In 1998, when I was 10 years old, my generation was told that peace was within reach, that the new Northern Ireland assembly would finally allow the people of this place to govern themselves. The devolution of policing and justice arrived after a number of false starts, and for a while, all seemed calm – yet much of it was held together by naivety and hope. The conflict may have ended, but the fighting didn’t. The fight for jobs, education, mental health and addiction support, for housing and investment continued on and on, with the political establishment across these islands simply equating the absence of violence with success of the peace process.
Except there was no process – there was war and then there was peace – the transition between the two didn’t manifest as a benefit to working-class communities across Northern Ireland in any real or meaningful way.