fortytwowrites

The world through the eyes of a male domestic abuse victim, but its so much more than that !

Month: February, 2013

Sport and Politics in Northern Ireland

 

There has been much said about the need to remove politics from sport since the Flag/human rights protest an Crusaders football club on saturday the 16th February 1013. Let us examine the extent of the problem. I have decided to begin with the Northern Ireland national team. When the Sports Minister for Northern Ireland attends international matches they delay entry into the stand until after the National Anthem has been played, this in its self is a political gesture. The Northern Ireland supporters have made amazing progress removing sectarian chanting at games. If you are lucky enough to get a ticket and attend a game you will find the soccer anthem is now “the way to Amarillo”. The Northern Ireland supporters are also widely regarded as the best behaved supporters in Europe (the wider world has not been exposed to them lately !) and yet they are vilified in there own country and branded sectarian. These two contrasting views can not both be correct, the only independent evidence is the total lack of sanctions by governing bodies and the fact that the rest of Europe do not have a agenda. Add to this the currant trend of Catholic/nationalist players opting to play for the Republic of Ireland because that reflects there political viewpoint and you begin to understand the the extent to which sport here has been politicized. I present facts, use your own brain to research, evidence will lead you to the truth. Remember to effect change we must begin with the head of the organasion.

 

Let us look at Rugby. A sport that would have us believe they do not “see” the border. Before ever International home game they play the National Anthem of the Republic of Ireland. We were told this was because the matches were played in the Republic and when a match was played in Northern Ireland they would play the Anthem of Northern Ireland. However when it became clear that Ravenhill would reach a standard acceptable for Representative teams to play there Irish Rugby came up with a new Anthem, Irelands Call. This is played before “away” matches. Interestingly when a Ireland A team played at Raivenhill in Northern Ireland they played Irelands Call, thus designating it a “away” match. That would seam to indicate the border is recognized by Irish Rugby.

 

Let us look at the GAA. This sporting organization has at its core a mandate to preserve the Irish National Identity. The sporting body for a very long time bared membership on the grounds of religion, it also put a block on membership by members of the security forces both serving and retired. I may be wrong but to the best of my knowledge this id the only sporting governing body excluding South Africa during partisan to bar inclusion on grounds of religion or occupation. When it became necessary to play rugby on GAA facilities there was what can only be described as robust debate as to wether or not a “non Irish” sport should be allowed. Even when this had been settled its membership was horrified at the prospect of foreign National Anthems being played on its grounds, despite the facts that (a) This is a well recognized curtsey everywhere in the sporting world and (b) it was not there members being subjected to this affront. I will say that the GAA has taken steps to become more sporting. It did remove the bans on people joining the organization and has accepted a team from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, however since the attempted murder of Peader Heffron (captan of the PSNI team) it is difficult to say the moves have been universally accepted.

 

The Irish league has faced manny challenges. Much has been done in recent years. At grass roots level there is wide spread cross community developments. Glentorn traditionally fielded a team comprising of both Protestant and Catholic players. If you visit the Oval you will see a banner that has been there manny years stating “supper Glens play football, not religion”. It is a long time since Linfield fielded a “Protestant Eleven” I am unsure of the make up of the Crusaders team traditionally and will not comment on that, i do know Cliftonville have had a mixed team and although I am unsure if this we always the case i believe it is a fair guess that both these teams have been mixed for a very long time, anyone with clear knowledge is welcome to provide facts on this point. That deals with the teams, what of the supporters. Anyone that has taken a close look at political demonstrations across Europe will notice that Football supporters have formed the front line in disturbances. Look at Turkey with Fenerbahce and  Galatasaray providing foot solders. This is replicated in Italy and Spain with “Ultras” using there skills in organization and violence to become the spearhead. Look at the use of Partizan Partizan and Red Star Belgrade supporters. Even the liberal Dutch have a Political edge with Ajax being known as “the Jew boys” and Feyenoord being the working mans team. It is a testament to the efforts that have been made in the Irish League that this has not been replicated in the currant Flags Protests. This is not to say there is not still work to do. It is a feature of football supporters to automatically use anything they believe will upset the opponents on any given day. Note both Linfield and Glentorn claiming the other lot live in a slum, note extra red white and blue when Linfield play Cliftonville, note the Cliftonville supporters ruining the minutes silence for Remembrance Sunday. The inclusion of a act of remembrance into football has caused problems on the mainland also. James McClean a Republic of Ireland International  born in Northern Ireland was the only player in the premier league to refuse to wear a Poppy on his shirt. He went farther by having a tri color embroidered into his boots for that match. This is a person making a considerable amount of money playing football in England. It is noteworthy that league in extremely multi national. The only person that could not follow the adage “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” was a Nationalist from Northern Ireland. Celtic took steps to distance themselves from a campaign called “no poppies on our hoops” The club themselves stated it was a vociferous Irish Contingent behind the movement. Removing politics from sport is possible, but it needs to be led by the people that put it there in the first place. 

Finally the problems on Saturday were as much to do with the location of the stadium as anything else. The only way to insure this does not happen again is to create a new stadium for every team. This stadium would need to be placed in a wasteland devoid of political identity to insure all supporters can com and go without causing offense to the local population. However this in its self is impossible due to cost. The other problem is finding a site. You will notice that when considering a new National Stadium Sinn Fein are insisting the site includes a monument to the Hunger Strikers. No, not strikers that scored sporting goals for the country, political figures. So please, start taking politics totally out of sport.

 

Forty Two

 

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Democracy in Action ?

The basic premiss of a democracy is the populous decide the values of the country. Either directly or through elected representatives, the people participate in the proposal, development and creation of laws. These laws are designed safeguard the population from criminal activity and to encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable free and equal participation in political self determination.These laws are then administered equally to all citizens through a impartial criminal justice system. Typically this is achieved through free and fair elections where candidates set out there views in a manifesto and seek election to a government. In a working democracy when the elected members vote to create laws there decision will reflect the opinions of there constituents, as the elected members will have included there views on most emotive issues in there manifesto. Occasionally there will be issues where the elected member has to vote on a law that was not included in the manifesto. As they have not been elected with a recognized view on these issues it is then necessary for the elected member to remember when they cast there vote yea or nigh, it is not there opinion that they are giving but the opinion of the people who elected them. To determine which way they should vote it is imperative that they consult there constituents. If the elected members omit to do this the democracy fails at that point.

On the 6th February 2013 Naomi Long representing the constituency of East Belfast voted in favor of changing the law and introducing Gay Marriage. This is indeed a emotive issue, and one that was not covered in the members manifesto. The only indication i could find regarding this issue is that she is listed as a committee member of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, a organization opposed to the introduction of this legalization and therefor it is reasonable to assume the East Belfast Vote would, in the absence of any clear  procedure to ascertain the opinion of the people who elected her would have been to reject the change in the law. This however would have been wrong. When acting as the member of parliament it is the opinion of the people who elected you that must be considered. I would also believe it reasonable to assume that the connection with the church rules out the use of crystal balls, rune stones, remote reading, telepathy and any other non christian method to fathom the opinion of the constituency. So i pose this question. In who’s name did Naomi Long cast her vote ? what precautions did she put in place to insure the democratic process ? If the answer to that question is “none” it is my opinion you Naomi Long misrepresented her constituents.

I do not believe this attitude among elected members of parliament is unique. I would therefore call upon any person living within a democracy to exorcise there rights. If at any time you think the person representing you has made a decision without giving due regard to your opinion tell them directly. Write a letter, not a e mail, a letter. There is a certain effect that opening a envelope and reading of paper that is not present with reading off a computer screen. Every person has a voice, we have just forgotten how to use it. The alternative to expressing your opinion is elected representatives will continue to misuse the position of power you have placed them in. Remember, your view is as valid as any other persons within society, democracy provides for that. We as a democratic society seam to have been sleepwalking, moving along with out daily tasks not noticing that this so called democracy has became a jungle, and in the wild, the child that cry‘s the loudest normally gets ! People It is time to start screaming !

About

About.

Written for World Holocaust Day

Written for World Holocaust Day

Please also read the author notes

finding a voice

Speaking as someone that began writing in the hope of highlighting the plight of male victims of domestic abuse, a hidden hurt seldom talked about within our society I have a slightly different perspective on the currant Flags Protests in Northern Ireland. Like the Protestant Community I am trying to find my voice, and am at the disadvantage of being a lone voice. Having looked closely at the situation I believe anyone that would ever wish to change Government Policy here, should also have a long hard look at the realities of the situation. If you believe at some stage you would like make the powers that be think twice about keeping a Hospital open, even a department come to think about it, change a proposal to introduce water rates, charge for refuge collection, bring in better cycle lanes, change anything, then look closely at this community and weep ! Why ? read on and i will explain.
Go back to the Good Friday Agreement. Think about the rhetoric, a shared future for one and all, build a country we can all be proud of. Think of phrases like “to have a change there must be a majority of the majority, a majority of the minority and a majority of the others” quips like “what we could end up with is a 36 county Ulster” and ask yourself where exactly on the road to equality are we ? One thing is certain, back then the Protestant Community were not asking for there flag back. There were whispers about truth and justice, these whispers at times became screams about individual events like The Enniskillen Poppy Day Bomb (11 killed, 65 Injured) The Shankill Fish Shop bombing (9 killed (including 2 children) 57 injured) Bloody Friday (9 killed (2 children)130 injured) but nobody seamed to be listening.
There were issues around parades, Drumcree is still not resolved. This Loyal Orders in Portadown had previously traded its parades through the Tunnel area which meant a massive reduction of parades becoming a solitary march up a then Unionist Garvaghy Road, the deal being designed to reduce tension as the parade would not be opposed. Then the “compromise” parade was stopped in its tracks by “concerned residents”. Consider the Unionist people living on Donegall Pass, there district parade originates above the Ormeau Bridge, and like Arnhem that proved to be a bridge too far for orange feet.
Surely there is something this community could achieve. A inquiry even, lets be honest, the vehicle to do this is already in existence. The Historical Inquiries Team are there, It would be a small matter to drive that vehicle in a different direction, let its lights peer into a gloomy corner. This should not even require a campaign, this is something that a society that is truly dedicated to truth and justice should be doing simply as a matter of corse. Yet no answers have been provided, not even something they could see as a small step like a proper inquiry into the disappeared, we do not even have accurate figures as to how manny catholics were spirited away to there deaths by Republican Paramilitaries. These may not be the events they so desperately want the beacon of truth shown on, but at least it is the same people that would be investigated.
Then take a moment and think about the words of the Deputy First Minister when called to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. The event that swallowed whole enough money to feed a small African Nation for a year, with baited breath the Unionist population waited to hear what someone who is jointly running the country, someone who’s party said the inquiry was necessary to bring the whole truth into the open and that would bring closure, people do you remember the statement of Martin McGuinness “I wish to make it clear that I will not provide the inquiry with the identities of our members of the IRA on Jan 30 1972 or confirm the roles played by such persons whose names are written down and shown to me.
“I have been advised by my lawyers that the undertaking given by the Attorney General does not extend to such persons nor am I confident that their identities would be protected. As a republican I am simply not prepared to give such information.” Short changed again.
perhaps what is needed is for the whole community to shout at the same time, surely that would evoke a response, or would it ?
Think about the Flags issue as the latest of these events, think about trying to make yourself heard on all those matters then the Flag gets removed. Part of you must think, well at least we can all shout at the same time, they must hear us now.
The protests began Peacefully, but were met immediately by riot police. In a action reminiscent of “the night of broken crystal” Protestant Protesters were presented as a target to Nationalist stone throwers, a Chapel was used as a launch pad for manny of these attacks. The police watched this and did nothing to prevent it. Any retaliation by the protestants were met with severe Police counter measures. This lead to nightly disorder. The response to the violence in East Belfast was to police all protests in the manor of the London Riots. This is where anyone who would ever protest in this country should become afraid, very afraid. The vast amount of protests have always been interlay peaceful. Every person has a right to peaceful protest, this is provided for under articles 10 and 11 of the human rights act. The state, through the police have a duty to facilitate such protests. Had this happened, the so called offense of “obstructing the highway” would not have occurred. Even if you accept this as the offense people have committed, in a democracy you have to ask why this offense, which is basically a traffic violation is being policed in the same way as the London Riots, a event that included mass looting. The two offenses are at opposite ends of the scale so why is the police response the same ? this type of action by the police made a violent outcome as predictable as it is unwanted.
This brought the world press to Belfast, CNN came to look for themselves. The CNN reporter was there when the Protesters were re routed to the front of the Short Strand. The video clearly shows Nationalists attacking the protest. The state has a duty to protect and protesters from any counter demonstration regardless of the size of either, yet we have police facilitating the attack on the protesters. It is not me stating this, it is the view of independent reporters. What is the reaction of the Chief Constable, he apologizes to the Nationalist Community that were the aggressors.
We have seen 70 year old men battened to the ground and arrested, women baton charged, children in prams knocked over, people taken behind advertising hoardings and brutalized by several riot police, numerous people taken between police vehicles out of view and given the same treatment and then incarcerated. Then something totally deplorable occurred. If you consider the strength of a democratic country in its ability to deal with criticism from a free press, then we no longer have a democracy.
A freelance journalist/photographer has been arrested for “obstructing the highway” how do you document a protest without being there ? Police around the world avoid arresting anyone with press passes. They worry about the rights afforded to a “free press” however this photographer had obviously got too much evidence of police brutality and needed removed. These are the lengths the Government is prepared to go to in order to silence a protest.
So i will poise a question, have the protesters made any difference to policy ? would at the very least the City Council take the disruption into account when making decisions ? It would seam not. In the very area where most of the trouble has occurred the City Council in there wisdom has decided to erect street signs in Galic. Although these street names are not flags they carry out the same function as a flag. Projecting a national identity. Would it not have been wiser to defer this action to another day ? is it likely to increase or reduce tension ? Based on this alone the Protestant Community was not considered when taking this decision.
So here is the conundrum, if policy can not be altered by what is still the majority community in this country, what chance has anybody of keeping there Hospital open, stopping water rates, charges for refuse collection, getting better cycle lanes ? unless you believe the Protestant community to be second class citizens and you views are much more important than theres, why would you expect this Government to listen to your views, and on a personal note, what chance has my lone voice of effecting any form of change for men who’s only crime was to become involved with a abusive woman ?

Going Spartan

Going Spartan

a little bit of what i do, enjoy people

The longest jou…

The longest journey begins with the first step

said by thousands who believe they are embarking on some wonderful adventure, and now by myself, Forty Two. I think that means i actually believe i have something worth saying and people may listen (or better still read) these words and gain enlightenment. If this strange situation should occur, please feel free to explain what i wrote, because sometimes i surprise myself ! Well im off to find me and hopefully report back. I fully expect you will find me round the first bend with a puncture, but i will fix pleanty of those as we go along. So hello, Welcome and im going to stop writing now, comment if you wish,,,,,,,,,,,I beleive i would like that 

Forty Two