After Gregory…

It would be presumptuous and counterproductive to play down the force of Gregory’s case. But where do we go from here? The politics of grievance needs to be replaced. But with what? With a sometimes bruising but always mutual frankness for a start, I suggest. Gregory is good at the bruising but what about the mutuality?

In Derry the unionist loss needs to be better understood by both sides. It would be better if it were not expressed so polemically. It might then be better heard. The town I loved so well so long ago before the Troubles seemed a unionist place with a hidden Catholic majority. Some of the change was organic – the eventual replacement of local majority Protestant businesses by multiples, the natural spread of the people to the north and across the river. But in between times, I don’t doubt that the IRA’s campaign was aimed at destroying what they saw as Protestant dominance and at driving Protestants out . It would help if in one of his bouts of appalling frankness Martin McGuinness found the words to admit this. Or will the groping towards dealing with the dissidents put it on hold?

A basic task now is to convert the symbolism expressed so physically in Derry from a curse to a blessing. The choice is still between Mostar -on -Foyle or hands across the divide. Mostar has a new bridge too. Derry’s majority nationalists have gone about this with imaginative pragmatism and have embraced the British, Planter and even army legacies. But they should dread softly on unionist susceptibilties. They are late comers to this. In turn unionists would be better advised not to gloat, feel threatened or indulge in the pretence that we are all good unionists now. What is needed are those rare qualities – tact and sharing . If this is a new accommodation with the Union,  it were better not to  exult in it, or presume on it too much. Better for  unionists to make their answering  accommodation, in kind.

The aims of UK City of Culture need to be achieved on a self conscious and transparent cross community basis that also stretches well beyond the narrow confines of the city. The Londonderry Feis (for all) should be revived alongside Feis Doire Colmcille the following week.( for all too I’d hope in time) . The English choral tradition as well as the Roman and the Irish . Where else would they be segregated these days?

One key aim is to encourage the young to ” tell a new story”. What will this be? Hopefully much of it global, generational, edgy and – God let’s hope so – actually new.

 Back on the heritage theme,  young nationalists have been learning about the Planter. Have unionists been learning about the Gael and do the two debate their conclusions? Note that the first bishop listed in St Columb’s Cathedral is “Caencomhrae at Maghera 927 AD”.  Not something to set the heart on fire perhaps, but it is a reminder of a faded shared tradition.

The churches of course have been far too tentative. Too fearful that  too much contact would alienate their own and make things worse. Vigorous risk-taking engagement is long overdue. How amazing that a visit to the Bloody Sunday memorial by the local Protestant church leaders should be regarded as such a landmark. So what next after the first gesture- has anybody heard? Let not it be wasted by both sides. Why not hold a great conference on the social mission of all the churches in these islands as part of City of Culture?

On the development of Ebrington Barracks in the Waterside, a site the size of the walled city, it’s essential that this be seen not as nationalist encroachment but genuinely shared space. Will the social housing , local shops and other facilities envisaged be planned as mixed? This can only be achieved by the closest co-operation.

I’m no longer surprised that so many people in such a wee region know so little about Derry and have never even been there. The ignorance is part of the grievance both sides in the city share – indeed they flaunt it. The penny needs to drop that they’d do better to hang together and convert their shared sense of grievance into a dynamic to achieve. I hope Gregory with his considerable gifts, energy – and his mandate- will pitch in, now that he’s got all that off his chest.

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  • Prionsa Eoghann

    An articulate version of Greg’s original nonsense.

    >>It would be presumptuous and counterproductive to play down the force of Gregory’s case.<>In Derry the unionist loss needs to be better understood by both sides.<>in between I don’t doubt that the IRA’s campaign was aimed at destroying what they saw as Protestant dominance and driving Protestants out . It would help if in one of his bouts of appalling frankness Martin McGuinness found the words to admit this.<>On the development of Ebrington Barracks in the Waterside, a site the size of the walled city, it’s essential that this be seen not as nationalist encroachment but genuinely shared space.<<

    Or else there will be more 'white flight!' hat the hell you can conjour up more nonsense about how the dastardly fenians forced you out of there also.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Seems I can’t use the <> signs any more.

    The above should have a question mark over just what is Greg’s case. Is unsubstantiated hysteria now to be given credence?

    The demand on MMcG is silly. The IRA bombed Derry……………aha then it must be to drive the Prods out……….admit it! Oh dear.

  • Brian Walker

    PE, A zero sum comment that ignores the thesis of my post entirely.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Brian

    I do not doubt that the genesis of your piece is intent on going somewhere good.

    However you in essence have used unsubstantiated allegations from which to draw conclusions.

    If there is a case to anser in the first instance then let’s hear it!

    I’m sorry but the irony inherent in the fears over the Ebrington Barracks development for me betrays the elephant in the room.

  • Brian Walker

    PE , I’m puzzled about these ” unsubstantiated allegations.” What is there left to substantiate?
    Bombing the heart out of the city and its businesses, carrying out targeted assassinations of businessmen, security men and onlookers as well others who were given the convenient label of legitimate target.. What lessons were the Prods of Marlborough St, Rosemount, Duncreggan Rd, Culmore Rd and the remnant of lower Bishop St supposed to draw?

    If you were an IRA sympathiser, you ‘d approve of class war and Brits Out no doubt. But sectarian motives? Perish the thought!

    Surely Prods were fair game in the war? By now it’s not worth denying. Sometime we should explore this odd coyness of physical force republicanism and its apologists. But the facts speak for themselves. Why not speak them as well? And own up to operations where there has been no denial or an incomplete denial of responsibility, as in Claudy.

    The Bloody Sunday report compels no quid pro quo. In a complete peace process, truth telling should be unconditional all round. When will republicanism square its account? Like never?

    I believe we will have to live with that but beyond doubt, it hampers reconciliation.

    As for the rest, you gently patronise my intentions. I’m amused.

  • Ah, now I get it – this is merely a deferred piece of Saville whataboutery?
    Gregory makes one allegation that can be tested empirically – about job bias – comparing the 2001 census and 2008 fair employment figures shows this is complete nonsense. Not only that, critiquing what are obviously factual inaccuracies (nevermind Campbell’s usual bloody-minded blinkers when it comes to promoting his own antagonistically lop-sided worldview) – now somehow qualifies you as an ‘IRA sympathiser’ or somehow complicit in the likes of the Claudy bomb?
    As to Ebrington – you’d be on safer ground if you point out that (I’m pretty sure) it is built on a seventeenth century artillery fort, so it shouldn’t be developed at all. I thought it was a scheduled monument.

  • Christy Walsh

    “The Bloody Sunday report compels no quid pro quo.” Why would it? any more than Diplock Courts ever did?

  • Christy Walsh

    Maybe Unionists/Prodestants can also play a part by considering their not so distant past. While John Hume and the Civil Rights activists were getting their heads cracked and accused of being a front for the IRA Moderate Unionism caved in to violent Unionism. Have Unionists ever appologised to the Civil Rights activists that they got it wrong and in getting it so wrong we had a 30 year war?

    Cameron reports a conversation he had where William Craig, Minister for Home Affairs, refers to a march which, “was allowed to proceed, and there were merely arrests and subsequent court proceedings against the organisers .”

    This was clearly Unionist dissatisfaction with due process. Was Craig ever brought before a Diplock type Court for advocating violence.

    I do not believe that the prime abuser gets to call on the abused to make the first moves –otherwise we sit stagnant. Equally I do not think that Derry Nationalists should sit around waiting for their Unionist and fellow derry men?women to catch up.

    Gregory Campbell is an abusive insulting bigot, an otherwise extremist from the past trying to drag it with him today.

  • Brian Walker

    John O Neill – on the development of Ebrington see the Ilex website. The fort is indeed listed but the fort buildings are but a small part of the site. Many of the other listed buildings are schedued for sympathetic development, like many other listed buildings everywhere. No, please re-read. Precisely NOT Saville whataboutery.

  • DerTer

    The contributions prompted by Gregory Campbell’s essay have been Slugger-typical: depressing, interesting, salutary, trollish and sometimes commendable. Brian Walker always, always, has something valuable to say – no less on this occasion than previously. But at the risk of being extremely boring, may I once again ask why it was necessary to start this new thread when the one begun by GC was still alive? In particular, can I ask Slugger Admin – for about the fourth time – to please do the courtesy of telling us what the rules/conventions are about opening a new thread on a topic already the subject of an existing and live thread? Thanks – more in hope than expectation.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Ok Brian

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/08/10/after-gregory/comment-page-1/#comment-551412

    “What is there left to substantiate?”

    Unless I have went nuts nothing in his wild claims has been substantiated along the lines that you are using him as authority regarding Protestants being forced to leave Derry.

    “”Bombing the heart out of the city and its businesses, carrying out targeted assassinations of businessmen, security men and onlookers as well others who were given the convenient label of legitimate target.”

    See Brian we could mention any number of places these events occured or were alleged to have occured, not just Derry. Thus this important piece of evidence, indeed only piece of evidence cannot in itself be enought to corroborate the wild allegations of loyalists/unionists and now intentionally vicariously……you! On the other hand history tells us that whenever Catholics move into an area in numbers Prods move out, usually a slow drift perhaps partly through shifting demographics but mostly as I suspect ‘white flight’ phenomena.

    Should you care to provide us with any evidence of substance to support your adopted theories I would be happy to see it.

    The rest troubles me Brian. I wasn’t patronising you and apologise if you thought that was the intent. I admit to respecting your work with the odd exception but the last part is simply friggin nuts……….rambling almost!

  • I was referring to Gregory’s piece as whataboutery.

    As to the 17th century star-shaped fort at Ebrington – it was ‘scheduled’ by the Historic Monuments Council a few years ago. This is distinct from listing, since ‘listing’ applies to buildings that are or can be re-used while ‘scheduling’ typically applies to monuments (i.e. that are no longer in active use). Scheduling, in that sense, protects the fabric of the monument from interference (or makes it subject to consent, to be more accurate).
    At the time it was scheduled the concern had been to protect the star-shaped fort from destruction – most people don’t even realise it’s there. As far as I can remember the recommendation was for it to be unpeeled from the modern buildings so it is visible again (as well as renovation of the listed buildings) – which has followed through into the Ilex masterplan.
    Now, if Gregory had any wit – he’d be concentrating on making sure the likes of the redevelopment are done well. Rather than peeringly myopically back into the past, he might even try to look at how to use contested elements of the past to tell new stories. Ebrington has great potential in that regard. Just look at Charlesfort in Cork – it gets about 70,000 visitors a year. I’d bet very few imagine they made a political decision to step inside the gate or by the time they are leaving. Is he capable of using those gifts and energy to turn Ebrington into something similar? Or would he not have a mandate for that!!

  • Magazine

    Another highly considered piece Brian, though I’d agree with the above and sooner let Gregory’s blog play itself out before giving him a response. But there are some good areas here for real consideration down the line – on the Churches front the work of the Methodist City Mission in over 75 years of saving the lives of an overwhelmingly nationalist clientele of male alcoholics on the City side has been a little recognised beacon, culturally the cross community roots of the punk movement still bear fruit in some of the bands on the scene today and socially the story of Kilfennan as a naturally mixed estate (albeit with some self segregated areas) for the last 40 years are all further small examples that run counter to the established narrative of the City and reflect the wider reality of the place that has often lost out to the more strident narrative of division.

  • Dewi

    “The town I loved so well so long ago before the Troubles seemed a unionist place with a hidden Catholic majority”

    Yeah…a charming way to describe it…wonder why it seemed a “unionist place”?

  • Symbol

    Maybe Unionists/Prodestants can also play a part by considering their not so distant past. While John Hume and the Civil Rights activists were getting their heads cracked and accused of being a front for the IRA Moderate Unionism caved in to violent Unionism. Have Unionists ever appologised to the Civil Rights activists that they got it wrong and in getting it so wrong we had a 30 year war?

    I don’t think that’s a reasonable demand at all. It’s like blaming the Treaty of Versaille for causing Nazi Germany. Maybe if the civil rights demands had been met earlier, or met from the outset, the troubles would never have happened, but that’s just a theory. Like saying that if the UK had never invaded Afghanistan and / or Iraq 7/7 would never have happened. The IRA were not fighting a war to end ratepayer franchise and some gerrymandered local government maps. They neither stated that as their aims nor were they their aims, nor when those things were granted did they stop, in fact they had hardly started. In fact they stopped ironically when it was agreed to institute a local assembly in which a vote from a unionist is worth only 80% of a vote from a nationalist on the floor of the assembly.

  • The Raven

    Just read Gregory’s essay there.

    As a member of the Protestant/Unionist community, I’d like to apologise on behalf of the 81% of those who turned out in the East Londonderry constituency and voted for Someone Other Than Gregory. We didn’t try hard enough.

    I’d also like to hear an apology from the 45% of all voters in the constituency who never rocked up at all.

    Maybe you could have helped.

  • Harry Flashman

    Hi Eoghan, it’s me again, I hope you can engage in debate with me this time without resorting to your previous racist insults against my family.

    Now, what is it you’re asking from Brian? Evidence that there was a substantial sectarian element to the IRA campaign in Derry? There was.

    I can provide you with plenty of factual and anecdotal evidence to back up this assertion if you like. This is not to say that the provo campaign in Derry was totally sectarian, of course not, but there is absolutely no denying that to have been a protestant living or working in the west bank of Derry in the 1970’s was a threatening enough experience to cause one to seriously reconsider one’s life choices.

    Before casually throwing around the tiresome and trite “white flight” cliche remember that Derry protestants had long been a minority in their area. They were used to living among and perfectly comfortable with their Catholic neighbours (and frequently family members, there was a lot of intermarriage in Derry) for generations before 1970 and showed no signs of disatisfaction with this ituation until the sudden trauma of the Troubles.

    Further, ask yourself just what would it take you to leave the home you grew up in, the school your children attended, the church you worshipped in, the business you built up and the societies and clubs of which you were a member.

    Oh and please don’t tell me that the protestants of the Fountain, Rosemount, Glen and even Creggan abandoned their small terraced homes to live in grim streets in Clooney or Irish Street because they couldn’t cope with some perceived decline in social or political status post 1970, that’s just plain nonsense.

    I’ve said it before that the IRA wasn’t the sole reason the protestants left the west bank but to dismiss what was a bloody big factor in the situation as irrelevant is absurd.

  • Dewi

    Welcome back Harry.

  • Brian Walker

    My apologies to those who felt I jumped the gun to start a new post – though I see they managed to cross reference between Gregory’s and mine quite easily through the magic of hyperlink.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Hary Harry Harry.

    I’ll tell you what I’ll apologise for having a cheap dig at you that it was well out of order. On the strength of you apologising to me for accusing me of making a racist comment. I can understand why in the heat of the moment you may have chosen to percieve it as such, but it was not my intention and in the cold light of day I am sorry to see that you may still percieve it that way. And on a point of order you have threw a fair few digs my way also some of which you surely can’t be proud of.

    Subject at hand;

    “I’ve said it before that the IRA wasn’t the sole reason the protestants left the west bank but to dismiss what was a bloody big factor in the situation as irrelevant is absurd.”

    Building a strawman out of my responses isn’t the answer, of course the IRA and the republican campaign in general, the civil rights campaign. The ending of gerrymandering, the growing emancipation of middle-class Catholics, the loss of Protestant hegemony etc etc. would all have been factors. To suggest they were irrelevant would be absurd, hence reason why I have not suggested any such thing.

    On a recent visit to Donegal i was amazed at the amount of wonderful looking Protestant churches wherever I went. Like Derry we have not seen Bombay type burnings or the Gardai helping mobs intent on murder and mayhem on local Prods. yet the Protestant congregations that would have filled these churches are all but gone.

  • Dewi

    I’m still interested in your:
    “The town I loved so well so long ago before the Troubles seemed a unionist place with a hidden Catholic majority”

    Care to elaborate Brian? Like was that a good thing?

  • Mike

    Prionsa Eoghann

    “Thus this important piece of evidence, indeed only piece of evidence cannot in itself be enought to corroborate the wild allegations of loyalists/unionists and now intentionally vicariously……you! On the other hand history tells us that whenever Catholics move into an area in numbers Prods move out, usually a slow drift perhaps partly through shifting demographics but mostly as I suspect ‘white flight’ phenomena.

    Should you care to provide us with any evidence of substance to support your adopted theories I would be happy to see it.”

    Presumably then you’re going to give us evidence in relation to your “history tells us” assertion on “white flight”?

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Mike

    A quote from David Holloway;

    “The Lower Ormeau, predominantly Protestant at the start of the Troubles, had been experiencing a gradual out-movement of socially-mobile families, mainly moving further up the Ormeau Road. As they had left, Catholic families had taken their place .. Belfast no longer feels a proud Protestant industrial city. Donegall Pass today is frequently described by respondents as the last Protestant enclave in that part of the Belfast. They talk like a minority people.”

    I’d suggest that is the experience of many towns, villages and areas of cities. Call it ‘white flight’ call it what you will.

    Here is great reading from Cain;

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/segregat/temple/discus3.htm

    There is much here worth copying but one bit will suffice for now;

    Table 10
    Reasons for Moving

    No. %

    Dwelling Too Big 150 2
    Dwelling Too Small 2683 44
    Set Up Independent Household 1597 26
    To Be Nearer Work 921 15
    To Be Nearer Children 62 1
    To Be Nearer Parents 312 5
    To Be Nearer Relatives 814 13
    Better Social Environment 2598 42
    Change Tenure To NIHE 356 6
    Change Tenure To Private Renting – –
    House Purchase 684 11
    To Increase Mortgage 62 1
    To Lower Rent 50 1
    Religious/Political 105 2
    Redevelopment 651 11
    Others(Mobility Problems
    Poor Dwelling Conditions)
    873
    15
    Total Recent Migrants 6153 100

    Source: Regional Household Survey 1971-1978: Londonderry District Analysis.

    Note 2% cited religious/political reasons for moving and who is to say that they were not Catholics?

  • Mike

    So, your quote from David Holloway talks of upwardly-mobile Protestants moving from the lower Ormeau road to another area, and Catholic families moving in to the houses they left.

    That would be a completely different dynamic to “On the other hand history tells us that whenever Catholics move into an area in numbers Prods move out”, as you said – basically insinuating the big evil Prods move out once they catch wind of themmuns poking their toe in the door.

  • Harry Flashman

    You implied my wife was a prostitue and you did so on the basis of her race.

    That was a vile, offensive, repulsive and deeply racist thing to do and nothing I had said could have justified it.

    Your mealy mouthed apology, an apology I did not ask for, on the basis that I must apologise to you for pointing out your appallling behaviour tells me all I need to know about the unpleasantness of your character.

    I regret engaging in discussion with you again, you are not the sort of person I would allow into my house, there is no reason why I should talk with you here.

    Consider our conversation terminated.

  • Harry Flashman

    Thanks Dewi, nice to see you have been promoted to contributor. I’m still busy at work so I don’t get much time to drop in but I do have the odd quiet afternoon. If there are any good discussions about twentieth century wars and battlefields let me know and I’ll jump in.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Repeating the racist slur don’t make it so Harry, objectionable though it be.

    Oh and since you have elaborated so will I. My dig at you concerned creepy guys who feel the need for whatever reasons to embark on sexual imperialism in the poorer parts of the globe. I take it by your fury that you are not one such guy.

    I will not sadden to not engage with big girls blouses, a contact I never initiated.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Mike

    To be blunt asked and answered. Much of the north, especially west of the Bann has witnessed to varying degree’s a greening of their area due to the very circumstances we speak of. I have provided you evidence from a Protestant churchman, there is also evidence from Cain should you have checked it out that many people Catholics included preffered to move to their own majority area. So much so that I believe the figure was 90% segregation.

    Should this be a civil court looking at the balance of probabilities then there would be little doubt I believe what conclusion the evidence leads us to.

  • Mike

    Just as self praise is no praise, pronouning oneself the winner of an imaginary court case is meaningless.

    You haven’t actually provided any evidence for your assertion – which here as in other threads, you’ve pointed solely against the big bad prejudiced Prods.

    And by the way, that link actually does recount examples of people leaving an areas due to fear and intimidation.

  • Anon

    Which happened all over the North. There were big population shifts. There were more actors than the IRA, and people moved due to fear fo sectraian violence on boths dies. And not all of it attributable to sectarian groups.

    People keep suggesting Derry was unique. How?

  • madraj55

    I sympahise, Raven. We’re weel acquainted with GC’s tactics as seen in his typically acid and self pitying contribution to the exodus film. His tactic is to tar all nationalists with what only provos or other republicans are guilty of. He insisted that the Catholic community blamed all the protestants in Derry for what only the Corporation did for the forty previous years before ’68. He knows very well that wasn’t the case. Sadly we expect no better from him. He still gets voted in, though to your credit, not by yourself..

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Don’t know how much more I can jump to your demands Mike.

    I did not pronounce myself the winner of anything………you are just being silly.

    As for the big bad Prods……………well facts do tend to bear that one out over and over and over. No use blaming me or trying to be ironic with a statement that all too often has been true.

    Of course the link points to all sorts of experiences, do you believe I would put forward one eyed evidence?, that would be foolhardy and idiotic since I am trying to take the approach that would be the very antitheses of the one taken by Greg and Brian. In other words putting an argument together using actual evidence and not one-eyed predjudice. I have already stated that there was a multitude of factors. Since you have read the evidence for yourself do you still believe the contentions brought forward by the bold Greg and sadly Brian or not?