Belfast…..my city……dontcha just love it?
Seemingly it is one of the most popular and safe destinations for a weekend break. The MTV Awards were held here two months ago. The City is gearing up for the Titanic Centenary. Movies and the second series of “Game of Thrones”.
When I was a young teen (1960s), my father used to warn me about ”staying in your own area”. And tell me about the 1930s. But Life was better in 1960s. And surely Belfast would not live thru that again in the modern world. Alas in the 1970s and 1980s, Belfast became a dumping ground for scores of bodies……some shot, some beaten and even tortured to death.
Now I have to make the point that the majority of these bodies were Catholic. Just look at the statistics. So when Peace bedded in after 1998, my wife and I would still view some areas with suspicion. We agonised about our son at University (2004-2008). “You WALKED up the Ormeau Road after midnight!…..are you mad?” Actually only two days ago in conversation about house buying, my son mentioned that he had a good sense of “sectarian geography” . One such place where I would not want to go is “The Village” in South Belfast.
On Friday last, a group of Catholic teenagers were there, working as “extras” on a movie called The Good Man which will star Aidan Gillen. They were subject to sectarian abuse and threat and one James Turley was chased and beaten up by a gang of up to fifteen youths who thinking he was dead, dumped him in a wheely bin.
Lets call a spade a spade here……as he was being savagely beaten, he heard a woman say “get him out of my garden”. The first car he tried to flag down for assistance did not stop, the second one mercifully did.
This of course is REAL NEWS. But it contradicts the narrative carefully constructed by the “Northern Ireland Tourist Industry” aided and abetted by a compliant Media that Belfast has left Sectarianism behind.
Paula Bradshaw, erstwhile UUP “letsgetalongerist” (she stood unsuccessfully as a UUP Westminster candidate in 2010) and now an Alliance “letsgetalongerist” (she jumped ship over a year ago) is a community worker in The Village area. Unfortunately on TV News tonight, she spoke of angry young men and the need to focus on what makes them angry. And she doesnt like the focus on the “sectarian nature” of the crime. It is a pity that she missed the opportunity to be more strident….it was frankly Bullshit. The fifteen people who attacked James Turley or the neighbour whose sole concern was “get him out of my garden” do not actually need a reason to be angry and sectarian. They are nasty, vicious bastards.
Gary Dobson and David Norris jailed last week for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 do not need their anger understood. They were racist bastards pure and simple. A community worker from South West London appearing on British News wanting the focus to be on the reason for the anger would have been ridiculed….rightly.
Of course Ms Bradshaw is right to point up the anti-social nature of the behaviour. She has even blogged as recently as 31st December about “attacks by young men on young men”. Clearly this is true….and the nature of violence is that most does not have a sectarian element. Yesterday…in (Catholic) West Belfast a (Catholic) woman was viciously attacked by four youths when she could not give one a cigarette. Yet of course the violence initiated by sectarian hatred or gender hatred deserves to be treated as worse that “ordinary violence”.
But please let us get away from this notion that Belfast is a wonderful city. Don’t believe the hype.