Violence Towards The Elderly…And Me

Violence towards the Elderly concerns me a lot. Violence towards ME concerns me even more.

Or more accurately..the threat of violence. I was in Derry on Saturday. Came back to Belfast on the SDLP minibus…the designated adult “supervising ” the youngsters.

Walked the short distance from SDLP HQ on the Ormeau Road to Kentucky Fried Chicken at Shaftsbury Square. And then walked along Great Victoria Street. Several people about. It was daylight. Around 7.45pm. Crossing the road at Hope Street, I passed a couple of thugs…one of whom took some kinda dislike to me. Best not to look round. Just ignore the insults.

“Hey you are you English….the English are all bastards. I hate the English. You English bastard. The Irish are the friendliest people in the world….You f@@king smurf …I will f@@king stab you and stuff you in your f@@kin handbag (thats my lap top case by the way) …theres no f@@king camera in Belfast that will save you”.

Its less than one hundred metres from Hope Street to the Great Northern Mall and the railway station. An uncomfortable one hundred metres. This type of incident rarely happens to me. I dont usually encounter aggressive behaviour towards me. Its maybe twenty years since something like this happened. I am after all 60 years old and am rarely in situations like crowded bars where something might “kick off”.

Normally I take this kinda thing in a very personal way. Why…me? I tend to over-think things …I dont like to see unpleasantness. Yet oddly walking thru the Great Northern Mall to my train…I felt obviously relieved….that no violence had occurred. But even more oddly I found that I wasnt taking it personally. It could have happened to anyone. It just happened to me.

So…an asshole. And people encounter assholes on a daily basis. And I find myself in the unusual position of not really letting it get to me.

But a few thoughts. The chance of actual bodily harm was probably slim. Hardly more than ten per cent. And even then the “knife” was probably a bluff. More likely a couple of punches and a few kicks…and even then his mate might have been a restraining influence.

So annoying and even frightening…but interesting. Thats the thing about Blogging. I tend to see everything in the context of posting it here.

Although these two guys…probably 30 years old were obviously Irish rather than British, they were exactly the people that Michael Copeland was talking about at the SDLP Youth Conference earlier that day. They are disenfranchised, alienated thugs. They live in a violent drunken world barely noticed by “civilised” people and a sociologist might well say that this was an attempt to be noticed…a demand to be looked at. Yet their casual regard for violence and their indifference to being caught is truly disturbing.

There was always the ninety per cent chance that it was just words. And a ten percent chance of….a black eye…a cracked rib….a night or two in hospital…or…..whatever.

And a day in a PSNI interview room and an identity parade. And a day in court and for them….probably in my view…a short prison sentence. Too short. Whatever…my life would have been disrupted rather more than theirs. To them it was just another day out.

Were they drunk? Certainly. Had they taken drugs? Probably.

And thats maybe what annoys me most….that in their day in court…wearing the suit they keep for their appearances in court….their solicitor will stand before a Judge and say ” my client bitterly regrets the incident. He had taken a lot of alcohol….” But is that actually MITIGATION? Is it not an aggravating circumstance?

If a motorist is spotted speeding and arrested two days later the same solicitor would not seek mitigation from the Judge by saying. ” Go easy on him your honour…he didnt know he was speeding because of the drink”

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15 Responses to Violence Towards The Elderly…And Me

  1. My own (widowed) mother has got to an age where she is now worried about being alone in the house at night, especially at weekends. And I don’t blame her. While the statistics may point to young men being the primary victims of violent crime that victim-hood is often street-based (the result of assaults in pubs, clubs, street fights, etc.). Violent crime in the home seems to fall disproportionally on our senior citizens, across Ireland.

    However there is no doubt a general coarsening of Irish society and a far greater readiness to engage in violence by individuals, and not just the disenfranchised. Unprovoked and almost recreational violence has become the norm in manner areas

    And that’s leaving to one side the issue of narco-terrorism which is blighting the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast and Derry. It is a sad irony that for all their rhetoric neither the “New IRA” or Óglaigh na hÉireann are capable of carrying out gun and bomb attacks in the north-east of the country at levels even approaching those regularly engaged in by the major crime gangs in our national capital. I have several colleagues who hail from Clondalkin and over the last two years I have heard numerous accounts of gun attacks and bombings that have largely gone unreported by the national news media. Indeed one co-worker was recently late to work after her street was evacuated while the “official” Óglaigh na hÉireann carried out a controlled explosion. And she treated that event as entirely normal!

    Ireland has become a nation of inured to casual violence. And meanwhile the Little Caesars continue to fiddle.

    • I agree.
      I dont really fear crime coming to my door (famous last words perhaps) but there is a certain irony here that I walked from Ormeau Road thru Donegall Pass (a main road but loyalist). Kentucky Fried Chicken is at the edge of Sandy Row and that was certainly something I thought about as I was eating there. Id say that QUB students from Crossmaglen or Coalisland dont really think about it the same way that I do…a Belfast veteran.
      QUB is only 400 metres away.
      KFC would in real terms be “shared space” but there are times when I would not want to put that to the test…I was after all carrying SDLP literature as well as stuff that I picked up in An Culturlann and the Museum of FRee Derry round the corner in the Bogside.
      And yet if I had been attacked it would have been by “one of my own”.
      But I dont feel embarrassed that they bullied me in some way. That they “picked on me” It was entirely random and they would have done the same at any stranger passing.
      Of course the whole point for them was that they were inarticulate thugs and needed to say something outside accepted social behaviour to any random stranger.
      They are not sitting at home today blogging about me.
      Im a little surprised at myself for not in some way ( hard to explain) feeling bullied or victimised or humiliated ….because it was entirely random.
      Yet these people are “outlaws” in the sense that they are feral and live outside the standards we live by.
      And yet I was thinking if I had complained if I had seen a PSNI patrol inside the Great Northern Mall….what exactly would they have done?
      I suspect they would not have been over-enthusiastic about doing something.

  2. Political Tourist says:

    Sorry to read of this FJH.
    Sounds as though you were wearing an “idiot magnet”.
    Bemused by the use of the term “English” to insult somebody on a Belfast street.
    Still, at least your okay.
    And that’s the main thing.

  3. When one looks at the videos or reads the reports re. the lower Falls, ts like scenes from The Crow (O’ Barr, not Poe) and what is clear there and in your case is the complete confidence that there will be no repercussions from the police. What’s more, they are all completely right.

    Then we move up to the judiciary, what happen when the police do catch violent people. Last week we had 3 members, men, of the same family who terrified their area in the Glens, assaulting a woman dying of cancer and a pregnant woman, in her fifth month. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/family-from-hell-walks-free-despite-assault-on-pregnant-woman-and-attacks-on-neighbours-29225078.html Despite good evidence, including video, the men didn’t receive a custodial sentence.

    2 things are clear; The police are not being properly managed and the judiciary are not taking crime against the person seriously.

    Another dimension is the seeming contradiction of a self centred generation but who do not value their own lives. The former comes from, IMHO, the destruction of social cohesion, identity and empathy. Things are pretty messed up when the darkest days were actually a happier time to look back to, on a day-to-day basis, a time when the criminals were social outcasts and carried their heads low. The latter comes from a lack of aspiration or satisfaction. If one violently encounters these people you will worry about the consequences of injury, your family, your job etc. They will be unburdened by such things, focused only on injuring you and getting a rise from it.

    You have to wonder, what is the point of all of that CCTV, litter offences and driving through red lights?

    • I would not get over nostalgic about the Past.
      Those of us who lived sheltered lives (and I mean that in a good way because children SHOULD be sheltered) had absolutely no idea what was really going on …variousvscandals have brought this to the fore).
      But certainly in our street in the early 1960s there was one family…social outcasts …who were the petty criminals….speciality gas meters.
      But there was not this feral mob thing….there is a group of side streets in the Lower Falls (and no more than 400 metres from my old house) now effectively a no-go area where there is a lot of single person housing for people deemed to “problems”. It is…my understanding…a mixture of the mentally ill, unfortunate and released prisoner…a ghetto within a ghetto.
      Are levels of alcohol and drug abuse to blame?
      I am…a non drinker. My family was a dry house…despite my father being a barman.

      But my recollection is that DRINK was a marginalised activity. And not as “in your face” either in terms of social occasions (weekly it now seems) and street/park drinking.
      Its always difficult for a non drinker to comment on alcohol as it seems like some kinda moral superiority ….but theres just too much drink around.

      • factual says:

        Yes I think that drink not only imposes anti social behaviour, it also is bad for health and causes accidents (filling up A&E in our health system). So it would be good to have more ways of cracking down on alcohol, similar to our approach to tobacco.

  4. factual says:

    I was knife attacked in Dublin though I am not of the older generation nor a man.

    Regarding crime, it has been falling quite markedly especially in the UK, according to recent statistics lowest for 30 years:.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/apr/25/uk-crime-falls-official-figures

  5. Political Tourist says:

    This reminds of a story in the final months of Hitler’s Germany.
    An older chap walking home to the Hamburg suburbs after doing war work.
    Three young probably very young children gave the old man cheek.
    One thing lead to another and the old man reported it to the authorities.
    Few days later the old man passed the same spot to find the three schoolkids hanged from a railway bridge.

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