Archive for sinn féin

Documentary adds to political unease

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by gtam80

The recent local television documentary about the IRA’s 1983 Maze prison breakout was ill-timed. At a juncture when suspicion still exists between the two overarching political communities in Northern Ireland, a programme celebrating the escapades of a group of terrorists seemed glibly out of touch with the current sense of unease. Indeed the surreal sight of Gerry Kelly reminiscing about shouting orders at prison officials put one in mind of a piece of Sinn Fein propaganda that might usually be sold in one of the party’s constituency offices or gift shops, but not broadcast to the general public. While these stories, as part of a Troubles history, are interesting it is the fashion in which this particular one was told that could spread yet more negativity through one half of the community in particular.

The tone of the interviewees ensured that the programme was as controversial as its title suggested – for instead of recalling events that occurred during some of Northern Ireland’s darkest years in a manner befitting such an era the jolly tone, almost Dan Dare-like, throughout much of the documentary was a stark juxtaposition to a recent book by the journalist Susan McKay in which she allowed victims of paramilitary violence to recount in grim detail their horrendous experiences. Not so in this programme, where the IRA-related crimes were airbrushed out and the violence which occurred during the prisoners’ breakout was mentioned almost as an afterthought despite a prison official losing his life.

It almost seems as though a certain slot on Monday evenings is being filled with controversial Troubles-related programme making for the sake of it, without considering the effects of such programmes on the wider public’s opinions regarding the peace process. Indeed a subsequent documentary on Marie Jones’s play ‘A Night in November’ is sure to have made people incandescent. Jones appears in the advertisement suggesting that on that night in November 1993 at Windsor Park the sectarianism of Northern Ireland football supporters had reached an epoch. Again it must be questioned what the benefits are of rerunning this play and the accompanying documentary at a time when Northern Ireland’s fans have been officially recognised as among the greatest in Europe.

Now is perhaps not the best time for such partisan programming. If anything a ‘shared vision’ should be encouraged by celebrating the positives of Belfast and Northern Ireland both historically and in the present.

Source: Belfast News Letter, September 2008


Bairbre de Brún’s comments about Windsor Park show there are those unprepared to leave the past behind

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by gtam80

Recent comments by Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún on a local television talk-show demonstrated an eerie inability by some of those in power to acknowledge that things are moving on in local sport and society. During a debate on the saga of the national stadium de Brún, originally from Dublin, reached levels of surrealism which even the most foolhardy and entrenched local political supporter may have had a problem deciphering any logic in.

The merit of her argument – that Windsor Park is akin to the Maze H-Blocks in terms of political symbolism – must have left many mouths ajar on both sides of the community. Windsor Park admittedly has a chequered past and has played host to some of Northern Irish football’s darker days: the disgraceful assault of Jimmy Jones in 1947 by thugs purporting to support Linfield, the attack on the Italian international Ferrario in 1957 and the sectarian chanting which reached an apex in February 2001 with the booing of Northern Ireland captain Neil Lennon who had recently joined Celtic. However it is puzzling how de Brún can, with any integrity, find an emotional tie between these adverse events surrounding football and the H-Blocks which housed so many political prisoners.

Her reason for not feeling welcome at Windsor goes back to a visit there for a game between two of Belfast’s great rivals, Cliftonville and Linfield. She reportedly feared that she’d never get out of the ground alive. This would strike many as being naïve in the extreme, presumably having occurred during an era when day to day life in Northern Ireland was often volatile: a phenomenon that local football could not transcend. Instead of bringing such a negative anecdote to the table which then led to her making crass, offensive and misinformed parallels, she could perhaps have taken the time to acknowledge the success that Cliftonville had in hosting Linfield at Solitude (not always a ground that has honoured the definition of its name) in front of the Sky Sports cameras back in September – a match which correctly drew many plaudits from across the water. The return fixture at Windsor is on January 7th, and once again Sky has decided to provide live coverage. Perhaps Bairbre de Brún should be invited along to see the hard work that the IFA has put into turning the local game around.

Until blasé and culturally snobbish attitudes such as those of de Brún’s are transcended in society and politics we may yet have cause to despair about the future of this country.

Source: Belfast News Letter, December 2007