Jude Collins

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Stop, Sydney, you're depressing me

Sometimes I feel depressed, occasionally by personal matters but more often by public. One such occurred a couple of decades ago, when Gerry Adams helped carry the coffin of Thomas Begley, one of the two IRA men caught up in the Shankill bomb blast. There was a relentless onslaught on Adams for doing this which showed ignorance, wilful or otherwise, of the republican movement and how it thinks and operates. The Shankill bomb, as most people know, was intended for a meeting of UDA members above the shop where it exploded; that it exploded prematurely and resulted in appalling carnage of ordinary innocent people was obviously not the intention. So as far as Adams was concerned, carrying Begley's coffin was a mark of respect for someone who'd died on an IRA operation. Except you were outraged that Sinn Féin and its leader should be supportive of the IRA in general, it's hard to see how you could view Adams's carrying of the coffin as anything more than an outward manifestation of what everyone, including unionists and loyalists, had always known.

As I say, I get depressed when I hear this kind of irrational outrage. Today I'm a bit down in the dumps to note where John O'Dowd, the Education Minister, is under fire for having given a lift to a funeral to Martin Corey.  Corey was imprisoned for involvement in the killing of two RUC men in 1973. He was released under the Good Friday Agreement, but had his licence revoked and is at present imprisoned in Maghaberry.  According to the Portadown Times,  O'Dowd drove (or was driven) in his ministerial car to Maghaberry,  where MLA  Raymond McCartney collected Corey and drove him to his brother's funeral. (I know it sounds confusing - was it O'Dowd or McCartney who took the man to the funeral? But that's how the Portadown Times  presents the story.)

Now for the depressing bit. Unionist MLA Sydney Anderson  is, yes indeed, outraged. "This was a public failure of every child in Northern Ireland on the part of the Education Minister as he is tasked with overseeing the education of children so that they can make a positive contribution to future generations"

In the name of all that's sweet and true, what sort of gobblydegook rubbish is this? Corey is in prison because the British Secretary of State has decided that's where he wants him, just as Marion Price is in prison on the same grounds. The prison authorities sanctioned Corey's temporary release to attend his brother's funeral. O'Dowd and/or McCartney gave him a lift to the requiem Mass and burial. And Corey has returned to prison. End of story.

Or should be, except that Anderson sees this as a failure of all the children here. A word in your shell-like, Sydney: ninety-five per cent of the children here won't even have been aware that Corey existed, let alone got a lift from O'Dowd/McCartney. And even if they had, the man had been sanctioned to travel and attend his brother's funeral.  Nothing illegal has happened, a close relative has been buried, the terms of release were observed. Somewhere, somehow, Sydney, there must be something more deserving of your outrage. Meanwhile, if you could stop using the burial of one man and the attendance at his funeral of another as an occasion for talking Grade A tripe, it'd lift my spirits no end. Good man, Sydney. I knew you'd see sense in the end.


  1. I thought we might have had a blog on your Spanish excursion, but it seems it's the same old,same old-----.I can see why you're depressed though!

  2. There seems to a lot of outrage among some unionists, Jude, whether it's about this, Eibhlin Glenholmes, Tesco Jubilee badges, northern footballers playing for Ireland, the Irish language.. a lot of outrage out there.

  3. So did Thomas Begley just happen to be passing through the Shankill and got "caught up" in the bombing?!