I was trying to get to St Anne’s Square in Belfast yesterday afternoon and was held up by an anti-internment parade. It was pelting rain but the line of marchers, it seemed, went on and on. When they got to Castle Court, I learned this morning, they were pelted with coins and plastic bottles and insults.
As a man called Dee Fennell said on BBC Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster this morning, why was the expense and hostility aroused by their march called into question, when hundreds of Loyal Order marches move through Royal Avenue and nobody says a word? To which I’d add: why is it that we must have those hundreds of marches year after year, decade after decade, century after century? For events that occurred several hundred years ago?
In contrast, yesterday’s march was in support of the claim that there are people in prison north and th south who have not received a fair trial. That is intrinsically not just wrong but stupid. If a state wants to engender respect for the rule of law, it must set an example. Imprisonment of people without trial is setting a very bad example.
Are the cases that Dee Fennell spoke of on the radio this morning genuine? Are the injustices he spoke of true? If they are, we should all raise our voices. To my embarrassment, I don’t know the details of the Craigavon 2 case or other cases referred to by Mr Fennell. Do you?
So here’s my invitation to him: if you want a platform for your case, I’m happy to allow you to make it with a blog here. We’re neither Brazil nor sluggerotoole but in our own way, we’re not bad. Over to you, Mr Fennell.