace had finally been achieved. A political process, however difficult, was underway and the guns fell silent.
The guns have remained largely silent since. But street violence continues, particularly during the summer months of the so-called "marching season," when various groups, predominantly pro-British unionists, take to the streets of Northern Ireland to parade, sometimes resulting in violent clashes. This past summer was no exception, with several instances of rioting in North Belfast, and more feared due to a contentious unionist parade due on Saturday.
Despite a power-sharing accord between the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and republican party Sinn Féin, all sides involved in the recent disturbances feel aggrieved, leaving many in the North wondering what happened to promises of a "New Northern Ireland" and why are things still so unsettled.
Even among many who are glad that the Troubles have ended, blame is beginning to point toward the structure of the peace process itself, specifically how it attempted to defuse the conflict into a culture war. While the Troubles' zero-sum political conflict – between the competing ideas of a united Ireland and a United Kingdom – has ended, what remains is a split between nationalist and unionist, Irish and British, where the divide isn't healed, but rather is reinforced annually.
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