The Blanket

Full of Sound and Fury

Aine Fox • October, 2002

Crowds gathering and scuttling in and around the Ulster Hall in Belfast; the media stalling about outside the front doors to capture that photograph or those few words with the politicians of the hour. At 7.30 pm, as advertised, Sinn Fein delegates and supporters filled the Ulster Hall. The choice of venue was ironic. Instantly I was thinking back to Paisley’s stance alongside Ulster Resistance within the same hall that Sinn Fein now were calling - 'Save the Peace Process.'

Although this event was significantly important, it was still running on what some say is "West Belfast time," which means very late - at least an hour behind. In this case the excuse was that Peter Robinson had refused to talk with Mr Martin McGuinness and the filming he was due to participate in had not taken place. Robinson had remained somewhere in the UTV building earning his wage packet as a member of a power sharing executive by refusing to talk to a fellow politician.

At around 8.20 (ish) McGuinness walked into the Ulster Hall - the place erupted into a standing ovation and loud clapping along with the odd cheer. I was amazed that this man was receiving such a welcome. The audience lost slightly more and more of my respect as they continued with their clapping cheers and odd mouthful of rhetorical nonsense. (And that was before the Shinners spoke).

In my naiveity I assumed that what McGuiness had to say would be of value - possible strategies or attempts to resolve this current crisis. I was however mistaken, as all that my ears heard was the same old stuff only on a different day. Delivering his speech McGuiness did indeed convey scenes reminscent of days gone before - the charismatic speaker attempting to mobilise the masses. A pity that the information delivered was old news.

"Unionism is running away from the institutions, it is political cowardice" - Martin McGuiness.

We are told that unionism can’t handle peace, change, the increase in SF's mandate and how their representatives remain silent when loyalism is still attacking and murdering Catholics. This new and amazing news should maybe have been leaked to UTV before this ‘rally’ for a newsflash.

"They’re a bunch of hypocrites …… that’s what they are."

As these words - referring of course to the demonised unionist politicians - echoed around the Ulster Hall - it then became harder to take these people serious. Firstly Martin had informed the crowd that the true heros of summer were the people of Short Strand. So in that case where is the support from Mr McGuinness for the families still living in a combat zone? When I informed a Short Strand resident after the rally of McGuinness’s praise for his community, his response was 'where the hell are they when we need them? - nowhere to be seen.'

The unionists bringing down the political structure is going to result in our children suffering (all our children). Martin made sure to mention the Shankill and Ballysillan also - after all its “peace time“.

So the health system and education system both are going to suffer greatly - I had a major urge to shout up and ask McGuiness did the implementation of private investment into both systems really truly benfit anyone?

"This movement understands political dynamics."

McGuiness went on to implore the crowd that 'we keep our nerve' and not to worry because soon there will be a referendum whereby the then nationalist/catholic population could vote for a ‘United Ireland’ and when we did so by 51% the British Government would have to pack up and leave.

So the magic word had eventually found its way to the podium; while observing McGuinness I was reminded of those TV evangelists we see telling us how it really is and what is going to happen to us.

It was at this point that I realised how futile this event was. A waste of my time. I indicated to the journalist I had accompanied that I’d had enough.





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The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.
- Ayn Rand
Index: Current Articles

13 October 2002


Other Articles From This Issue:


Just Say No
Ciarán Irvine


Full of Sound & Fury
Aine Fox


The Edge of the Abyss...Again

Brendan O'Neill


If You're In, You Can't Win
Anthony McIntyre


How Clever Was Adams?
Henry Patterson


Please, My Friend is Being Tortured
Sam Bahour


11 October 2002


Just Desserts?
Anthony McIntyre


'Robocop' Raid Seen as PSNI Reversion
Eamonn McCann


A Secret History of the IRA
Niall Stanage


Immigrant Slave Labour
Liam O Ruairc


Fighting the Sharks
Sean Smyth


Academics on Independence, Part 2

Paul Fitzsimmons


Wake Up and Smell the Occupation
Sam Bahour


From the Mouths of Babes
John Chuckman




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