From David McKittrick’s article in today’s Independent, “Staying on one side or the other makes life less complicated”:
Their widely differing takes on the Troubles were starkly illustrated by a poll that showed 86 per cent of Protestants approved of the police using plastic bullets while 87 per cent of Catholics disapproved.
The gulf in these mindsets is so wide that, apart from television and radio debates, it is extremely rare for committed unionists and committed nationalists to debate such things.
McKittrick doesn’t provide any explanation or attempt at a reason to explain this “gulf in mindsets”–and I’m already bored thinking about the reasoning behind this–but the facts are out there, and it bothers me to see an issue like this laid out there in the “we just see things differently” sort of way.
In 2000, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, now Director of the Tranisitional Justice Program at the University of Ulster, published a study called the Politics of Force: Conflict Management and State Violence in Northern Ireland that I am reading as background for my thesis. Her study shows notable patterns in the use of state force and the typology of victims–namely that an overwhelming number of victims (85%) of state violence were from the minority (Catholic) community, as opposed to 11% from the Protestant community (with 4% “other”). Kind of puts the poll in a different perspective now, doesn’t it?
“If we acknowledge that lethal force has, in fact, been a prevalent and widespread component of the minority community’s experience within the state,” writes Ní Aoláin, “then this acknowledgement, in turn, must validate and reinforce the minority’s perception of the states and its agents.”