Until yesterday the week's news from Northern Ireland had been bleak. The attack on the barracks in Antrim and the murder of a policeman in Craigavon suggested that the Troubles might not have been as definitively consigned to history as we had hoped. Tensions, it appeared, still simmered beneath the surface and could swiftly erupt into something much more serious.
It is true that reconciliation was patchy; a sense of safety in Belfast was reinforced by separating walls. But yesterday's silent protests, which brought thousands into the streets of Northern Ireland, told another, more optimistic, story. There is a now a constituency, as for so many years there was not, that has a stake in the preservation of peace. Although the memory of the Troubles is fading, it is still vivid enough to be feared. So long as there is as impressive a turnout for peace as there was yesterday, any return to violence can surely be kept at bay.Reuse content