My life in a banana republic: Hallowe’en edition


I am back from my vacation in my home country in Africa , where it was warm and had a government.

On my return to the Community Research and Action Plan, my staff told me that they were “polluted” with MLAs. This amused me, because some of them were Green. But it is no laughing matter. They are on the Board and they wanted to know why I had not organised a great festival for Hallowe’en. This is because they had little else to think about.

I am puzzled. Hallowe’en is steeped in religion. It is All Saints’ Eve, preceding All Saints’ Day. Surely these Christian type fellows who read their Bible for guidance on Gay Rights and marriage know these things? How could Hallowe’en last a week?

Anyhow, being under pressure I did what all CEOs do and I commissioned a report from Pamela, our researcher, who has a doctorate in Peace Building.

Here are extracts from her report :

“Festivals have become an important part of Ulster life. It used to be that only Protestants had festivals, the Twelfth, Black Day, and Apprentice Boys but now such things are common on both sides.

In the first century AD there were many plebeians in Rome. Unable to read or write , they were politically insignificant, like working class Ulster Loyalists. Yet if they became a mob, [such as the UDA did in the 1970s] the Senate feared them. So there had to be a programme to keep them under control [Pax I-IV]

Marxists call it the “dominant ideology” -that the economically disadvantaged classes will accept that it is their fate to remain so. Provided there is bromide.

The programme  took a number of forms.

Bribery- now converted to posts on NGAs, doctorates and Gongs from the Palace, exclusively for pro-GFA

Free grain-employment of  pro-GFA ex-combatants at public expense and in huge numbers

Free entertainment-in Rome there were chariot races, gladiators, and vast spectacles; performed at the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum

There are many good examples of such programmes springing up in NI.

West Belfast has a festival in the Summer and, perhaps the best of all is the Greater Waterworks Collective, under the management of Pat Herd.

Their new programme , for the Spring, has the following events.

On the lake , they are going to re-enact the Mountjoy, breaking the boom on the Foyle.

In the great park itself there will be the defeat of James by William, brought there by the Scarva Re-enactment Company [ funded by the Lord Bannside Memorial Trust].

There will be a cameo of how thousands of Irishmen died in the Great War. Any talk that they died uselessly will be suppressed. This enactment will be entitled “Dulce et Decorum est”

There will be classes and workshops to accompany the events. How to make an Apprentice Boy’s apron. Sailing ships of the late sixteen hundreds. Williamite needlework. Court etiquette of the William and Mary era. How to plant and care for your Orange lilies. Basic mural painting. How to care for your black beret.

A great parade will of course be the culmination of the festival. It will be led by the local MP [and of course his lady wife] and there will be prizes for the best “Person made in North Belfast” Some suggestions are Ciaran Hinds, May Blood and Alban Maginness.

I suggest that we look at a similar programme for our area”

Pamela is to be commended for her research and enterprise and , next week at our Board meeting I will be proposing that we ask the Council for a grant to research this. Dingle tells me that I should ask for these things “in increments”. “Next” he says, “ask for another grant to construct a programme, then ask for money for the festival itself, it always works”.

So, Dear Friends, my  CRAP tasks for the winter are set.

As the power sharing assembly on the Great Hill moves peacefully to a close, I am off to learn how to make a lantern.


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