There is a saying, “The English never remember, the Irish never forget.” The more sober truth is that everyone remembers and forgets selectively. Therein is a political problem that is well illustrated in Northern Ireland these days.
Many people in the country’s six counties are hoping that the astonishing emergence of a power-sharing government that includes both Unionist Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuiness will lead the country away from the “Troubles” of 1969-2000. It is time, some Irish say, for leaders to abandon public recriminations about the past and to build a peace that will foster the kind of economic growth that prevails in the Republic to the south. In Belfast, the chief topic of conversation is no longer the latest atrocity by a paramilitary group, but the rapid escalation of real estate prices. Proponents of forgetting see this as a healthy transition.