The realities of life-the facts that the Belfast News Letter would rather you did not know

The realities of life-the facts that the Belfast News Letter would rather you did not know

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My life in a Banana Republic -June 2017

Jambo!

I have been very busy and most anxious. As the CEO of the Community Research and Action Programme, I was worried about our income. The Jeremiahs said that we would be forced to close our door, that there would be no forthcoming money. But Hey Presto! money comes from the Great Parliament on the Hill and from the Peaceful Fund , Number Four. Our bacons were saved. All staff were kept on, even Billy, whom I have yet to meet but who performs a valuable security role, I am told.

And what of the Great She Elephant? What an achievement ! It is like the book “From log cabin to White House”. Here is this humble lawyer, from a cottage on the edge of Europe, who had rarely been in Belfast, never mind London, now at the centre of power. This would not happen in my country. You need to be in the right tribe to achieve greatness. I have written to her and invited her to come to CRAP.

Dingle pointed out to me that there are three barristers in the DUP MPs plus Jim Allister in the TUV. This is because,  he says,  the Bar Library is a Cold House for Unionists. This puzzled me. In Africa , lawyers become freedom fighters and leaders of the country. Dingle says that here “the other side” prefer the Lisburn Road, Donegal, great works of art and a judicial appointment. He challenged me to name a Republican MLA/MP lawyer. This bodes unwell for the future.

Now that my income is assured for some time, I have moved from the Biblical lands and purchased a dwelling in East. This means that Emma Aardvaark Little Pengelly is not my MP but it is now Gavin Robinson. I like him. He has the bearing of a great chief. In my country there is no place at the top table for skinny persons. They smack of liberalism, sandals and veganism. Gavin surely eats like a chief and has chiefly bearing. He can also make fearsome speeches, Dingle says. My new home, a modest terrace house is not in a shared space, apparently. This means that the tribesmen erect symbols of their supremacy and challenge the native troops to interfere. They do not , because they are few in number and led by men who eat as much as Gavin.

I wrote to my Uncle, the President , about Brexit. He is a wise man. Now in his eighties, he has seen it all before. Many times in Africa, some strong man wanted to make alliances. Once we got rid of the white man, it was other persons, such as Gadafy. Soon his son will rule Libya again. But I digress. My uncle said that this Brexit thing is just a manifestation of Little Britain. I told him that this programme was funny, especially the fellow in the wheelchair. He was cross that I did not read history. He said that Britain had always tried to keep away from the Foreigner Jonny. “Splendid Isolation” he called it. I thanked him.

He said that “when Arlene visits CRAP, remind her about what Gladstone said about the Irish”.

I have not had time to consider this because I have been researching pallets. This is a puzzle. Dingle says that when he was a boy, bonfires consisted of rubbish. Old sofas, someone’s old shed, a rotten fence, and worse. Boys went out in search of material and dragged it through the streets to the site. Now the bonfire is made up of hundreds of pallets. These are not disposed of . They are perfectly useful. They cost about £10 each. I know not how many are in a bonfire. Someone is complicit in this bonfire thing.

I have gone on for too long. CRAP is  functioning well. We give money to deserving cases. Cookers, washing machines and fridge freezers. There are no tower blocks in our  bailiwick. I went out and checked.

Sometimes it is important that we immigrants look after the natives.

Jambo!

The Crumlin Road Canteen

In the series “Life on Mars’ the boss calls a meeting. The shock is that his colleagues are smoking, drinking, , eating pies and generally behaving in a way that nobody under 55 could remember.

I have read the Police Ombudsman’s report into the Loughinisland killings and , hopefully, I will write about it. But the point which is missed by him is the historical context. It is as if two men went into a pub in leafy Surrey and carried out an atrocity and the local Bobbies, with time on their hands, screwed up.

Let me describe the Crumlin Road courthouse in the 1980s. I do this  for two reasons. First , because, as a matter of policy, anyone associated with prosecuting for the Crown in those days has been erased from history as part of the deal with SF/IRA and secondly to explain what life was really like.

As one approached the courthouse from the city direction, there was frequently a RUC or army road stop. Only the bold prosecutor approached from the Ardoyne direction. This I did occasionally. More frequently I drove my GTI Golf at 90 mph down the M2 and then came up from the city centre.

At the entrance to the courthouse there was a security team who wanted to inspect your car, including boot and engine compartment.

This team was covered both from the open ground and from the heavily armed sangar.

Once inside the grounds, a further check might be carried out.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had its offices on the top floor of the building. Not a problem when one is fit.

More important was the canteen, to be found on the left hand side of the ground floor. Here was a microcosm of the Troubles. It was a small room, a counter at the far end and a number of tables. Behind the counter Etta presided. She had been at school with my Dad. She and her staff produced a wide array of food. From the black coffee and a possible scone for the barrister to the fry for the constable.

Why is this story important?

Because each morning the fug in that room had to be seen to be believed. There was no ban on smoking. Officers who had been out all night on duty and who were now required to attend court to give evidence in a terrorist trial , were trying to dry off their uniforms while having a fag and an fry. Later they would try to get home for a few hours sleep before another spell of duty.

Sometimes it was hard to see across the room. I recall chatting to colleges about how nice it would be to get away to the Med. One said, “isn’t it great to walk down to the local shop and buy croissants and yesterday’s paper and come back and read them in the sun?” Another described how beads of water ran down the outside of a bottle of white wine, placed on your table.

That was just escapism. On a day when the great and the good have joined together to mark the first day of the Somme, it is important that we do not wait one hundred years to mark what ordinary men did to protect society in Northern Ireland.

As , Dear Reader, you judge the acts and omissions of policemen and lawyers and read the Police Ombudsman’s report, prepared at length, in a non smoking environment, reflect on what life was really like and how the Crumlin Road canteen, shared with police officers, prosecutors, witnesses, paramilitaries ,Patrick Finucane, Paddy McGrory, Oliver Kelly and Seamus Tracey was a microcosm of how the troubles was really played  out.

 

 

 

Finucane-what we have in common

Geraldine Finucane is reported as saying “gunmen were two-a-penny in Northern Ireland. They don’t interest me. I’m interested in the chain of command.’  If she did say that , I agree with her. I, too, on the ninetieth anniversary of my father’s birth, am interested in the chain of command that led to his murder and the murder of my mother.

The chain of command led from the ASU , through Spike Murray, Bobby Storey and Brian Gillen , to Martin McGuinness. At least one of this group and possibly more, were State agents.

The murder of Pat Finucane, whom I knew, is no more replete with State involvement than many murders in Northern Ireland. Paramilitary organisations were so heavily infiltrated by the late 1980s that the State had overall control of who lived and who died.

The line parroted by the police , that “there are no fresh evidential leads” is a barefaced lie in many cases.

What government in the West does not target the leaders of terrorist organisations? Consider the behaviour of the Americans and the Israelis. Does it not strike the ordinary citizen of Northern Ireland that not one senior terrorist leader was prosecuted after the 1970s?

I am sure that there is information, given by State agents, which would lead to the prosecution of many senior paramilitary figures. To blame, for example, the Republic of Ireland for withholding information on Kingsmills is a clever red herring, dangled by the British and swallowed by people like Wiilliam Frazer. The truth is sitting in British files.

It’s time to prise it free and do justice for all those killed by the State.

So far , of course, unlike the Finucane family I have not had the advantage of any inquiry.