The Sky Blues
Coventry is one of those English cities I have never been to. It is hard to make any claim on its behalf that it is best known for its soccer team. When we think of footballing greats Coventry City does not figure amongst them. To my mind rather than reaching for the skies the history of Coventry is more one of the skies reaching for it. It has a history of things falling on it from the sky, not all of them good. The Luftwaffe bombed it on a number of occasions during the Second World War. The IRA bombed it in the same period although not from the sky. While willing to collaborate with the Nazis the IRA was not the beneficiary of Goering’s Junker, Messerschmitt or Stuka planes. To cause its fatalities the IRA used something much less technologically sophisticated – the simple bicycle.
Fortunately for the city this time round when the skies opened up it was a barrage of apples that rained down on the citizens journeying along the city’s streets. They had been sucked up into a vortex from a garden or orchard in one part of the city during a freak weather outburst and deposited on the heads of the unsuspecting public at another location.
Now there may be some who will see it as a sign from god. They always manage to do that. Eve, doing the bidding of the devil, is hiding behind a cloud trying to tempt all the good Adams of Coventry to bite apples so that they too might be as smart as god. Which would allow them to make the cock up of the world which he has so far managed.
That should leave them well qualifed to manage Coventry City
Sinn Fein’s Past Sheehan has stirred something of a furore with his claims that the North’s violent conflict was ’probably quite civilised.’ While Sheehan was speaking in comparative terms, ‘civilised’ is not the most appropriate choice of term to describe any armed conflict. Moreover, it is the type of remark best made by a disinterested sociologist or political scientist rather than by somebody who was an active combatant in a war he seeks to depict as civilised.
Yet, his general point is valid enough: weighed against a backdrop of mass killings in other conflict zones, the North’s history could have been a lot more bloodstained. That might be of cold comfort to the bereaved who lost loved ones but the North was not Kigali, Srebrenica, San Salvador, Beirut, Baghdad or any number of hot spots that resemble killings fields and massacre sites rather than civilisations.
Kenny Donaldson, of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), claimed that Sheehan’s comments amounted to ‘the latest attempt in a litany of efforts by the Republican movement to legitimise their criminal campaigns.’ But republicans would see Donaldson engaged in an attempt to criminalise the IRA campaign, something that Pat Sheehan almost lost his life on hunger strike trying to prevent. It also reflects an unwillingness on the part of many in the unionist community to take on board how violence is engendered; how many nationalists without any attachment to a republican physical force tradition could come to feel it a political and moral imperative to usurp or overthrow, violently or otherwise, a malign government prepared to massacre an unarmed civilian population on the streets of Derry.
Probably much more contentious than his ‘civilised’ comment is Sheehan’s expressed view that the IRA did not purposely try to kill civilians. This rings hollow when considered against events like Whitecross when the clear intention of the perpetrators was to kill as many Protestant civilians as possible in one outing.
The persistence of these types of acrimonious exchanges may lead to a situation where Northern society might conclude that in order to live amiably in the present it will have to pass on the past.
Living It Up
It appears annoying victims groups is not the only matter relating to Pat Sheehan that has caught the attention of the press in recent days. He seems to have upset the Sunday Independent as well. The Indo had a pop at Sinn Fein, the party to which Sheehan belongs last weekend, claiming that in a time of austerity and recession the party was living the high life in the US.
Two of the party's Stormont members, Gerry Kelly and Pat Sheehan, commemorated the hunger strike in which 10 men died by attending a dinner at the ultra-swish Manhattan Club, just off Central Park.
We all have to eat but attending dinner events in honour of hunger strikers seems not quite the done thing. ‘Fill our bellies to the memory of the starving.’ There must be other ways.