Isn’t this a wonderful wee country? Just recently,the horrendous images of an RUC man literally shovelling up half a torso of one of the many victims of the Bloody Friday explosions was on our screens again. Horrible. The volunteers who carried out the bombing, their comrades and their family and friends I’m sure remember that day vividly – those of them still alive, that is. Fast forward 40 years and the images of Belfast today could not contrast more with those horrible times. The Shankill, Falls, Sandy Row and the Lower Ormeau every week now see people from the ‘other side’ travelling in and out – not just selling and buying dope, though this is still a big problem – no, cross-community romance is in the air! Get out the fiddles and flutes! It’s great.
The reason I brought those images back started with a drive through the Lower Falls area a few days and seeing the Mural painted which highlighted a Middle East woman and the hunger strike she is on. It got me thinking about how that painting came to be painted on a post-conflict Belfast wall. The organisers obviously have their reasons but I’m sure underlying this would be what David Adams, in his recent Irish Times article on the visiting Chinese delegation, called, ‘ ….belief in the inalienability and universality of fundamental rights’. In other words, if you believe in Human Rights, Equality and fairness in this country then you have to believe that the Chinese, Israeli and Palestinians deserve the same. ‘Of course we do’, I hear reverberating around the Felon’s Club! Adams, Davy that is, raises the hypocrisy of those supporting the visiting Chinese delegation. He compares the people of Chengdu and Chongquin with the people of Cullybackey and Crossmaglen – should the rights of all not be cherished and fought for? Unfortunately the Lower Falls protestors at the Chinese delegation photo call in Belfast were few and far between – must have been up at B&Q getting more paint!
The Londonderry Sentinel had an interesting story about an allegation that hooded and armed mainstream Republicans (former PIRA) had threatened young people who were attempting to construct a bonfire. The thugs, after the arrival of the PSNI, removed their masks in order to blend in with the locals – it used to be that ‘the boys’ put the masks on not to be recognised – how times have changed. But, for me, the more sinister aspect of this story is that the PSNI refused a ‘freedom of information’ request asking about recorded PIRA activity. As the leader of the PUP, Billy Hutchinson, said, it was a simple request denied, especially in the light of the collapse of the £10 million so called ‘Supergrass’ trial. Funny enough I haven’t heard Eamon McCann say a word about this – funny that isn’t it? Maybe he was in B&Q as well! Lastly, seen a story of the pending attempt by some people to change a street name off North Queen Street to ‘McGurks Way’ or something like that – come on guys lets move on! I’m sure that has added a few thousand to the price of those houses. For those of you unhappy with some of this – you will find me at 10 Bayardo Way, Balmoral Furniture Shop Road – if you don’t know where it is—ask at Frizzells Fishmongers –they know.