The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Honourary White Man

So I must find my fears and face them
Or I'll cower like a dog
I'll kick and scream or kneel and bleed
I'll fight like hell to hide that I'm giving up

- Bright Eyes - Another Travellin' Song

Marc Kerr • 2 March 2005

I am ashamed. I admit it. There can be no other emotion to cover it. Better to acknowledge the shame, than partake of the unedifying spectacle being played out in the political arena. But before the shame, which is a secondary reaction, first there is the horror. Watching the reports of the events in the Short Strand, I was, like most others, disgusted. That there are people on the streets who can do such things, have the calculated deviousness to cover their tracks afterwards, is a sad reflection on our society at the start of the 21st century. (And that is before we even consider the branding of women's breasts, the crucifixions, the beatings, the intimidation.) It must take a high calibre of person to be allowed into the IRA where it takes up to twenty people to murder a man for some perceived slight while out drinking.

But we allow know the background by now, to which others with ears closer to the ground and fingers on top of the appropriate pulses have commentated on better then I could. So recent events seem to, according to the media, have put the Republican Movement on the back foot. Who seem surprised, startled almost, at the ferocity with which they have been attacked by the mainstream media, the online media, various and numerous Governments and even the dogs in the street. Again, that isn't what I want to discuss, leaving that to those others.

There is no point in thinking politics in Northern Ireland had moved on, really moved on, as there are too many vested interests therein. On all sides. But to watch those of a Unionist bent try to make capital out of the abhorrent McCartney murder appalls me in an entirely different way from the murder itself. Listening to the usual suspects mouth platitudal support for the family, condemning the violence provoked something different in me. Watching them parade themselves, it struck me what was going through their mind.

Glee. It seemed to me it was a sort of glee. And that makes me ashamed, as there is a small echo of that in myself. The horror at it all is obvious. But the glee, in this case, less obvious, and bears further explanation. This is the glee of those opposite to the people now finding themselves under the green jackboot, those removed from the leafy suburbs and find it hard to speak out for fear of those from within their own communities. This is a glee of release. Watching the unraveling of the hegemony of Sinn Fein support is what every Unionist politician, of every hue, dreams of. The glee of those who couldn't understand the reasoning for the rise of the IRA, watching the grassroots bite back. The glee of watching a traincrash, the very human delight in the fall from grace of their enemies.

But there is a problem. They think, all of a sudden, that the groundswell of grassroot Republican opinion has suddenly had a moment of epiphany, and turned their back on their beliefs. After years of, in their eyes, support given to an illegitimate and brutal private army, all is now well, they think just like them. There is open dissent against the Republican leadership. The fact there has been pockets of this for a long time, in both the counterproductive and unnecessary physical force type and that such as this journal, is neither here nor there. While not quite sackcloth and ashes, it is somewhere close. But there is none of the subtle cleverness in the response from this old guard, no leverage of political capital. Just finger pointing and behind-the-hand smirking at the troubles in what was always seen as a united front. Cracks in the walls. In listening to the words of the McCartney family, they wonder if the Short Strand (using that as litmus for the wider Republican movement) has come to its senses, and realised that the IRA is not, and never will be, the answer. Yes, they are still an enclave. Yes, there are still murderous loyalists on the streets, but they aren't a problem.

Like us they despise the IRA, whether they have done as long as us is different, why they do now is different, whether they always will is different. Secretly we rub our hands and hope to see the end of the odious politicking and false victimhood that oozes from the Armani pores of Donegal Riche. We don't see the need for community defenders. Cheap diesel, DVDs and cigarettes are not the best thing to come from such people.

But by taking delight in the troubles of those on the other side, all we are doing is extrapolating our mindset onto theirs. We want the IRA disbanded and to release the iron grip they have over their communities. They want to feel protected, and have their aspiration to an Irish state. They are still Republicans, down the Short Strand, but we internalise them as something else now. We imagine they have turned their back on the IRA, and have embraced peace, and us. They haven't, you know. But it makes us more comfortable, it makes us gloat to watch what we perceive is the implosion of support for Europe's slickest political and terrorist/hood hybrid machine. We project ourselves onto them, and in that we probably make a vital mistake.

Because that is what we want to see, and, to some extent, are watching. Beware the truth will find you out. And it seems it has. Watching the contortions and manoeverings of the upper echelons of the Shinners is an unedifying spectacle. That their lies are no longer being believe by the wider world is a good thing, but their grip on their base in Northern Ireland seems apparently as strong as ever. No one believed the words, when we were told there was a separation between SF and the IRA. Listening to the speeches given at the rallies recently, no one in the Short Strand believes that. And personally, I would listen to the community, not their leaders, who have been feathering their own beds for a very, very long time. But then it is a whole different ball game now. We have something in common. Sure, didn't they come round to our way of thinking eventually?





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

4 March 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Honourary White Man
Marc Kerr

A Blanketman Still Fighting to be Heard
Anthony McIntyre

The Dam Has Burst
Mick Hall

The Peace Process Has Been Saved
David Adams

World's Largest Men's Room
Brian Mór

Green Beer and Bad Singing
Fred A Wilcox

Ireland's Neutrality is Not Threatened
Thomas Lefevre

Sentences of Death: Mary Gordon's Pearl
Seaghán Ó Murchú

24 February 2005

The Socialist Objection and Alternative
Eamonn McCann

Taking the Peace
Jimmy Sands

Life Amongst the Proveau Riche
Brian Mór

A Far Cry from the Hunger Strikers' Sacrifices
Anthony McIntyre

Tragic Legacy
Mick Hall

Some Economic Results of the Civilizing Mission
M. Shahid Alam



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