The Blanket

Under the Foot of the Mountain

by Brendan Hughes

I had a walk down the Grosvenor Road yesterday to see my sister, to the place I was born, to the place my father brought up six children on his own, to a place I spent almost four years on the run, a place where we fought the B Specials, RUC, British Army, British Intelligence, and undercover killers. A place where poor people left their front and back doors open. A place where you had to get to know every yard wall in the event of a Brit army raid. A place where we had great hopes of our Republic.

But it had all changed. I saw nice new houses. No more yard walls; one way in and one way out. Most of the old people who had fed and looked after us, gone, dead and buried. The old people's home knocked down, leaving a wide open space, being prepared for the next rogue builder to come in and build some cheap houses for the poor people of this area. But what struck me was the view the place had left for us to see and wonder at.

Towering above the small and neat houses, like two giants protecting those who can afford entry into their bellies; reminding us that we are in the place we belong. The giants even have their names boldly written across their foreheads - Europa and Russell Court. It reminds me of a time I sailed into Cape Town on a merchant ship. The imposing table top mountain towering above - beautiful sight. A sight that cried out for you to come up and see.

That is, until you step off the ship and witness the ugly feet of this mountain. The poor, the hungry, the poverty this great beauty hides. Before leaving the ship we are told to stay away from the shantytowns, and especially stay away from 'District 6' as I'm sure many visitors to our Europa are told when they arrive in Belfast. Of course many things have changed in South Africa, many things have changed in the North. But have they?

Yes, for some! But for the majority of people, poor people, here and in South Africa, nothing much has changed. We still have the rogue employer, maybe a different colour, maybe a different religion. We are allowed to climb the mountain but few can afford to do so. Few people living under the shadow of the Europa can afford to spend one night in its belly.

We spend billions of pounds each year on weapons. Each year millions of children die both from hunger, and from the weapons we spend billions on. More often than not whether in Western Europe, South Africa or Palestine the biggest rogue employers are the people tasked with governing us.



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Winter 2002
Vol. 1 No. 1

Free Speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game.
Free speech is life itself.
- Salman Rushdie

Republicanism in Crisis

The Cracks in the "PNF"

A Journal of Dissent

Under the Foot of the Mountain: Brendan Hughes

Author's Choice: Rogelio Alonso, A Just War?

Interview: Marian Price

Books: Soul Wars

Books: Anthologies Package our Literary Past

Unionism and Decommissioning

Turkish Hunger Strike Report

Taking Sides in the War on Modernity

Writing This Issue



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices