Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Willie Frazer: marching to the beat of a different drum
What is it with this marching thing? Is it restless legs syndrome? Ants in the pants? Or just good old-fashioned in-your-face-and-community coat-trailing? Willie Frazer and his FAIR group are intent on commemorating the appalling killing of workers at Kingsmill by having around seventeen bands march through the Whitecross area of Armagh, where sensitivities on both sides are still raw. There are people and families who, if these marching bands parade through, will feel that the memory of their loved ones is being trampled on.
So why not commemorate by staying in one spot? That's what's happened on other occasions. There is a monument to those who died in the Kingsmill massacre and to the best of my knowledge no nationalist or republican or stupid moron has tried to destroy or deface that monument in any way. Likewise, commemoration ceremonies at that memorial were held year after year without interference of any kind. Now, though, Willie Frazer and Co believe the right thing to do is to send marching bands through the area. To fail to do so, Willie figures, would in some way dishonour the dead.
A brutal fact, Willie: the dead are dead. The memorial services, the marching bands if they materialise - those are for the living. And as you well know, marching bands in this country often end in bringing to the surface the worst qualities in living human beings: triumphalism, resentment, disorder. It's hard to know how to handle the past but one thing is certain: no situation is so bad that the presence of a marching band - let alone seventeen - couldn't make it worse.