It is impossible for someone like myself, who grew up in one of the worst-affected areas during the Troubles, not to notice that the areas now reeling from riots, burning cars and confrontations with the police are the very same ones that suffered most in previous decades. This is no coincidence. It is no coincidence either that these riots are not taking place in more well-to-do parts of the province, just as they didn’t in the past. I watch these youngsters and, all but for a change of fashion, they could be the same people who were on the streets in the 70s and 80s. It is soul-destroying to observe.
—Mary O’Hara, from her op-ed “Poverty Is the Backdrop to the Riots in Northern Ireland” in today’s Guardian.
As I read this, I couldn’t help but think of our recent interview with John Paul Lederach and his emphasis on peace as a long-term effort that comes about by finding solutions to basic needs, such as employment and housing that is needed in these impoverished parts of Belfast.