June 02, 2015

David Remnick on the normality of Northern Ireland

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker since 1998, staff writer since 1992. Illustration by Stanley Chow (@stan_chow).
The former Chief Constable of the PSNI Matt Bagott said in 2014:
"In terms of ordinary crime, [Nothern Ireland] is not the most challenging. In fact, it is probably the safest place I have ever worked. Inner city crime in Peckham, where you have street gangs and hundreds of robberies every month, is much more challenging crime-wise."
A recent immigrant said:
"I like about Northern Ireland the fact that it is a peaceful place. I used to live in Birmingham before."
David Remnick wrote in the New Yorker in 1994 that compared to other countries "Northern Ireland is tranquility itself", and save for the usual problem areas, Belfast is "positively serene":
"If you do not live in working-class Belfast, or near certain rural trouble spots along the border with the Republic, life is positively serene. Northern Ireland is, by modern standards, quiet, conservative, scrubbed, under control. One’s chances of being murdered there are only a fifteenth of what they are in Washington, D.C. Drugs and street crime are also a fraction of what they are in London or Dublin. Catholics no longer suffer the level of discrimination they once knew as a fact of life."
He made the elementary point that Belfast is not unique, every city around the world is dogged by gangs and paramilitaries. It just seems here that their acquire more legitimacy because they can cloak their vigilantism in politics. Remnick also remarked that Northern Ireland has produced and exported to the world an unusual number of poets.

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