Recent Communal Riots in Northern Ireland have Lessons For India

Synopsis:  Recently communal riots broke out in Ireland. India can take a few lessons from it. A committed political leadership should take responsibility for peoples’ social and economic problems and should make efforts to alleviate their miseries.

Background
  • Recently communal clashes broke out in Ireland between the Protestant pro-British loyalist unionists and the Catholic pro-Irish nationalists.
  • The Protestant pro-British loyalist unionists wanted that Northern Ireland to remain a part of the United Kingdom forever.
  • Whereas, the Catholic pro-Irish nationalists wanted that Northern Ireland becomes a part of the Republic of Ireland.
What are the reasons for the riot?

The riot is a result of many problems such as ideology towards change, resistance to change, and sustained political and social inertia towards the misery of vulnerable sections.

  • First, political leadership’s apathy towards addressing social issues.
    • Even after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Good Friday Agreement in 1998, both religious communities experienced little or no peace.
    • Poverty, deprivation, lack of social and economic opportunities and persistent high unemployment affects both nationalist and loyalist similarly in Northern Ireland.
    • It has also resulted in an abnormal number of suicides between 1998 and 2014.
    • The localities most deprived during the pre-agreement communal riots remain the most deprived areas within Northern Ireland today.
  • Second, differences in ideologies towards change (Brexit). While the Catholic pro-Irish nationalists wanted to stay with European Union, the Protestant pro-British loyalist unionists campaigned for Brexit.
    • However, 56% of electorates in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. This has resulted in a special protocol for Northern Ireland.
    • It provided for the territory to remain in the customs union and single market of the European Union while protecting its status as part of the United Kingdom. Much of the present anger relates to this specific protocol.
What lessons can India learn from this?
  • First, a functioning democracy must ensure a daily commitment to address communal issues with vigilance, tolerance, and compromise.
  • Second, Political leadership should take responsibility for peoples’ social and economic problems and work towards eliminating prejudices within communities.
  • Third, Political parties should be aware that, creating religious tensions between communities will severely damage every section of society as well as political and national institutions.

 

 

Source: The Hindu

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