“A Week Is A Long Time in Politics”
Forty-Two years….is a very long time indeed.
Earlier this week I blogged about the introduction of Internment without Trial and its violent aftermath on 9th August 1971.
For several years afterwards the anniversary was marked by violent outbursts in West Belfast. Deaths often resulted.
In 1988, the Festival …An Feile…was started. The object of the exercise was to promote West Belfast and nationalist and republican culture in a more positive way.
It has grown and grown and now bills itself as Europes biggest and best anti-racist and anti-imperialist festival.
Its strength or weakness is that Sinn Feins fingerprints are all over it. Groups such as Amnesty International, Palestine Support etc host events…and other players in West Belfast (Catholic Church and SDLP for example) are struggling to play ” CatchUp”.
Big name bands like the Charlatans and Happy Mondays headline in open air concerts in the Falls Park.
Stand-Up Comics like Patrick Kielty.
Art Exhibitions, Writing Workshops, Irish Language events, Sport….music from the rebel songs of the Wolfe Tones and loads of DIDDLY DEE music.
West Belfast loves DIDDLY DEE music.
The World loves it.
And it seems to be a step up from Orange culture of Kick the Pope Bands.
There was a nice little bonus for the anti-imperialists. The World Police and Fire Games held in Belfast and a renaissance man in Mairtin O’Muilleoir of Sinn Fein, taking on the 2013-14 Mayor of Belfast.
He belongs to the “SUITED” not “BOOTED” wing of Sinn Fein….the type of person who wont scare off the tourists. Especially Police visitors.
And Mairtin had them eating out of his hands.
Americans love all that Irish charm which doesnt actually impress Irish people.
I mean it would be hard to find someone as charming, intelligent and amusing as “FitzjamesHorse” and yet I had to go to Texas to actually be told that I am charming, intelligent and amusing.
In Belfast…Irish Charm is not a unique selling point.
Mairtin has been all over Belfast this week.
His every movement has been tweeted. And lovingly retweeted by just about every Sinn Fein member….and indeed every member of Belfasts pretentious Artsy Crowd. That Poet Laureate thing got them onside.
He seems to have attended every event at An Feile, every event at World Police Games. Never missed a photo opportunity at either.
In between he has managed to get himself jostled and pushed around by Fleg protesting types at the Woodvale Park….and attended an event promoting Caribbean Culture.
A truly renaissance man.
There is a slightly risible side to all this Mayor for ALL BELFAST …it is just a little too CALCULATED. Of course its absolutely proper that he does so.
Twitter is over-loaded with multiples of 140 characters where people correctly state that the image of Belfast has been tarnished this week….by loyalists….AND enhanced by An Feile, Police Games and indeed the prrformance of Mairtin O’ Muilleoir.
Last night, while tweets told the story of devastation in Royal Avenue….just as many tweets told the story of the warmth of Belfast hospitality and the jollity on the Falls Road, with all that diddly dee music.
HOW BIZARRE IS THIS?
FORTY TWO YEARS AGO THE FALLS ROAD BURNED AND ROYAL AVENUE WAS A MILLION MILES AWAY (actually its no more than a mile)
IN 2013 THE FALLS ROAD FIDDLED WHILE ROYAL AVENUE BURNED (well actually thats a bit of hyperbole bit you get the point).
Occasionally earnest sounding tweets from West Belfast reported a sadness at it all. That worry about “IMAGE” …giving the impression that the Sender is concerned but actually quite glad.
Because the most popular Facebook Page and Twitter Account is LOYALISTS AGAINST DEMOCRACY (sic) which promotes PARODY OF ESTEEM (sic). It is a clever satire showing up the nihilistic nature of loyalist protest. Republicans and Nationalists are lucky that the “Stupid Wing” of Unionism….led by the nose or nearly a century by UUP and DUP has now effecively broken away.
Should we worry?
Are these people our fellow citizens? Or maybe not quite yet.
Unionism is in melt-down.
Their only hope post Good Friday Agreement 1998 was to deal with nationalists.
They have split and the only worry must be is …is it dangerous?
Belfast is now a Nationalist-Republican- letsgetalongerist- liberal unionist city (Alliance and NI21 MUST make Council gains as DUP and UUP implode).
What a difference from 1971.
Then Belfast was firmly unionist…with just Most of West Belfast “nationalist”. and of course enclaves in other parts of the City.
The situation is now reversed. The East of the City is of course loyalist but now there are small enclaves of loyalism dotted around the City.
Belfast …as we knew it…has gone.
Like the Old South in 1865….Gone With The Wind.