THAT the foundations of partition are beginning to rock has been clear to anyone with eyes to see for some time and this past fortnight has provided a stark illustration of how the coming change has rattled those most invested in the retention of a bleak and failed status quo.
The IRA departed the stage some quarter of a century ago, and while there is zero recognition of it in unionist political and media circles, the Republican Movement has delivered in spades in its commitment to moving away from armed struggle. Unfortunately and inevitably, the complete removal of the IRA from the scene has left those whose careers and whose politics relied on the republican bogey man floundering in a sea of ill-concealed disappointment, confusion and spite. Rather than deal with reality, they have created an alternative universe wherein the singing of songs and the expression of opinions is equated with the firing of bullets and the detonating of bombs.
What’s crystal-clear about all of this is that many of those politicians and commentators so incensed/ worried/appalled by teenagers singing republican songs in the Falls Park and young rappers expressing anti-police sentiments are not motivated by a benign regard for humanitarian standards and basic decency – they are motivated by an inchoate rage at the crumbling of partition and the ever-louder children’s laughter that is the revenge that Bobby Sands and his comrades dreamed of 40 years ago.
The proof of that particular proposition lies in the stone-cold fact that these preposterous self-appointed guardians of morality failed the first test that they faced in the wake of their confected outrage over Michelle O’Neill, the Wolfe Tones and Kneecap. At Palace Barracks in Holywood, a memorial was unveiled at the weekend to Dennis Hutchings, the former British soldier who died in the midst of his trial on charges of shooting John Pat Cunningham in the back in 1974. Mr Cunningham had learning difficulties and was fleeing terrified from a military patrol.
Dennis Hutchings was not a serving member of the British Army. He died facing an unresolved charge of murdering a vulnerable Catholic. His story of what happened changed with virtually every telling of it from nearly 50 years ago up to the time of his death. And now he has been solemnly honoured by the British Army, who made no effort to contact the devastated Cunningham family. And the response to all of this by those screaming loudest about rappers and teenagers? Total silence. Complete and shameful silence.
So to those hypocrites who feel nothing for the John Pat Cunninghams of this world but set their clock every summer for their Féile fury fix we say, crack on. You’ve done your worst to do this community down and time after time you’ve failed. And the proof of your failure is everywhere to be seen.
Had you the self-awareness to realise it, you’d realise you’re now ranting at yourselves.