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April 11, 2011 / catherinebwrites

REVOLUTION ISN’T PRETTY CLOSE UP.

We went to visit Girona recently and, while there,we visited several of the surrounding towns.   In one particular place we were in a shop selling local foods.
Where are you from?”  the shop owner asked.
“Ireland.”
He got very excited  and started to tell us of his great admiration for the I.R.A.  who had so recently liberated the Irish nation from the hands of the evil British.    While I was trying to formulate a reply he went on to say that he wished the I.R.A. would come to Catalunya and help the Catalans to liberate themselves from the clutches of the evil Spaniards.I burst his bubble by telling him that the I.R.A. had not liberated anyone from anything but had started thirty years of bloodshed which had caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people and sown fear and distrust in the province of Ulster.   He didn’t like what I was saying.   He wanted a free Catalunya.

He reminded me of the people you meet here in the Republic who support all that the I.R.A. do and have done.   But it’s easy to talk that kind of dangerous nonsense when you are safe and snug in your home ,when you can sleep easy.   When you’re not the one who is going to the morgue to pick up the body of your friend,  your mother or your son who’s been shot.   When you haven’t been forced to drive a car that is carrying a bomb to the centre of town.  When your sister has not had her legs blown off and your brother has not disappeared without trace.   When your home has not been burnt to the ground and no one you know has been knee-capped.

Not long after we got back from Spain we heard the tragic news of the car bomb that killed young Ronan Kerr.    Twenty-five years old and only three weeks out of police training.   It doesn’t bear thinking about.   I can only hope that it doesn’t herald a return to the terrible times.   And I hope that the people of Catalynya have more sense and humanity than to bring the curse of the bomb and the gun on themselves and on their compatriots.

Revolutions are neither romantic nor idealistic .   It is only distance that lets them appear so.    Up close they are vicious and bloody and ugly and vile and should be avoided, except in extremis.   And even then, only if all else has failed.   They cause such high levels of fear and mistrust that it takes generations to heal the damage.   And, however lofty the ideals of some, you can bet your last farthing that the chance of wreaking havoc will attract every criminal and freak in the land and give them carte blanche .

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