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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Moving Forward Past the Past

Davy Carlin • August, 2003

As a youngster growing up I can remember on occasions the perceptions held amongst myself and some of my peers of ‘those Protestants’ that we had not yet met but had heard about. Amongst us kids we told each other that they could be found by checking to see if ones eyebrows did not part in the middle, by seeing if they had a slight slit at the top of their tongues or of course the pronunciation of H or ‘ait H’. As I grew older I began to hear then from some circles of teenage peers of those loyalists and that they could be found through their grunts, huge heads, with knees bent while their hairy clenched knuckles drag behind them on the ground. I presume one would most definitely also find such childhood perceptions directed upon the Catholic community from the ‘other side’. Such stereotypes are found in many walks of life. Yet such are predominant though in relation to religion, sexuality orientation, political understanding and ethnicity. Although some do hold on to those perceptions for life there are however many who of course find eventually that such held views are on many occasions but those perceptions reinforced through time, many through childhood, while others later in life.

Yet when one attempts to ‘really’ find an understanding of those perceptions and of why such persons hold differing views then I feel we have at least took another step forward. I used to think to myself of what it would have been like as a ‘Prod’ growing up on the Shankill for instance and how then would I have perceived the ‘Taigs’ living on the Falls. I suppose many people have asked that question of what if, but as importantly I believe that one should ask the question, why? Yet for me I find that within the recent conflict at the beginning, it was an initial reaction in an overwhelming part to a discriminative Unionist state, propped up and backed by the various British governments. I hear also loyalists stating that it was then a reaction to Republican actions in defence of their state {British ness} and to themselves that moved them to violence. Yet each will have their own understanding as I would mine but whether it was defensive or offensive tactics at various times during the conflict in relation to ‘para- militarism - militarism’ from whatever side, it is now but part of our bloody history. Yet the question is where have we went and where do we go from here.

We have a situation now of a peace process with continual attacks on that limited ‘peace’ with now the very recent murder by most probably dissident Republicans of a W/Belfast man, and that ‘process’ being of a political vacuum which is giving succour to such very groups A very dangerous game therefore is being played out by those governmental leaders and others holding this process and at times citizens lives in limbo. Whether one is for the peace process or for the peace and against this specific process, we would all be against more needless slaughter. Like all of us, such groups and organisations who featured in the conflict have a past, and on many occasions a brutal one, yet many of them are now prepared to search for an alternative to this. Many do not want to see another generation, their kids and grandkids growing up into more brutal slaughter. Many more realise that more of the same is not only futile but also counterproductive which lessens the chances of bringing closer stated aims.

I and many other colleagues of similar age, who had our childhood years in the late seventies early eighties find it ironic that while some political and community aspects of loyalism thirty years on are at times actively searching for a way to ease tensions and attempting to bring their supporters into a process of peace with nationalist and republicans. That some Republicans whom state that they are based on tradition are thirty years on, rather than that held tradition of defence of their community, are now actively killing members of their community. Yet we also know that various other organisations loyalist and Republican have and are still inflicting violence on citizens through various means, this is again wrong and equally one needs to state so. Yet for those who still hold out for the tactic of armed struggle to deliver in the present, it cannot only not deliver, but is a concrete obstacle to deliverance of stated objectives giving the reality of the present. The history that such groups are now writing for themselves is increasingly comparable to those that did not look at the objective conditions during the border campaign pre this recent conflict from 1956 -1962. It lead to defeat and demoralisation, this because of two major factors, firstly they had little support for their war from the Nationalist community, as today, and severe state pressure was put on them, as today {but increasingly more so, and internationally also} It would not take a theoretical Republican traditionalist to learn these lessons and realise with the objective conditions, unless there is a change of strategy, history for such present groups will read the same. Quite simply is it to be a question of principle or a strategy that learns from the past but knows how to develop it in the present while looking to gain and with the support from the Nationalist/Republican/ and wider communities?

Whatever the case violence cannot be allowed to fill the vacuum of political change. People have spoke out, rallied and marched in their tens of thousands in recent times calling for an end to slaughter and murder and they may need to do so again, to again tell those whom wish to provide to another generation, death and destruction, that enough is enough. Finally this vacuum must not be allowed to continue, as death again stalks our streets it is all the more important that people ‘from all sides’ continually look to go forward, continue to engage with each other, continue to attempt to find common ground in the present to work together for a better future for us all. This while acknowledging that all have a past but ensuring that unlike some who seem to still wish to see such by their continual actions, that our children do not have to still live in such a past, in the present or in the future.






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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.
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Index: Current Articles

4 September 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


US Denies It Gave Safe Harbor to Brian Nelson
Fr Sean Mc Manus


Between Theory and Reality
Eamon Sweeney


In the Name of Security
Jim J Kane


Caught at it Again
Anthony McIntyre


The History of the Troubles According to the Provos
John Nixon


Moving Forward Past the Past
Davy Carlin


More Questions than Answers
Mick Hall


In Memory of Robert Emmet

Charles Murnick


Attempted Suicide by Iranian Asylum Seeker
Debbie Grue


Dublin: Maghberry Briefing Meeting
Mags Glennon


Belfast Anti-War Movement
Public Meeting


1 September 2003


Latest Police Attacks on Press Freedoms
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We Haven't Gone Away, You Know
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The War Crime of Secret Graves
Anthony McIntyre


Horses for Courses
Eamon Sweeney


Rwanda: Crushing Dissent
Liam O Ruairc


Terrorists, Their Friends and the Bogota 3
Toni Solo


Aznar: Spain's Super Lackey
Agustín Velloso


Orwell Centenary Talk

John O'Farrell


The Letters page has been updated.




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