The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

I Believe

Election Coverage

Eamon Sweeney • 28 April 2005

"I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows"…

Tell me I haven't finally gone beserk. Mark Durkan does actually say this in that fucking SDLP election broadcast! Mark has definitely made my mind up about voting next Thursday. I am going to deface the ballot again. Having toyed with the idea of voting for the big plank just to keep Mitchell Mc Laughlin out I have returned to my original thinking. It doesn't matter one damn who I vote for. Apathy I hear you say is a killer of aspirations. Who cares?

It's better I lose my hopes and dreams rather than more valuable brain cells listening to Mark Durkan tell me that he is real and true republican. I too believe that Manchester United can recover to win the league…. next year and that U2 are a good gig anywhere. But after these revelations I am not allowed to have anymore aspirations lest I lose my apathy and vote for someone. So the anchester City supporters membership form is in the post and sorry Bono, you'd better give that backstage pass to someone else. I don't like the cut of your audiences' jib my ego laden friend!

Just when you thought that migration to an offshore island looks like a good move, apparently Dessie O'Halloran playing the fiddle on Inisbollix is a good gig too! M. Durkan, international man of mystery strikes again!

What next Mark? Fake your own death and re-emerge in twenty years time revealing you had been recruited into some branch of the Irish secret service to search for really really really obscure references to enhance your already swollen sense of Irishness? One thing truly Irish about this SDLP campaign is the choice of M. Durkan Jr, the nephew, being selected as a council candidate much to the chagrin, I am told, of other longer standing servants. I believe…. that nepotism rules in Derry! Has anybody told Mark that just because he believes in almost everything it doesn't actually make it true. For Christ's sake tell him, the big slabber looks like he actually means it.

Confronted is the word I'm looking for. I was confronted last Saturday morning on my doorstep by the archetypal SDLP foot soldier. About 45 years old, perfectly syled blonde hair, beautifully attired for a regatta (well it was raining, that's as close as I can take it), very good looking and full of superficial enthusiasm.

"Mark Durkan MP and Mark Durkan Jr are here" announced the sexbomb with an applomb that should have heralded the first confirmed alien landings.

My face obviously had WHO CARES all over it. The smile faded at once. She smelled apathy and it made her afraid. I think she was startled by the fact that I hadn't gushed with pleasurable hysteria, reached into my pocket for my comb and strode forward with a rigidly outstretched hand to greet my prospective public representative.

"Would you like to meet them or ask them anything?"

"No, thank you," says I.

I wanted to ask if she had any sisters about fifteen years her junior but with political correctness being the way it is I thought I had better leave it. Besides Football Focus was starting, the baps were buttered and I could hear the teaspoon's tingles caressing the side of the mug. Saturday morning bacon baps are more valuable than platinum in my house. I'm damn sure that fifty Durkans would not make me miss out on mine and give the other greedy gits an extra swill. Then I felt my mouth making a shape. Too late, I was talking.

"Well actually…you said Mark Durkan MP…he hasn't won yet, so I take it that you meant Mark Durkan MLA…"

"Oh. . so you know who he is then," she said.

I was eager to belittle her smugness and so rose to the challenge. It is strange that membership of a political party tends to make people think they are more intelligent than they actually are. Slap a rosette on any old moron any they start talking the talk. Now she was about to walk the walk.

"I hold two degrees in political science, so yes, I know who Mark Durkan is. Are you not taking a terrible chance in going around calling him MP two weeks before the election? People won't like that sort of presumption around here, they will vote for Mitchell just out of spite."

"This is a traditional SDLP area," she said. "People will vote for Mark and
he will be MP for Foyle."

The "I believe" mantra had obviously worked. Say it and it shall be so.

I believe…that I will be Benedict the 17th. Watch this space folks, or With the SDLP in power there will be a better chance of my Papacy than a well paid job in something I'm qualified for in my own city. So Votail Sinn Fein for…. . I'm only joking.

"Then why did you knock on my door if you know that I'm going to vote for Mark Durkan MP? I come from a long line of anarcho-syndicalists and we basically destroy our votes every time an election comes around."

It was obvious that by now that a sufficient bacon bap guzzling period had elapsed. A piece of consolation toast would have to suffice.

"Well sure maybe then you won't destroy your vote this time and give it to Mark instead." Of course I found this immensely erudite argument totally enlightening. I wanted to pledge myself forever to the SDLP at that point, but my mouth was making shapes again….

"No. I won't be doing that." She was not too familiar with the finer points of anarcho-syndicalism. Then again, neither am I.

By this point the poor lady was visibly bristling with discomfort. So much in fact that she had obviously secreted some sort of distress scent, Chanel NO. 5 perhaps, and the rest of the pack began to move menacingly in my direction, perhaps under the misguided belief that a serious debate was underway. In fact not one piece of policy had been mentioned by myself or the beautiful SDLP lady. No change there then for the stoops. I was ecstatic that I managed to stave off a load of shite talking without once hearing the phrases "I believe" or "we in the SDLP believe…" Worse, still Mark believes. I have now become so allergic to that broadcast that I don't turn the TV on until at least 7.30pm when I come home from work. What's that you say? Where do I work. In a computer call centre for 10,000 a year. Who brought an unscrupulous employer to Derry to exploit graduates and everybody else? The SDLP.

However I have may have overestimated her willingness to do this anyway. The SDLP has apparently started touting this new policy of a united Ireland. It sounds interesting but I didn't feel right pushing the nice lady on it. I think she may have been very unfamiliar with it. I got the distinct impression that my vote was being sought in line with the lowest common denominator. One nationalist partitionist party thinks it can deliver better than the other nationalist partitionist party. In the case of Sinn Fein this is hardly a new ploy. In the case of the SDLP however it smacks of desperation, as they always liked to promote themselves as the sophisticates who despised the barbarian hoards of republicanism. Perhaps they still do. Maybe the flag they have wrapped around them came from John Rocca at Debenhams as opposed to being stitched together roughly in the back kitchens of the Bogside or the Creggan. It would seem that if Ireland has forty shades of green, the stoops have as many faces to go with them. I have heard it said that water charges will not affect SDLP members as they already bathe in Perrier.

The choice basically lies between those who feather the nest and take their seats and those who feather their nests (by whatever ever means necessary) and don't take their seats, although their steadfast adherence to abstentionism has long been lost on me. I consider taking Westminster seats less offensive than taking Stormont ones. At least in Westminster you take the fight to the enemy. At Stormont you have tacitly accepted that the enemy is right. If you want to smash the system from the inside (yeah, right), you might as well do it from a bigger and more comfortable seat. Fuck it, lets get Hansard printed in Irish at Westminster too. I don't mind paying more tax for something as worthwhile as that. I wonder if Babs Brown is demanding the same in Brussels as she did as health supremo at Stormont. If you have accepted the principle of consent then you might as well accept the fringe benefits, at least they would be legal benefits. Says I who hasn't bought a packet of duty paid fags for years.

Another very curious aspect of the campaign in good old Derry City is that I had found myself wondering about Gerry Adams quite a lot for no apparent reason. Then I realised as travelled about my normal business that his big hairy kite is beaming down at me from every other lampost. What the West Belfast MP's image is doing all over Derry is beyond me. In some areas his posters actually outnumber those of the actual candidate Mitchell Mc Laughlin. Der Fuhrerprinzip is extraordinary now, Gerry definitely hasn't gone away you know! I wish to God he would though and take the rest of the grovelling bastards with him. If you ever wanted to speak to a politician do it this week, next Friday they'll step over you as you lie dying on the footpath. I just hope it isn't apathy that kills you, I'm told it's a particularly boring way to die.

Meanwhile in good old Londonderry the UUP & DUP…oh, what's the point, even their own members vote for somebody else down here.



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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

29 April 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

I Believe
Eamon Sweeney

Behaving Justly
Anthony McIntyre

Stop the Cover Up -- Give Us Peace
Kathleen Coyle

Justice Needs Done
Damien Okado-Gough

More Than Politics to NI Process
David Adams

Jude the Obscure Republican
Anthony McIntyre

Shared Ultra Conservatism
Dr John Coulter

* More Election Coverage *

Europe and the General Election
John O'Farrell


24 April 2005

Robert McCartney's family appeal to Sinn Fein
McCartney Family

Kevin Cunningham

'Dreary Ireland'
Anthony McIntyre

An Ireland of Welcomes Should Be
Mick Hall

Brian Mór

A Spartan's Story
Anthony McIntyre

* Election Coverage *

Martin Cunningham, Newry and Mourne District Council



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