It's a complicated situation, like most. But the recent violence in Northern Ireland makes clear that old wounds can be reopened by those who'd like to use them for their own ends.
I wanted to comment on that briefly on this celebratory day, on how it's clear that the economic boom in Ireland, a country that was poverty ridden for centuries, contributed mightily to the end of hostilities and a compromise that people abided by during the good times.
The same can be said for many places where there's been, or still are violent conflicts. If everyone in those regions is given an opportunity to make their lives better, to have what they call in this country a "middle-class" lifestyle—i.e. be able to pay the bills and maybe even own their own home—they have a stake in the peace.
But when hard times return, the old wounds can be reopened and put to use by extremists on any side who have goals of their own that old divisions might serve.
I believe Ireland should be free of all English control period. It's one country, obviously, look at any map, the dividing line between North and South is as arbitrary as most of the "national" boundaries created by the Brits during their centuries of world conquest and control.
But violence usually only breeds violence, which is often what those committing it intend. Hopefully, the peace will hold and economic stability will return before too much damage is done. But if there's any lesson to be learned, as I see it, it's that the more equally distributed "wealth" is, the less impetus for violence there is
If the pople in the West Bank and Gaza, or the Southern Sudan or Somalia, or the Congo or North Korea for that matter, were able to earn enough money to make starvation and homelessness and dire poverty a thing of the past, the violence and/or threat of it would equally diminish.
That was JFK's contribution to what rightwingers call "capitalism" (an economic system dependent on a "free market" which is an ideal that has never occurred in real life but generally is used to describe the mix of "socialism" and "capitalism" that almost every modern country's economic system is, including our own, etc.). JKF learned the lesson his father taught him from the Great Depression, when Joe Sr. said "I'd give up half of what I have to keep the other half"—because he realized paying higher taxes, sharing the wealth, etc. would bring the stability needed to keep the whole thing from tumbling down.
Out of that idea came JFK's (like the Peace Corps and other initiatives of his) with the aim of helping the poor to find ways to become more "middle class" and therefore have a stake in the "system" and in stability and peace.
Not a bad idea. Though having had this country and therefore much of the world run by rightwing Republicans for too long, who'd rather just keep it all (i.e. no-bid contracts in Iraq, crony-ism in government, deregulation, etc.) to the point of destroying the world economy in ways that is bringing back deeper poverty than ever in places where it had been virtually wiped out or was on the way to being (Eastern Europe, Asia, Ireland, etc.) is deeply ominous, as the news is making clearer every day.
Thank God Obama isn't an ideologue but instead is a pragmatist who has enough life experience, world experience, and heritage (he has a lot of Irish in him for one thing) behind his great intelligence to understand this and work toward rectifying the mistakes of the past eight years and longer.