Last week I drove up the Falls Road. The road seemed to have shifted a bit. Or maybe it was just my consciousness had shifted.
Either way I was left with the feeling that our peace process has changed.
The multiple posters from the 1970s on the International Wall, that have been resurrected threatening to shoot informers are quite disturbing to say the least. Not exactly the message of hope we all expect from the International Wall.
Up further on the traffic lights at the Springfield Road large INLA letters stand out. What is the thinking there? Is it a threat? Is it an assertion of identity?
It is not clear but it most certainly gives an impression of a shift.
Of course the horrific shootings and killings taking place in Belfast place these posters and symbols in context. Shootings and killings that happen with absolute impunity by the way.
But where is the overall public outrage that our peace can be compromised this way?
Where is the outrage that a clear method of torture using so called punishment shootings is taking place on our streets?
Quite remarkably the outrage from the killings of two men in recent weeks has been confined to the streets that surround the deaths.
That is in no way to diminsh the community responses. But there are agencies whose silence is completely deafening.
Do you remember the big rallies organised by the trade union movement when deaths occurred? Was there as much as a statement of condemnation this time from the trade union movement?
Some of those shot have been under 18yrs. Did I miss the outrage from the Commissioner for Children and Young People?
And the Human Rights Commission. Any sign of their concern for the fragility of our peace?
How is it that some violations receive prolonged sustained attention and acknowledgement and others merit cursory statements of condemnation at best and total silence at worst?
Silence fosters the environment in which these violations can occur. And while that happens the communities worst affected are potentially marginalised in their pain and at risk of retreating back to learned pre-peace process coping mechanisms. It becomes a vicious circle and one that is very hard to break.
Political representatives issued statements yes – but they cannot be on their own.
I’ve written before about the risks of a narrative that says politics doesn’t work. That our devolved institutions don’t work.
The challenge facing this incoming Executive is to the marginalised populations in our areas that doubt our peace and doubt that change is possible and are told and therefore believe that no one cares about them.
And that challenge is to demonstrate that politics and our peace agreement works. That change is demonstrably possible in people’s lives. To change the dominent narrative that tells those worst off that their poverty is either deliberate or the result of ineffectiveness.
And other agencies need to step up to that plate too. Some I mentioned earlier but many others, not least the PSNI, as well.
The combination of Anti-peace process elements – at the heart of which are British state interests – a disillusionment in political possibility, and a silence from those charged with responsibility is creating a creeping crisis in our peace process. And one that may take years to reverse if left unchecked.