On ‘Moving on…’

David Adams, formerly of the Ulster Democratic Party, let out a rant on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback today that would have done the seasoned MOPErs of Slugger proud (irrespective of background.) David’s gripe was essentially that ‘catholics’ were angering ‘protestants’ by having their own narrative about the past and raking over the wounds of the conflict to the irritation of unionists. It would appear that Davy’s own glasses need cleaned, for he clearly missed the foot-long shadow from the beam stretching out of his own eye!

A couple of weeks ago, unionists/ ‘protestants’ held parades across the state commemorating a war victory some three hundred-odd years ago, a victory which led to the introduction of the Penal Laws and the continued subjugation of the Irish catholic population on the island. But the parades did not mark the end of the ‘marching season’- oh no, the season will last all summer with flags erected to mark territory and remind people of the battle victory of yester-century. But raking over the past is a ‘catholic’ thing, David, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, in Davy’s own city and other council areas across the north, ratepayers money continue to be used to commemorate the role of the British army and their local militias more recently- with David’s Lisburn facilitating the erection of a memorial to the UDR commemorating their role in the war here- what was that about ‘catholics’ having an exclusive ‘narrative’ about the past, David?

The simple truth, of course, is that nationalists and unionists are extremely unlikely to view the events of the past 35/80/400 years in the same light, and those views are likely to remain different for some time to come, particularly as we are only now collectively emerging from the latest violent phase of conflict in Ireland, with wounds still very fresh. If David still doesn’t know that unionists still ‘rake’ over the past, then perhaps he should meet with Willie Frazer, the families of Billy Wright and/or Raymond McCord.

That David Adams would somehow believe that even his former associates in the UDA- aligned UDP would have a similar narrative to ‘catholics’ is either naïve or, as I suspect, a product of his own frustration at the fact that nationalists don’t consent to the apparently enlightened narrative articulated by David Adams and to which he clearly believes unionists are most comfortable with.

It is particularly ironic that David’s rant featured on Talkback, to which he is a weekly contributor. I remember reading an interview several years ago with Talkback presenter, David Dunseith, in which the veteran host remarked that the programme was a particularly useful sounding board of unionist opinion here (of course nationalists ring the programme as well, but unionist ‘punters’ make up the considerable majority of contributors.)

Indeed, David had only finished his angry rant when a caller rang up to provide the classic unionist narrative of the ‘Troubles’ and the pre-Troubles unionist nirvana that suggests all was rosy in the garden ‘til those pesky republicans were at their lark.

David Adams would be better employed spending his time engaging with nationalists to find out more about ‘their’ experiences and concerns, even using the occasion to articulate similar experiences and concerns from his own community. One thing’s for sure: If he thinks living up to the crudest Ulster Prod caricature of boorishly ‘telling it like it is’ to the uppity Taigs is gonna get him anywhere, then he’s in for a big letdown.