The Fall Of West Belfast

There was a time when Norn Iron was blatantly sectarian. A time some fifty years ago, when there was no political correctness. It was not unusual to return to work  after lunch and find that Mrs Jones had left a gospel tract on my desk. On one occasion she left a small Bible.

Mrs Jones agonised about me. Mainly because I was going to Hell. I was after all not “saved”. Being a “Roman Catholic”, I could not get into Heaven. And yet Mrs Jones thought I was better than most “Roman Catholics”. I did not smoke or drink alcohol. I did not swear. I was unfailingly polite. In many ways, I ticked all the “saved Protestant” boxes.

There was of course another kinda co-worker. …Herbie.Many of his friends were “Roman Catholic” but well…too many “Roman Catholics” lived in squalor. He could tell me …and did tell me stories about Ballymurphy.

And then there were the jokes.

“What do you call a man from West Belfast, who is wearing a suit?” ….”The Defendant”.

At what point does a person from West Belfast start to feel offended?

OF course a lot of us left West Belfast. Like those boring Scousers in London, who go misty-eyed at the thought of their Liverpool home, I can do the “our neighbours were the salt of the earth…you could leave your front door unlocked” nostalgia as well as anybody.

For the record NOBODY left their front door unlocked.

Of course by the early 1970s, Killing and/or Murder had become routine. If Killing a person becomes excusable…or making excuses for Killing is excusable, then it is a slippery slope. Robbery becomes routine. Stealing a car. Crime and “Morality” are of course very different. But if you can live with , Killing, Robbery and Stealing a car…you might find it difficult to condemn ….Adultery etc.

So….West Belfast seemed to turn against itself. The Man from Andytown jokes. “What do you call a man from Turf Lodge who is wearing a suit?” Yes….”the Defendant”.

Society in West Belfast is now tiered, graduated.

And tonight the Man from Andytown referred to “Breakfast in Poleglass…..Buckfast and the Morning-After Pill”.

Is that it? Patronised by Mrs Jones and ridiculed by Herbie in 1970….we do it to ourselves in 2016.

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6 Responses to The Fall Of West Belfast

  1. SDLP activist - North Down says:

    I was wondering if you were able to go to the Slugger Review of the Year show this year?

    • No…I am retired from Blogging. Slugger is effectively a “mutual admiration society” for its favourite bloggers. They promote their own and shun those of us who take a line that is different.
      Slugger has rarely said anything good about SDLP. Hardly surprising as its main contributors are connected to other parties.
      SDLP are foolish to invite Slugger folks to panels etc. They have a blogger within their own ranks and have never invited me to anything in five years.

      • SDLP activist - North Down says:

        For all the attention Slugger got it is really the BBC/News Letter/Irish News that seems to do the serious stuff on the RHI. Slugger just does a lot of chat no real bite.

      • There is I think a change of direction in Slugger O’Toole. It seems pretty much in favour of the status quo.

  2. SDLP activist - North Down says:

    Don’t you agree with me that 2016 was an important year for the SDLP. While I was not sure about how big Alisdair was toppled I think going into opposition was a good step and means that we can now challenge what’s going on a lot better. It will take a long old time to grow the party but it is surely a good year..

    • Alisdair should have stood down after the 2015 Westminster election. I did not like the overthrow. And I suspect theres already a plot against Colum.
      I am on record as saying that SDLP should have gone into Opposition in 2011. SDLP voters (and UUP voters) were disenfranchised by giving two seats to Alliance in the Executive. SDLP should not have agreed to that farce.
      Yes …Opposition is the right choice. But ultimately SDLP needs more members…foot soldiers. I was at about twelve polling stations in West Belfast on election day and did not see anyone from SDLP.
      Sinn Féin had an army…..and I use the word deliberately.
      Nearly everything I see about SDLP talks about “getting involved”and certainly if it means foot soldiers, thats a good thing.
      But I am sketical. Since January 2011 until just before the 2016 election, I have had five meetings with senior SDLP figures about how this Blog could be better utilised but nothing ever happened.
      SDLP has a track record of listening to other peoples views. However noble it is to invite Gregory Campbell, Duncan Morrow and Glyn Roberts to SDLP events… is no substitute for listening to SDLP voices in South Armagh, West Tyrone etc.
      The rank and file members have been marginalised. So have councillors.
      The movers and shakers in SDLP are staff, political assistants to MLAs and senior youth figures of mixed ability. They are centred round QUB and South Belfast.
      Returning power to rank and file members would be a good start but I cant seeing those with influence in the Party now are not going to embrace any change that is going to reduce their influence.
      SDLPs biggest asset at the moment is decent human beings like Nichola, Colum, Patsy and a LOT of others.
      Optics like “selfies” with Labour people in Dublin, London and Brussels ….not to mention the Blueshirts…is no substitute for Reality.

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