with Eamonn McCann in last week's edition of The
Blanket, was as ever up to the usual standards
of his work.
correctly bemoaned the fact that he could not vote
for McCann simply because of his geographical location,
and due to a terribly unfortunate accident of birth
he does not hail from Derry, nor does he live here
to a terribly unfortunate accident of birth I am from
Derry, and jesting aside have always been proud to
be so. This pride is due in no small part that this
city has always been able to create and gleefully
encompass characters like Eamonn McCann.
characteristic of all northern towns has been to denegrate
anyone of intelliegence or ability that finds the
spotlight that hails from that locality. Derry people,
myself included, are all guilty of this. I am convinced
that this ugly trait is a mixture of jealously and
centuries of acceptance of being the perennial underdogs
foisted on us by the rule of another country. As a
result Derry people's birth certificates I believe,
have a section for a generic inferiority complex,
etched in invisible ink, visible only to the UV rays
of the apparatchiks of the state. No need then for
National Identity cards for us, thank
you Mr. Blunkett, we dont need your stinking
redemption to be gleaned from this is that whilst
we may think we have the right to heap scorn on our
local heroes, if anyone from outside the city limits
dares to do the same, they will encounter the wrath
of the peculiarly vicious Derry verbal broadside.
victims of our notoriously mercurial attitude include
of course include Dana and Phil Coulter, and our latest
protégé, the very talented and equally
beautiful Nadine Coyle should also prepare herself
for the backlash!
As it turned out those who slated Dana may have well
had a point!
undoubtedly McCann will be wholeheartedly preoccupied
with the upcoming poll, one eye at least will be on
the slide towards relegation of his beloved Derry
City F. C. Indeed at a recent match he was still passing
around SEA leaflets, with the inspired soccer influenced
tag, that we should always back the strikers!!
insight into the strangeness of this city and county
is illustrated in the disunity of the GAA here. As
I have recently been nominated to the post of P. R.
O for Doire Colmcille Gaelic club, I have noticed
to my dismay that the official county website is divided
into north and south Derry, for no apparent reason
than division for the sake of it. Considering this
it is a miracle that the Sam McGuire and the Tom Markham
trophies have ever found their way here at all.
I thought it was necessary to give a Derry insight
as to why all right minded Derry people to should
take the chance to vote for Eamonn McCann in this
farce of an election.
in the pure ideological sense is no more to the forefront
of political activity in Derry as it is anywhere else.
Eamonn McCann and his thinking have almost alone
been the solitary voice of radical Marxism in this
city for the best part of four decades. As all over
the six counties and in the south the lip service
paid to Socialist doctrines and its practical
application in local and national politics is no different
members of the Derry Republican movement are genuine
adherents to the development of a socialistic programme,
yet this outlook will always play second violin to
the supremacy of the green flag attitude and is in
mortal danger from the current leadership of being
finally extinguished forever.
flip side is the reliance of the rest of Derry nationalism
to abhor any Republican Socialist elements or the
full strength, full on red outlook of exponents such
as Eamonn McCann. Solace is sought and nurtured therefore
in the SDLP. Neither true social democrats and definitely
not labour orientated, they have for far too long
harnessed the willingness of the Catholic working
classes to vote for them, relying simply on the fact
that these people would rather do anything than vote
for Sinn Fein, whose IRA comrades for so long bombed
the epicenter of employment out of this town, and
much more besides. As elsewhere evidence of the Provos
policing their own constituency area lest anyone disagrees
is increasingly apparent.
the SDLP and their current battle cry of being 100%
behind a United Ireland, insist on promoting a social
outlook despite the fact that the ethos displayed
by their leadership is devoutly middle class and the
nepotistic attitude displayed towards the ingestion
of cushy jobs in Derry is mind boggling. This also,
from the party whose last leader, also a Derry man
boldly pronounced some years ago that we were living
in a post nationalist Europe whilst the Balkans were
well publicized anti-social behaviour reaches fever
pitch in this city, Sinn Fein are at pains to point
out that they cannot do anything about this, whilst
issuing threats to people who in response then say
that they will call the PSNI. The eagerness of Sinn
Fein to take issue with the DPP and illustrate ineffective
state policing, has only resulted in hoods running
amok safe in the knowledge they are practically above
have never been a fan of fully blown Marxism as a
a utopian model of the way forward it is as good as
the trouble with a utopian model is always its
failure to translate well into reality and its
application there in. The frailty and greed of human
nature takes care of that. The intelligensia who at
the outset of any social revolt, set themselves up
as a vanguard or care taker leadership, until the
rest of the under educatedare ready to
realize the scope of the Socialist vision, rarely
if ever surrender the reigns of power once taken into
should be regarded as a natural by product of an economically
fair and wholly just society. It is doomed to failure
once placed with in the strictures of a bureaucratically
organized adminstration. Look at Georgia last weekend,
then look again at those who took over in five years
time. Will the velvet revolution of November 2003
be the iron fist of 2008? Worse still, will the Mc
Donalds Coca-Cola coalition be welcomed with open
arms and even more open mouths?
most infamous product, if you needed a reminder, was
Joseph Stalin, man of steel and an altar boy until
the age of twelve!
as our polling day approaches it would be nice to
have the luxury of choosing to argue like this at
all, free even if this is a sham poll, to debate a
choice of ideology. In Derry at least we have an outstanding
candidate standing for an organization, whom as you
shall see I do not wholly approve of, but in terms
of integrity shine brighter than those who have the
financial clout, but continue to assail us with the
same old crap.
the virtue of his own admission, in the preface to
the new edition of his War and an Irish Town,
Eamonn McCann stated that when he began the examination
of his much vaunted work in 1993 to begin the revamp
of the work completed twenty years earlier that, Some
of the predictions now seem naïve, some of the
judgements wrong headed, some of the language inappropriate.
But its an accurate account of how things seemed
to me then, and I think most of it stands the test
of time well enough.
are few authors political or otherwise, that would
choose to deride their own past thoughts and ideas
in such a manner in the opening line of their own
however has been Eamonn McCanns intrinsic verbal
and written honesty that has attracted my attention
over the years as opposed to his political outlook,
although in the context of this election that has
begun to change as well, and at quite a rapid pace.
in the preface to his work, McCann has the tenacity
to admit that when he concluded his work back in 1973,
he envisaged the way forward via the forces of Marxism,
but that he did not actually join any Marxist organization
was not as if he was dormant in that interim decade
though. As a journalist and a political activist McCann
has used his talent as a writer to correctly and unashamedly
promote his socialist thinking at any and every opportunity.
Yet is thirty three years since he mounted the hustings
as a political candidate.
last foray into elections was a Labour candidate in
the Westminster election of 1970. On Wednesday November
26th 2003 he is standing under the umbrella platform
of the Socialist Environmental Alliance, who undoubtedly
have been favoured greatly by the presence of such
a vibrant and recognised candidate.
has been Eamonn McCanns hands on political
activism as opposed to a chosen political career that
has afforded him the luxury of razor sharp analysis
and being completely forthright unencumbered as he
is by any establishment political vehicle.
has been a long and at times arduous journey for this
man, from the days of the fledgling Peoples Democracy
at Queens University, where the status quo ensured
that his third level education was ended prematurely
in a very under handed fashion. Nevertheless and in
spite of this set back it was this generation, the
first Catholic born generation to have access to a
free university education, that spawned not only the
daunting voice of McCann but other figures such as
Bernadette Devlin and Michael Farrell. In these times
were certain political partys are determined
to airbrush history and claim the kudos gained from
being the originators of a civil rights movement,
it must not be forgotten that it was young individuals
such as these were in the vanguard of this struggle
and began to break an already ruptured structure built
of age and class and sectarianism.
is no need here to fill in the gaps of the ensuing
disaster that followed in the next three decades when
a Unionist dominated society brought the full weight
of their police force and all other forms of structural
abuse down on the heads of the mild demands of the
civil rights movement. On many occasions such as Duke
Street and at Burntollet bridge this literally happened,
and no more so than on January 30th 1972 on the streets
of his native Bogside. McCann was and is a perennial
presence on all such occasions.
have always found amusing to say the least that in
Derry there is a healthy respect from all directions
for Eamonn McCann, but little actual support for
his idelogical leanings. I have heard on many occasions
expressions of the sentiment that he would be a great
leader if wasnt a damn commie. There have been
notable exceptions to the avoidance of McCanns
thinking in wider issues. In the nationalist family
his work for the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, speaks
for itself. It simply demands respect.
scorning of McCanns Pinko outlook
however by his fellow Derry natives is little to do
with anti-socialist fundamentalism but an overt over
reliance on the attitudes of the Catholic Church with
whom Eamonn has been famously at odds for many decades.
It is far from a personal defamation of McCann but
more the victory of one, forgive the pun, mass opiate
recent years McCanns correct contention that
there are instances were the sectarian chasm can be
bridged were exemplified in his contribution to the
large peace rallies of the early 1990s. However
it was ever thus that until the settlement of what
is turgidly referred to as the national question,
socialism or at least a society with economic parity
and social justice, is condemned to the role of political
bridesmaid. It is a credit to McCann, that like Connolly
before him he fully realizes this, but it has not
dampened the vigour of his thinking and campaigning
on hundreds of different issues, national and international.
This has been no easy feat in the face of the turmoil
of this state, where in two ideologies have consumed
the political landscape almost in its entirety
and whilst squabbles abound about the territory around
us, that territory is divided again amongst unaccountable
multi-nationals that are making full exploitative
use of cheap labour, based safe in the knowledge that
we are grateful for any employment we can get are
Derry we are in possession of one of the most educated
dole queues in Western Europe.
old adage that education goes a long way is an old
adage because it is true, except that in Derry it
rarely goes anywhere except airports and train stations.
exploitation of graduate employees in this city is
at a massive level.
exploitation of all those employed in Derry is at
a massive level.
who choose to stay in order to find employment here
are treated disgracefully by employers such as Stream
and Seagate, both in finanacial terms and in terms
of workers rights. Whilst other partys take
credit for bringing such employment to Derry, and
indeed credit is in some part due, the levels of unaccountability
and dictatorship enjoyed by these organisations cannot
be allowed to continue. On my doorstep I have heard
the SDLP for example, pat themselves on the back on
these issues without any actual realization that attracting
this sort of investment in Derry they pander to those
who fully realize that the purposeful economic strangulation
of the North West is as rife in 2003 as it was in
1963. I have to take umbridge at this point with the
SEA manifesto that derides the Raytheon company. I
am fully aware what this company is involved in throughout
the world, I also work in the same building as that
company in Derry.
personally know some people who work there, these
are people whom I trust.
that they do in this plant is in anyway directly connected
to the manufacture of arms. This is a glaring gap
in what otherwise is an sincere and well considered
manifesto from the Socialist Environmental Alliance.
You cannot on one hand demand economic parity on a
class basis and then expect people to vote for you
to campaign to put Derry people out of jobs, because
it suits an overly paranoid notion of globalisation
and the linkage of Derry to American imperialism.
the current economic state of this area, beggars cannot
be fair though this point is more the preference of
the SEA than an invention of Eamonn McCann.
is only a week since I decided to actually cast a
vote at all in this poll.
vociferously by those who correctly assert that people
of the generation that included McCann fought hard
to gain my right to vote and after witnessing the
TV appearances by our nationalist and
republican representatives, I was of the opinion that
I would at best destroy the ballot paper.
however it was not for the alternative that he is
providing no amount of chastisement would drag me
into a polling booth. This is quite an admission for
someone who graduated from Queens with a degree
in politics and a MA in Conflict Resolution from Magee,
yet it exemplifies the futile and self induced stagnancy
of what passes as a political state, albeit an illegally
am still mindful of the fact that this is a British
election to an assembly that will still not actually
exist after the election anyway. I am more mindful
as is Eamonn McCann that the likelihood of his success
is minimal. If however you feel like myself and can
contribute to keeping one more SDLP or Sinn Fein representative
out of any future assembly, then use your vote as
a protest for the ultimate protestor Derry and this
island has ever produced, if only to hear the best
orator in Irish political life make a speech in an
assembly that is the antithesis of everything he stands
1998 Sinn Fein told us that a vote for the agreement
was not a vote for the IRA.
To an extent this was actually true. You do not have
to be a Socialist, Marxist, Communist or a Trotskyite
to vote for McCann this time either.
the interests of more than lip service being paid
to accountable employment, increasing the minimum
wage, abolition of anti-union laws, a more open political
system, crucial opposition to water charges, an alternative
approach to the six counties that transcends the demarcation
lines of inter-communal strife, a chance to actually
police the police and the redirection of millions
spent on war funds to crucial public services, mark
the spot beside the name Eamonn McCann.
60 the mass of curls that for many years was used
as a point of satire against McCann may have relinquished
itself to the rigours of time. Thankfully his strength
was not akin to that of the fabled Samson. The voice
and the eyes have not yet yielded its trademark
venom and determination to be heard over those hundreds
who have traded jeans for Armani in the intervening
years between 1970 and now. This is an opportunity,
perhaps the last opportunity, to use your vote expediently
against those mainstream partys who treat your
vote expediently everytime. If voted in McCanns
success on just one of the above issues, will be one
more success than any of the others will even have
the chance to strive for amongst the labeling and
name calling, and that is if the assembly actually
returns! You never know, Eamonn. Go and buy a tie
and prepare for government!
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