Ex-Presidents and Prime Ministers along with current politicians of all shades gathered in Belfast this week to celebrate the day when sectarianism ended for good in Northern Ireland.
Young people growing up in the north today may find it hard to believe, but until April 1998 Northern Ireland was a cesspit of sectarian loathing and tribal division. That, though, all changed on the night of Good Friday April 10th of that year when the peace agreement between nationalists and unionists was signed and people all across Northern Ireland immediately threw down their guns, rocks and petrol bombs and embraced members of the other faction in the streets, openly weeping with joy at the newfound love between once bitter enemies.
“Yeah, it was a really amazing time to be alive,” remembers Austin McMullan, 38. “I was only a young lad at the time and was enjoying the nightly recreational rioting between ussuns, themmuns, and the peelers and the Brits. But then suddenly the sun came out blazing in the sky, even though it was night, and trumpets blared and a mighty voice like from heaven announced ‘Peace hath come at last. I shalt send my son to you to bless you all with his peace.’ I hadn’t a clue what this meant till I saw Bono on tv with his arms raised at a concert at the Waterfront and I knew then the peace was real. Since then my motto has been ‘Hug a Hun’ and I just walk up to random unionists daily now and embrace them and tell them I love them. They always reciprocate too as ‘Tell a Pape they’re great’ is now their motto. I can’t even remember what hatred felt like.”
“Our initial rejection of the GFA was just because it was making people too gay,” admitted a DUP source.