One night, two events


I was at two events last night. The first was the launch of yet another book about Belfast cemeteries by Tom Hartley. St Dominic’s on the Falls Road was bunged with the great and the good – Maurice Hayes, Rev John Dunlop, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and many, many more. I would have given my left foot (the one I kick with) to have had that kind of support at a book launch of mine, good though some of them were. Anyway, Tom was introduced by Danny Morrison and it was interesting to see how excited grown men become when something as thoughtful and worthwhile as Tom’s musings on the dead crystallise in an event like that. I also had the delight of seeing some people I’d taught years ’n’ years ago, and how they stay young I don’t know – drink? Drugs? The other? I also ran into at least one person whom I’d criticised in one of my blogs (no name, no pack-drill) and two thoughts hit me: how easy it is to hurt people with your public words, and how some people, as in this case, show the grace to rise above holding grudges. An informative launch.

The second event was just down the road at St Mary’s University College, where Martin McGuinness was talking alongside Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son was killed in the Warrington bomb. They’re both excellent public speakers, but it was probably the nature of the two men’s history, and the terrible event that in a sense brought them together, that made the occasion unforgettable. Colin Parry and his wife are people who, as Martin McGuinness pointed out, had seized an event that could have given them every excuse for being bitter and filled with hatred, and instead had made it into something positive, through their peace work in Warrington and elsewhere. As the Deputy First Minister noted, the DUP see fit to refuse to acknowledge the presence of republicans in Stormont or to utter a single word of encouragement for the peace process that was won with such patience and focus and hard work. It goes to show you: some people, faced with the worst calamity imaginable – Colin Parry’s 12-year-old son had gone that Saturday to buy a  pair of Everton shorts – manage to transform it into something good and work with those like Martin McGuinness whom they could easily have hated and rejected. Other people, many of whom have never suffered as Colin Parry has suffered, stay stuck in their sullen yesterday, corroding themselves as well as doing everything possible to prevent the development of a better tomorrow. We can be on the devil’s side or the angels’ side: Colin Parry, great and good man that he is, chose the side of the angels. It was a privilege to listen to him and the Deputy First Minister.

21 Responses to One night, two events

  1. Francis D August 1, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    To rise above what I’m sure would be the unimaginable grief of losing a child, to then become an ambassador for conflict resolution and transformation standing shoulder to shoulder with an activist in a movement who was complicit by common purpose in your child’s bereavement, shows Colin Parry a man of great mettle, and Mc Guinness in no ficker of light either. I didn’t hear the talk myself but having read the measured words of Parry before, it would be miopuc of any to hold him in any but the highest of respect.

    Much more continues to be done by the great and the good you mention above. I am no advocate of Armed Struggle and believe it has truly seen its day in Ireland. The prisoners and their families of those who have taken that course need their rights upheld by mainstream SFet al as the ongoing torture, internment and injustices used by an unaccoutible MI5 and British state here successfully by passing Stormont to enact such repressions, leaves Sinn Fein looking a little wan on the Human and Civil Rights front. This is not a digression from the above Jude. Conflict resolution requires an indepentant Judiciary, an end to arcane legislation which makes such an anomaly, an end to draconian and nefarious practices by the British State apparatus here. Ireland should by rights be a luminous beacon where others can take hope in how real justice can prevail and realistically aspire to the same in resolving other conflicts,-instead alas, we have a schism that has been growing” where laudable applause has been given quiet rightly to Mc Guinness and Parry and the many who endorse such an honourable path, but hostility and inaction is paradoxically is employed when engaging with those who refuted the agreement GFA. To bring these people on board which I and many others truly wish, SF will have to reach further. Ignoring their prisoners concerns or the illegal intrigues used to bury them, can only lay the seeds of further conflict. SF has my vote, but others like myself are becoming both concerned and filled with quietly growing consternation at the lack of meaningful engagement with dissident opponents on the Prisoners issue,or the provocative unchecked behaviour of the British State to get away with whatever they wish Iin their dirty War against Other Republicans now. Puerile condemnations of their futile actions now simply dont cut it. Did it with McGuiness when he used the Gun?

    Conflict transformation means an end to these injustices. Thee elephant in the room not mentioned much, may just alas get bigger elsewise. A start would be the Craigavon Two and the injustice of Brutal strip searches… bring people aboard aboard and give them a stake in a Shared Future, one must deal with fairness and compassion to all, especially opponents subject to such arbitrary injustices……was it that long ago that such tactics inflamed the Greater Republican constotuency pre GFA……?

    • William Fay August 1, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Francis, ” I am no advocate of Armed Struggle”, who are you trying to kid? You also make a good apologist for the gunman, what is it with the sympathy towards terrorist prisoners? The biggest mistake of the GFA was letting them out, all of them, they should have been forced to serve their sentences, shooting your neighbour in the back never registered with me as a political act, the same way a bomb in the middle of Warrington was indiscriminate murder.

  2. William Fay August 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    And the point of this article was what, oh yes I’ve got it now, the same point that comes across in most articles on this blog. Sinn Fein and PIRA must be lauded over and over because they’ve stopped killing people, for a moment I’d forgotten myself, thinking you were coming up with something new.

    • Jude Collins August 1, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

      Can’t imagine why you waste your valuable time on such garbage, sweet William. I wouldn’t…

      • William Fay August 1, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

        My thoughts entirely on your posts Jude, you are simply regurgitating the same garbage over and over.

    • neill August 1, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

      Well in fairness William Jude is a constant in an ever changing world and for that we should be grateful…: )

      Next thing he will say is that teachers work too hard don’t get paid enough and their pensions are to small!

      • Jude Collins August 1, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

        Prescient comment, Neil. What you say is quite true. Have you ever taught, so we can be sure you know what you’re talking about? I’m sure you’ve been taught but not very well, judging by that missing hyphen and penultimate misspelling….

    • Micheal August 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      William what makes you think Jude is regurgitating the same garbage over and over again? Wouldn’t it be more the case that Jude writes pieces on happenings in the North of Ireland and indeed the world and the only reason his pieces sound vaguely similar at all is due to the fact that Unionists continue with their old ‘Ulster says NO’ routine while Sinn Fein attempt to progressively move forward hence the reason Sinn Fein shows up favourably most of the time and I might add if I may the reason for this piece.

  3. Jude Collins August 1, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Thoughtful post, Francis D. I think i’ve said on another occasion that I’d like more facts (not to be confused with claims or accusations) about the Craigavon 2 case. If their imprisonment is truly unjust, then that diminishes us all and the wrong done should be spoken out loud. Whether those controlling things will change their ways as a result might be more dubious. It doesn’t seem to have affected the Israeli government

  4. Perkin Warbeck August 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    Mention of the orchestrated ostrichisation policy pursued in Stormont by the highminded though groundbound Unionists reminded me of the first and alas, last time the Warbeckian taste buds were introduced to the flavour of ostrich meat,. on a plate, as it were.

    It happened in a hotel in Navan a number of years ago at a reception to honour the then Prime Minister (one almost wrote ‘Taoiseach’) and as one was a key operator in the CWTW Unit of the Civil Service at the time, one made it one’s duty to be in attendance. Not least because it involved driving there from Dublin and of course, RPM was a central plank of the CWTW policy. Besides, one had holidays looming and flight tickets had to be purchased.and travel expenses were not ungenerous.

    (Housekeeping: CWTW = Clock Watching Time Wasting. RPM = Relentless Pursuit of Mileage).

    Navan of course is the home town of Pierce (one almost wrote ‘Pearse’), and was the capital of the then PM’s constituency and the hotel was not inappropriately called the Ardboyne. (One still treasures one’s souvenir bottle of Boyne water).

    There is an ostrich farm located in the hinterland of Navan (funded by the then Fine Gael Governement) and to one’s surprise it tasted more like beef than duck or chicken or turkey itself. Something to do with the ostrich possessing an unusually high percentage of fast-twitch muscle, as one was informed at the time.

    And although I was quite enjoying the unusual meat at the usual taxpayer’s expense one had to desist immediately on spotting Bullock-befriending Bruton (for it was he who was PM at the time) in the midst of his adoring blue-stockinged throng stuffing his face with his second or maybe third helping of prime ostrich meat from Royal Meath. This event occurred around the time of the Chilean plane crash involving canibalism and so, one’s aversion is perhaps understandable if inexcusable in retrospect.

    One cannot be too sure of these things, what with the passage of time, but one has a certain recollection of eavesdropping on two local FG’s gladhandlers suggesting to the PM that a consignment of the o.m. ought to be sent to the OO. The better to help their loyal though separated political brethern pursue their policy of lookee but to talkee..

    One learned some fascinating facts about the world’s largest bird on that friendly occasion, not least from some distinguished if guarded guests who spoke with what could only be described as ‘Garden Centre’ accents from the Malone Road.. That the ostrich egg is roughly the same shape and dimensions of a rugby ball, a sport which the then PM was and still is, a devotee. More close he politically to Ravenhill than to Hill 16, as it were.

    That the ostrich raised entirely by humans (and for this one occasion, the inclusive Dub that is PW is prepared to stretch the point by including Royals from Meath, even a PM) often directs his courtship behaviour not at other ostriches but towards their human keepers.

    Discerning readers will be able to cite numerous examples of this down through the years of the Troubles and indeed, right up to (and includling) the present day.

    Another point of information which lodged in the Warbeckian leithsceal for a brain was that ‘territorial males of the ostrich order typically boom in defence of their turf especially at the height of the mating – and coincidentally – the marching season, to wit, to woo, the Twalfth’.Especially those with a higher than average amount of fast-twitch muscle on board.

    Alas, when kindly invited to visit their natural habitat on this auspicious date, one firmly but politely declined with a rather brusque: ‘Sorry, I’m more an Emu man myself’. To this day, one b. regrets the lamentable failure on one’s part to grow one’s outreaching skill set.

    It was not till years later – and some three or four PMs – that the realisation struck one that the constituency of Enda Kenny, contains within its borders the place of origin (one almost wrote ‘orange’) synonym for ostrichisation.

    That would be, of course, Boycott.

  5. Francis D August 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    William and Neill, a Boycott is gathering momentum here and elsewhere around the World about the continued targeting of Civilians in Punitive strikes on the besieged and bloodied Gaza Strip. Jude has mentioned this ongoing injustice in the middle or Near East and its consequences which amount to War Crimes against this desparately bloodied population. I do not recall recently any responses from either of you to these challenging and articulate analyses…..?

    I do not wish to regress to the crude reductionism in pointing out the obvious, but can’t help the image of two hyenas, one sensing a chance to bite, and the other smelling the wind and rushing to Partake in the attack. Neither of you individually has little of substance to say or creative despite attacking our host absurdly wirh this charge. Together however, you both excel yourselves as quite an irrational and foolish anomaly. The day either of you set down your simple minded Unionist Reactionary handbooks and engage openly and with inovation, devoid of the aroma of fermented Grapes which is a trademark feature of your sniping posts, is a day in which Optimism will reign for a breakthrough here…..

    I am not presently disposed to hold my breath given the deterioration in your political dispositions at worst in some regards, and stagnation at best in other regards,- a charge you yourselves skillfully deflect from yourselves and project the to any who disagree with your miopic outlooks.

    Gaza, Neill. Boycott of Israeli Goods given the Terrorism they are bombing down on an impoverished and desparate poplulation. Was outsideASDA last night as part of a rally to spread info on the products being targeted, where you there, or do you even give a damn about State Terrorism wreacked on innocent people because its Israel.

    William, if you have done nothing in your life to stand up against endemic injustices on a plethora of many issue affecting this Part of the World,’do you think you have a right to lecture any in SF who were involved in the Armed? Also on a personal note, I am not an advocate for the Armed in any shape or form in Ireland, so wind your neck in with your lofty assumptions. Civil rights& liberties, challenges to injustice for a fairer place and world are not the exclusive domain of those who see an Armed Campaign as the way forward. Being a Seasoned Political Activist Yourself No Doubt William, this Seismic sublety would not have eluded you.

    • neill August 2, 2014 at 7:12 am #

      William, if you have done nothing in your life to stand up against endemic injustices on a plethora of many issue affecting this Part of the World,’do you think you have a right to lecture any in SF who were involved in the Armed? Also on a personal note, I am not an advocate for the Armed in any shape or form in Ireland, so wind your neck in with your lofty assumptions. Civil rights& liberties, challenges to injustice for a fairer place and world are not the exclusive domain of those who see an Armed Campaign as the way forward. Being a Seasoned Political Activist Yourself No Doubt William, this Seismic sublety would not have eluded you.

      Looking at your other “contributions” I would assume the above paragraph is an out and out lie still you stay classsy Francis.

      • Pointis August 2, 2014 at 7:03 pm #


        “Looking at your other “contributions” I would assume the above paragraph is an out and out lie still you stay classsy Francis”.

        I think it would only be fair to qualify your statement with examples before calling another poster a liar (which is not at all productive)!

  6. ANOTHER JUDE August 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    The Parry family are a credit, like the late Gordon Wilson, Alan McBride and Jude White, they have managed to rise above the hatred and loathing and have, like many others, been a force for reconciliation and forgiveness. There are still people who make political capital out of people`s grief, we know who they are, a fair chunk of them sit on the Unionist benches at Stormont. Sad thing is, most if not all of them profess to be Christian, hah.

  7. Thehist August 1, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

    Jude, I was there with a friend last night at the talk involving Colin Parry and Martin McGuinness. As stated at the talk and a point I will reiterate, Colin and Wendy Parry are an inspiration – the positivity that culminated from such a tragic event in their lives was inspiring and one particularly Unionists et al could learn from. I genuinely believe people like Colin and Wendy have so much more to offer our society as we try to move along the road towards dealing with the past and reconciliation. I know this journey like much of the peace process will have it problems as of which we are already dealing with. It seemed to me that SF are a lot further down the road towards reconciliation than most of the other main parties, hence their refusal to carry through the Haass proposals.

    I have in the past been a outspoken critic of SF but was extremely impressed with the contribution from Martin McGuinness. He possessed in his talk a lot of food for thought in a genuine manner. What was particularly poignant was the fact that Martin along with SF has not only had to compromise so much but their dedication to the peace process must be commended. As cited by Martin and repeated by Mark Thompson, the lack of political leadership within the Unionist community will only continue to stall the advances of the peace process, a process Unionism only see the negatives and tend to negate the positives. It’s a pity David Ervine wasn’t still alive – a man I believe could have made that difference within working class unionist and loyalism, a leader that unionism and loyalism are crying out for. The same man in 1999 took the very couragous step to visit our A Level politics class in Andersonstown at a time where this would have seemed unrealistic! It’s time the leadership within unionism took a leaf from SF’s book and looked towards the future instead of continually looking behind them.

    • Jude Collins August 1, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      I’m with you on all you say – although I don’t think David Ervine could have done the near-impossible. At one point it looked as if a sea-change in unionism was on the way, but alas… I’m sorry you didn’t give me a nudge so we could have had a chat. But it was a pretty impressive dual performance.

  8. paddykool August 1, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    I can’t help feeling that William missed the point entirely.He still appears to harken for a revenge and hangs onto a hatred which is a very debilitating place to put oneself. There seems to be a bitter bile here which can only corrode any chance for a peace or even a peaceful mind. I see the same in someone like Willie Fraser whose bitterness has damaged him. .

    Not too many of those who were not actually involved in violent acts on either side really wanted to allow a lot of protagonists their freedom but it was seen as the gesture that would begin a healing of sorts.A way of starting anew with a different kind of understanding. A fresh new start for us all.Something…a little taste only of the forgiving grace that Colin Parry exhibited in relation to his child’s death,, if you like.

    Of course you have to be a wholly particular kind of forgiving Christian to have this kind of nobility deep in your bones .That kind of inner moral clock is not given to everyone , so I imagine that William , like many of the religious , righteous zealots who profess a belief in a forgiving god only play a lip service to that belief and still harbour a primitive need for an Old Testament revenge in their hearts. That bitterness will only serve to destroy any chance for a peaceful future and ultimately bring them even more bitterness in their lives .
    Mr Parry was truly one of a kind.

  9. Thehist August 1, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Jude, no doubt we will get a chat at the other debates of the Feile – would be a pleasure! Neill, like Jude, in defence of and as a teacher I agree – we work too hard, do not get paid enough for what we do and our pensions are too small – assuming your not a teacher, maybe spend a week in the professional and you most certainly will agree with the points you made. Jude, keep up the great work – love reading the blog every day!

  10. RJC August 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    “Other people, many of whom have never suffered as Colin Parry has suffered, stay stuck in their sullen yesterday, corroding themselves as well as doing everything possible to prevent the development of a better tomorrow.”

    Beautifully put Mr Collins, and I would urge posters here to bear this sentiment in mind whilst engaging in debate. We can only move forward here if we do so together. What it will take for some to make this sort of spiritual/psychic breakthrough I could not say, but people like Colin Parry are surely pointing the way forward. It is up to us whether or not we choose to follow his lead.

  11. giordanobruno August 2, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Colin Parry is indeed remarkable, but I don’t think we can expect everyone to to react as he has done.
    Many people are still seeking truth and justice and feel no urge to reconcile themselves with perpetrators. And they are entitled to do so.
    I don’t think referring to people as sullen because they are not in the same place emotionally as Colin Parry is appropriate.
    Although you may possibly be referring to political representatives rather than victims, which would be a different matter.