Would Bobby Sands have agreed with cross-border teacher training?

A republican acquaintance of mine once said that Bobby Sands didn’t die for cross-border teacher training. I’m very sorry that Bobby Sands had to die at all. I don’t believe his cause, the IRA’s armed struggle (or terrorist campaign, depending on your point of view) to unite Northern Ireland with the rest of the island, was worth one death, let alone the more than the three and a half thousand it led to between 1968 and 1998.

Cross-border teacher training is precisely the kind of thing that John Hume – whatever about Bobby Sands – might have chosen as a symbol of the kind of noble Irish cause that one could devote one’s life to. I believe passionately that cross-border education in general, and the work of SCoTENS (the Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South) in particular, can become one of the building blocks for the slow, difficult work of constructing peace and reconciliation on this island that is our common home.

One of the striking features of this island’s history is its people’s traditionally high regard for education. According to the 1824 Census, this then very impoverished country supported no fewer than 9,300 hedge schools. The national school system, introduced in 1831, was a stunning success – by 1870 there were 7,000 schools catering for a million pupils, again long before compulsory attendance. And it was very much an all-island system: one of my favourite 19th century writers is the polymathic PW Joyce who, along with his work on the Irish language, music, antiquities and place names, published A Child’s History of Ireland (used widely in schools in the early years of the last century) and came from Meath to organise schools in Antrim.

Stressing the virtues of moderation, the avoidance of exaggeration and bitterness, and the importance of “giving credit where credit is due”, Joyce hoped his children’s history book would “help to foster mutual feelings of respect and toleration among Irish people of different parties, and teach them to love and admire what is good and noble in their history, no matter where found.”

Then we had partition, and the two parts of Ireland turned their backs on each other. As the co-founder of SCoTENS, Professor John Coolahan, told a conference in 2001: “I trained as a teacher twice in the 1960s in the South and as far as education in Northern Ireland was concerned it could have been Timbucktu. There was no reference to it, no mention of it, it was just out of one’s consciousness.”

We are now in a more benign period. For the past 15 years since the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, we have experienced relative peace and no little hope in Northern Ireland. Particularly in the first 10 of those years hundreds of cross-community and cross-border educational programmes were generously supported by funding from the European Union. In the new Europe, born out of the horrors of the Second World War, education was seen as fundamental in helping to overcome barriers between nations and peoples and to foster and cultivate a sense of shared heritage.

A report in 2005 from the now defunct North/South Exchange Consortium detailed the extraordinary range of cross-border educational initiatives. It listed 123 programmes and projects funded either directly or through government agencies, usually with EU Peace Programme money; another 11 major projects with over 700 participating youth organisations, youth groups and schools; and 106 other projects. The report estimated that, in total, more than 1,800 organisations, comprising over 3,000 schools and youth groups, and more than 55,000 young people, had participated in funded North-South school and youth projects in the period 2000-2004 alone. Most of these projects have since been wound up as EU funding has expired, although a few of the most successful are still going. Among these are the Dissolving Boundaries ICT programme for schools, the European Studies Programme for post-primary schools and SCoTENS.

Sceptics may ask: What was the real value of all this cross-border educational co-operation? Is all the talk about mutual understanding and reconciliation through education just pious middle-class wishful thinking? Is it grounded in robust educational values? Does it lead to any improvements in educational practice and mutual understanding on this island?

I believe strongly that it does all these things. It does not take a genius to see that education, acting as it does on the more open minds of young people, can greatly increase the mutual contact, knowledge, understanding and respect which have been absent from relationships on this island for so long.

In the area of educational practice, there are clear and tangible benefits. Anyone who has watched the interaction of young people through scores of cross-border projects, as I have, can see their frame of reference widening and their cultural experience deepening. I have a vivid memory from nearly 20 years ago of watching a group of 16 year old Protestant students from Ballymena and their Catholic peers from County Wicklow wrestling with the issue of real, live, multi-coloured multi-culturalism – until then utterly alien to both groups’ experience – when presented with the challenges it posed for a group of young Indian, Pakistani and English students from Birmingham.

Active learning methodologies are alive and well in many of these projects, allowing teachers and students to break out of the rigid straitjackets imposed by statutory curricula and old-fashioned ‘talk and chalk’ teaching methods. I have seen teachers, in particular, genuinely energised by the possibilities of such new teaching and learning in projects like the City of Dublin VEC-run Education for Reconciliation project for second level schools.

The purposeful utilisation and integration of ICT in schools is national policy North and South. Projects like Dissolving Boundaries are leading the way in this vital area. But Dissolving Boundaries also teaches mutual understanding and reconciliation: two years ago it was selected by the UK National Foundation for Educational Research as the only Northern Irish case study in a piece of international research aimed at tackling the risk of violent extremism among young people.

Another clear consequence is the fostering of a sense of confidence and a stronger sense of identity. This goes with a reaching out to the other person by realising that there is a lot more to him or her than the received stereotype. I remember the account of a student from Leitrim doing teaching practice in Belfast as part of a SCoTENS-sponsored North/South student teacher exchange project, who in three short weeks totally undermined the anti-Catholic prejudices of both his fellow-teachers and his pupils in a primary school in an overwhelmingly Protestant area of East Belfast by his superb leadership of a project on the Titanic.

The impact in terms of mutual understanding over the longer-term is, of course, more difficult to measure. Education is a very slow burner in terms of its societal effects. However John Furlong, Professor of Educational Studies at Oxford University, who evaluated SCoTENS in 2011, clearly felt the organisation had an important role to play. He said that SCoTENS was ‘an incredible achievement’ and without its leadership and organisation a whole range of all-island activities and networks – conferences, research programmes, student and teacher exchanges – simply would not have happened. It had contributed to the peace process by helping to normalise relationships between those vital cultural multipliers, teachers and those who trained them, within and between North and South.

Can you imagine what would have happened if SCoTENS’ successful model of North-South working together for mutual benefit had been replicated elsewhere in education on this island? If the teaching councils, the curriculum councils, the education trade unions, the parent organisations, the inspectorates, the Departments of Education themselves, had come together to work in a sustained and systemic fashion on issues of mutual concern? I believe there could have been a genuine explosion of mutual learning and creative thinking in Irish education, with potentially far-reaching consequences in transforming the attitudes and prospects of our young people. Two small examples: the South could have learned from the North’s internationally recognised success in the implementation of ICT in schools, and the North could have learned from the South about the value of an extra non-exam ‘transition year’ in helping schoolchildren grow into more mature and rounded young people.

Of course it didn’t happen. Maybe it was never going to happen given the timid leadership of the North-South cooperation process by Dublin’s politicians and civil servants and the largely indifferent, sometimes hostile and always ultra-cautious attitudes of their Northern counterparts. Maybe I am being over-optimistic, but I believe it could have led towards a real meeting of minds between education administrators, teachers and even parents in an area where everybody wants one thing – what is best for the children of Ireland. Because for me such a meeting of minds around something that is of clear mutual benefit to everybody is the real meaning of unity: the voluntary unity of people in a common cause, not the unenforceable unity of states with clashing identities.

So let me finish with a quote from my favourite republican, the United Irishman William Drennan. After giving up being a revolutionary, he became an educationalist. In 1814, giving the address at the opening of one of Ireland’s oldest secondary schools, the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Drennan said that the school’s founders were “of nothing more desirous that the pupils of all religious denominations should communicate by frequent and friendly intercourse in the common business of education, by which means a new turn might be given to our national character and habits, and all the children of Ireland should know and love each other.”

It is salutary to have to admit that two centuries on Drennan’s words are still a challenge for those of us involved in the vital business of increasing mutual understanding between Irish people through education. In our darker moments we need to remind ourselves that this is what we are about: we are trying to give a new turn to our national character and habits, so that all the children of Ireland, so long divided by fear, suspicion and misunderstanding, can come to know each other better and love each other more. I hope the idealistic and courageous young man who was Bobby Sands would have agreed with that.

[This edited version of a speech given at the SCoTENS annual conference in Sligo on 10 October appears on Andy Pollak’s blog site: www.2irelands2gether.wordpress.com ]

  • Charles_Gould

    Could we perhaps begin with cross community teacher training? Merge Stranmillis and St Marys; allow all people to teach at any school regardless of religion.

  • Clanky

    Charles_Gould Could we perhaps begin with cross community teacher training? Merge Stranmillis and St Marys; allow all people to teach at any school regardless of religion.

    I attended a state grammar school at which there were catholic teachers (one of whom is now the head teacher) and I know of at least one protestant teacher at a catholic school (the only other teacher I know who works at a catholic school is my cousin so that’s a 50 / 50 split, albeit a slightly small sample size!)

    Yes it would be good if teachers were trained together, even if they went on to teach at separate schools (although doing away with church schools would be a huge step forward in Northern Ireland) and rather than a starting point would be of much more benefit to cross community relations than shared training across the border which will inevitably be viewed by unionists as a step towards a united Ireland.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    “(although doing away with church schools would be a huge step forward in Northern Ireland)”

    Indeed, and step #1 on the whole island should be the removal of Church patronage of schools.

  • I agree completely with Charles Gould that we should start by merging Stranmillis and St Mary’s (although the political and educational ‘powers that be’ have been trying to do for this 30 years without success!).

  • Turgon

    Andy Pollak
    “I’m very sorry that Bobby Sands had to die at all. “

    Well of course he did not have to die. He chose to starve himself to death. Had he not made that choice there is a high likelihood he would be alive today.

    To quote Margaret Thatcher:

    “The people who had been killed by the Provisional IRA had had no choice. The hunger strikers had a choice,”

  • SDLP supporter

    A very good post, though I don’t think Bobby Sands had anything particularly noteworthy to say on education. Any is absolutely right on the centrality of education. I remember a powerful speech in the US Senate several decades ago by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan about the decay on so many areas of the US educational system. His plaintive cry was ‘what’s happening to us, we’re going backwards’. I fear the same thing is happening in Ireland, particularly in the North.

  • Rory Carr

    This subject has nothing whatsoever to do with Bobby Sands and Andy Pollak really ought to know better.

    His Republican friend is clearly an embittered dissident, one of those who juxtapose any movement towards progress as being somehow antithetical to progress towards a united Ireland. For them the gates of Rome must be breached immediately, tonight, at great cost in casualties, or honour is not served. They always bring Bobby Sands into it having held a truly, madly, deeply, Republican seance beforehand. .

    Any move towards progress is then shouted down as being less than the “full Republic” and Bobby Sands thereby betrayed. Total madness, but those embittered souls, having wandered out into the cold, must wrap what blankets of comfort they can around their misery.

    I take exception to Turgon’s claim that Bobby Sands “starved himself to death”. No he did not. He, and his comrades, bravely risked death in protest against being treated as criminals rather than the political prisoners they most certainly were. The proof of that political status, if one were needed, lies in the fact of negotiations between the British Government and the IRA and in the fact of Republican ministers holding high office in Stormont today. Thatcher insisted that “we do not negotiate with terrorists”, ergo those with whom they did negotiate, they cannot have regarded as terrorists. Q.E.D. as my old maths teacher used to sign, with a flourish, an equation which he had just proven.

  • willieric

    this is a true story told me by a respected friend. In 1963 the st joseph’s teacher training college final year PE facilities were upgraded, so that season’s 4th years joined the stranmillis training college final year students for that year, at the stranmillis campus. There was also some integration of lecturers. I believe that 16 st jo’s guys joined in all aspects of the curriculum alongside 18 stran guys, including lectures, residential trips to the mournes etc.,. It appears that there was total integration and mutual respect for the year, and no shortage of laughs.
    The following year it was as you were, due to educational apartheid, and opportunities lost for future co-operation between schools.

  • Turgon

    Rory,
    He did not “have to die.” He chose to stop eating. He made a choice regarding his life and death: one which was denied to so many of the IRA’s victims.

  • BluesJazz

    Rory’s ‘political prisoner’ definition of people like Bobby Sands and Lenny Murphy rather than mere criminals is incredibly naïve. They were in prison for committing criminal acts. That makes them ‘criminals’ Q.E.D.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Rory Carr stated…

    “His Republican friend is clearly an embittered dissident..”

    And…

    “They always bring Bobby Sands into it having held a truly, madly, deeply, Republican seance beforehand…”

    In fact it was Bobby’s sister Bernadette who said… “Bobby did not die for cross-border bodies with executive powers. He did not die for nationalists to be equal British citizens within the Northern state”

    In 2000 his family stated publicly that… “the ideals for which Bobby died and on which the trust was founded have been abandoned.” “We simply want his property (prison writings) returned and for (Sinn Féin) to cease using him as a commodity”

    Are the Sands Family embittered dissidents Rory Carr?

    The fact is, that Sinn Fein in order to appease the British and Unionists have overturned everything Bobby and his comrades died fighting against by reintroducing the word criminal when referring to Republicans.

    Are those Republicans like Martin Corey interned in Maghaberry criminals Rory Carr? Were the thousands of Republicans who attended the 9th August anti-internment march in Belfast ’embittered dissidents’ Rory Carr?

    Yes or no?

    McGuinness recently made the absurd claim that the site of the former hospital wing/H-Block 6 was a ‘Shrine to peace’…

    No one in their right mind would fight a war for peace, nor serve long years in jail for peace, nor die on Hunger Strike for peace…

    In fact Gerry Adams writing from Long Kesh in 1976 made the comment, ‘“they allowed unscrupulous politicians and so called ‘Peacemakers’ to gain the upper hand.” when referring to the then IRA leadership, because of the ceasefire at that time. He said, ‘the time to talk of peace was when the Brits had left.’

    Yet barely 10 years later that’s exactly what he was doing…Talking of peace with the Brits, unknown to those volunteers he and McGuinness were still encouraging to take the war to the Brits.

  • Charles_Gould

    I *don’t care* what was going through Bobby Sands mind when he decided to stop eating.

  • Charles_Gould

    SDLP supporter

    Do you think that the new plan for a number of shared campuses, and the new approach to integrated education announced this week, represent progress?

    Some good news on education is that since the new transfer attrangements the nondenominational sectors seem to be growing at the expense of the mono-denominational sector (the Catholic schools) in recent years, with a higher proportion of people of Catholic background opting for education in the nondenominational rather than the Catholic sector. Interesting trend. The proportion of pupils in nondenominational schools is rising quite quickly.

  • sean treacy

    Dixie,are you back full time or are your satirical musings still available on McIntyres site.Now that the razor sharp jibes about “big house republicans” seem to have run their course,how about a few incisive digs about American p.d.f. “redistribution” as practised by some of the leading lights on the “big” august 9 march.Seem to remember the late Jim McAllister describing said “redistribution” as criminal.

  • megatron

    Turgon your reasoning would show equally that soldier ever had to die – not in world war 1, 2 or any other war. You could even apply the logic further to RUC / British army forces who were killed by republicans.

    You are correct in the strict dictionary definition of the word “had”. Its not really relevant though.

  • Charles_Gould

    “Turgon your reasoning would show equally that soldier ever had to die – not in world war 1, 2 or any other war. ”

    Soldiers certainly choose to enter a high risk theater. However they don’t choose to take their own lives, they try their best not to die, when performing their duties, like police, fire services, oil rig workers, and other high risk workers. They deserve to be admired.

  • Tomas Gorman

    I have read this article twice and still fail to see why Bobby Sands was used at all in the argument.

  • jagmaster

    My experience of education here was being publicly labelled a failure by my primary school teacher for failing to pass the 11+ exam. The same teacher also made sure that favoured pupils received preferential treatment in class which benefited them in exams. It probably explains the chip on my shoulder I still carry today.

    As for Bobby Sands and Thatcher it should be pointed out that Maggie considered Nelson Mandela to be a terrorist whilst she showed unflinching support for General Pinochet.

  • latcheeco

    “three and a half thousand deaths it lead to between 1968”-Ok its inaccurate and idiotic, but sure get it in early because some useless quango somewhere that serves feck all purpose needs funding. Nothing further need be read.

  • BluesJazz

    jagmaster
    You failed the 11+ because you weren’t smart enough to pass.
    That would explain your ignorance about President Augusto Pinochet leading his country in to economic success, after the mess of Allende, and Mandela presiding over a country in economic collapse.
    Pinochet , with Kissinger’s blessing, had to move the boundaries of human rights legislation in a few cases, but he was no terrorist. Chile was the poster boy for Latin America to move out of poverty.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Why don’t you ask ‘ the leading lights on the “big” august 9 march’ about the ‘American p.d.f. “redistribution” ‘ instead of hiding behind ‘sean treacy.’ ?

    That’s what gets me about the majority of online Sinn Fein apologists they either haven’t the ghoulies to admit they are Adamsites or they are too embarrassed to be seen as such.

    Those of us who are labelled ‘dissidents’ don’t have any qualms about using our real names unlike the secretive shinners…

    Shame would have a lot to do with it, and using the name of a Republican icon like Sean Treacy doesn’t lessen that shame…whoever you might be.

  • fordprefect

    Like Tomas Gorman, I too can’t see the reason why Bobby sands’ name was used in this article, could someone please enlighten me?

  • Rory Carr

    At least, Dixie, he does not claim to know the mind of the deceased. Nor, may I add do the family of Bobby Sands know what his political stance would have been today, had he survived. It is quite wrong of them to project their own current political opinions onto Bobby Sands who died in a protest to acquire status as a political prisoner.

    He did, of course, aspire to a united Ireland, as do I, and you but that was not the target of his heroic protest and it is quite wrong to claim him as a supporter of a group separated from the Republican Movement. We simply do not know how his views may have developed and it is quite disgraceful to make any presumption in that matter. Besides which it makes you look decidedly ridiculous.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Rory Carr…You clearly avoid every point I made…Not surprising!

    But you have the brass-neck to state…

    “Nor, may I add do the family of Bobby Sands know what his political stance would have been today”

    However nor do those who claim the legacy of Bobby in order to give credence to something that has betrayed everything he died for…Namely Sinn Fein.

    You refer to “the Republican Movement..”

    I’d stick to Provisional Sinn Fein. A party now synonymous with the Catholic Church in its covering up of paedophilia and child rape…

    Don’t dare utter Bobby’s or the other Hunger Strikers names in the same breath as that vile excuse for a Republican anything.

  • fordprefect

    Rory Carr
    I have to say I agree with Dixie on this one. You stated (in reference to Dixie’s comment about “Sean Treacy”), “he does not claim to know the mind of the deceased”, watching and listening to Adams and co., you’d think they did, as every chance they get, they position themselves in front of his mural in Sevastopol St. or have a picture of him (and his nine comrades) behind them if the interview is in one of their offices. Your remark about having a “truly, madly, deeply Republican séance” smacks of Adamsism, as when Adams’s mask slipped once again a few years ago at a meeting in Co. Tyrone. When replying to a question put to him by Gerry McGeough (on the same subject here) Adams replied “did you get a Ouija Board and ask them”? That’s Adams’s true feelings (i.e. none) about Republicans who made the ultimate sacrifice. He apologised to the families of the dead after he said it. I’ll end by saying that no-one, No-One can say for a 100% fact where any of the volunteers that lay down their lives loyalties would lie now.

  • fordprefect

    Rory Carr
    Just one more thing, the struggle in the gaols wasn’t just about achieving political status. The prisoners spearheaded the campaign to stop the British trying to criminalise the WHOLE Republican struggle.

  • keano10

    I agree with Ford Prefect and Tomas Gorman. The use of Bobby Sands within the confines of this thread is bizarre….

  • Charles_Gould

    fordperfect

    I think the point Andy was making was that although it was not something that inspires people to sacrifice their lives, cross-border teacher training, is nonetheless a very worthwhile thing.

    I would argue (and did above) that cross community teacher training would be a good place to start. Get NI’s teachers of both religions trained in the same teacher-training college: merge the two existing colleges into a single integrated one.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Charles Gould,

    I think there’s a fair deal of merit in what you and Andy say, but the inclusion of the 1981 hunger strikes is bizarre.

    Its was a self defeating move for Andy as a big chunk of the argument has now been about opinions on Sands and his legacy.

  • Tomas Gorman

    Apologies to Andy for staying on that tangent….however.

    Rory Carr.

    SF have been giving politically loaded speeches at commemorations for dead republicans since 98 and the legacy of the 81 HS has been a key legacy issue for SF. Its been used as a rallying base on the 25th and 30th anniversary years. In fact McGuinness at a rally on the 25th anniversary claimed that had the 10 men been alive today, he had no doubt that they would have been standing square alongside the current peace process…or something to that effect.. and no ouija board in sight. The 81 HS strike is a crucial component in how SF explain and rationalise their narrative of coming from militant anti-partitionists to constitutional nationalism.

  • Charles_Gould

    Tomas
    Do you think there is any truth in the claim (that I pharaphrase) that the SF leadership did not do enough to bring the hunger strikes to an end?

  • Turgon

    Thomas Gorman,
    It is not really unfair to Andy. I am afraid all too many of his posts do this sort of thing: conflating a controversial highly political “hard politics” position with a softer issue.

    As an example he made a highly political attack on Tom Elliott whilst writing about the Queen’s visit to the RoI.

    If Andy did not want discussion of Bobby Sands he should not have mentioned him at the start of the blog.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Bobby’s sister Bernadette said… “Bobby did not die for cross-border bodies with executive powers. He did not die for nationalists to be equal British citizens within the Northern state”

    And as I’ve said, the Hunger Strikers nor anyone else died for a Peace Process.

    No one’s arguing where they’d stand today had they lived, but the fact is, no one in their right mind would give their lives to bring about a GFA and a so called Peace Process.

    Am I correct Rory Carr?

    And I notice that he didn’t reply in regards to whether or not Bobby’s family were embittered ‘dissidents’ or are those men interned in Maghaberry criminals?

  • Charles_Gould

    “no one in their right mind would give their lives to bring about a GFA and a so called Peace Process”

    Many people did, alas. They were the ones for the rule of law.

  • Charles_Gould

    Many people with moral integrity died. Gerry Adams lived. Explain that.

  • Rory Carr

    Dixie Elliot insists that I say whether or not the family of the late Bobby Sands are embittered dissidents. Unfortunately I cannot help him as I simply do not know. Perhaps he can tell me.

    As to whether “the men interned in Maghaberry” are criminals or not, I would need to know their names and the circumstances of their internment (internment, you sure about that, Dixie ?). I am however, in principal, opposed to internment whether for criminals or no as I favour a free and fair trial for all and any charged for whatever reason.

  • Rory Carr

    @Charles Gould

    Many people with a grasp of logic have passed on, yet Charles Gould still lives. How can this be*?

    *Clue: breathing.

  • fordprefect

    Rory Carr
    You asked Dixie if he was sure it was internment. Yes it is, one only has to look at the cases of Marian Price, Martin Corey and Brendan Lillis (who was only released because he was critically ill). If you don’t know who they are or what they were interned for, there are plenty of sites on the net that will explain it.

  • Dixie Elliott

    fordprefect

    Rory Carr’s comment’s….

    ” I am however, in principal, opposed to internment whether for criminals or no …”

    are indicative of how low Adamsites have ‘Stooped’ since they accepted British Rule and Stormont.

    They can’t get any further up the system’s hole in both word and action.

    But it takes the biscuit for someone to throw out the criminal tag when leading members of his party across the North have come into ownership of pubs, security businesses, homes to let, personal holiday homes, foreign & local…etc.

    Makes you wonder where they got the money…

    A loan from the Northern Bank perhaps?

  • fordprefect

    Dixie
    Yeah spot on. The Sinners called the SDLP the “Stoop Down Low Party” when SF could stand for: “Stooped Further”! Raymond McCartney even, when asked outside Maghaberry were the republicans in there political prisoners, said, yes. Maybe they get the money from their “average industrial wage”! Yeah right!

  • Rory Carr

    What on earth are you accusing me of now, Dixie? I have made my stance on internment quite clear – it is wrong, not only for political opponents of the state but also for anyone deemed criminal – all deserve to be brought before a court with an opportunity to hear the charges against them and to give an answer to any such charges.

    What the hell is wrong with that ?

  • Charles_Gould

    I mean the obvious line separating SDLP from SF is that of moral integrity.

    Compare and contrast Gerry Adams and John Hume.

  • fordprefect

    Charles_Gould
    Moral integrity? Don’t know about that now. I remember one Gerry Fitt, slobbering out of one side of his mouth about Socialism while he then went on to become Lord Fitt of Hells Bells (Bellshill). Then lecturing the British Army on how to conduct themselves here (that worked a treat, didn’t it?). We also had Eddie McGrady congratulating the RUC for preventing a “terrorist atrocity” in Downpatrick, when they shot dead an unarmed IRA Vol. in disputed circumstances. We had Alisdair McDonnell standing outside Sean Grahams bookies on the Lower Ormeau (after the UFF had murdered five innocent Catholics and wounded many more) blaming it on the IRA. I could go on, but I won’t, so be careful who you try to stick the badge of “moral integrity” on to. I’ll come to SF (they are no better) in my next post.

  • Dixie Elliott

    fordprefect you could add Shinners attacking Cardinal Daly…

    Shinners ….Well being Shinners!

  • Dixie Elliott

    At least Hume, besides everything else, was a peaceful peacemaker…

  • Charles_Gould

    fordprefect I did and do take care in who I assign moral integrity to, and I maintain that moral integrity is the line separating SDLP from SF. Compare and contrast Gerry Adams and John Hume.

  • fordprefect

    Charles_Gould
    I wouldn’t try to compare Gerry Adams to a psychopath (in case the psychopath took offence!). I think your take on the SDLP is that they never condoned violence (though the Eddie McGrady and Fitt examples above should give you food for thought). Overall though they usually condemned violence, SF didn’t. You had their mantra: we aren’t into the politics of condemnation, the politics of condemnation gets us nowhere, blah, blah, blah. They are now though (and this last good while back), no matter what happens, at every farts end, they are almost beating one and other to get on tv or radio to condemn the latest “outrage”. Seamus Mallon once said of the GFA: “it was Sunningdale for slow learners”, and I can’t fault him for that (Nationalists actually got more out of Sunningdale than they did from the GFA). SF would beg to tell us different, but going on their leader’s propensity for the truth, anyone who believes them needs their head examined. I just want to finish, Charles, with a few words about what people call “dissidents”, more than quite a few people have said to me that SF are the “dissidents” as they ditched anything that remotely looked like, tasted like, or smelt like Republicanism. The faux outrage from SF when, say, the two soldiers were killed at Masserine Barracks was breath taking! (I’m going to quote a person from another blog, and I don’t think he’d mind), when Adams, McGuinness and others were addressing Republican rallies and so forth, they told people that the IRA would never stop until the Brits were out of Ireland, maybe they didn’t believe what they saying, but other people did! And we wonder where these so-called “dissidents” came from!

  • fordprefect

    Dixie
    I agree with your posts.

  • fordprefect

    Charles
    There is no comparison between John Hume and Gerry Adams, as Dixie commented: John Hume was always a peaceful peacemaker.

  • Dixie Elliott

    fordprefect

    Me too

  • Dixie Elliott

    SF have asked parents not to allow their children to dress up in combat gear this Halloween. They have suggested that Gandhi costumes are more in fitting with their peace process.

  • fordprefect

    Dixie
    I hate typing “LOL”, but LOL@Dixie. Wouldn’t Gandhi costumes freeze the bollocks off ye at this time of year!?

  • Tomas Gorman

    Turgon,

    I suppose he did. (my name is Tomás by the way. Not Thomas.)

    Charles Gould,

    I think in O’Rawe came out the strongest in that debate.

  • fordprefect

    As Tomás Gorman said about Richard O’Rawe there, I for one (at the time) couldn’t countenance that the so-called leadership of the then Republican Movement could do such a thing. Then, the more I read and listened to what was being written and said, I was horrified, disillusioned and sickened because I firmly believe that Adams and co. let the last six hunger strikers die for political (and personal, as we see now) gain. Believe me, I am no Johnny come lately (I’m 50) I’ve been a Republican all my life (and I still am), the thought of doing that to comrades in gaol goes against everything I ever learned as a Republican and makes me want to puke! I know there are probably P/U/L people on here that will take great delight in what I just posted, but don’t, take a look over your shoulder and see who benefitted since the ceasefires.

  • cynic2

    “Bobby Sands didn’t die for cross-border teacher training”

    No he didnt. Buit despite the SF hagiography the realities are that

    1 he and his ilk lost the war. They were utterly defeated

    2 in the course of that, the double whammy. They created a situation where polls show that around 75% of Catholics don’t seek a United Ireland

    So after murdering 2500 people they pushed the two parts of Ireland even further apart.

    Cheers boys!!!

  • sean treacy

    Dixie,whatever Lillis was in for ,it certainly had nothing to do with republicanism

  • Dixie Elliott

    You could be right Sean. Look at the boyo who cleared off with thousands of pounds of IRA money yet was able to return to the fold where today he drives round in a 4×4.

  • richardjordan

    As an historian who studies (among other related topics) school integration in the American South, I find Andy Pollack and Brian Walker’s comments on cross-border teacher training quite interesting. I have to confess that I know little about ScoTens. But any program that would create a stronger system for public, private and Catholic schools to benefit from would obviously help Northern Irish society and be a building block. However, educators, governmental bodies and most importantly a substantial majority of parents whose children are in school need to support the concept. It would take such an alliance to thwart the opposition from third parties more intent on political and communal gain. As a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland, what I witness to obvious to all: the current segregation of the school system is an obvious deterrent to true reconciliation. A more unified curriculum and educational authority could help.

    When the American South integrated, it did so quickly under stern federal government direction. But for the transition to take place effectively and with little violence, those parents – white and black – who valued education over bigotry had to take a stand. Not demonstrations, but making sure that the newly desegregated schools functioned normally. But while they expected the input from federal educators, they wanted to be assured that local schools in the South retained some independence. So, if Northern Ireland cannot combine its school systems, then any system that allows for local, regional and cross-border cooperation should be encouraged and hopefully lead to better communal relations.
    drrichardjordan.com

  • richardjordan

    As an historian who studies (among other related topics) school integration in the American South, I find Andy Pollack and Brian Walker’s comments on cross-border teacher training quite interesting. I have to confess that I know little about ScoTens. But any program that would create a stronger system for public, private and Catholic schools to benefit from would obviously help Northern Irish society and be a building block. However, educators, governmental bodies and most importantly a substantial majority of parents whose children are in school need to support the concept. It would take such an alliance to thwart the opposition from third parties more intent on political and communal gain. As a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland, what I witness to obvious to all: the current segregation of the school system is an obvious deterrent to true reconciliation. A more unified curriculum and educational authority could help.

    When the American South integrated, it did so quickly under stern federal government direction. But for the transition to take place effectively and with little violence, those parents – white and black – who valued education over bigotry had to take a stand. Not demonstrations, but making sure that the newly desegregated schools functioned normally. But while they expected the input from federal educators, they wanted to be assured that local schools in the South retained some independence. So, if Northern Ireland cannot combine its school systems, then any system that allows for local, regional and cross-border cooperation should be encouraged and hopefully lead to better communal relations.