The visionary bravery of John Hume (1937-2020) and David Trimble (1944-2022) have forged a much better future.
Belfast on a sunny day now bears no resemblance to the dreary city of ‘The Troubles’, and it’s a real joy to ride a city centre Glider (or a double decker bus) in the summer sun.
The absence of security zones, armed soldiers, bomb sites, cordons, checkpoints or helicopters, is very welcome news for locals and tourists alike.
New city centre high-rise buildings, with their clean and shiny lines, contrast with the run-down and dirty or derelict buildings which littered the city in the past, relics of conflict and post-industrial decay. A declining city, which once shed or scared away its brightest young people, is now on the tourist trail and hosting cruise ships.
There is something utterly amazing, perhaps miraculous even, about a place once synonymous with strife and conflict, now being seen as a model for international peace building and reconciliation. Middle aged or older people, familiar with 1980’s Belfast, cannot help but marvel at the wonderful improvements in the city centre, along the riverfront and into the Titanic Centre zone.
The cleansing from past defilement, plus the associated change of heart, remind me of a Bible promise clergy might normally reference in connection with personal spiritual renewal, rather than a national or a city clean up:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
J T Hardy, Belfast BT5
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