Irish poet, playwright, translator, lecturer;
1995 Nobel Prize Winner
Be advised my passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen.
From:”Whatever You Say, Say Nothing”(1975)
I’m writing just after an encounter
With an English journalist in search of ‘views
On the Irish thing’.
I’m back in winter
Quarters where bad news is no longer news,
Where media-men and stringers sniff and point,
Where zoom lenses, recorders and coiled leads
Litter the hotels.
The times are out of joint
But I incline as much to rosary beads
As to the jottings and analyses
Of politicians and newspapermen
Who’ve scribbled down the long campaign from gas
And protest to gelignite and Sten,
Who proved upon their pulses ‘escalate’,
‘Backlash’ and ‘crack down’, ‘the provisional wing’,
‘Polarization’ and ‘long-standing hate’.
Yet I live here, I live here too, I sing,
Expertly civil-tongued with civil neighbours
On the high wires of first wireless reports,
Sucking the fake taste, the stony flavours
Of those sanctioned, old, elaborate retorts:
‘Oh, it’s disgraceful, surely, I agree.’
‘Where’s it going to end?’ ‘It’s getting worse.’
‘They’re murderers.’ ‘Internment, understandably …’
The ‘voice of sanity’ is getting hoarse.
“Religion’s never mentioned here”, of course.
“You know them by their eyes,” and hold your tongue.
“One side’s as bad as the other,” never worse.
Christ, it’s near time that some small leak was sprung
In the great dykes the Dutchman made
To dam the dangerous tide that followed Seamus.
Yet for all this art and sedentary trade
I am incapable. The famous
Northern reticence, the tight gag of place
And times: yes, yes. Of the “wee six” I sing
Where to be saved you only must save face
And whatever you say, you say nothing.
Smoke-signals are loud-mouthed compared with us:
Manoeuvrings to find out name and school,
Subtle discrimination by addresses
With hardly an exception to the rule
That Norman, Ken and Sidney signalled Prod
And Seamus (call me Sean) was sure-fire Pape.
O land of password, handgrip, wink and nod,
Of open minds as open as a trap
Where tongues lie coiled, as under flames lie wicks,
Where half of us, as in a wooden horse
Were cabin’d and confined like wily Greeks,
Besieged within the siege, whispering morse.
This morning from a dewy motorway
I saw the new camp for the internees:
A bomb had left a crater of fresh clay
In the roadside, and over in the trees
Machine-gun posts defined a real stockade.
There was that white mist you get on a low ground
And it was déjà-vu, some film made
Of Stalag 17, a bad dream with no sound.
Is there a life before death? That’s chalked up
Competence with pain,
Coherent miseries, a bite and sup,
We hug our little destiny again.
So you’ve set up a civil rights camp at Twadell Avenue in Belfast.
We have. We’ve been there for nearly six weeks now.
How long are you going to stay?
Until our civil rights are restored. Until three north Belfast lodges finish their traditional Twelfth of July route home which the parades Commission banned.
And which you attacked the police over?
And claimed ‘victory’ after more violence when you denied others that same right.
What civil rights have you been denied?
The right to march on our traditional route.
The right to to deny others civil rights according to the parades commission. Don’t you think you are over-reacting?
After all you are certainly not restricted from public office. Here’s Minister McCausland
Your newspapers and facebook pages haven’t been closed .
Your schools and churches are open.Are you preparing a case for the European Court of Human Rights?
You’ve a long way to go before you get there!
The camp has been set up to stop erosion of our Britishness.
You mean erosion of Orange supremacy. How many time have I told you the Orange Fascist State ended 50 years ago. It’s over and it’s not coming back
What exactly are you hoping to achieve?
“They can’t deny us our Protestant right to our country and our heritage.
You burn tricolours
You protest when designated days are introduced for flag flying like everywhere else in the UK .
One of your elected representatives is up in court over a Facebook post about murdering political opponents.
You mobbed the Lord Mayor
The problem is you have always looked upon NI as ‘your’ country. You’ve excluded everyone else. We’ve talked about this before. Where do you see Northern Ireland in 20 years?
Same old, same old? Eh?
Why do you keep pushing this line of interim Joint Sovreignty?
Because it’s the only option. We need to end this perpetual stalemate
with both traditions fighting for control
And whose fault is that?
As long as the Orange Order
controls what happens in Northern Ireland through the Unionist parties, none of the reforms that the GFA promised will be implemented.
It’s an out of date document we didn’t sign up to. It’s being used as a pretext by Sinn Feiners to chip away at our Britishness
It’s a binding international Agreement
Dealing with the Past, Victims, a Bill of Rights, the Irish Language Act have all been dumped
The HET Enquiry
showed RUC officers were employed to cover up what went on in the past
The BBC Spotlight programme
and the Equality Can’t Wait report
are raising questions about on-going sectarianism in social housing allocations
The International Maze/Long Kesh Peace centre was cancelled without so much as a by your leave.
The ghosts of thousands who passed through that prison and died because of it are crying out for justice
Police find 16 semi-automatic hand-guns
and nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Did you know that each gun could cost up to a $1,000? Who do you think they were destined to be used against?
This place is totally out of control. Even the police said they could no longer cope
So what are these two secretaries of State supposed to do?
As I told you they will implement what people signed up for in the GFA
While that’s being bedded down and people get used to living in a society where a bigoted anti-Catholic organisation no longer rules the roost, they can start looking at how to match up
laws and administrations in the Republic and the UK, and propose steps towards eliminating the differences.
You do have to accept the Orange State was abolished 50 years ago and it’s not coming back
If Scotland votes for independence next year
Britain itself may break up
And the UK government would be very foolish not to be making contingency plans.Where do you think you lot fit in?
You know don’t have many friends
You’ve got to get rid of this head in the sand attitude.
I suppose you’re pleased to hear Gerry Mander is alive and well, happily prospering in North Belfast
What are you talking about?
Remember what we used to call Gerrymandering? Using housing to maintain electoral control? It was about ensuring that certain areas are populated with your sort of people
Don’t you remember Unionist councils built very few houses for Catholics?
Civil rights do-gooders used housing as a stick to beat Unionism. They certainly didn’t raise an uproar about discrimination against Protestants in nationalist controlled councils. Themmuns and the Provies started a 40 year war over that
It was nothing but a hysterical reaction to maybe a few instances of malpractice which were needed to maintain unionist control. Anyway that’s all in the past.
But it’s not.
Power, territory, identity and security have always been cornerstones in the story of housing in Northern Ireland
And it’s no different today. The Participation And Practice of Rights Organization have just published a report called Equality Can’t Wait.
It says “a series of ministerial, statutory and council failures
have compounded religious inequality in housing across North Belfast” and “these failures have adversely impacted on the Catholic community”.
The organization is backed by the UN.
Rather than tackling Catholic housing the Housing Executive prioritise engineering a shared space in Belfast city centre. Well we saw last week just how much a shared space Royal Avenue is
How does the Housing Executive know who is a Protestant and who is a Catholic?
The report explains how they removed protections which ring-fenced new social homes for areas impacted by religious inequality. It doesn’t sound like this type of thing goes on anywhere else in the UK Minister McCausland
seems to have some problems with the fact that the other sort
are the significant majority of those in real need
You’re always so one-sided. Didn’t you see a Belfast High Court judge found the allocation of some houses by St Matthew’s Housing Association in Short Strand
was “not fair or equitable”.A former Sinn Féin councillor failed to declare a conflict of interest.The Judge talked about nepotism
One example vs nearly 100 years of gerrymandering. Spot the difference!
Anyway the judge will have ruled on what to do and that will be done
The report says that according to Housing Executive policy, promoting equality as required by law would be ‘divisive’.
Not this policy.The peace walls and segregation are divisive.
They make equality difficult if not impossible.
I’ll tell you what’s divisive in North Belfast – this housing policy, Orange Order parades and protests, refusal to countenance Republican parades.
It’s just another example of not an Inch
The Orange Order and the Unionists are like King Canute.
They just want to stop a Nationalist MP from being elected for North Belfast. There are very few votes between Nigel Dodds and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly.
In the near future, there could well be no Unionists representing Belfast in Westminster MP in the East,
MPs for the North and West and
MP in the South.
I hope you’re pleased. After not even agreeing on the name of the place, you’ve vetoed The Maze/LongKesh development.
For the second time. Repeat offenders!
Do you know how much it cost when you vetoed the stadium?
Planning fees, architect fees, business case preparation for the Stadium which never went ahead was estimated to run into five million pounds which will never be recovered.
There were defects in the location, design and costs
That Stadium could have harmed us in the long term
What do you mean? Catholics, nationalists and republicans attending games?
Well that would have hurt our attendances and therefore our finances. It would have introduced a political element into our sport, which we were not happy with
So you spent the money on something else and now there’s a legal challenge. A Belfast High Court
has been asked to immediately block the development proposals amid claims they breach EU competition laws.
And now we have this new U-turn.
The EU says the £18m funding set aside for the Maze peace centre can’t be reallocated to other projects
At a conference in Brussels in January, the planned peace centre was hailed as a great example of Northern Ireland moving forward.
It can still go ahead without the Peace Centre
They’re not going to hand over that money for a string of supermarkets and a housing development for Loyalists on an ordinary brown site
Did you know the development plan was going to include an agricultural show arena, a business campus for enterprises from agrifood, to life sciences and renewable technologies, research and development facilities linked to the universities.
Since Long Kesh was originally a US Air Force base during the war, they would have restored second World War hangars and housed the 21-aircraft collection of the Ulster Aviation Society.
The plan also included about 200 residential units, both private and social, sports and leisure facilities.
A world-famous architect drew up the plans for international peace centre.
He’ll have to be paid and world-famous architects don’t come cheap! And now it’s all gone, thanks to the DUP and the Orange Order
It wasn’t Loyalists. It was innocent victims.
Don’t make me sick. You mounted a campaign against a “Republican shrine”
The Orange Order called out against it in its 12th July speeches. Grand Masters said they wanted the Maze demolished
Any remnants of the prison will become a pilgrimage site to Republican martyrdom. Republicans identify with that site
So what? Are you afraid or ashamed of another version of the truth? Or is this just an insane control exercise?
As I said before you are just bully boys
You don’t care about the damage you cause to other people and organisations. You don’t care and they don’t count.
You have only contempt for other people – the EU, the architect, the people who were working on the development plans, the workers who would have had jobs.
You didn’t even bother to inform Sinn Fein your partner on the agreement that you were reneging on the deal before you told the press.
Thanks to you lot, we’ve lost the chance of 2.000 jobs for the local construction industry as well as 5000 potential long-term jobs and
£300 million of investment.
The Orange Order
has maintained its power and domination over Catholics. For the moment.And at what cost?
Under Joint Sovreignty
our two Secretaries of State
will break the power of the Orange Order
What does sectarianism mean to you?
It doesn’t exist.
It’s something the Catholics and Republicans dreamed up to pretend they are victims.
Yet people say sectarian violence and intimidation is a problem in the workplace and in the streets.
It involves attacks on people and property People are afraid to apply for jobs in certain areas.
How many times do I have to tell you? We are defending what’s ours.
What’s the reason behind it?
It’s “an affirmation of our religious belief in the face of the imperialism of the Catholic church”
People said the most prominent forms of harassment were sectarian graffiti
sectarian jokes, being ostracised, sectarian songs
threats of violence and actual physical violence
Are you stupid or what? Them Catholics are disloyal. They wouldn’t accept NI as it was.
They started a rebellion with them Civil Rights do-gooders and those terrorists in the Provisionals. And they lost.
Do you realize the sense of fear affects how people move around,
and how this is related to the time of day, or months of the year, which shops they use, what services are considered accessible,
as well as problems associated with going to school and socialising
This is a Protestant state for a Protestant people
They know what that means.
There are 88 peace walls in Belfast alone
No interface barriers have been removed since the ceasefires were declared in 1994. In fact, even more have been erected.
Why are you talking about this?
Because we still don’t have any meaningful strategic approach to tackling sectarianism
All they have done is paint the walls
The people on both sides don’t want the walls to come down. They feel safe behind them
Anyway I don’t want to talk about this,
It’s is dangerous. If you talk about this it will change. it will all escalate. Lives will be lost. When the time is right we will deal with the walls from a position of strength
Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.
If there is a problem, and I say If, it is not a significant problem,
and it’s not one you can do much about anyway.
The Government have been making proposals since 2003 Direct Rule ministers produced the 2005 document, ‘A Shared Future: Improving Relations in Northern Ireland’.
In 2010 the DUP and Sinn Féin published their own model, the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy.A lot of experts said it as a “backward step for community relations” and found the “previous strategic goal of reconciliation” was replaced by the target of encouraging “mutual accommodation”.
The Alliance Party published a report entitled “For Everyone”
In 2013 Mr Robinson and Mr McGuiness proposed another cohesion and sharing strategy
Long on ideals and short on practical details. We did a good job there
Admittedly no targets were mentioned.
Summer camps, separate entrances into neighbouring schools. Community initiatives, Jobs for the boys!Think that’ll work? It wasn’t meant to!!
President Obama said he wanted the walls to come down
With Joint Sovreighty
the walls will come down, whether you want them to or not and sectarianism will be dealt with
Don’t you realise there’s
The Belfast Good Friday Agreement is a legally binding international accord between the United Kingdom and Ireland. The two Secretaries of State
will provide the leadership to move beyond the political elites and designed apartheid, towards an inclusive society at peace with itself
Did you see the news? Racist graffiti on a house in east Belfast
“Any Taig will do”
He’s Nigerian. He said “Being a black human person living in Belfast, if that’s a crime, that’s the only crime I’ve committed”.
Our only crime was Loyalty
So that doesn’t include rompering,
If you cannot vent your sectarian hatred against Catholics, like children at Holy Cross,
then you turn on others – Chinese, Romanians, Poles, whoever
More than 100 Romanian people have fled their homes in Belfast, saying they feel intimidated after a series of attacks
“They were easily picked upon. They weren’t well defended. They hadn’t any political representation”
In 2009 Marek Muszynski was robbed, brutally attacked and told ‘go back to your own country, you’re not wanted in Ireland’
Taig and foreigner. He had it coming.
You repeated the message for Catholics last year.
You burnt Polish Flags on 11th Night bonfires
So? If a racist is someone who puts their own people, culture and heritage first…then we should be proud to be branded a racist.”
This is a Protestant State for a Protestant people
Anyway there was no racism here until them immigrants and Gypsies arrived.
You stopped The Racial Equality Strategy, Stormont’s key policy tool against racism, from being implemented
You put it in the
In 2010 you decoupled it from the project to tackle sectarianism.
Discussions are stalled
You have no intention of changing your ways.
Don’t you realize that there is
We’re holding on. Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right
Under Joint Sovreignty
the two Secretaries of State
will ensure you fulfil your obligations to promote a Racial Equality Strategy.
(to be continued)