I Will Vote SDLP

Tomorrow I will vote SDLP.

Basically we vote for parties that represent our unique combination of high ideals and not-so-high self interest.

People on the “left” have more ideals than people on the right. People on the right have more self-interest than ideals. Free Health, Free Education, Good Housing, Workers Rights, Human Rights and taxing the rich and the rest …all good stuff.

So being a bit of a socialist, a republican, a nationalist….well its SDLP.

They don’t of course make it easy. But SDLP have their heart in the right place. On their sleeve.

Declan

Its simple enough. It is not about Fianna Fáil link ups. Its not about BREXIT. It is not about the great political issues of the day.

It is just about Declan, Joe, Ciaran and Thomas working hard for people during last years floods in and around Lurgan. Better resourced parties went missing in action.

It is about notifying constituents about a suspicious white van in the area and to be alert. Basic stuff like grass verges that are over-grown and the problem of dog fouling.

So even people in Derrymacash Wolfe Tones territory will give a first preference to a man wearing a Derrytrasna Sarsfields tie on his election poster.

SDLP might well have an uncomfortable time in some parts of the north but there will be no melt-down. We will do ok. People need SDLP too much.

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Lost Lives…People I Knew

Last night, I was talking to my sister on the phone. She has lived in London for forty one years and we talked about my visit to Milltown Cemetery on Good Friday and the old neighbourhood in Greater Ballymurphy/Upper Springfield..

She mentioned Fr Martin Magill and Lyra McKees funeral. We talked about how grateful we are that no relative was killed during the Troubles, even though we lived in West Belfast to 1979 (1978 in her case).

My sister (almost three years younger) is my only sibling. My mother’s family were all based in County Armagh and County Tyrone. They had no “republican” family history and my cousins were mostly a lot older than me and out of the most dangerous ages to be in the Troubles.

Meanwhile back in West Belfast, my father had a married brother but they had no children. And he had a married sister. Also no children.

So in Belfast, I had no cousins.

From 1957-1970, I lived in the Lower Falls. But the 11plus in 1963 meant that I lost a lot of contact with boys my own age and from just about the poorest part of the city, I was never fully integrated into the grammar school life of the boys from better areas of the city.

From 1970, we lived in Greater Ballymurphy/Upper Springfield and as the Troubles had just started, it was too late to make new friends.

Besides, I was basically a coward. I had no great desire to leave the safety and comfort of my own fireside. Just too dangerous out there. I am not a risk taker.

I was invited to talk to some post-grad students in Texas, USA in February 2013. I made a list of people I knew who had died between 1969-1998. None were family but when you hear bad news that “a body has been found at…”, it is compounded when you hear the words “has been identified as…”

As I wrote last week, I had met Lyra McKee on a handful of occasions. So maybe if I am back in Texas, a new name can be added to the list. But Ms McKee is the first person that I know who has been killed since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

On all the previous occasions, there is a struggle to remember the last time that I spoke with Fr Mullan or Fr Fitzpatrick.

Two priests from our parish were shot dead. The last time I saw or spoke to Fr Hugh Mullan was after the last Mass on 8th August 1971. Within 36 hours, he would be shot dead by British Paratroopers in what was the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Fr Noel Fitzpatrick was shot a couple of years later. Also by the Brits as he went to assist someone during a gun battle. The last night I spoke to him was maybe a few weeks before when he signed my passport application.

Three boys from my O level class from 1968 would die in The Troubles. I had not seen “A” from 1970. He was killed in a premature explosion. Unknown to his parents, he joined the IRA. He was buried privately without the usual paramilitary trappings.

“B” I actually saw about the Falls Road for a while after 1970. He was another IRA volunteer who, unknown to me at school was from a republican family background. After all in the 1960s, nobody could really foresee that all Hell would break lose in 1969. He was physically a very unlikely sniper.

Actually quite a few of the lads from the grammar school would join the IRA. I suppose post-1966 (the 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising) , Christian Brothers sympathy and the whole heroic poets thing influenced many and they were just caught in the right age group….19 or 20 at Internment (1971) and Bloody Sunday (1972). After that first wave of youthful idealism and the increasing brutality of it all, that grammar school conveyor belt seemed to dry up.

“C” had been seriously injured as a child and was partly disabled. He was with his friend when they were victims of a drive-by shooting in North Belfast. As I recall, he was shot once and died from his wound. His friend was hit several times and survived.

“D” was from the Lower Falls, a small boy who was a great footballer. I guess the last time I saw him, we were with a bunch of other lads in the Falls Park in the summer of 1969. He had an apprenticeship in a factory. As he came out of work, he was gunned down by loyalists who escaped into a nearby loyalist estate. His work mates pointed him out to the gunmen.

“E” was unfortunate. I think about him a lot. He lived a few doors from us in Greater Ballymurphy. Circa 1970 in the whole new beginnings after the disbandment of the B Specials, he joined the Ulster Defence Regiment, one of a number of Catholics who did. When another neighbour (who I did not know) who had made the same choice, was shot dead in front of his family….”E” went to live with his family to live in unionist East Belfast. He was tortured and beaten to death by loyalists.

Necessarily my list is mostly Catholic. It is after all people I knew. But “F” was a retired Protestant. He was blown to pieces when a bomb exploded in central Belfast.

“G” was a young woman who was a friend of my sister. Shot dead. I actually heard the shots. I went to her funeral. Unknown to me then, another young woman attended the same funeral. And that young woman was a cousin of the victim. A few years later, I would meet her…and marry her.

“H” was a prominent republican woman. Same school as my sister.

“I” was just 15 years old. He worked Sunday mornings in his parents newspaper shop. Standing outside it one day, he was shot dead by loyalists in a drive-by shooting.

I have of course mentioned Paddy Wilson of SDLP many times in this Blog. Murdered…throat cut and mutilated on Cavehill

Yet in the weeks after Lyra McKees murder, I am haunted by memories of a young woman called Rosemary McCartney. She was abducted from a car with a young man called Patrick O’Neill. They were beaten and tortured by loyalists. She was a singer and the loyalists said she could save their lives by singing for them. Of course, it as a lie. Just perverted “fun”. They were found at Glencairn…shot several times in the face.

Actually the torture and death of women was not uncommon. Jean McConville obviously by IRA. But two Protestant women were murdered by loyalists in the Village area of South Belfast…one in the mistaken belief that she was Catholic. Another Catholic woman from Armagh was invited to a party in East Belfast…and beaten to death by loyalists.

Of course all 3,600 killings during the Troubles were horrible but deaths were people in some way knew the risks that they were taking…the gun battles, the premature bombs, security force or paramilitary make up a considerable proportion.

It is the norm for apologists for RUC and British Army to claim that their deaths (on the side of law and order) are more honourable than the deaths of people that they call “terrorists”. Equally, it is the norm for Sinn Féin to say that there is no hierarchy of Victims.

Both are seductive thoughts to their own followers.

But a decade ago, the Eames-Bradley report on victims was killed by the suggestion that a £30,000 lump sum be paid to the families of all victims.

The Troubles were so we are told…POLITICAL VIOLENCE. But was that true for all 3,600 deaths.

Can we……or should we differentiate between Political Violence (arguably the gun battles and the land-mines between combatants), wanton murder of the drive by shootings and bomb attacks….many of these such as the republican attack on Darkley Mission Hall and the Kingsmills workers cross the line into Sectarian Violence and obviously attacks by loyalists on Loughinisland and Greysteel are also sectarian in nature.

Some would say there are grey areas…republican apologists will say that IRA shot uniforms and loyalists claim that their attacks on innocent Catholics were a reaction to IRA violence. And there is of course the whole question of British collusion with loyalists and republicans to further an agenda. Not to mention Bloody Sunday and Ballymurphy.

But to me, abduction, torture and murder is beyond mere Political and Sectarian Violence. Being face to face with your killer is a Hate Crime and to be in that situation for often hours cannot be dismissed as just another statistic. If a 14 year old boy can be abducted in Andersonstown and be taken in a car to be beaten and shot dead at Shaws Bridge, it de- humanises us all to call it Political Violence.

As we used to whisper in the 1970s, he/she had a “bad death”.

You may read this and think that I am specifically referring to Davey Payne and Lenny Murphy and the Shankill Butchers and their “any taig will do” murder campaigns…and actually there were a number of charges that could be made against republicans (some sectarian) including their kangaroo courts.

But it IS true that the worst murders of The Troubles tended to be by sectarian loyalists.

It is not a matter of treating the Victims the same. That’s not the issue here. The issue is that we should recognise that the nature of the Violence itself was different.

 

 

 

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Aontú…Not Quite Number One

Canvassed very nicely today by Aontú.

I have already been canvassed by SDLP and Sinn Féin.

I have an odd relationship with canvassers. Most householders hide behind the couch when they see canvassers coming down the path. But my wife says that I run to the door. Seemingly today I ran so fast to open the door that I did not know that I had coleslaw on my chin.

I like Aontú. It is a genuine pity that they are not standing in more DEAs.

Let me be clear that I will be voting for the two SDLP candidates. My #3 will go to Aontú and #4 and #5 to Sinn Féin….#6 and #7 will go to the UUP (they say “please” in their literature and #8 and #9 will go to DUP. The only other candidate (Alliance) wont even get #10. This will come as no surprise to long-time readers of this Blog.

So why do I like Aontú? Well, the bottom line for me has always been the number of nationalist votes versus unionist votes. It really is that simple. When SDLP, Sinn Féin and Aontú percentages are added, they should exceed the 2014 total. Victory!

Secondly Aontú is an all-Ireland party. Sinn Féin apologists online will say that it is not big enough or organised well enough to be a “party”. It is of course a fledgling party (and SF would happily do all it can to marginalise it and play it down) but at least it takes away part of SFs unique selling point.

SDLP are now more or less all-Ireland. It is not just the Fianna Fáil link. More so it is the Waterfront Hall agenda and “think32”.

Thirdly…I like Peadar Toibín. He was always one of Sinn Féin’s more articulate spokespersons and his defection is a major blow to the party. But typically for SF, they re-write history, playing down his effect over a number of years.

For the record, I am pro-choice and Aontú is pro-life. I see no contradiction in my religious beliefs and public policy. The right to Choose is rightfully enshrined in the Constitution.

Sinn Féin would be foolish to claim that the rights of women are dear to their  hearts. The Sinn Féin sisterhood were not overly supportive of Mairia Cahill and SF happily encourages its internet trolls to diminish and even demonise Mairia.

It has been a major tactical blunder for Sinn Féin to adopt the right to choose as party policy.

The Eighth Amendment Referendum showed 840,000 people supported the Right to Choose. And 410,000 voted against. Quite a lot of practising Christians supported the change in the Constitution. They reasonably thought that no citizen can impose his/her religious views on others.

But drilling down the figures is interesting. Quite a lot of our new voters (Polish, Czech, North African) are conservative in religious views and were in many cases Pro-Life. And of course, it is very reasonable. But SF with one side of their mouth welcome diversity, including (quite rightly) migration but with the other side of their mouth, they denounce the very diversity our very welcome new citizens bring.

Sinn Féin would be foolish to say that only the 840,000 people who voted to Repeal the Eighth are eligible to vote Sinn Féin and the 410,000 who voted against change are not eligible to vote for them.

That would be ridiculous. “Sorry, voter in Kildare North, you voted NO in the Referendum and as a candidate for Sinn Féin in the 2019 European Elections, I cannot in conscience accept your vote”.

Well that wont happen of course. SF would take any vote going.

But if those 410,000 voters are good enough to vote Sinn Féin, are they not good enough to join Sinn Féin? Can a “NO” voter be selected to stand for Sinn Féin? Can they be a SF TD…a good one like Peadar Toibín?

Clearly not. Sinn Féins commitment to Diversity…not to mention Womens Rights…only goes so far.

I hope Aontú has a future. I really do wish it well. But it does not have the number of candidates to really make an impact this time. This election…albeit the comparatively minor matter of local elections in the north rather than a Dáil or Assembly election …has just come six months or a year too soon.

Anyway, I have now given my opinion to SDLP, Sinn Féin and Aontú canvassers. I don’t suppose DUP and UUP will show up. But the one I really want is Alliance.

If any of you readers are lawyers, can you advise me if a person can be prosecuted for anything I say to a canvasser at my own front door. Asking for a friend.

 

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Line of Duty: Just My Theory…Definitely!

“Line of Duty” (BBC Sunday night) is a pretty good show. But I don’t quite understand the obsession.

Certainly well acted and well written and we now have just two episodes left to see “H” unmasked.

Drama requires a suspension of DisBelief. The acting and the writing are so good that we can overlook some holes in the plot. This is the fifth series and perhaps the most unbelievable aspect is that in a provincial police force (probably in the English East Midlands) at least five police officers can be killed in a very short time and the English Media has not descended on the area. Not to mention the police casualties from Series 1, 2, 3 and 4.

And it also seems strange that so many senior police officers don’t actually know each other. Havent they come thru the ranks, been on training courses or served together fr years?

Viewers as on Gogglebox and Twitter seem to say things like “I didn’t see that coming”. But actually they cant see anything coming because it is all in the writers hands. The storyline can go anywhere.

It may be set in the East Midlands but it is filmed in Belfast. Hooray for us. The police anti-corruption squad seem to operate out of Bedford House in Bedford Street, the police headquarters is in Belfast Central Library and police firearms units are running around Custom House Square and Tomb Street Mail Sorting Centre.

There are some nice in-jokes. Did anyone notice that Steve told someone at the other end of the phone that he was “in Tates Avenue” and yes that’s where the show was on location.

But as well as being filmed on the streets of Belfast, it now seems that Belfast is central to the drama and perhaps all thru this series and maybe other series you spotted this seemed likely.

So here is my theory.

Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) is ex-RUC and heads the anti-corruption unit. Freemasonry has been mentioned a lot. Is he one? Yet he seems to say “Mother of God!” a lot which is a bit Catholic and has an ex-wife called “Roisin”…..which is also a bit Catholic isn’t it?

Hastings and Roisin are heading for divorce, in part because he lost all their savings in a scam. Those who point to Hastings being “H”, the criminal mastermind have overlooked the fact that he has very little money and the cash in an envelope from another ex-RUC man who is apparently working on getting money back from the scammers is a Godsend. But really this ex-colleague looks a bit dodgy.

A major clue was dropped in Episode 3 when the unseen “H” mis-spelt “definitely” as “definately” …twice. And in Episode 4, Hastings also spells the word as “definitely”.

Is Hastings “H”? ….well perhaps Hastings knows that the real “H” mis-spells the word. Or maybe the real “H” knows that Hastings cant spell the word.

It turns out in Episode 4, newly murdered (I didn’t see THAT coming) , rogue undercover cop, John Corbett was born in Belfast as “McGuinness/Magennis/McGinnis” (we have not seen the name wriiten but trust me there might be a clue in that spelling) and his parents were killed during the Troubles and John was adopted in Liverpool where he developed a very good Scouse accent (nobody does it better than Stephen Graham) and possibly an animosity to Hastings as he has spent four episodes pointing the finger at Hastings.

So we have five connexions to Norn Iron….Roisin (beaten up by Corbett), Hastings, Corbett, the other ex-RUC man with a lot of cash…….and a voice captured on tape.

That’s a lot of Norn Iron connexions merely for it all to be a shoal of red herrings.

Hmmm….dodgy dealings in the RUC in the 1980s? I find that very hard to believe.

The writing can take the story in two directions at the whim of Jed Mercurio, the writer. He has Italian parents (Catholic?) . He is a former doctor in the British Air Force and there may be clues as to how he sees the world in his back catalogue of (usually) hospital dramas.

If I make the leap and think that “Line of Duty” secrets are Belfast-based, then scenes from Episodes 5 and 6 could easily be filmed in Gilnahirk or Andytown.

What kinda RUC man was Hastings? A good guy caught up in it all. Catholic? Special Branch? Rogue? A man who covered up or a man who blew whistles?

Will the RUC be the good guys? Or the bad guys? Collusion? Deep State? Or an untidy inconclusive ending which is just like real life.

The Achilles Heel of  “Line of Duty” is the way the narrative changes…even within episodes. The TV audience views it one episode at a time but presumably Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compson and Vicky McClure received all six scripts and know how this story ends …they aren’t just doing it on a week-to-week basis. So they are good actors and have the skill sets to achieve consistency in their characters.

And hopefully Adrian Dunbar has a BAFTA on his mantelpiece before the end of 2019.

 

 

 

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Lyra McKee (RIP) Funeral

The strange thing about Journalism is that they get to report on their own. Not just the Leveson Inquiry.

And they seem quite well disposed to fellow journalists.

Whether its a Brother from the old Press Lodge in Arthur Square or someone from the wider freemasonry of journalism, Journalists seem to like Journalists. The curious exception on Slugger O’Toole at least is James Kelly who died aged 100 a few years ago. He had been 80 years in Journalism but seemingly that’s not good enough for a tribute on Slugger. As my father was a friend of Jimmy Kelly, its not an issue that I will let go easily.

Its how Journos are…Terry Lloyd (ITN) killed during the Gulf War, Jill Dando (BBC) murdered on the streets of London and Martin O’Hagan murdered on the streets of Lurgan.

And now Lyra McKee, shamefully murdered on the streets of Derry.

I first met Ms McKee about seven years ago. And over a four year period, I probably saw her seven or eight times. I have not seen her in maybe three years as my blogging activity has been winding down.

The Norn Iron Bloggerati is a small and not overly friendly bunch. Or maybe that’s just me. I have never been the kinda blogger who “likes” other blogs in the curious quid pro pro that is part of the local blogging scene. But we come across each other at party conferences, manifesto launches, seminars, lectures, Platform for Change crap, hustings, victims groups

Yet one of the reasons that Lyra McKee stood out was her youth (she was maybe 22 when I first met her) , her gender and her talent. It was evident that she would make the leap from the Internet to something more mainstream, especially as her writing became more adult. She was also different because she was nice.

Lyra McKee deserves so much better than being a statistic who was shamefully murdered in the Creggan last week.

Over on Slugger O’Toole, Alan Meban honourably reminded contributors to observe common decency when commenting. It was hardly the time for analysis.

But curiously within hours, Mick Fealty was telling us that Ms McKee embodied “the patient promise of the Good Friday Agreement” and in another post Brian Walker was talking about the “political response”. And Mick went full poetic with “Dulce et Decorum Est”.

This is Total Bollox and Total Latin Bollox.

As I draft this, Mick is at it again with Dante’s Inferno.

I even saw our Patrick Corrigan (who else???) …the local rent-a-quote from Amnesty on Skype on BBC News.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with what anybody was saying. The point is that a narrative was being set up and accepted in the public space.

There is nothing nuanced about Murder. The murder of Lyra McKee was shameful. There is a time for analysis and it is a pity that the line between uncomplicated condemnation and (uncontested) analysis was blurred.

Lyra McKee …Rest in Peace.

The funeral was today. It’s quite a journey from St Gemma’s  Catholic School in North Belfast to St Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in the City Centre. The nearest thing we have to an “established” Church. It is after all where Edward Carson is buried. As religion declines, St Anne’s has re-invented itself as a Cathedral of LetsGetAlongerism. Lyra McKees funeral is no less a State Funeral than Edward Carson in 1935.

Fr Martin Magill spoke. He is the Catholic priest who is effectively chaplain to the LetsGetAlongerists. I cant imagine anyone else wanting that gig.

An tUachtarán Michael D Higgins was there. And an Taoiseach Varadker and an Tanáiste Coveney. Oh and not forgetting Theresa May. And Karen Bradley.

And the great and the good and the mere celebs of LetsGetAlongerism. And the journos. And the cross-party politicians.

This was a political funeral…no less than the funeral of Bobby Sands in 1981. This was about setting an agenda. Did Bobby Sands funeral change Norn Iron? Will Lyra McKee’s funeral change Norn Iron?

This was a propaganda funeral …no less than the funeral of “Princess” Diana in 1997. This was about setting an image.

Did Lady Di’s funeral change the English “Royal Family”?

The real message is that a young woman was brutally murdered last week. The Politics and Propaganda of (new and traditional) LetsGetAlongerism detracts from it.

 

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Three Generations of LetsGetAlongerists

I wonder if LetsGetAlongerism is changing. Well……everything is changing.

Back in the 1960s there were so-called liberal unionists who thought that sectarianism was outdated and we could all just get along if Catholics just became unionist and…conservative. Give a Catholic a house and a job and he is happy with the Union. So thought Terence O’Neill. After the Crossroads Election of 1969, some well-meaning unionists joined with some self-loathing Catholics formed the Alliance Party.

In the Alliance Party, letsgetalongerism became institutionalised.

A central feature of letsgetalongerism is self-loathing.

“My father was an Orangeman in Ballymena but….I met a nice Catholic girl and we live in Bangor and our kids went to an integrated school and we vote Alliance. Now just sign me up to a well paid quango”.

“My daddy was a militant republican and I went to a school where I was taught by nuns but I met a nice Englishman and I live in Carryduff and we vote Alliance and Id like to be on a quango please”.

Fur coat…no knickers.

You know them as well as I do.

One of the platforms of the Alliance Party is that we are partly British and partly Irish. If we all thought like Alliance Party members then there would be no Troubles. There is a core belief that we are all (except the Alliance Party of course) responsible for the Troubles.

We must rid ourselves of the baggage of our personal baggage. It is a seductive thought. But it is wrong. We should all challenge our background. I challenged mine but came thru it. My family was an amazing blessing. School was brutal and brutalising. Catholicism was kinda neutral.

I have a lot of sympathy for people who have good reason to resent and eventually reject their background. But I do not believe that ALL of us were oppressed, depressed, repressed and suppressed. If I had a lousy childhood, I would write a book and it would win the Booker Prize and be turned into an Oscar-winning movie. I might call it “Angela’s……” oh wait that book and movie is already out there.

But there is a streak in LetsGetAlongerism that seems to believe that rejection of our personal history is a pre-requisite to a better way. The fault is 50-50 but that’s not Politics or History. It is just Mathematics. No…in the 800 years of Anglo-Irish History, the Irish are basically the good guys. We are on the right side of History. The Alliance Party sits on the fence between the right and wrong side of History.

History does not stand still.

There is maybe a new generation of LetsGetAlongerism that is going to replace the Alliance Party’s version.

In fairness, I should mock it.

“I was brought up Catholic/Protestant but I identify as young, straight/gay male/femaletransgendered….European climate change activist and vegetarian and progressive and I vote Green…oh and by the way as Ireland is more progressive than Norn Iron, then I have an Irish passport”.

Getting along is never enough. Standing still is never enough and the Alliance Party will never get past doing nothing.

 

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You Always Hurt The One You Love

Every so often, I sign into this Blog. It is mostly about “maintenance”. The Czar of Russia, Donald Trump, DUP, letsgetalongerists still need to be watched but I am no longer the man to do it.

As I started the blog in August 2011, I was aware that the early days are critical. I had maybe two failed blogs under my belt. I was at that time NOT a member of SDLP who had just had an unsuccessful election under Margaret Ritchie. And the first real story that this Blog covered was in November 2011…the election of a successor to Margaret Ritchie.

So during 2011, I started to engage with SDLP people.

In fact I was at the 2010 (November) SDLP Conference and was asking a question during a fringe meeting when a SDLP member was taking photos and I joked that I was a blogger and happily anonymous. Later he approached me and asked if I would identify myself to him….he was a member of National Union of Journalists and therefore ethical…and I told him that I was “Fitzjames Horse” as seen on Slugger O’Toole. He immediately extended his hand and said that “we love your stuff….but not all of it”.

As it turned out, the identity of FJH was much talked about in SDLP HQ. A totally innocent SDLP veteran was assumed to be “FJH”.

I suppose staying under the radar was never really an option. As there was an Assembly election in May 2011, a senior SDLP person requested a meeting with me. They liked the stuff that I put on Slugger O’Toole but wanted me “onside”. I would be tipped off about talking points and would head up a rebuttal team of enthusiastic SDLP Youth members.

I was flattered.

But the odd thing was that nothing ever happened. No tip offs. No talking points. No young team of online warriors.

It was my first experience of being “played”.

Why did that happen? The senior SDLP person who “played” me was a shrewd operator. He did not bring me on board. But he effectively neutralised me, the Czar posts and the comments I made on Slugger.

He was smarter than me.

SDLP members have encouraged me, patronised me and if I had been “played” just once, then I would put it all down to experience. “Fool me once…shame on you. Fool me twice…shame on me”.

As I write this, I recall that I actually met with SDLP people in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 but they were good at ideas but not very good on action. I even applied for jobs with SDLP in 2013 and 2014. But I was never short-listed or interviewed. I am really slow at getting a message.

And I was “played” again in 2015. So…yes…Shame on Me!

This post is really about three things. First…I cant deny that I have become very bitter about my SDLP experiences. Second…..next month I will as usual vote SDLP, in part because I admire our local team but maybe I am voting not because of what SDLP does. Rather I am voting IN SPITE of what SDLP does.

They make History and are lousy at paying tribute to great servants from the 1970s. It is run by cliques and entourages and there’s always an alternative leader with a clique and entourage.

Yet SDLP is needed. Nobody represents the under-privileged better. But councillors who are the backbone of the Party are side-lined. And jobs have been lost by blameless office staff thru years of leadership incompetence.

SDLP is curiously friendless in the Media. Once you are cast out like Brian Feeney, you are dead to the Party. Other columnists like Patrick Murphy don’t seem too far removed from the thinking of SDLP but the Party seems to prefer journos who have never offered the Party any support.

It has never looked more divided.

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