Gary Lightbody took to Instagram over the weekend calling for a stop to the violence that has been occurring in Northern Ireland in recent days.

44-year-old Lightbody, who was born in Co Down, is the frontman for the successful alt / indie group Snow Patrol. In 2019, he founded the Lightbody Foundation to support charities across Northern Ireland.

On April 10, Lightbody issued a heartfelt and thoughtful plea on Instagram urging young people to not choose violence. His two posts featured pictures of the Peace Gate at the Springfield Road/Lanark Way interface in Belfast that features a mural that reads "There was never a good war or a bad peace."

Lightbody wrote: “As my homeland, Northern Ireland, is on the world news again I wanted to say a few words about it.

“The majority of people in NI do not want to return to the dark days that my generation and those before it grew up in. We know how hard people had to work to build the peace that has (mostly) held these last 25 years or so. 

“As a teenager, I remember thinking the very idea of peace in my lifetime was a fantom. There was no chance. None. And yet it happened. It was real. Forged by so many great men and women (very honourable mentions for John Hume and David Trimble) and then in the maelstrom of these last few years most people in NI held their breath pretty certain that we were in for another very bumpy ride. And here it is. And ‘bumpy’ doesn’t cover it.

“Our neighbours are not our enemies. They’re just not. We might disagree on religion or politics BUT mostly we want peace and safety above all else.

“Our homeland is so beautiful that massive film and TV production companies from all over the world come to film in NI. Our arts and music scene is bursting at the seams with talent. Our athletes in so many sports are internationally revered and for such a small country we’ve had a bucket load of world champions. There is so much to be proud of.

“But perhaps the biggest irony, given the news this last while, is that our hospitality is renowned around the world. We are lovely to the people that visit our country on holiday (I’ve had so many of my friends from lots of different countries delight in telling me that). We do though seem to have a harder time getting on with each other....

“Anyway, I’m not someone who pretends to speak for the people of NI. I’m not home at the minute either so there will be more than a few people that will think I forfeit the right to speak on any of these matters. And they may be right. I just love Northern Ireland and I care deeply about it.

"The right to protest is vital in a democracy but when the streets are on fire it begins to look a lot like the old days. Perhaps none of the mostly young men that have been out in the streets these last 12 days will read any of this but should any of them read these words I just want to say please give this question a moment of your time:

“What do you want from your life? If it’s chaos then keep going. But know that chaos will touch everyone that you love. Chaos is indiscriminate. It’ll burn through everything and it doesn’t care about causes, or religion, or politics. Just google the phrase ‘collateral damage’ and it’ll give you some indication of where that road leads.

“If though, you want something else. Something calmer from your life there is a path to that too: the first step is, don’t set things on fire. Just take it one day at a time. I believe in you. I truly do. 

“I can’t possibly understand what you’re going through personally, or what is happening in your life right now, or how you found your way out onto the streets in the first place. Or why. But I believe in you. 

“And I’m just saying there might be another way. Violence only ever begets violence. That’s all violence can do. Peace though can beget everything else. Or at least create an environment in which anything is possible and things have a chance to flourish. Sports, music, dancing, love, empathy, kindness, creativity, building, happiness, and more and more and more. I’m not trying to say that life is always easy in peacetime (it can still be so hard for so many). But it is easier.

“I’m not here to tell anyone what to do. How could I, I’m just a guy in a band. Just wanted to suggest there might be another way.

“All the love, all the peace.”

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