Echoes of St James’? The BBC report an “attack on the home of of a community worker” in the Dunclug estate in Ballymena after the “removal of bonfire material” intended to mark the anniversary of internment. Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, and SF Cllr Pádraig Mc Shane, claim to have been assaulted in the area this morning and blame “criminal and anti social elements who are using this bonfire as a cover for other activities”, adding “The community is totally opposed to this event”. And the Ballymena Times have interviewed the “community worker”, Barry Gordon – who as Chairman of the Dunclug Partnership Group welcomed the 2006 announcement of a £4.75 million funding package for the estate – and describe last night’s events as “believed to be dissident-republican led”. The report also notes
A large number of police officers and a helicopter were deployed to help defuse the tense standoff at the home of Barry Gordon which lasted from 11.00pm until almost 2.00am.
Adds Interestingly, although the Sinn Féin press statement identifies him as a councillor, in the BBC Newsline video report Pádraig McShane – who actually bears the brunt of the assault after Daithí McKay is initially punched – is only identified as a “community worker” and, as in the Ballymena Times report, as Chairman of the Dunclug Residents Association. But wasn’t he elected to Moyle District Council, to represent the Glens area, in a by-election in December last year after SF’s Marie McKeegan resigned her seat? Anyway, with the assailant clearly visible in the footage, I trust that Mr McKay and Mr McShane will be pressing charges? Update A 21-year-old Ballymena man has been charged with assault, disorderly behaviour and affray.And as Newton Emerson argued previously
Because community implies grassroots legitimacy it is an ideal disguise for such top-down exercises in social control. Being so deliberately ill-defined it is also a tricky disguise to unmask. But unmask it we must if we are not to be told who we are, what we are, how to think and where to think it by everyone anxious to group us under their own agendas. A fair society, as St Augustine observed, must comprise one community of law.