Northern Ireland's culture of caution

Malachi O’Doherty has moved to the Irish Times for an occasional contribuion. He kicks off today with a quote from Slugger (subs needed). Or rather one of our commenters remarks on the assault on Denis Bradley: “I have to say that I condemn the attack, but from a man of Bradley’s intelligence, I would ask what was he doing there in the first place.”

O’Doherty remarks:

You would almost think that the attacker had a reasonable complaint against a target irresistibly presenting itself. Denis Bradley is not equally safe in every bar in Derry and should know it. More, any demonstration that he lacks the savvy to avert danger compromises the sympathy he is due when he is attacked.

It is universally taken for granted in Northern Ireland that people must take sensible precautions for their safety because the risks are so widespread. Denis Bradley, for instance, is not just at risk from dissident republicans as a member of the policing board; he is also at risk from loyalists, like any Catholic or anyone who looks like a Catholic to a drunken lout. How would he fancy a pint on the Shankill Road?

He recalls:

I don’t drink in the Felons club in Belfast because the last time I was there a very large IRA man called Bobby Storey escorted me into a corner and told me that I was a slug, and made a very impressive case in support of that charge.

One thing about the culture of caution within which we live is that it crosses all boundaries.

Bobby Storey couldn’t go into some of the bars that I go into. Loyalists and republicans as much as ordinary citizens of Belfast have to restrict their movements for their own safety and have to learn the geography of security.

Finally:

Security is so much assimilated into our thinking and risk is such a normal part of life, that those who flout its elementary rules are thought not to be brave or candid, but simply foolish. “He had it coming to him” can as easily mean that he deserved it or that he was stupidly careless. It is not enough that we should be intimidated; we should anticipate where threats come and intimidate ourselves, and save others the trouble. That is the wisdom of the street.

But Denis Bradley should be able to go into any bar he likes.

  • slug

    “I don’t drink in the Felons club in Belfast because the last time I was there a very large IRA man called Bobby Storey escorted me into a corner and told me that I was a slug, and made a very impressive case in support of that charge. “

    What does Storey mean by ‘a slug’ here?

  • Mick

    I’d guess he meant a slug slug, slug! (couldn’t resist it – sorry).

  • Betty Boo

    Slugger – One that slugs, as a fighter who delivers hard swinging punches(same source).

  • Henry94

    In evry society one has to take precautions. There are parts of Dublin I’d avoid late at night. Of course it’s worse in the north but the bottom line is that any assult or attack is the responsibility of the attacker not the victim.

    Denis Bradley is entitled to go where he likes and by doing so he does not become in any way responsible for the actions of the half-wits who attacked him.

    Bobby Storey is of course, like the rest of us, entitled to his opinion.

  • Thomas

    The whole incident between O’Doherty and Storey is described with great details by Malachi himself in the Prologue of “The Trouble with Guns”. For our luck, this part is online on CAIN Website.

  • Overhere

    I agree that anyone shold be able to go into any pub they liked. But in the “real world” tis is not possible after all there are pubs here in London I would not go into as I asm sure there are in all cities in theoworld. so lets n ot get all “this only happens in NI”, it happens the world over.

  • Overhere

    Sorry about the terrible spelling in my last post

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “Bobby Storey is of course, like the rest of us, entitled to his opinion.”

    What if the rest of us want opinions of our own?

  • irishman

    Bobby Storey was bang on the mark in his assessment of O’Doherty.

    I’m mindful of an occasion when O’Doherty approached a Principal from a Christian Brothers school in Belfast to use the grounds as a setting for a programme he was doing.

    What he omitted to inform the obliging Principal was that the show was a character assassination of the Christian Brothers. You can understand the individual’s reaction when he watched the programme carried on the BBC.

    Yup, Mr. Storey was on the money with this guy.

  • malachi

    “I’m mindful of an occasion when O’Doherty approached a Principal from a Christian Brothers school in Belfast to use the grounds as a setting for a programme he was doing.

    What he omitted to inform the obliging Principal was that the show was a character assassination of the Christian Brothers.”

    He has confised two separate unrelated programmes or his informant has. I was an interviewee and consultant to a programme on the Brothers but had no part in making it. I did approach Brother Monaghan for access to the school to film an interview with an ex-pupil who had just been released from the Maze.

    Irishman’s account above is simply untrue.

  • Mick

    Irishman,

    If you are going to flagrantly breach the play the ball not the man rule, try to keep it factual. I should also say that it’s unusual form for you, and, sadly there have been many worse offenders – especially in recent weeks.

  • sarah

    hey,

    if this website is supposed to be about irish culture why isn’t anything mentioned about it?