Could a shared space be capable of addressing the value of our separate identities?

I got an emailed press release from the local Tory press office this morning with a statement from my old friend Trevor Ringland. It highlights a parade in in the mixed town of Castlederg:

Castlederg was affected particularly badly by the IRA’s campaign of murder and this parade seems to ignore completely its deeply sectarian nature.”, Trevor remarked.   “For the future of everyone in Northern Ireland, we must challenge any group which wants to promote, glorify or justify the unlawful, illegal acts which made a mess of our past.  That applies as much to those who would wish to fly UVF flags, as parks named after IRA men or events lionising terrorist organisations.”

“It’s incredibly important that we don’t pass on the wrong messages about our past to young people. Violence was never going to, and will never, solve the problems on the island of Ireland and that is the clear lesson we should be telling our children.  For that reason it’s vital that we keep challenging the movements who created that violence and who want to airbrush history to cast their actions in a kinder light.  That is simply not acceptable and it is not the way to heal divisions and build a better and genuinely shared future for Northern Ireland.”

I note he doesn’t call for its banning, which is something of a relief. But still, there is no real suggestion of how those good things in the last few lines might be achieved. And to be fair to Trevor, few are.

It keys in with something I was reading last night in Mary Alice Clancy and John Nagel’s great academic work, Shared Society or Benign Apartheid? who cite Henri Levfebre as arguing that his ‘right to the city’ entailed “the right of citizens not only to inhabit an urban space but also to participate in the city as an oeuvre, an ongoing work of creation, production and negotiation.”

Clancy and Nagle go on to ask, in the context of post conflict Northern Ireland, whether it is…

…possible to create public spaces that do not merely confirm or valourise ethno national separateness and immutable difference between groups? Alternatively, can a shared space be created as a truly public sphere that engenders the meeting and encountering of different groups to place their identities under scrutiny and debate their social value for the purpose of conflict transformation?

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart, army stuff like homecoming parades happen on the invitation of the council. This was not, as you put it, a vote to “allow” a parade.

    Using that criteria their would be no Band parades of any type in Tyrone towns.

    What are you talking about ? I defined what “contentious” meant, I did not define the criteria for whether parades should go ahead or not.

    BTW most parades in Tyrone, like the one in Rossnowlagh, are not contentious because there are no objections to the parade or its route.

    Morpheus:

    Of course it’s cynical and there isn’t an shred of evidence to back it

    I wasn’t looking for evidence, it’s quite possible that it worked out the way that you said it did. I’m focussing rather more on this uncritical statement of SF’s tactical brilliance in using these particular methods.

    up but do you honestly think that the Shinners, or any other political party for that matter, are not willing to use pressure points for political gain? It’s what they do best. Case in point, the DUP/UUP with their notorious leaflet drop. In fact I would go one further and say that it’s all they know – stick a finger in the eye of the other side at all costs and bollix to the people and what they need.

    Yeah I know. I’m just saying, it’s a sad state of affairs.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “army stuff like homecoming parades happen on the invitation of the council. This was not, as you put it, a vote to “allow” ”

    That makes it so much better Alliance invited an Army who had murdered and interned innocent people to march.

    Then again if you invite someone to do something you are allowing them to do it. (see vampire movies)

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “The definition of contentious is when people living on or near the route object to all or part of the parade.”

    I cannot think of a single parade in Tyrone that you would not find “people living on or near the route object to all or part of the parade”.

    Could the people who like to parade in Tyrone tell me of any such Parade?

  • Comrade Stalin

    That makes it so much better Alliance invited an Army who had murdered and interned innocent people to march.

    Yeah, but that was in the past. There are a lot of people in NI who either served in the army (including some Alliance councillors) or who have relatives who are serving. Our settlement in Northern Ireland requires all traditions to be respected even when there is a controversial past.

    BTW internment was government, not army, policy. But, as with the question of parading powers, you secretly knew that and were trying to test me, right ?

    I cannot think of a single parade in Tyrone that you would not find “people living on or near the route object to all or part of the parade”.

    Unsurprisingly, you’re probably not au fait with the details on the ground. I’ll explain it for you. Outside of Belfast, the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys and so on tend to be well-behaved. Generally, local bands and lodges take care not to antagonize the locals and they also negotiate details of their parades with elected representatives. Accordingly, there are no objections and very few (if any) Parades Commission determinations.

    Could the people who like to parade in Tyrone tell me of any such Parade?

    If you have evidence that there are problems with parades in Tyrone, feel free to put it out there. Otherwise please stop talking out of your hole. Parading problems at this point are pretty much restricted to Belfast and Portadown. It must be disappointing to you that nationalists are broadly constructive on the issue of Orange parades. Sorry about that.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin
    “Yeah, but that was in the past.”

    Does Alliance link SF with dissident republicans?

    “Our settlement in Northern Ireland requires all traditions to be respected even when there is a controversial past,”

    I agree. You apparently do not know “There are a lot of people in NI who either served in the “IRA” (including some SF councillors or even a joint first minister).”

    “BTW internment was government, not army, policy.”
    “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
    Nuremberg Principle IV

    Comrade Stalin
    I know you are Alliance so I will not bother with your comments on “Outside of Belfast”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    McSlaggart

    “Could the people who like to parade in Tyrone tell me of any such Parade?”

    Maybe the Drumconvis parade in Coagh?
    Alas I’m not 100% sure though, things might have changed since I was last at a parade there…

  • Mc Slaggart

    Thanks Am Ghobsmacht

    Someone put a freedom of information request about a parade in coagh? Not normally a sign that everyone is happy?

    FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST

    “Request Number: F-2011-01817
    Keyword: Operational Policing
    Subject: Parade Return for Parade in Coagh 5th October 2010
    Request and Answer:
    Question
    I would like to request the following,
    11/8 (Post Public Procession Return)
    11/9 (Public Procession Report)
    for a band parade held in the Coagh village on Friday 5th October 2010 by the Tamlaghtmore Tigers
    Flute Band.”

  • Reader

    Mc Slaggart: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
    Nuremberg Principle IV

    Internment is not a war crime, nor is it illegal for a government to apply internment. The army was given an order that was perfectly legal under international law, and obeyed.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Reader

    If everything the Army did was “legal” why did the British government pay out compensation?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    McSlaggart

    “Someone put a freedom of information request about a parade in coagh? Not normally a sign that everyone is happy?

    Very possibly, as we don’t know we can’t rule it out.

    Nor can we rule out some band rivalry thing either.

    I’m under the impression that the ‘Tigers’ are blow-ins from Ardboe and that strictly speaking it’s not their ‘turf’.

    Again, it’s speculation and a lazy thought that stumbled into my brain, but can’t be ruled out just yet.

  • Reader

    Mc Slaggart: If everything the Army did was “legal” why did the British government pay out compensation?
    I didn’t say everything the army ever did was legal. I said that an internment policy was legal.
    So – how about a reference to the payout, which might shed some light on what the compensation was actually for?

  • Mc Slaggart

    “an internment policy”

    You do understand that to make something legal it only takes a government to pass a law? That is why I quoted Nuremberg Principle IV. Slavery for example was one of the main sources of wealth for the UK government. They was also the first governments to change the legal standing on it.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Internment is one of the issues I am sure Trevor Ringland was thinking of when he wrote:

    “It’s incredibly important that we don’t pass on the wrong messages about our past to young people. Violence was never going to, and will never, solve the problems on the island of Ireland and that is the clear lesson we should be telling our children. For that reason it’s vital that we keep challenging the movements who created that violence and who want to airbrush history to cast their actions in a kinder light. That is simply not acceptable and it is not the way to heal divisions and build a better and genuinely shared future for Northern Ireland.”

  • Mc Slaggart

    Jim Auld was born in Belfast in 1951 into a traditionally Republican family. He was arrested on 9 August 1971 and was interned in the first instance for a year, and subjected to hooding, beating, ‘white noise’, deprivation of food and drink and ‘wall-standing’ (in his case, for forty-three hours). He was held for a year before being released into a psychiatric institution because of repeated blackouts. He was awarded £16,000 compensation in 1974, when again in police custody, and then re-interned for a second year. Upon his release, he worked as a volunteer for the Samaritans for twenty-five years and has been involved in a number of youth groups for vulnerable young people who had come to the attention of armed groups.