A few days ago, I blogged about James Turley, a Catholic Belfast youth, who was savagely beaten up by a gang of Protestant youths while he was working as an extra in a movie being shot in the loyalist Village area.
To sum up my original post, I noted that this story contradicts the “New Belfast” narrative of Tiitanic Centenary, MTV Awards and the ideal destination for a friendly weekend break. The new narrative is endorsed by the “Letsgetalongerist” politicians and the movers and shakers among the Great and the Good of Belfast. The story of James Turley is an uncomfortable reality check for them.
In fact it is so uncomfortable that the “letsgetalongerists” did what they do best…ignore reality.I made the comparison with the Stephen Lawrence (in London) case ….where in the same week as Mr Turley was savagely attacked, two racist thugs received jail sentences for the murder of Stephen Lawrence………eighteen years after Stephen was murdered.
I received a comment in that thread……….actually it was a link to the politics.ie messageboard……….the commenter (sic) was drawing my attention to a thread (a very long one at that stage it had 500 posts) about the incident. Seemingly he was drawing attention to the fact that people had mentioned Slugger O’Toole which prides itself as the leading Norn Iron messageboard had ignored the story but the commenter had posted on politics.ie linking to my blog. He described me as a Slugger regular. Which means that he is probably also a regular.
A word about politics.ie. I joined that site in February 2011 but prior to this week had only ever made one comment on it.
Belatedly Slugger O’Toole has now got a thread on the story. But it is thru the prism of highlighting Newt Emersons Irish News column on the James Turley beating and pointing up the Stephen Lawrence connexion.
Typically the Slugger thread has degenerated into naked sectarianism and “whataboutery” of the worst kind, with seemingly several posts deleted. It is not good reading and seemingly embarrassing the Slugger establishment. Slugger’s defenders might well consider the thread to be without value for this reason but that is really only half the story. Slugger does have an agenda like a mainstream newspaper……or if you prefer an “orthodoxy”. Rather like the Daily Express is fixated with “who killed Princess Diana?” (in 1997), Slugger O’Toole is fixated with “who killed Jean McConville?” (in 1972). In Slugger orthodoxy Jean McConville is more relevant than James Turley……..and its hardly on the grounds of topicality so a reasonable conclusion is that the Jean McConville story better fits the Slugger agenda.
But actually the comparison I made with Stephen Lawrence is not actually as accurate as the comparison that could be made with a case about six years ago in which a young Catholic schoolboy was stabbed to death by loyalist thugs. The similarity was that the victim was not a “ghetto child” and the murder happened near his home on the Somerton Road.
Now that was off-script because thugs from Mount Vernon “should” be targetting someone from (say) Bawnmore. That murder of a middle class Catholic boy agitated the (Protestant & Catholic) middle class communities because they could readily identify with the victim and his family. Put frankly there is a patronising and resigned attitude that working class teens (Catholic and Protestant) ….have an almost occupatonal hazard in their lives that they will be the victims or perpetrators of sectarian violence. James Turley is from the Short Strand. The muted reaction of people who should know better would be different if James was a Catholic from Cultra.
And thats the simiarity with Stephen Lawrence. If Gary Dobson and David Norris and others had gone into Brixton and stabbed a stereotypical black guy…..it would have been treated as a typical “occupational hazard”. The great mistake Stephen’s killers made was that they picked on the son of an upwardly mobile “respectable” family. Thats what agitated the Daily Mail. The black victim was a son not unlike the sons of the white middle class readers of the Daily Mail.
Notwithstanding the latent sectarianism of “get him out of my garden” statements, the reaction of unionists….real unionists….has NOT been muted. The mealy mouthed response has come from “lets get alongerists”. We all do sectarianism. And “lets get alongerists” are just as sectarian. They look after people they perceive as “their” own. The difference is that “their” people includes Catholic and Protestant…..so long as they arent from ghetto communities.
At the height of the Troubles, spokespersons for Sinn Féin and their apologists would routinely refuse to condemn a terrorist action. When pressed on it, they would revert to the mealy-mouthed mantra that “We should not be talking about the politics of the last attrocity”. Sdaly that attitude is alive and well…….on Slugger O’Toole.