No speed ramps? We know who to blame!

Residents of a Shankill district would appear to be at the end of their tether over fears that dangerous driving in their area could result in a fatality. Unfortunately, nothing new there, I hear you say. But the residents are also claiming that Roads Service’s failure to construct speed ramps outside the Denmark Street Youth Centre is a sectarian act– as one local resident put it: “I feel that these people are discriminating against the people of the lower Shankill. A Protestant child has the same needs as a Catholic one.”

Anyone who has ever been involved with a campaign to improve road safety measures will testify to the frustration experienced when dealing with Roads Service officials who seem to place textbook criteria well above common sense when it comes to making decisions- and don’t get me started on the length of time it actually takes for Roads Service to conduct a survey! So in this regard, I’m all with the residents of the North Boundary Street area.

But the tendency to fall back onto a sectarian motive reminded me of a comment made to me by a community worker based in a protestant working-class area of Belfast. A proud and articulate unionist, the community worker surprised me when remarking that there is a worrying tendency within working-class protestant communities to attribute a pro-republican-catholic/ anti-protestant agenda to any and every decision taken.

I don’t know if this is an observation shared by other political and community activists from within the unionist community. Let me also state that, in my opinion, unionists alone aren’t guilty of identifying a sectarian dimension to decisions where one does not exist; but nevertheless it would be interesting to hear voices from within that community on how such communities can be led beyond the ‘them and us’ mindset.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    Chris

    [i]it would be interesting to hear voices from within [the Unionist community] on how such communities can be led beyond the ‘them and us’ mindset.[/i]

    I agree with a great deal of what you’ve said. This is a good thread. However, the part that I’ve quoted suggests that there is a strategy in place to lead the Nationalist community beyond the ‘them and us’ mindset, or no need for such a strategy, when I see little or no evidence of one from Sinn Fein or the SDLP.

    Certainly the Irish government have taken an excellent lead with their Boyne valley initiative as an example, but the SDLP seems directionless and lost and they and Sinn Fein seem to be more inclined to exploit sectarian tensions for electoral gain, rather than to drive to rid our community for its deep rooted, anti-Protestant sectarianism.

  • “Sinn Fein seem to be more inclined to exploit sectarian tensions for electoral gain, rather than to drive to rid our community for its deep rooted, anti-Protestant sectarianism”.

    Damian,

    What complete and utter nonsense!. Probably the most extreme and baseless statement I have seen on this site for a long, long, time.

    I would be interested to know if you actually live here or abroad, because those comments do not bear any relation to what has been happening here for (at least) the past 10 years.

    Please produce factual evidence to support this nonsensical statement or withdraw it…

  • Bemused

    Brilliant – work-shy, layabout vermin gather to complain about state road safety failures and who is sitting there proudly in their midst? A child on a fucking motor bike!!!!!!!!! These scum should just be told to fuck up, get a job and exercise a modicum of parental control over their feral offspring.

  • Comrade Stalin

    BTW Chris, Sinn Fein have made a collective political career out of such us and them politics. They are just as bad as unionists in this respect.

    The Roads Service is under the care of the Department for Regional Development, headed up by Conor Murphy. Sounds like a great opportunity for SF to intervene and get the damn thing built. This is exactly what the devolved government is for.

  • waste land

    ‘A child on a fucking motorbike’

    ..minus a crash helmet, Insurance,Driving Licence and any sign of parental control, I might add.

    What a fucking liberty…

  • Comrade Stalin,

    And you have also made a blogging “career” out of blaming SF on just about every single subject of any thread that appears on this site!

    How you can even remotely manage to turn the subject of this thread into yet another of your attacks on Sinn Fein is quite staggering really. Then again, for those of us who know your past record, it’s not really surprising at all….

  • Teach

    Not that it’s really important.But it’s not a motorbike the boy’s on,it’s just a normal bike.

  • fair_deal

    Sectarianism isn’t restricted to one community.

    I have sat in many a meeting in North Belfast to hear cries of discrimination because new homes in Protestant areas apparently have bigger gardens than the new homes in Catholic areas!?! Or that there is only one housing need there, demand in nationalist areas, ignoring/dismissing/belittling the substandard housing in a number of Protestant areas.

    A claim (sectarian or otherwise) needs to be countered with evidence. Is the person’s claim true that neighbouring nationalist communities have higher degrees of traffic calming? What about neighbouring Unionist communities? There are other parts of the Shankill that have traffic calming so this will be the best means to counter these claims. Rationality is the best way to deal with it.

    The answer will most likely come down to other communities got organised sooner on this issue plus that DRD has ‘officially’ considered this road shut and therefore didn’t need calming even though it never has been.

    Bemused/waste

    The illegality and irresponsibility of the drivers mounting a ‘footpath’ beside a youth club is equal to that of the child and the parents.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    macswiney

    [i]Probably the most extreme and baseless statement I have seen on this site for a long, long, time.[/i]

    It’s nothing of the sort.

    As soon as the ceasefires were called there were opened up ‘new areas of struggle’.

    These included the marching issue, which seems now to be of little consequence any more now that SF are out on top electorally, and a concerted effort to push enthically charged motions through councils across the north in advance of elections, the Derry name change being a prime example. SF in Derry were hardly shy in bringing this issue to the media in advance of elections on a number of occasions.

    And the council motion drive was no co-incidence. A particularly decent and deeply non-sectarian SF councillor confided in me that his council group had been instructed from above to push ‘equality’ motions in advance of elections. Even he thought that it was playing the ethnic card for votes and was not too happy about doing it.

    And that’s on a macro level. I was living in a mixed area on Derry’s Waterside. A SF election canvasser came to my door to ask for a vote. I was honest with him and told him that I didn’t intend to vote as there were no parties standing who stood for what I believed in. He said: “You don’t want the fucking Huns to get it, do you?”

    I had a lot of dealings with Nationalist political representatives in both SF and the SDLP and was shocked at the level of sectarianism which existed on the ground, particularly amongst elected representatives at local level.

    Even the SDLP showed its sectarian colours in the most ignorant and base manner with its ‘Stop the Two Ians’ election campaign.

    I’m not saying that there are not individuals in both parties who are committed to building an Ireland free from sectarianism and on the core principles of inclusive Republicanism, but there is a massive amount of evidence to support my assertion that both parties have played the ethnic card to drum up support.

    In fact it is so amazingly obvious that I find it hard to believe that you a failed to see it, or maybe you just don’t want to.

  • Damian,

    There are many, many examples to counter what you have alleged. Not least, the truly historic agreement between SF and The DUP which led to reintroduction of devolved rule here this week. This was only acheived after many major concessions from SF. (Something which has now been acknowledged by Ian Paisley). This hardly fits your synopsis of “deep-rooted, anti-protestant sectarianism”.

    Your examples are flimsy and do not remotely justify your somewhat extreme conclusion.

    You cite the marching issue which effectively ended 4 or 5 years ago. Bizarrely you also cite the proposed name change for Derry. (Something which also had SDLP support which you conveniently failed to mention). The vast majority of people in the city refer to it as Derry. Therefore, a council wishing to pursue (by purely democratic means) a name change which has the support of the vast majority of its citizens, can hardly be described as sectarian.

    The only other ‘evidence’ which you provide is a conversation which you apparently had with a guy on your doorstep.

    Your combined ‘evidence’ nowhere nearly justifies your disproportionate claims and renders your ‘conclusion’ as being without any meaningful factual basis.

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    macswiney,

    I said that there was deep-rooted, anti-Protestant sectarianism within the Nationalist community and I stand by that. You are claiming that I have accused SF alone of such a thing, which I didn’t.

    I accused SF of using issues such as Loyalist parades for electoral gain and SF gained the electoral upper hand around the same time, or a little earlier as the marching issue seem to fizzle out.

    The SDLP felt they had to jump on the Derry name change bandwagon, just like the marching one, for fear of losing ground to SF over the issue when they should have stood firm. I didn’t ‘conveniently’ fail to mention anything. You asked me to provide proof of my accusations only against SF and not the SDLP. Look again at your selective quote in your first post.

    I also accused the SDLP of exploiting sectarian tensions for electoral gain and provided a solid and irrefutable example of that, but you have failed to acknowledge that.

    I also made the point, which you have also not acknowledged, that I do agree that there are a lot of Nationalist political activists working hard to combat sectarianism.

    My original point to Chris was that he was asking what Unionist community leaders were doing to combat sectarianism in their community, yet there does not seem to be a great deal of work going on within the Nationalist political community to do the same. Nationalists at all levels still operate firmly under a ‘them and us’ mentality.

    Of course the macro level stuff is important, for example, the decision to stop killing Unionists and the negotiations and the subsequent deal with the DUP, but these things in themselves will not seriously challenge the deep-rooted, anti-Protestant sectarianism which exists within the Nationalist community.

  • lib2016

    Damien,

    1/What would, in your view, do most to ‘seriously challenge the deeprooted, anti-Protestant sectarianism which exists within the Nationalist community’?

    2/Do you acknowledge that the Nationalist community in the South includes the Protestant community?

  • bert

    Bemused

    “A child on a fucking motor bike!!!!!!!!!”

    That’s the funniest and most initeful thing I’ve read on here for a while.

    What preceded it was a bit harsh but had a grain of truth to it – evryone knows their rights these days (clearly a good thing), it’s just a pity that all sense of responsibility has been bucked out the window.

  • Mustapha Mond

    “Brilliant – work-shy, layabout vermin gather to complain about state road safety failures and who is sitting there proudly in their midst? A child on a fucking motor bike”

    If you actually managed to open your eyes, you will see it isnt a “fucking motor bike”, but a pedal bike designed to look like a motor bike (it has a derailer gear changer on the back wheel… and oh look, no fucking engine, and a reflector on the rear wheel fur-fox-ache).

    But hey, dont let that stop you looking like a twat.

    ..and by the way, the little blond fella on the left is on a scooter, not a fireblade.

    I have no idea by looking at that photograph what the occupation of the childrens parents are.

    “No helmet… and assorted other bollocks”

    It isnt illegal to ride a push bike without a helmet.