Normal is always relative

We all know the feeling, we all hear the familiar words of disbelief that such and such an event happened so long ago. On this day, 28 years ago, the Provisional IRA blew up two bombs in the town centre of Warrington in Merseyside. Those of us who grew up in the North of Ireland, during what is so euphemistically referred to as “The Troubles”, grew somewhat immune to all the bad news. Even in recent years, I found myself not reacting as others around me did when a member of An Garda Síochána was murdered. I reacted with,

Oh! A policeman has been killed.

Those around me in the dialysis unit in Tullamore were in tears, shocked, at the news. I, the lad who grew up in 1980s County Antrim, appeared rather cold to them.

Those who did not grow up or live in 1970s and 1980s Northern Ireland do not have the shared experience that we all do. That is a simple fact. But, from time to time, I think about what those of us who did live then experienced. It has made us the people we are today. There is no way that I want my country to go back to those days. There is no way that the young people of today should become immune to the words,

A policeman was shot today.

It was normal for us to hear those words, or that there had been a bomb somewhere. It was normal to see the “Confidential Telephone” number on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph daily. Even now, the number Belfast 652155 is somewhat imprinted on my brain as the number to call. It later changed to 0800 666999, as we see in the video below.

That video still haunts me to this day. I find it very hard to hear the song and not see the images in my head. I remember hearing it in the dialysis unit once, and actually ending up in tears, and asking the nurse to turn it off. She told me that it was a lovely song. I then found the video on YouTube and showed her why it affected me.

So today, 28 years on since the day that the people of Warrington had their town blown up, let’s make sure that we do all we can to ensure that Ireland—north and south—does not allow such brutality to become normal again.

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