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Catholic Focus: Northern Ireland -- The Process of Peace

Alessia Domanico

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Religious sectarianism among communities is prevalent in countries like Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, a socio-economic divide between two religious groups is something we would rarely, if ever, see in western society. Canadians, for example, enjoy a religious freedom unimaginable in a country like Iraq. So what happens when this kind of divide does happen in western society? The answer can be found in the complex history of Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Conflict began in the late 1960s, but its roots go as far back as the 1600s when British and Protestant settlers arrived in Ireland, overthrowing the Catholic population and seizing control of government.
'The IRA in Andersonstown'August 1980The Conflict is referred to as The Troubles. The Troubles pitted Catholics and Protestants against one another in a conflict that had very little to do with religion and everything to do with politics. Many people on both sides of the religious and political divide lost their lives in the over 30 years that it lasted. The story first attracted me years ago when I heard the U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday" about the shooting of 14 innocent Catholics in 1972. My time in Belfast this year gave me greater insight into what took place and how the country was finally able to find peace.
In tonight's episode of Catholic Focus, I speak to Professor John McGarry of Queen’s University. He is one of Canada’s experts on the Northern Ireland conflict. I also interview Professor Mark McGowan, the Principal of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto and we meet Sandra and Benedict, two Irish expats, now living in Canada. They share their real life experiences of growing up during one of the most violent periods in modern history.  I invite you to tune in to better understand the conflict and its integral role in modern history.
Catholic Focus: Northern Ireland --  The Process of Peace airs Wednesday October 13th at 7:00pm ET, with an encore presentation Saturday, October 16th at the same times.
Photo:  Brendan Murphy © 2003, from photo book Eye Witness.  Used with permission.

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