Colour Coding : White and Orange Lilies

The Real IRA, as they call themselves, sent an Easter message, a symbolic gesture, a bomb in a London postal depot, without warning, luckily without casualties, their way of commemorating the taking over of the Dublin GPO, as headquarters, in the Easter Rising, April 24 1916.
At the special meeting of the Assembly Orange and Unionist anger was expressed, because of lilies in the building, as they coincided with the Nationalist tradition of wearing lilies as a symbolic remembrance of that event.
Apparently feelings were aroused to such an extent that demands will be made for a display of Orange Lilies for the 12 July commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne.
Nothing seems to change in attitudes set in seventeenth century Irish politics even as we enter the Spring of the first year of the third millennium and twenty first century.
Listening to RTÉ (Irish Radio 1) on Easter Sunday morning I heard a report on Easter and mid May 1941, of the bombing of Belfast, when hundreds of German planes, with little or no opposition, wreaked havoc in and around the city.
It was common knowledge that defensive weapons, which might have staved off some of the attacks, had been deployed to London which was being regularly bombarded and, apparently, an aircraft carrier said to be in port, after initially responding, ceased doing so lest it might be singled out and sunk.
I was in the ARP at the time, on patrol, witnessing the flames hanging in the sky illuminating wide areas of the city and from time to time in the recommended prone position, resting on my elbows as bombs whistled overhead. If you could hear the whistle they had missed you - if you didn’t they might have got you!
As the radio story brought back memories I recalled, as did the programme, that despite the policy of non involvement, the Irish Free State government of De Valera despatched, without hesitation, the fire brigades of Dublin, Cork and other areas to race through the night to help to quell the fires raging across the Northern Capital and to assist in the rescue of their fellow countrymen. Surely this sort of memory recall is more in keeping with the Peace process than wrangles over the colour of floral displays including lilies(see note below).
Or indeed the Real IRA, by embarking on a campaign of bombing and disruption of North - South rail links putting themselves on side with those on the loyalist Unionist camp who wish to negate the Good Friday Agreement of 10 April 1998.
After thirty years of mayhem a compromise, giving both communities the opportunity to re-invent themselves, to engage in democratic politics in a framework of Parity of Esteem. These diehards or young recruits are shaping up to rekindle the conflagration.
Unless the incumbent politicians can assert their control and combine to make the Agreement work they will go down in history as having failed ignominiously to rise to the best opportunity in centuries for peace and prosperity in the whole island and its neighbour.

Note :
The BBC Radio 4 report of the anniversary of the bombing of Belfast made no reference to the despatch of assistance from the South nor to the arrangements made to receive and care for many hundreds of civilian refugees until Belfast got back on its feet - Ed.

©: Samuel H. Boyd, Cwmbran, Wales, 24 April 2001.

Samuel H. Boyd

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