On the evening of Saturday (May 21) I, my wife and our youngest daughter,attended the concert( Camerata Ireland with the Harmony North Choir and Codetta) in the John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts.
A splendid evening it was with 190 11-15 year old children from various North Belfast schools joining the outstanding Codetta Choir from Derry conducted by the maestro of musicianship, Mr Donal Doherty. Mr Barry Douglas, piano,conducted his orchestra Camerata Ireland.
In the discussion after the final piece in the concert,where Barry Douglas gave a triumphant,titanic performance of Beethoven’s Fifth, he said that his main motivation was to have children of different socio/political backgrounds achieve personal harmony through music.
In the News Letter(28 May) I reflected on Kevin Myers’ remarks at the Grangegorman military cemetery service for the 125 British soldiers killed in the 1916 rising as reported by Ben Lowry: “ This kind of reconciliation was achieved at Verdun in the 1980s when Helmut Kohl and the French President stood together and held hands on the place where a million French and German soldiers died in the Great War.”
If by reconciliation one means shared understanding and forgiveness,then how can it be achieved in Northern Ireland?
Political reconciliation is a process which begins with symbolic gestures eg., the handshake between Martin McGuinness and the Queen. Next both sides in our conflict have to confess what happened in past acts of violence and express repentance. This stage may lead to a realignment of social contacts between former opponents. The last stage is that of resolution of difference through agreed political policies.
There can be no reconciliation without confession and if this is unforthcoming,then the attritional political war will continue with flags,emblems,erection of shrines and memorials with inevitable controversial parades to the fore.
George Mc Nally, Washington DC, Home Address: Limavady Road, Londonderry