Bloody Sunday…

THE weekend saw the last Bloody Sunday march before the Saville Inquiry reports, but the first Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture to be given by someone from a unionist background. Alan McBride challenged both nationalists and unionists, while those on the march demanded the truth behind the massacre, and called for justice.

  • Baluba

    Fair play to Mr Mc Bride. A brave and dignified man.

  • SlugFest

    The media should give far more coverage to people like Mr. McBride than to the constant rantings of Paisley and Adams.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Yes, Baluba, Alan McBride most certainly is a dignified and courageous man, for seeking to reach out across the political divide coming through the painful experience he has had.

    Yet the Bloody Sunday Memorial Lecture organisers deserve credit as well, for having the broadness of mind to invite Mr. McBride to deliver the lecture at an event to remember those killed by the forces of the unionist state.

    This is yet another example of people from a unionist background being invited and encouraged to speak to nationalist audiences; a most welcome development, but an indication of the more tolerant attitude prevalent within nationalism than unionism?

    After all, I have yet to hear of examples of reciprocation from unionist groups towards republicans, which is most disappointing.

    This is something which unionists must address as, to my mind, it reveals the exclusivist agenda prevailing within unionism, which has no place for a nationalist experience- either of the past 35 years, nor for the future.

    Perhaps the Love Ulster group could invite victims of State and loyalist forces to address a gathering of protestants/ unionists? Failing that, perhaps the DUP/ UUP could give us some indication that they are prepared to acknowledge the lead of their nationalist counterparts and begin to prepare their communities for their future role as equal partners in a devolved set-up in the north, where the experiences, attitudes and politics of nationalists will be impossible to avoid.

  • Shore Road Resident

    …and in one fell swoop, Mr McBride’s contribution is downgraded to a mere demonstration of his host’s moral superiority.

    This is exactly the sort of smug tribal tripe that keeps people’s backs up all over.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Very well, SRR.

    But at the very least you could answer the question posed: should unionists reciprocate these types of invitations?

  • Yoda

    I don’t know about “moral superiority,” but I think that the organisation that invited him deserves its props as well.

    The more reaching out, the better, eh?

  • TAFKABO

    I have respect for both Mr McBride and the people who invited him to speak.
    it seems obvious that both the invited guest and the people who issued the invitation were motivated by the desire to form a common bond.
    I would ask Mr Donnely to reflect on how likely his argument is to further community relations and help us reach a common understanding.

    Speaking as a unionist, you are unlikely to get me listening to your girevances if you begin by telling me I’m not as compassionate as you.

    Now, I don’t want to dismiss everything Mr Donnely said out of hand.
    Is it possible to have the argument framed in less contentious language?

  • Chris Donnelly

    TAFKABO

    I appreciate your comments, though I do believe the points I made were necessary and valid.

    However, to concentrate on the substantive matter at hand, Yoda has got it right. This type of engagement is precisely what is required at this moment in time, both at a leadership and local community level.

    Every August, I attend the West Belfast Talks Back debate, held as part of the annual Feile. For the past number of years, prominent unionist spokespersons have been invited to articulate their politics and voice their communities’ opinions on matters at hand. These public sessions are always packed, with upwards of 500 people in the hall for what is always a lively encounter.

    This type of direct engagement by political leaders with ‘grassroots’ from the opposing community can only be a good thing.

    It is a matter of regret that unionist communities have not shown the same degree of political confidence to reciprocate, though at some levels this is beginning to change.

    I know of several State schools which have invited in Sinn Fein spokespersons for political discussions and debates, and of course there are Church groups like (Ken Newell’s Fitzroy Presbyterian Church) which have a long record of stepping outside traditional boundaries.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Chris

    What about McDowell speaking to the Love Ulster marchers in Dublin? Or is he ‘the wrong sort of republican’?

  • slug

    Chris

    What about the UUP North Doan constituency association that invited Mark Durkan to come and give a talk about his politics and answer questions from the UUP members?

  • la dee dah

    Over the years this type of encounter has been increasingly common. It’s all to the good. However, I don’t think any one group should be given moral superiority for doing the inviting. It is probably the last thing those who issued the invitation would want.

  • Betty Boo

    Maybe the word superiority should be left out completely.
    Gonzo, if they want him, let’s see what happens.
    What sort of republican is he anyway?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Gonzo

    Inviting McDowell to address the Love Ulsters is a bit like Ken Livingstone addressing a gathering of nationalists.

    We are talking about engagements which will challenge both participants, not merely confirm previously held views.

  • slug

    Chris:

    In addition to the UUP inviting the SDLP leader to speak to them, the UUP have recently invited Senator Brian Hayes, Fine Gael Leader in the Seanad, to the East Belfast Ulster Unionist Association Annual Burns Night Supper in Belfast, Saturday Jan 28th at 8.00pm, where he made a Speech.

    Here’s the link to what he said Speech

  • slug

    Worth reading, that speech, by the way. It shows something of a warmth between FG and the UUP.

  • slug

    Just bumping this up.

  • JD

    There is no comparison here, it is easy to invite the uncle Toms and confirm your prejudices that there are catholic unionists. Try inviting someone who will challenge your thinking, a member of Roseanne Mallons family, Michael Finucane etc.

  • slug

    JD – I see. It has to be the right type of nationalist. SDLP and FG just not good enough. [Rolls eyes]. Alan McBride with his pro agreement message for uninoists was probably on the moderate side of unionism so I argue that the comparison stands.

  • JD

    Right type of nationalist, right type of nationalist speaks volumes for the unionist mindset. Gregory Campbell has been invited and has spoken at Bloody Sunday events for quite a few years, Geoffery Donaldson has attended WB Talksback. The purpose is to challenge your own thinking and gain greater understanding. You should try it sometime.

  • slug

    It was you not me who was querying the type of invitee.

  • JD

    No, but is you who is ‘bumping up’ the fact that a couple catholics/nationalists (I hesitate to call Brian Hayes a nationalist) have been invited to unionist events, and who appears to feel that that in some way compares with inviting a man who has lost his wife to republican violence to speak to an audience of consisting of many republicans and indeed current IRA members.

  • slug

    Indeed – that was because Chris earlier in the thread was looking for examples of unionist groups inviting people from the nationalist tradition to speak to them.

  • Andy

    BIGGEST WASTE OF MONEY EVER. IF THE “VICTIMS” WERENT THERE CAUSING TROUBLE THEY WOODNT HAVE GOTTEN SHOT.