There is an interesting debate going on about how much truth the new Northern Ireland can cope with. The South African model of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission suggests that progress is inextricably linked with the availability of truth. The question is how much truth the fragile political process and political institutions in Northern Ireland can cope with at this stage.As Ian Paisley steps down from the leadership of the denomination he founded, +David also references what looks like a fascinating collection of resources for the painful process of reconciliation based on truth from the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland. Coming from mainly Evangelical roots, but with realism and a deep sense of the whole counsel of scripture, both the methods and content of CCCI's work look very significant indeed for contexts far beyond the province.
I have seen UK media stories about Northern Ireland most days for the past 40 years, but I have to confess and marvel at my ignorance about it. The best Noddy book to recap it all for me has been David McKitterick & David McVea's Making Sense of the Troubles. The same authors have produced another Correspondents' masterpiece, Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children Who Died Through the Northern Ireland Troubles. When I picked it up in Waterstones in Lisburn this summer, I couldn't bear to read it. It's an aggregation of the stories of the 3697 people who died in the troubles since 1966 — a memorial as much as a history. Here is the pity of this war, and sketches of the faces behind those figures that most of us Brits got used to disregarding as they rolled by on the evening news for 40 years. 3697 people died and, by and large, this side of the water, we neither knew nor cared who they were or why.
Is that their problem, or ours?