Shouldering the responsibility…

THE following email appears to have been intercepted by the Foreign Office’s ‘Official Listening Service’ early this morning in west Belfast…A chara,

First, I must apologise to my loyal readers for my recent absence. Apologising is good for the soul, and it must have been all the commemorating over Easter, but the break has only made me more eager to get back to the keyboard. Good ideas, like Long Kesh prisoners, cannot be caged.

I began my last column by quoting Adlai Stevenson: “The cruellest lies are often told in silence.” And since no-one has been more silent than me lately (a first, I’ll humbly admit), it’s time to set the record clear about the last time I committed my thoughts to newsprint.

At the outset, it must be stated that in no way had I sought to damage the reputation of the West Belfast MP by implying that he had not shouldered the responsibility for what has been going on in our community. On the contrary, Gerry Adams’ shoulder has been exceptionally busy of late, carrying the coffins of many former comrades he believes had credibility in the community.

As republicans, Gerry has led by example, and I for one am as happy to bury the news as I am a fallen republican. Indeed, I started this process last week, by having my last column removed from the internet, after many of you suggested that it had not taken its responsibility to the community seriously enough. I am a proud republican, but sometimes pride comes before a lower Falls. Or after it, depending on which way the winds of change are blowing at Teach Basil.

There are many who must take responsibility for what has been happening in our community, but primarily that must be someone else. I would not want to point the finger of blame at anyone, as some have suggested I may have done in the past, but the past is the past and surely it is time to move on. The war of words is over.

Nevertheless, in drawing a line under what may or may not have been indicated recently, it has become increasingly clear to me recently that if the blame for the state of the lower Falls has to be put somewhere, then that must surely fall on other shoulders. So who’s to blame for the failure to press home my kneejerk reaction? Is it the Chief Constable, the rich, the Housing Executive, the SDLP, the courts, Linfield fans, the Prison Service, the Orange Order, the Probation Board, Prods, Social Services, the Sticks, certain local parents? Yes – but not Gerry Adams, and that is the new context last week’s front page must be seen in.

It definitely wasn’t Danny Morrison who said: “You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by having your head held deep in the bath.” People are afraid. Like every one of us, Bap McGreevy fell into the water when Harry Holland was slaughtered, and I’m even going to mention that Traveller who was hacked to death this time around, whatever his name was or whatever he had done to the community.

When the bad guys can kill a well-known and popular ex-prisoner, a well-loved shopkeeper or even an unpopular tinker, it’s time to worry. Especially about what it’s doing to the house prices, and so I was encouraged by how the public display of grief by a proud community was being channelled into calls for the flats of death to be demolished. We must not let these animals destroying our community stop us turning private grief to community advantage.

It was hoped two weeks ago that I would be surfing the wave of reactionary opinion and outraged horror and not drowning in the tidal wave of not being able to judge my own readers. Didn’t happen. What happened was that I was left to drown – in my own cliches – while the rest of you continue to write letters to the editor hoping that the Andytown News goes under too.

Blaming the Trevors is so much easier, as my fellow fools of PIRA L brigade told me in Roddies over a few jars the other night.

Time for peace, time for me to go.

Til next time, if indeed there is a next time,

(M – if you want to suggest any edits, just go ahead, or run it past Gerry.)

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