MAY THE LORD IN HIS MERCY BE KIND TO BELFAST by Tony Parker

MAY THE LORD IN HIS MERCY BE KIND TO BELFAST

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

From oral historian Parker (Bird Kansas, 1989, etc.), riveting interviews that speak to the heart of the ""Troubles"" in Belfast, where even to be neither Protestant nor Catholic is not sufficient: ""what matters is where did you begin?"" Parker learned that everything in Belfast, from your choice of camera shop to which hotel you stay in, is affected by religious affiliation. This ""need for knowledge of someone's present faith or antecedents isn't for the purpose of expressing empathy or antagonism, but purely so that...once you know whether you share common background, or you do not, you can avoid saying the wrong thing, or wrong word, to unwittingly cause offence."" Having noted these parameters, Parker talks to a range of Belfast citizenry: Catholic and Protestant; Republican and Loyalist; IRA and RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary); clergy and laypeople; and those who concentrate on nonsectarian issues like women's rights or education. One of the most impressive is the principal of the groundbreaking Lagan Integrated College, who is trying to encourage compromise rather than the ""We must win, they must lose attitudes."" Nearly all, whether a sixteen year-old delinquent declaring ""I'm not one for all this religious business....I'm just your ordinary thief just taking things that come my way,"" or an anguished father whose beloved daughter was killed at a roadblock by British soldiers and who believes ""unification's got to be done democratically, never through bloodshed,"" are troubled by the current situation. The responses also suggest why change will not be easy: there's the great weight of history; enormous economic problems remain; and both religious hierarchies refuse to seek common ground. A book that, with talk of peace in the time, could hardly be more timely. But it is also a sobering reminder of just how perilous and difficult the peace process will be.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt