The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
The Hall and State of Illusions


Davy Carlin • August 19, 2003

A meeting was held quite recently in Belfast with in attendance seeing established multi cultural support organisations, human rights groups, civil rights lawyers, ethnic minority representation, practitioners for asylum seekers and other such interested parties. We were there to discuss a proposal to put to the Mayor of Belfast City for a symbolic gesture against racism, while others also spoke of the police's announced plans to attempt to combat such racism. Another proposal was put and passed that we should seek a further meeting to get all those groups who would be interested in looking to establish networks that could give visual and practical activity within communities, where vital work is already being done by small groups of persons working against the rise of racist attacks, with myself as agreed interim convener of the meeting.

Yet one finds that although many different parts of society state they are doing much or at least have a strategy to attempt to combat racism, let's look at the reality, lets look at City Hall, lets look at the police.

In the last day or so the UTV 'moderated site' had two clearly racists comments on it. A human rights lawyer then contacted those responsible for the site and, finding a not very positive response, she decided amongst others to phone those in City Hall as such in recent times have told us about a positive strategy they had for dealing with racism. So after waiting twelve minutes the human rights lawyer was put through to a woman who stated she was the 'good relations officer', who dealt with good relations issues. When the human rights lawyer spoke of her concerns the 'good relations officer', said that she could not act unless instructed to do so by the committee. So the human rights lawyer persisted and asked to be put through to a member of the committee, the 'good relations officer' eventually stated that in fact, 'there was no committee'. With me so far?

So therefore we have a 'good relations officer', whom is to deal with such aspects of racism, who cannot act unless instructed to do so from 'the committee', a committee we are told that does not exist.

So then an asylum seeker practitioner then phoned up for further information and asked to be put through to the 'good relations officer or unit', and was told by the operator that they had never heard of it. She then asked to speak to someone who would deal with the issue of racism and lo and behold, eventually, was put through to the same woman as the human rights lawyer had spoke to. This on the day that the Lord Mayor invited Tuam's Lord Mayor, the first Mayor from the travelling community, and from the Republic to Belfast City Hall.

A hall that we now know holds only the rhetoric or the illusion of fighting racism.

So then we move to the PSNI and their leaflet entitled 'Hate Crime, Racist Incident, Protecting Your Rights' which states 'we will respond to all incidents reported to us, whether or not they amount to a crime'. We are then told that every area will have a minority liaison officer with the responsibility of that minority liaison officer being, 'to ensure that your complaint is being satisfactorily investigated and that you are being kept informed of developments'. So these are the people who specifically are responsible for ensuring such racism and racist attacks are being satisfactorily investigated and that one is kept informed and updated. So the humans rights lawyer phoned the PSNI and asked to speak to one of these obviously important minority liaison officers {from any area}, given the continual rise in racist attacks, and was told by the PSNI, that in fact there were not any. Still with me?

So lets get this right, the strategy therefore is to have a 'good relations officer', {when found} whom cannot act without approval of a committee that does not exist while having {police} minority liaison officers whom are to ensure that complaints are to be followed up and that one is informed, but they too do not exist.

Maybe it's me, but doesn't it feel as if wool is attempted to be pulled over ones eyes? For some this is of little surprise, so while those whom wish to practice the politics of illusion with people lives there will be those of us, as there always have been, whom will put aside that rhetoric for gain, political or otherwise, and will seek to actively combat this rise of racism while lending real support to those that need it.



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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

22 August 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


A Pathological Political Disorder
Anthony McIntyre


Letter to the Blanket

Michael McKevitt


Deeply Flawed

Douglas Hamilton


The Prison Population Binge
Daniel S. Murphy


Going Native
Kathleen O Halloran


The Hall and State of Illusions
Davy Carlin


Liam O Ruairc


Mazen Dana
Sean Noonan


Michael Moore in Belfast: Stupid White Men
Anthony McIntyre


11 August 2003


Revenge, Not Justice
Anthony McIntyre


Statement of Michael McKevitt


Brutality in Maghaberry Extends to Visitors

Martin Mulholland, IRPWA


Federal Prisoner Becomes University Professor
Stephen C. Richards


What is the New School of Convict Criminology?
Jeffery Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards


Intellectuals and the Cold War
John Harrington


Kevin Lynch Commemoration Speech
Jimmy Bradley


Neo-Liberal Nicaragua: Neo Banana Republic
Toni Solo




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