The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Voting Bobby Sands

One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes - Friedrich Nietzsche

Anthony McIntyre • 5 May 2005

Election day. I didn't want my daughter Firinne kissed by greasy politicians drooling for votes so I saw her safely ensconced behind a seat belt on her school bus, before making my way into one of the local schools which functions as a polling station. Seems an awful waste of classroom facilities. The thought crossed my mind that a place more attuned to the character of our political class would be an appropriate venue for the suffering public to register their votes. A school is supposed to be a site of learning and forward thinking. Hardly what we associate with the politicians that seek to govern us. Polling stations could be situated at sewers or rubbish tips. That way the kids could get the education they need. And the politicians could always tell us it is not them we smell as we register our votes.

I had just bid my daughter goodbye, when a Sinn Fein canvasser offered me an advice slip on how to vote. He was scrupulously polite while one of his colleagues looked as if he had just emerged from a lemon sucking competition. He had seemingly taken a vow of silence. Hope it stands by him if he ever sees the inside of a barracks. The polite canvasser entreated me: 'you know the list of preferences. If you have a spare one maybe you will give it to us.' Perhaps not quite verbatim, but close enough to it for me to escape a perjury conviction if I were to swear on oath that was what was said to me. I had no intention of casting a vote of any preference Sinn Fein's way, but courtesy gets what courtesy gives so I thanked him and headed in the direction of the booth. A car moved slowly in my direction. In the front passenger seat sat a beaming Gerry Adams. So confident was he of success in the face of opposition for the most part characterised by bigotry, incompetence and weakness, that he permitted himself a wave at me. Adhering rigidly to the courtesy rule I waved back, declining to be put off by that nagging thought once expressed by John Banville, about a sentimental streak that often characterises the totalitarian mind.

May the 5th. Twenty four years ago, as I lay in a H Block cell - one of those blanketmen Richard O'Rawe writes so strikingly of in his book - Brendan Hughes shouted out in Irish those terrible words that have remained etched in my mind. 'Bobby is dead.' Our leader and selfless comrade had given his everything. Looking over the list of those from all parties seeking to have themselves returned to the Brit parliament, none of them struck me as remotely having anything in common with Bobby. The council list was slightly better. But not so much as to make me want to cast a vote the way of any of those on it. My wife, because she is a US citizen and cannot vote here, asked me not to spoil the votes completely but to allow her to have a say. She has lived here five years, is the mother of an Irish daughter and has endured what passes for political representatives who make rules governing how she lives. She is not a SDLP supporter but feels the party's Margaret Walsh was better than anybody else on the list. She also wanted to protest against the way these communities are managed. I stuck a '1' beside the name Walsh and made no transfers. The Westminster vote was my own. I simply wrote 'Bobby Sands' across the ballot slip and deposited it in its allotted receptacle. As a vote it would not count but I took some consolation from knowing that the name of least one anti-Stormont republican would reside inside the little black box and that his name would be seen by someone during Friday's count.

On leaving, I nodded to the genial Sinn Fein canvasser. Later, and not without some empathy, I thought of him having to stand in the torrential rain making a last minute try to get people to vote for his party. If it were people that persuaded me on the voting question rather than policies, his affability might have won me over. As it stands his party's intent to inflict 'politicide' on all opposition shall not be nourished by my vote.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

6 May 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Voting Bobby Sands
Anthony McIntyre

Ruritanian Mockney State
Mick Hall

It's a Dirty Job
Brian Mór

Fred A Wilcox

2 May 2005

Daily Ireland: It's Not Over til It's Over
Mick Hall

Education Cuts
Sean Smyth

Rate My Teachers Blocked
Michael Hussey

* Election Coverage *

Greens Endorse McCann
John Barry and Kelly Andrews, Greens

Young People Are Not the Problem
Tish Murray Campaign Press Release

Liam Kennedy and West Belfast
Anthony McIntyre

Coulter's Choice
Dr John Coulter

Send Mitchel to London
Brian Mór

Flashback: A Coversation with Lindsay Whitcroft
Anthony McIntyre



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