Although the Holy land disturbance ( whats this “Holylands”?) has attracted a record volume of comment, I still thought it worthwhile to draw attention to Henrys burst in the Guardian. In the massive and absorbing Slugger reaction , I was struck by the generation gap many (relative) city slicker oldies, regardless of their first foot forward, wanted to smash the young culchies ( the unanimously adopted epithet for them). I share the concern about what the state of Holy land says about this generation. While so absorbed in Troubles narratives, have we produced a breed without any sense of basic civic responsibility? That sounds really old school but the evidence is worrying. Henry makes a good case for sweeping and remedial action, but why do we have to re-order the whole of society to bring some order to a small slice of old south Belfast? Good to see that MLAs have avoided sectarian ranting and are adopting a careful, not to say gingerly approach at the political level. But a browse in “Holylands warzone, the destruction of a Belfast community, convinces me that the universities whose silence as far as I know has been deafening, should be summoned in the persons of their vice chancellors to Brooklyn Police HQ and pressed to impose basic rules which if broken, could result in rustication. As one of the sixties generation who invented sex, drugs and rock n roll, ( not me personally, you understand), I say we need some rules here. How refreshing to read that so many in anarcho-tinged Slugger actually agree.
From Henry McDonald
Perhaps the first place to start would be the Holylands, where the power-sharing coalition could create financial enticements for families to move into the area and conversely to encourage landlords not to turn their houses into homes of multiple occupancy; to persuade the two universities to build more on-campus halls of residence and ensure they become socially, ethnically, and religiously mixed; to launch an education campaign within education aimed at persuading second level students, particularly those from rural nationalist Ulster, about the benefits of not following their mates from primary school all the way to Queen’s and the UU and instead to go out and meet new people, maybe even in a university outside Northern Ireland. In short, restoring the Holylands as a unique area of integration, both in terms of religion and class, would be one small step in that “shared future”.
From Holylands warzone
I want time to reflect on this because I have much to say. However, I do note that it was not students that were charged. None will be, unless they’re working class. The new middle class in Mid-Ulster must not be alienated, no matter that they are sectarian ethnic chauvinists. It is wonderful to contrast the cosmopolitan parade in the city centre with the ugly truth that lies within. What did the wider world see? The manufactured image of the “New Northern Ireland” was drowned out by who we really are. Your future lawyers, teachers, doctors are waving pizza boxes and throwing (badly) bottles. They couldn’t riot for shit; Designer Republican Arsewipes. They really are good for nothing. What a waste of public money.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London