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  • Writer's pictureHarry Smith

A new day…

Updated: Apr 16

In a recent Slugger 0’Toole blog, Philip McGuinness wrote regarding the ongoing impasse at Stormont and the mounting pressure on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to re-enter the power-sharing Assembly. In it, he said:

“The two major parties should not, at will, be able to topple the architecture of administration to further their monochrome and mutually-exclusive aims…

Neither unionist nor nationalist is the majority identity in NI. If the DUP wish the majority of Northern Ireland voters to back the Union, they must – as the largest unionist party – demonstrate to beyond their identity base that NI can govern itself in a stable and pluralist way. If SF (Sinn Féin) wish the majority of Northern Ireland voters to back unity, they must – as the largest nationalist party – demonstrate to both beyond their identity base and to southern voters that NI can govern itself in a stable and pluralist way.

Both parties are at the mercy of their more refractory victory-at-all-costs wings: “we will never return to Stormont”; “we will never take our seats at Westminster”; “we will never accept a Sinn Féin First Minister”; “we will always say the IRA armed struggle was necessary and successful”. It is sadly ironic that both democratically-elected parties are boycotting democratically-elected parliaments.” 

What he has spoken of here is the default position of two parties’ juxtaposition by their covenanted positions of 1912 & 1916. Both are rooted in the spiritual dynamic of the “empire spirit.” Introduced into Ireland in the mid-12th Century, it has shaped and formed our polarised society into: Irish Catholic (anti-British) Nationalism and following the Reformation, Protestant Unionist (pro-British) Nationalism. I use Catholic and Protestant in both senses: of the role, the historic Catholic and Protestant Churches have had by embracing the “empire spirit” and how secular Catholics and Protestants have also been influenced by this.  The spiritual and political are so inseparably intertwined; this led to 1912, 1916, the Civil War, partition and the current impasse.

In the blog, McGuinness speaks into that - as many have done - as he suggests two potential scenarios in the polls which might enable a viable working Assembly - “a stable Stormont” (see article link below). Undoubtedly, we do need a political solution but unless there is a significant spiritual change, I fear that it will be short-lived!

On the back of my research and writing related to “A Tree has Roots”, I have a dream. A dream of a new day… What would happen in Ireland if Christians were to renounce the idols of Nationalism, if we were to truly “seek first the kingdom of God”? We would certainly look at the wounds we have inflicted on each other and lived out of, in a very different light. Perhaps, for the first time, we could with integrity fulfil the criteria laid out in 2 Chronicles 7:14 for God's healing in our land. Yes, the air would be thick with repentance, healing, transformation!  Issues related to an Ireland - united or otherwise - would no longer be something worth fighting against each other for. 

Regarding the image I have often shared with you of the two magnets: the two cultures and political identities repelling each other. What would happen if both were de-magnetised (if there is such a word)? What needs to happen in the heavenly realm for that to transpire? Not an impossibility with God!

And arising out of that, “What would the new political landscape look like?” “Who would you vote for?” What party would the various transformed politicians align themselves to - if they could? That's for another day! I dream on!

Photo – Katie Moum – Unsplashed

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