In this piece by Sean Brennan, he proposes that the recent flag protests and the violent disturbances at Woodvale / Ardoyne in Belfast potentially mark a turning point for loyalism. If these events can indeed be used to illustrate the futility of violence (subsequent demonstrations have been better organized), and if Brennan is right that a “Socially motivated ‘grassroots’ Loyalism” with “a new inclusive non-violent community action element” is emerging, then we might well anticipate a new lease on the prospect of thoroughgoing conflict transformation.
I would like to highlight Brennan’s mention of “non-violent community action.” I still believe that an important dimension of conflict transformation is the nonviolent empowerment of all parties, through political engagement, and when necessary, nonviolent civil resistance. Unfortunately, there has not been a historical tradition of strategic nonviolent action within PUL communities. Now would be a wonderfully appropriate time for influential local leaders to become familiar with the extensive knowledge that has been developed about effective nonviolent action.