A cause to unite around at last?

Although the Holy land disturbance ( what’s this “Holylands”?) has attracted a record volume of comment, I still thought it worthwhile to draw attention to Henry’s 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.

  • The Third Policeman

    Couple of things Brian, do you think its very likely that the new administration will encourage kids fron NI to go abroad for Uni? For the sake of one day a year (OK two if you count halloween) is it worth manufacturing a brain drain? And do you really see SF and the SDLP going for it, seeing as currently our native Uni’s are majority nationalist?

    Secondly can the universities do anything at all? Can they punish students for how they act off campus? How long before the first human rights case?

    And finally, someone mentioned medical students in one of the other threads. Ah yes its true we’re the best bunch of drinkers you’ve ever encountered and anyone who’s went on our mystery tour will vouch for that but the difference is… we can hold it ya see! Plus on Paddy’s day I was at home watching the Cross match, learning my ECGs and ended the day with a few scoops of the black stuff at the local. To me that’s the Holiest place of all.

  • Mack

    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

    Contrary to popular belief the number of students from both communities who go to college in Britain is pretty even. The Catholic proportion is slightly lower, but slightly more Catholics go to college.

    I think it’s a shame that more from both communities don’t look south instead of east – over the longer term that would keep families closer.

  • … 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.

    Translation: Feck off away with you, and stop all this ‘greening of Northern Ireland’ business.

    In earlier generations they tried to stem the growth of the nationalist (or just Catholic) population by forcing them to emigrate. Now McDonald wants them to do it by ‘persuasion’. Maybe he’ll entertain the idea of strict quotas for people from “rural nationalist Ulster”? It smells, just as Empey’s disgraceful “C’mon back” campaign does.

  • niall

    Strange times but a useful topic Brian.

    My initial thoughts;

    1. A credit boom (and the “miracle” economy) has went hand in hand with a huge rise in alcohol consumption here. Has it just been a result of an incredible marketing scheme by pubs/brewers and government?

    We are Irish/proud/great drinkers. The reality is we are a contained social group who once you start selling too you will make a fortune. We are great consumers of crap beer.

    I always wonder why we the great dinking nation produse so little beer quality compared to say Belgium?

    My answer is we are too drunk to see the stupidity of it. And now getting drunk to avoid considering are crap economy!

    Not every person all the time, but enough of the people enough of the time to limit the nations potential by a couple of percentage points.

    If you’re Irish and not pissed between 18 and 25 you are boring.

    I was and am a drinker.

    2. Who cares what our politicians think?

    Lets be honest they are hardly the types you’d want a pint with, or consider anything they say in respect of our social lives. They make a poor effort on the economy and “kulture” as it is.

    3. The old stereotypes got hammered by commercial interests and our media is just a marketing machine for big business.

    We are sport mad here but the alcohol companies own our sports. It’s true of them all just about.

    Look at the number of holyland eejits wearing sports tops.

    4. Provincial Ireland and particularly the north needs a vision for the future.

    Maybe the schools should think about this.

    It seems the future for most is teacher/ accountant/ pharmacist /dr /optician /engineer /solicitor /civil servant/ quango/ or my favourite the all consuming industry of helping others to be innovative (it seems a disproportionate number of people have jobs helping other people to be pro- active and these jobs amount to very little achieved.

    What about saying – go away get the skills to do something and come back here and do it.

    There needs to be a vision for people at 18, 19, 20 that if they get the skills they can do big things.

    If the 2.2 and the average state backed job seem inevitable you’d spend a lot of time pissed too.

  • My bad. That should be “C’mon over”:

    http://www.delni.gov.uk/index/successthroughskills/cmonover.htm

  • niall

    And 1 more thing.

    Queen’s Union may feel green but the actual Academic sude of things is aloof and really offers a poor return at present in terms of the people (and therefore money) rural Norn Iron invests in it.

    It is not the world leader developing an economy from the setarinism that nearly destroyed this place.

    It is an absentee land lord of yore, “you may pay to be on our land, but I am different to you. I stand beyond you and I have no interest in you. I am significant only because of the name your lower class sectarianism made for this place, and I am happy to cream of research into the madness of our social experiment rather than be pro active”.

  • Glensman

    I’m totally with the students on this, has anyone been into the accommodation in the Holy Lands recently?

    We’re putting first class students into third class accommodation so that landlords can make a killing.

    Is anyone surprised that these students go ‘mad’ when the sun is shining and there’s a holiday- I wouldn’t sit home and watch telly in one of those hovels…

  • niall

    Glensman,

    I agree and you’d think Queen’s would do something but as long as they have their cash they don’t care.

  • kensei

    Roughly every suggestion made by Henry McDonald is appalling. Encourage young families othave to stick an area that will always be dominanted by students! Let’s try and socially engineer the student population! Let’s encourage potential graduates to fuck off to places they are unlikely to come back from.

    Better idea: introduce consequences if people don’t behave. Fines. Explusion. Community Service. Jail. Zero tolerance and rigorously enforce them. No social engineering required. No social engineering required.

  • kensei

    niall

    We are Irish/proud/great drinkers. The reality is we are a contained social group who once you start selling too you will make a fortune. We are great consumers of crap beer.

    I always wonder why we the great dinking nation produse so little beer quality compared to say Belgium?

    My answer is we are too drunk to see the stupidity of it. And now getting drunk to avoid considering are crap economy!

    Not every person all the time, but enough of the people enough of the time to limit the nations potential by a couple of percentage points.

    If you’re Irish and not pissed between 18 and 25 you are boring.

    Thing is, Ireland always had a lot of people fond of alcohol, but it always had a high percentage that abstained through things like the Pioneer movement. There was the image of the lovable rogue drinking, but it wasn’t the only image of what it means to be Irish. The dichomoty has been resolved it seems, but not exactly in a socially good way.

  • Dec

    Isn’t this entire episode, essentially a rowdy street party, totally blown out of proportion?

  • niall

    Dec,

    it certainly doesn’t look like a riot as the journalists would quite like, just “news! news! please let there be easy news to write about”. And of course the riot gear doesn’t look good while the revellers look embarassing.

    My point would be that this is now Queen’s. What should/could be an asset looks like a liability. The best of our youth is the appearing the worst of our weaknesses.

    This is a small place, can we waste talent?

  • Richard James

    Horseman,

    Your conspiracy theory about McDonald’s motives would hold more traction if it weren’t for the fact he were a Catholic from the Markets. At the end of the day it doesn’t change the fact there is a problem with the endemic sectarianism amongst Catholics from the country.

  • Dec

    At the end of the day it doesn’t change the fact there is a problem with the endemic sectarianism amongst Catholics from the country.

    Any actual evidence to back that up?

  • Mack

    Richard James

    That doesn’t make it any less misguided. It is hardly in NI’s interest to encourage any of it’s students to educate themselves elsewhere if they don’t come back!

  • Glencoppagagh

    Horseman
    “Maybe he’ll entertain the idea of strict quotas for people from “rural nationalist Ulster”?”
    No bad thing if they have to go somewhere else where everybody doesn’t look and sound the same as them. It might help them grow up. Even going south seems to be too big an adventure for them.
    Queen’s should be trying to encourage more undergraduates from outside NI if it wants to be seen as a leading university. At the moment it’s far too parochial to be that. A limit on the proportion of students from NI would be a positive move if it’s legally possible.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Mack
    Don’t worry they’ll come back, except for the very brightest who go to Oxbridge etc and they always stayed away because they have access to opportunities that aren’t available in NI.
    Those who only ever wanted to follow bog standard careers in medicine or the law, for example, will find their way home, more’s the pity.

  • jivaro

    I’ve said elsewhere that it is beyond ridiculous to expect a University disciplinary committee to be able to effectively substitute itself for the civil power in a public order crisis.

    There’s no doubt the universities will hang and flog a few students to appease the present moral panic, but in the long term that’s no solution to the issue of the over-concentration of wild youth with too much drink in its belly and a few quid in its pocket in a small area of the city.

    The Holy Lands is now an utterly destabilised urban environment. It will not return to the (imaginary) old days when students were respectful and everyone got along just fine. Along with the few long term residents left ( mostly people who are renting their houses from housing associations and cannot therefore sell and leave), the area is now used by the public sector as a venue for bail hostels, sex offender hostels and so on; its private rented sector is also home to many other birds of passage – some benign, others not. It is the highest crime zone in Northern Ireland.

    I wouldn’t want any of my kids living anywhere near it and I’m surprised the mammies of Tyrone or wherever acquiesce in letting theirs do so.

  • Rapunsel

    Sorry , this article by Henry McDonald is just rubbish. the halcyon days of the holyland, rubbish. A lot better than elsewhere during the troubles perhaps. This whole issue has been blown out of proportion and likely its too late to deal with the real underlying problems anyway

    In the 1980’s I lived in Fitzroy avenue, most of the accommodation was very poor, no heating , showers etc. Facts of the matter are if you are from outside belfast attending college( and you’d think theer was somethign wrong with that to read some of the pieces) the number of safe places with adequate accommodation close to Queens or the bus to UU are limited. The area from Cromwell Road right up to Agincourt and then holy land street fits the bill .

    Secondly there has been a huge rise in the student population( again I’ve been surprised at the attitude expressed by many commentators regarding this with the accusation of mickey mouse degrees etc, fine to point the finger at people for bad behaviour but to use this as evidence of dumbing down is ridiculous)

    Thirdly there is clearly overcrowding in the area and with this and the increase in students I think the area is essentially now one glorifled halls of residence without the control measuers in place at say the Queens Elms.

    I have real sympathy for residents who are not students, but to be honest the idea that this is their area is just as spurious as the idea that it ” belongs ” to the students. De facto it does belong to the students and surely their lives are also being disrupted by the situation in the area.

    The area is also being used as a car park by city centre office workers, queens staff and others and as a rat run by people taking a short cut to get down Botanic avenue.

    I would propose that

    1. A system of better traffic management and resident parking/ restrictions be introduced

    2. The house by house there is a reduction in the accommodation capacity in the area if possible

    3. Increase in university accommodation

    4. There has to be a real effort at engaging with the students to try and change behaviour and suopport positive activity. I know there have been some attempts but clearly more is needed

    Some ile friday afternoon thoughts

  • Richard James,

    I know who McDonald is. And my ‘conspiracy theory’ (as you call it) would be assuaged by a counter-suggestion that the ignorant unionists of rural ‘ulster’ (and maybe urban ‘ulster’ too) might get their minds stretched too. When he picks out only nationalists it definitely sounds like he thinks that they are uniquely narrow-minded.

    Maybe NI coumd institute a two-year ‘military service’ for all of its young people – each would be obliged to live in another country, preferrable one which challenges their prejudices. Young ‘unionists’ (do we allow self-designation?) should spend 2 years in Catholic spain, enjoying the sun, sea and cheap wine, whilst young ‘nationalists’ should shiver for two years in the abstemiousness of Protestant Scandinavia. Alliance voters could declare themselves as conscientious objectors and go to atheist Albania.

  • Greenflag

    Horseman,

    ‘whilst young ‘nationalists’ should shiver for two years in the abstemiousness of Protestant Scandinavia.’

    Scandinavia is predominantly atheist and only nominally ‘protestant’. As for abstemiousness this is due to the high cost of drink and to the Government policy in those countries which restricts the number of ‘licensed’ establishments . The Scandinavians in particular Norse Swedes and Finns have a ‘drink’ problem not too dissimilar from the Irish or Scots but not as bad as indigenous aboriginal Australians , or ‘native Americans ‘ i.e . This problem is exacerbated by a greater ‘genetic’ propensity to become an alcoholic than would be the case for say a southern european or jewish person.

    The ‘pub’ is the poor and not so poor man’s social club and place of refuge from the ‘wurrrld ‘ and all it’s chaos . Taken to excess of course it’s an expensive hobby , bad for health , destructive of brain cells , and in certain situations like those which too frequently
    occur in Northern Ireland likely to result in an appearance in court for deeds committed while under the affluence of effluent 🙁

    Anyway in the world ranking tables we still only make it to second place in the beer drinking stakes behind the Czechs but ahead of the other beer imbibing nations . This is not something to be proud of 🙁

  • Greenflag,

    ffs, my tongue was firmly in my cheek!

    😉

  • Uriop

    Secondly there has been a huge rise in the student population( again I’ve been surprised at the attitude expressed by many commentators regarding this with the accusation of mickey mouse degrees etc, fine to point the finger at people for bad behaviour but to use this as evidence of dumbing down is ridiculous)

    There HAS been dumbing down. The IQ of the average person from the time when 10% went to Uni up to now where it is 45%-odd has not increased by 30 points. One can only surmise that the IQ of the average student has dropped dramatically. Any other conclusion can only be absurd.

    I do marvel at the naivete of the idea that all these students are going to be doctors and lawyers. The vast majority of them won’t be. They’ll be secretaries and clerks and call centre monkeys. A cut above the factory fodder but a degree won’t get them the same things that it would have got their parents.

    The idea that increasing Uni entrance levels will mean that the 55th income percentile of yesteryear will earn what the 95th percentile used to (relatively speaking) is bonkers. Doctors and lawyers don’t get paid what they do merely because they showed up at a few lectures, they get paid what they do because they’re smart cookies with perseverance and the professional exams are just a peacock’s tail to signal it. More than half the stuff they learn in Uni will be useless ten years into their career and they’ll have forgotten it anyway.

  • Teemu

    Finland is not in Scandinavia.

  • OC

    “Finland is not in Scandinavia.”

    I think that most folks would think of Finland being geographically and socially part of Scandanavia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavia

    Linguistically, of course, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish are more closely related to Hindi than Finnish, which is related to Lappish, Estonian, and more distantly Hungarian.

  • picador

    Some of responses to the ‘trouble’ in the Holylands on St Patrick’s Day have been hysterical. And some have been notable for their sectarianism as well.

    It seems clear that shortage of quality accommodation is a big part of the problem here. The universities needs to invest some of the money they receive in fees and provide some more decent accommodation for their students in a wider range of locations. Greedy private-sector landlords cannot be allowed to continue with the cramming students into hovels and charging them as much as possible approach.

  • likearollingstone

    ‘It is hardly in NI’s interest to encourage any of it’s students to educate themselves elsewhere if they don’t come back! ‘

    Well, ignoring the O-level economics question; education a public or private good? So autarky rules, eh Mack? Except when it facilitates a self-serving begging bowl menatality, north or south?

    In a previous post you referred to ‘world beating’ Irish corporations. Can we take it these firms are staffed exclusively by indigenous Irish?

    Funnily enough, the submit word is ‘market’. But then again, penetrating insight and insular irony is more akin to your province. As always, and as is your due, I do defer to superior beings.

  • likearollingstone

    ‘lawyers don’t get paid what they do merely because they showed up at a few lectures, they get paid what they do because they’re smart cookies with perseverance and the professional exams ‘

    Actually lawyers get paid what they do because of simple supply and demand. it has nothing to do with intelligence or being ‘smart cookies’ Half the barristers at the law courts have bruised knuckles arising from excessive contact with the greensward.

    the supply of lawyers and baristers is constrained by instutionalisied factors and dynamics. Cet. Par, this would tend to inflate prices. The supply is further constrained by the simple, if glorious, fact that most people do not possess the pomposity of Pol Pot, the self-absorbtion of Barbara Cartland, the mendacity of Richard Nixon and soul of a hammerhead shark. The supply of suitable legal professionals is limited!

    Simply put, The Scum also Rises. The events in the Carmel Street indicate the legal profession in Northern Ireland need not fear a shortage of legal eagles. At the moment, the young’uns are merely following their genetic imperative and professional calling by shitting in someone elses nest.

    The triumph of the previously oppressed middle classes should be acknowledged and celebrated.

    Is this a great country or what?

  • The problem here isn’t a lack of quality accomodation (though that is a problem). The problem here is the attitude of a significant minority of students living in the area who think they have the right to do whatever they like, and react badly, and often violently, when told otherwise.

  • Danny O’Connor

    No excuse for behaving badly,protect the residents,time to get out the water cannons.

  • Richard James

    “Any actual evidence to back that up?”

    I have the misfortune of working in Botanic Avenue at night and so encounter many bigoted Republicans from the country chanting “up the ‘RA”.

  • Richard James

    “And my ‘conspiracy theory’ (as you call it) would be assuaged by a counter-suggestion that the ignorant unionists of rural ‘ulster’ (and maybe urban ‘ulster’ too) might get their minds stretched too.”

    I’m afraid they aren’t as visible in Belfast because there simply aren’t that many rural Unionists. Vast majority of Unionists live in urban areas in the Belfast basin, essentially round Antrim and Down.

    “Young ‘unionists’ (do we allow self-designation?) should spend 2 years in Catholic spain, enjoying the sun, sea and cheap wine, whilst young ‘nationalists’ should shiver for two years in the abstemiousness of Protestant Scandinavia.”

    Ship me out :o)

  • Glencoppagagh

    Uniop
    “they get paid what they do because they’re smart cookies with perseverance”

    And an unrivalled capacity to feast from the public sector trough. No fear of market forces for them.

  • George

    OC,
    I think that most folks would think of Finland being geographically and socially part of Scandanavia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavia

    I don’t think so and even the link you posted said it is used unambiguously to mean Norway, Sweden and Denmark, before going on to say that “some foreigners argue for the inclusion of Finland and Iceland”.

  • I lived in the Holyland for 18 years. It’s worse than you think. There are only 50-80 residents left, and most of them want out, but can’t get rehoused.

    Feel free to check my blog for background to this:-

    http://holylandswarzone.blogspot.com/

    Alan Murray

  • picador

    Hey, why did my post get deleted?

    I was not playing the man.

    I looked at the blog for some time and gave my considered opinion that the blogger negates what should be a valid argument by engaging in over the top attacks on students in general.

    It does not surprise me that many students find the blogger’s attitude offensive. I know I would.

    Or perhaps I am wrong and all young people are just bad, full stop?

    Take a look for yourselves.

  • His comments arrived in my inbox. They are ad hominem and read just like those I get to my blog. What I write is visceral and entirely appropriate to the situation. If you’ve lived there you’ll understand.

  • Comic Book Guy

    Worst Rugby Union post ever!

  • OC

    OC,
    I think that most folks would think of Finland being geographically and socially part of Scandanavia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavia

    I don’t think so and even the link you posted said it is used unambiguously to mean Norway, Sweden and Denmark, before going on to say that “some foreigners argue for the inclusion of Finland and Iceland”. – Posted by George on Mar 21, 2009 @ 11:05 AM

    From: http://downloads.raileurope.com/map_europe/scandinavia.html

    “Rail Map: Scandinavia: Finland, Sweden, and Norway”

    From: http://antiquesandthearts.com/archive/fin.htm

    “The design achievements of Finland, perhaps the most creative of the Scandinavian countries…”

    The two links were pooped right up when I Googled Scandinavia and Finnish/Finland.

    Feel free to contact these folks, one in America, the other in Europe (RailEurope FFS), and take it up with them.

  • picador

    Alan,

    I believe that I said that I spent some time looking at your blog and that I don’t think your tar all students with one brush approach helps your case.

    How you interpret that as ‘ad hominem’ is beyond me.

    Constructive criticism I would say.

    I can’t believe that you e-mailed Mick to have him remove it.

    I realise that you won’t believe me but I do sympathise with anyone who has to live in that area. It would drive me mad. However labeling students as evil culchie bigots is surely counter-productive?

  • Hi Picador,
    I didn’t email Mick.

    I do find that the antics on Tuesday have blown the lid in what’s really going on in that area. I don’t say that all students there are evil culchie bigots, but it is the norm. I’m afraid there’s no escaping that. The mentality coming out of Mid-Ulster is terrifying.

    If these people are to be our future professionals, the social glue of a modern society, means that we are in very big trouble.

    Looking at them I am reminded of the beer-garden scene in Cabaret:-

    Alan Murray

    http://holylandswarzone.blogspot.com/