Friday, 20 July 2012
Bloody Friday and how to use it
It's an inexact comparison but it's worth making. When Stephen Roche won the Tour de France, Charlie Haughey hurried to France to be photographed with him. When the fortieth anniversary of Bloody Friday came round, Nigel Dodds and Alban Maginness hurried to the radio microphone.
I've just finished listening to both.
Nigel said that anyone - up to and including the Deputy First Minister - who knew anything about those responsible for Bloody Friday should bring that information to the police. He has a point. Where innocent human life is taken, it's a reasonable argument that those responsible should be identified. Just as those responsible for Bloody Sunday should be identified. Or those responsible for the Dublin-Monaghan bombings should be identified. Or those responsible for a policy of collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, whose policy was the killing of innocent Catholics, should be identified. I expect when the appropriate anniversary comes round, Nigel will be hurrying to a microphone to talk about responsibility and those events as well.
Alban Maginness was on, talking about the "evilness" of Bloody Friday and the "utter futility" of violence. He had half a point. The taking of innocent human life is indeed an evil. The German bombing of British cities, the British bombing of German cities, the atom bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the napalm bombing of Vietnam, the drone bombing policy of the US - all these involved and involve the taking of innocent human life. I expect when the appropriate anniversary comes round, Alban will be hurrying to a microphone to talk about the evilness of those events as well.
Alban also spoke of "the utter futility of violence". Um, sorry, Alban. Totally wrong. Violence crushed the native people of North America and opened up untold riches to the white invaders - riches which they are still enjoying. Violence was exerted by the Allies against Nazism and was completely successful. Violence was used by the British to exploit Kenya and other African countries, violence was used by those countries to shake off the British yoke, violence was used by the ANC, led by people like Nelson Mandela, and was successful in ending apartheid in South Africa. For centuries, violence has been used as a means towards a political end and has been successful. "Politics is about power" a leading member of the SDLP once told me. You don't get much more concentrated power than the use of violence. And it's utterly futile to pretend otherwise.
As I listened to the radio this morning, I thought of a man I know who lost a sibling, one he dearly loved, in Bloody Friday. Oddly, no newsmen or broadcasters have come knocking on his door to hear what he has to say. If they did, I suspect he'd tell them where to go. But then he isn't a politician.