How to be civilised


Sometimes it’s tempting to despair. You’ll find people who imagine you say things you didn’t, believe (or pretend to believe) you’ve written things you haven’t. People who, if you have a point of view different from theirs, just can’t make that leap towards engagement and discussion, stick instead with hostility and vitriol.

But then, once every so often, a heartening event will occur. This week, like buses, there will be two. The first I’ve written about earlier. The Sinn Fin Ard Fhéis will be held in Derry this weekend and has invited the Londonderry Bands Forum to give a presentation and they’ve accepted. The Bands Forum will focus on educational underachievement among young Protestant males, preconceptions about band culture and ways of building relationships on the basis of inclusion and equality. Hats off to both parties – to Sinn Féin for inviting them and the Londonderry Bands Forum for accepting the invitation. This is precisely the kind of meeting and exchange that’s necessary between those with differing political views: information, argument, debate, all done with respect for the other party.

The second event will be held on Saturday  in the Titanic Suite of Titanic Belfast. This is Seachtain na Gaeilge/Irish language week, and  An Droichead has joined with Seachtain na Gaeilge to mount the event, The guest of honour will be the Irish President, Michael D Higgins, and I have no doubt that many of the Protestant people learning Irish at the Skainos centre in East Belfast, including the centre’s driving force, Linda Ervine, will be settling down to tuck into the goodies and listen to the speeches. How cheering is that? The Irish language, shared by all, celebrated in the Titanic Quarter with the President of Ireland as guest of honour. Not all those present will have similar political thinking. But they’ve found ways to build on things they share – in this case the Irish language.

So it may not seem to be Spring just yet but this weekend, the green shoots of reconciliation will be sprouting nicely. Dia luas an obair – God speed the work.

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6 Responses to How to be civilised

  1. Iolar March 5, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Cradles of civilization

    A perversion of everything the church stood for…?

    While discussing the Islamic State’s brutal persecution of Christians and whether the group is truly Muslim, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan said a “parallel” could be drawn with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of 30 years ago, a Catholic group that fought against British and Protestant forces in Northern Ireland to try to gain independence for the region from the United Kingdom.

    He then said, “You know the parallel I’ve drawn, Chris, that enough people have been kind enough to think, to tell me that they think the analogy is accurate? Remember 30, 35, 40 years ago with the IRA [Irish Republican Army] in Ireland?”

    “The IRA claimed to be Catholic,” said Dolan, who is also a cardinal in the Catholic Church. “They were baptized and had a Catholic identity.”

    “What they were doing was a perversion of everything the Church stood for,” he said, “and to their immense credit, the bishops of Ireland, every time the IRA blew up a car or a house or barracks of the British army, the Irish bishops would say, ‘They are not Catholic.”

    Cuomo then asked, “You’re calling for the same thing now?”

    Dolan answered, “The analogy I think is somewhat accurate.”

    There is a scene in the film, ‘The Godfather’ the focus of which is a baptism. A series of murders take place during the baptism. A perversion of everything the church stands for? Silence from Rome. Of course it was only a film. Such things would not happen in the real world?

    Consider another perversion, the sexual abuse of children throughout the world by celibate men of God. ‘Hurt’ and ‘pain’ were the substitutes used by the clergy for ‘crime’, ‘sexual abuse’ and ‘sexual assault’.

    The Crusades were a series of military conflicts of a religious character waged against external and internal threats. Crusades were fought against political enemies of the popes. Cardinal Spellman had no difficulty blessing B52 bombers during the war in Vietnam, bombs that killed and maimed many of God’s children. What would Archbishop Dolan say about the slaughter of innocent men, women and children throughout the Middle East at the present time? Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress in Washington DC on 4 March 2015. He wants the USA to block Iran’s nuclear programme. Has Iran invaded any country recently?

    There was no worldwide crusade against child sexual abuse. There was silence, perpetrators were moved and other children were abused. Just another clerical error?

  2. Perkin Warbeck March 5, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    By one of those peculiar flukes of timing the events you mention today, Esteemed Blogmeister, find an echo in the capital cities of the two stateens on the Island of Ireland.

    Both beginning with B: in Beal Feirste you refer to the happening due to take place on Saturday in the Titanic Suite of the Titanic Centre while in Baile Atha Cliath one finds the ongoing production of ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’ which has as a central character, Titania.

    Not for the first time, the bridge or droichead between what is magic and what is mundane is The Great Shakes himself, who was nurtured not unlike BF on the banks of An Lagain and BAC on the banks of An Life, on the banks of an abhainn, the Avon.

    Although the Abbey Theatre rather fancies itself also as Amharclann na Mainistreach there is as about as much chance of its staging a play in leprechaun as there is of a donkey mooing. Too busy, don’t you see, opening its curtains for the ignoramus monologue of such as the eloquent Panti Bliss from the Theatre of the Absurd in the language of the, erm, Queen.

    Which shrill soliloquy, one understands, like chickenpox, cold sores, AIDS, sars, ebola and HIV itself, went viral.

    Still, Perkie does not wish to sound too churlish ( perish the very t. !). Rather is it a matter of restrained amazement and celebration in equal measure that Dublin at last is waking up to some kind of appreciation , no matter how tardy, to the protean nature of Shakespeare’s genius and seeing fit to stage of The Immortal Bards at something like a regular basis one of his works of dramatic sorcery.

    For decades Dublin drama has been a tip head of theatrical garbage from such maladroit oafs as Martin McDonagh, Tom Murphy , Roddy Doyle, Frank McGuinness, Edna Walsh and other clodhopping purveyors of the gauche, the ciotog and the crude.. And all presented under the banner of ‘You’ll never Bate the Masterly Irish when it comes to English’.

    It was akin to winning a Rolls Royce in the lottery and then choosing to keep it garaged while opting to cycle about the gaff on a rusty old upstairs model of a High Nellie.

    There was something, dare one say it, about the whole farcical situation which was a text book example in how, well, not to be civilised. And just about summed up was was bumptious and fake at the core of the Free Southern Stateen’s self-important take on itself.

    Fact is, for yonks on Liffeyside there was roughly the same opportunity for capturing a WOW moment of a Shakespearean staging as there was, say of snapping a Weasel on a Woodpecker (WOW). Field days, and indeed nights, like that were rare.

    Little fear of An t-Uachtaran Micheal D. O h-Uiginn wowing at the sound of, say, Linda Ervine greeting him in leprechaun. The current president did not require the turning of the key in the front door of Arus an Uachtarain to experience that good-golly moment of realisation that, say, there might actually be something in this mahogany gaspipes folly after all.

    -Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania?

    Doubtful, as these two civilsed Irish people encounter each other.

    Here now, is an opportunity, for the Prime Minister of the Free Southern Stateen to do something bold and imaginative and, dare one say it, civilsed for a change during a term in office which has lurched from the lubberly to the priggish to the banal.

    Let him appoint Linda Ervine as Minister for An Ghaeltacht / Aire na Gaeltachta in his restricted jurisdiction.

    There is a precedent. Such as the time when a dude name of Doogue was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs by the Old Maid in the FitzGerald Garret even though he had never stood for election, in his life.

    There is a further precedent of sorts: said dude Doogue was a Professor of Hydrology which meant he knew all there was to know about H2O from A to Z. (Dude name of Doogue would have pronounced Zed as Zee as he seemed to have been schooled in the US of A).

    Ni ga a ra/ ca va sans dire that there is little Linda Ervine, having been nurtured in the shadow of the ghost of the Titanic in Oirthear Bheal Feirste does not know about water,not least the kind that comes in lumpy blocks.

    Let Enda appoint Linda as Aire na Gaeltachta and allow her to embarrass the knickerbockers off the current incumbent, Madame Monoglot with the big SF badge in her lapel: Smiley Face.

    Of course, there is as much chance/ ta an seans ceanna go dtarloidh a leitheid of that happening as there is, of …..hmmm, let one see/ ligims macnamh a dheanamh – yes, Mayo winning Sam.

    Speaking of sport, another event in Belfast had T.Gorman of RTE hyperventilating with hero worhip today.

    The Irish rugga squad were (gasp) having a training spin at Ravenhill this morning !

    Seemingly, they resembled nothing so much as the amateur theatrical group from, yes, ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’.

    To notice the difference between The Rude Mechanicals of the play and the play for pay players one indeed has to look with forensic intensity.

    Consider the forwards as they man up head down in the scrum: L to R: Peter Quince, Snug, Nick Bottom, Francis Flute, Tom Snout, Robin Starveling.

    Le cheile anois: Gualainn le Gualainn./ Shoulder to Shoulder…..

    (Did somebody say ‘A MidSUMMER’s Night Dream?’ Must be all that concussion).

  3. Jude Collins March 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    Oh Perkie, you thing of year-round wonder! And what a BRILLIANT idea to appoint Linda Ervine Minister for the Gaeltacht! Go h-iontach ar fad! Dia luas an obair!

  4. Sherdy March 5, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

    Jude, how naive!
    While on one hand it would be an admirable idea, in reality it would be signing her death warrant.
    Do you honestly think East Belfast UVF would not react violently, given succour by the unionist politicians who would pillory her to high heaven as the most evil traitorous woman alive?

    • Jude Collins March 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      On mature reflection (i.e., three seconds of thought) I can see you’re absolutely right, Sherdy. Alas.

  5. Perkin Warbeck March 6, 2015 at 7:23 am #

    Athas orm go reitionn an moladh leat, ES.

    PS Breaking news, sport dept. Two names have been added to the Rude Mechanicals division of the Irish Rugga Team, .i.e, the Forwards.

    Back in the time of Shakespeare rugby, of course, was still a 13 man game, played for suit-lengths, partridges and hogshead of wine. With most of the Irish team earning a crust as medical practitioners, concentrating on blood draining by the application of leeches. The latter practice not having totally disappeared, as a glance at the current advertising rosters will show.

    Things have moved on since then, and now the bainisteoir, resplendent in his bib bui, Perkin Schmidt (known as ‘Perkiiwi’ to his adoring idolators) has added two names to the scrummage. He has been allowed to do this due to the concussion protocols’ having been observed, and the mellowing of the yellow card fellow.

    The line out now reads, L to R: Peter Quince, Snug, Nick Bottom, Paulie, Franics Flute, Tom Snout, Tullow Tank and Robin Starveling.