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White, Orange and Green

By Patrick Van Roy On June 1st, 2020

Guest Post from Noel

A comparison raised by my learned countryman Paul a few days ago, between the current situation in several US cities and West Belfast in the 1980’s, brought to mind my last visit to the latter, not without a certain embarrassment as the trip is now more than half a year ago and I still haven’t reported on it. Seimi, our host for the two days, will forgive my procrastinations.

I’d travelled with a companion who’d just held a symposium (or whatever they call it) on, appropriately enough, community involvement in politics in Glasgow university. (I only attended one afternoon where I was fortunate enough to hear the indomitable Darren – Loki – McGarvey. Anyone know him?)

You used to hear from various figures in the British military and media, and among most Dublin4 chatterers, that the people of Northern Ireland, and Belfast in particular, are somehow incorrigibly fanatic and by nature violent and quarrelsome. Some of us were aware that exactly the same things were being said by more intelligent observers about the people of Tipperary and North Cork, infamous for their lawlessness, a century earlier. Now, you hear and sense similar sentiment regarding black ghettos in the US. Other waves of immigrants – Italians, Vietnamese, Iranians, even Irish and Mexicans – arrive and eventually move up the ladder of respectability, but for some reason the blacks always stay at the bottom of the pile under which anger burns.

Well, as regards southern Ireland, the British finally had enough of this wanton destruction and departed and left those violent folks to form probably the most settled and peaceful part of the country, whose boring tranquillity is disturbed at most once a year when Cork faces Tipp in the Munster Senior Hurling.

I got a similar respect for good political work and bold decision-making when I saw Belfast this time.  When I first visited North and West Belfast as a young lad in the late seventies and early 80’s, it was unmistakeably a community at war. The people and place impressed me, but you’d really want to have a taste for revolutionary ambience to enjoy it. So much of the place was smashed up or burned out, scruffy kids chased a scruffy dog across the road, and the presence of armoured cars dashing through the streets, tense young soldiers with disproportionally large rifles squatting at every corner while scores of tough young men leisurely stood around jeering at them, all just heightened the tension.

This time, parts of West and East Belfast could have been the Netherlands. There was a wholly new neatness and relaxation to be experienced. You could feel the new hope; now the only thing burning was the pride that people obviously felt in their neighbourhoods.

You know when you’ve experienced something so special that you don’t want to tell others of it, for fear of it all becoming too overused and thus somehow spoiled? Well, that’s the way I feel about the Belfast that was shown to us. The people were all so great that I’d hate if more people went there gawking at them like we did.

If all politics is local, then Seimi is ATW’s only politician.  He knows every corner of every street like the back of his hand, yet has the unusual gift for someone so rooted in a place of being able to see it objectively and in broader geographical, historic and cultural contexts.

Our tour took us from the depths of West Belfast, across the Peace Wall and past some of the worst killing fields of the Troubles, where even Seimi’s chat and humour couldn’t dispel the sense of tragedy and loss, then back on to the bustling and optimistic Falls and through its own modern Gaeltacht (quotation marks would be unfair) to a relaxed café where Sinn Fein leaders and former icons of the Republican movement pop in for a chat.  There’s a fantastic new museum there that for anyone interested in modern Irish history would alone have been worth the trip. My lack of Irish – after 12 years of Gaeilge with the Nuns and the Brothers – was at this stage getting painful. But worse was to come.

I was sort of aware of the progress being made in the Irish language movement in the North, of which Seimi is a leading light. But nothing prepared me for the culture shock of the Turas language centre in the heart of Loyalist East Belfast! Do you have to be Irish to appreciate fully the courage of a Gaeilge school being set up by the sister-in-law and wife of prominent members of a Loyalist paramilitary organisation in the area where it once did a lot of its sectarian killings? You go with Seimi to that Methodist centre and talk with people whose thorough human decency and commitment to reconciliation are humbling indeed.

The white field in the Tricolour has been a bit problematic, I always thought – the aspiration for peace between the Orange and Green, the white of surrender to despair at continuing sectarianism, maybe a thick visual Peace Wall between the two traditions? When my companion asked Seimi when he believed the big sectarian divide would finally be overcome, he impressed us both by saying with the resignation of the true expert that it would not happen in his lifetime, but that his children would see it. Still the effort is being made.

People like that aren’t really the type who shout on blogs; they are out in the field actually doing something to make a miracle happen. It occurred to me that the people of West and East Belfast that I met are giving a new meaning to that White field: a fresh space to sketch out new possibilities, a new sheet being turned over and an empty page where an entirely new narrative of what it is to be Irish can be written.

There is no political divide totally intractable after Belfast. If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere: the racial divisions in US cities, Israeli-Palestinian, Kosovo, you name it.

136 Responses to “White, Orange and Green”

  1. Great post Noel, very descriptive and heartfelt. As to the issue of sectarian division, without being pessimistic ,perhaps it will never disappear as it forms so much of the ingrained identity of 2 large population groups who share that territory but in time as peace and commonality become the norm in the province, the political nature of the relgous/sectaran divide will simply fade in day to day importance and sectarian identity will register as just a personal detail in the way protestant/catholic denomination is seen in most parts of the rest of the UK and Ireland.

  2. Nice one Noel.

    The city has transformed so much physically and mentally in the past twenty five years that it’s almost unrecognisable. I’ve been away now almost thirteen years and there’s nothing I enjoy more when I’m back than starting out in the morning and spending the day walking through WB to south and then further to east Belfast to marvel at just how much things have changed before walking back to town for a bacon & egg soda and a pint of some of the greatest stout in Ireland in that hidden gem you were imbibing in. I should add that not a million years ago the walk through east Belfast wouldn’t have been possible

    There’s a good contrast drawn between you first and last visit. The sense of hope is palpable in this blog.

    Well done.

  3. I’m envious. I was in Belfast only once, and only for a few hours. I’m glad it changed.

  4. Thanks very much, Patrick. As I said, I was afraid Antifa had stormed your house and made off with my post.

  5. lol no I’ve been away from my computer, sorry for the delay Noel.

    Good Post.

  6. Very well written Noel, and a delight to read!

  7. Oh Noel, you old charmer! 🙂
    You’re far too kind. It was my pleasure showing you both around, and I’d do it for anyone else who might be interested.
    My biggest fault in all this is that I tend to cram too much into a tour, as your tired feet could probably attest to! As I said at the time, I tend to try and gift-wrap an entire city, as the late Terry Pratchett wrote 🙂

  8. It is funny I recall one Mayo woman insist it was greeted white and gold (not orange). She was the mother of a friend growing up.

  9. Green white and gold is a well known colloquial term for the flag.

  10. I know but she insisted not orange which I thought might be a political statement on her part. Just curious.

  11. Oh, Mahons I get it now – I just thought you had put the emphasis on (not orange)

  12. Seimi, The Missus and I will be in Belfast Friday October 2nd on a day trip out of Dublin. I’ve hired a private car and driver. If you’re interested, maybe we could get together for lunch or a drink.

    No need to worry about the virus. By that time we will have been in country 16 days.

  13. Call me Tri Curious….Tricolor that is.

  14. The chorous of the popular Irish rebel song ‘The Dying Rebel’ Mahons:

    My only son was shot in Dublin
    Fighting for his country bold
    He fought for Ireland and Ireland only
    The Harp and Shamrock, Green, White and Gold

    Orange is notoriously hard to rhyme.

  15. // I tend to cram too much into a tour, as your tired feet could probably attest to! //

    Not at all. I don’t remember being tired. Belfast is in fact just the right size of a city for walking around – not too large and not too small. New York, for example, is great fun but for some reason you get absolute knackered after walking those streets for just a few hours, I find.

    I I’d more space, I would also have talked about the great pubs you showed us that evening, places I’d never seen before and knew at most from hearsay.

  16. O/T, But I’ve “discovered” Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin. Great stuff! I’ve always drunk Bombay Sapphire, but Gunpowder has it beat my a mile. My new go to drink.

  17. Orange is notoriously hard to rhyme.

    Probably explains why those Loyalist marching tunes are so bad 🙂

  18. Charles
    I’d be delighted to meet up with you and your good lady wife. If PaTroll can pass on my email to you, we can organise it properly.

    Noel
    Maddens and then the Sunflower. Two great pubs, in quite different ways. Maddens is also known amongst a few of us as ‘the Office.’ Whenever Paul comes home, we always arrange a meeting or two in the Office 😊

  19. Yeah, or two….

  20. Charles
    Jawbox Gin, distilled here in Belfast, is fantastic. I would highly recommend you sample some, if possible.

    http://www.jawboxgin.com

  21. You better hope your pubs will be open by October or Charles is going to have a very dissapointing visit …. a bottle of cider 2 metres apart in the park just won’t cut it 🙂

  22. Have to say, I’ve been in the Sunflower twice and can’t see the attraction at all.

  23. Thank you Seimi, that’s mighty nice of you! We would sure get the local perspective from you, that’s for sure. I’ll see if I can get your e-mail from patrick.

  24. Colm, phase 5 in the ROI is to hopefully be completed by 20 August (fingers crossed). I certainly hope the pubs in Norn Iron will be open!

  25. Colm
    You just described an ordinary Friday night!

  26. Paul
    The beer garden is great, especially because of the size and the pizza bar 😊

  27. When in Belfast a Jawbox gin and ginger ale it is!

  28. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo ‘on behalf of the Police Cheifs of this country’ replies to the POTUS saying state governors are ‘weak’ and need to ‘dominate’

    Please, if you don’t have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut.

    https://twitter.com/camanpour/status/1267531481322262528

  29. God I miss Ginger Ale. The only way I can drink bourbon.

  30. Some of what Trump says on this is correct, but he is so all over the place.

    And he called the governors weak – nice.

    He wants them to ” dominate ” the situation — the way that he dominated DC last night, when there were arson fires close to the White House.

  31. Apologies for 10.27. Wrong thread.

  32. Noel’s report reads like a tourist brochure and is about as accurate as one. He has a ‘guided’ tour and says only positive things. It leaves the false impression that the two communities in NI are reconciled. Unfortunately they are less reconciled than ever and that is reflected in their inability to form a stable government.

    There is much more to Belfast than West Belfast. For a small city it has attractions such a decent museum, architecture, some theatre, occasional good lectures and a few good restaurants. Visitors should not overlook the university area and Botanic Avenue. If interested in maritime things, the Titanic area is worth visiting.

    There is much of interest in NI outside of Belfast. The city of Armagh is a delight, so is Eniskillen, as is Downpatrick. And there is really beautiful countryside in every county.

    Noel, next time try touring by yourself and see other areas of Belfast as well as other parts of NI. Why did you want a ‘guided’ tour?

  33. There is much more to Belfast than West Belfast

    I’ve been away now almost thirteen years and there’s nothing I enjoy more when I’m back than starting out in the morning and spending the day walking through WB to south and then further to east Belfast to marvel at just how much things have changed

    I also believe that Noel spoke about his time in EB.

  34. You are suggesting he go to the Titanic area and complaining about someone else sounding like a guidebook? Dude take some chill pills.

  35. Mahons

    “You are suggesting he go to the Titanic area and complaining about someone else sounding like a guidebook? Dude take some chill pills.” Do you have a reading problem? The Titanic area is just one of many areas I mentioned in Belfast. Have you been to the Titanic area?

    You entirely miss the point of my post which is that there is more to Belfast than West Belfast. If you knew Belfast, you would know that. If you were really sharp you might note that my post is also a counter to the romanticizing of a run down, economically marginal and not very attractive area of Belfast.

  36. Your post appears to be a petulant complaint instigated by your anger at the success of the peace process.

  37. Mahons

    “Your post appears to be a petulant complaint instigated by your anger at the success of the peace process.” What a very strange thing to say. I am mostly pleased with the peace process.

    I note you did not respond to my 1:19AM.

  38. Lovely post, Noel and so well written.

  39. There was no purpose to New Yorkers post other than to offer a completely irrelevant sour criticism of Noel’s post. Noel’s post was a personal observation of a specific visit. He wasn’t claiming it as a comprehensive guide to the whole city or province.

    NYs comment was as ridiculous as someone writing an article about a trip to California being met with a critique that there is “More to the USA than California” and that they should get out of the State and stop treating it as if it was America.

  40. Colm
    |
    “Probably explains why those Loyalist marching tunes are so bad 🙂”

    One of my Dad’s memories of the Poles he served with in WWII was that they loved “The Sash” to march to. 🙂

  41. Nicely done, Noel. I’ve been to Belfast countless times but cant claim to know it that well. Sounds like you had a great host.

  42. Thanks, Colm.

    //Noel, next time try touring by yourself and see other areas of Belfast as well as other parts of NI. Why did you want a ‘guided’ tour?//

    NY, I’ve been through and around the North several times. I’ve been in every part of Belfast and cycled from there to Antrim, Dungannon, Armagh, Portadown etc. I once cycled from Cavan to Enniskillen and then on to Derry. Everywhere I stayed with local people.
    Look, I even once saw Aileen at an Orange March in Fermanagh.

    Of course I already knew a lot of the tourist things in Belfast and the province that you are promoting. We even stayed on the same Botanic Avenue that you now recommend to me; the place was full of bookish people and tourists like you.

    This was something different. It was my idea after the Glasgow conference on community involvement in politics. Reconciliation is, of course, still a work in progress in NI (but your remark that the communities there are less reconciled than ever before is simply insane. Have you even an idea of how things were in the 1970’s?), but I think that even now there is a lot that can be learned from it, a lot that’s relevant for reconciliation and dialogue in US cities and elsewhere. In fact, with increased immigration and ethnic divisions in cities everywhere in the west, there are many lessons to be drawn from Belfast – both in terms of what to avoid and how to combat existing problems.

    One reason I wrote this was that you hear too often on ATW glib comments about politicians and social and community work and things like that. Sure we all love to hate the sociologist. But Belfast is an example how those things achieve incredible successes, and help overcome the damage done by centuries of bigotry and ethnic stupidity.

    Like most people in West Belfast, Seimi was directly affected by the Troubles and has seen some nasty things. I was genuinely surprised at the complete absence of bitterness, his good humour and his commitment to work within and outside his community. He is at any rate less bitter than you are, who have at most been shell-shocked from reading newspapers and watching TV. Seimi’s work, his life, is in the broadest sense politics in action, and that’s another thing we could learn from.

  43. NYer’s inherent unionism seems to have triggered the sour pettiness above. Noel’s post shows WB in a positive light and we just can’t have that and of course, the (IMO widly overrated) ‘Titanic Quarter’ is in east Belfast, just not the tourist sanitised, slick presentation east Belfast that Noel didn’t visit. Colm draws the comparison above with California, I’d say a better comparison would be someone telling a sociologist or social anthropologist visiting Rio to stay out of the flavellas and spend their time on Copacobana.

    Good comment on your host above Noel. One of the least bitter, mild-mannered, affable people you could have the good luck to meet. While those on ATW nonchalantly comment on various issues from the comfort of their keyboards there are also those using their time to pro actively improve things.

  44. Noel

    You have responded to NY with an elegant and detailed reply that frankly he doesn’t deserve. If we are honest his negative comments was posted purely because he saw your post as an Irish nationalist ‘GREEN’ one, and we know that ‘GREEN’ posts make him see RED 🙂

  45. Thanks, Noel, and well explained (not that you should have had to).
    As is well known, New Yorker has a dislike for Nationalists and Republicans which causes him to shift from a balanced, apparently well-informed commentator on US posts, to a hardline Unionist/Loyalist position on NI posts, where he will make the most bizarre and outlandish of claims and then double down on them when challenged. Showing west Belfast in any sort of positive light would therefore be as a red rag to a bull for him, causing him to immediately put on the political blinkers, to the point where he deliberately ignores the lengthy reference to east Belfast in your post, although that might also have been because you mentioned the Irish language with regards to the East.
    Coupled with this may well be the fact that, at the time of your visit, New Yorker had also recently made some untrue, unfounded allegations regarding myself and my supposed membership of a proscribed organisation. He refused to withdraw these allegations and did his usual doubling down. The post in which the false allegations were made was subsequently deleted, however I decided to withdraw from ATW for a while afterwards, only returning very recently. This animosity on the part of New Yorker may well be a secondary factor in his blinkered comment above. You praised me in your original post, so he rubbished the post.

    Either way, judging by his comments, I would highly doubt if New Yorker has been a recent visitor to west Belfast. Indeed, if he has actually ever been there, it would have been 20+ years ago, if his description of the place is to be believed. I remain unconvinced.

  46. It occurred to me that the people of West and East Belfast that I met are giving a new meaning to that White field: a fresh space to sketch out new possibilities, a new sheet being turned over and an empty page where an entirely new narrative of what it is to be Irish can be written.

    A ‘whole two days’ with Seimi, and all the problems are sorted, categorised and neatly filed away. Man it must have been wonderful, with that tricolour invisibly wrapped around the shoulders, with the ‘Irish language’ tripping off everyone’s lips just like in the documentaries. With all that wonderful togetherness that the Warring Tribes have always been known and loved for: Sure, and it must have been great!

    Its a great pity that no-one mentioned that the Peace Walls still serve the same purpose for which they were built which, bluntly, was to stop both sides of the marauding mobsters from terrorising the residents of the particular enclave which was ‘Target for tonight’.

    It is also a great pity that Noel, possibly understandably, only mentioned a ‘Loyalist Paramilitary’ bunch whose relatives were involved in some weird language school; whilst missing out the Republican IRA murderers whose proficiency in killing complete strangers was matched only by their ferocity in spreading their terror tactics onto the Mainland. An IRA which is still in firm control of their own killing machine, firmly in control of the ‘slightly more selective’ punishment beatings; and also, equally firmly in control of the drug trade which they used to abhor, but now welcome because of the profits.

    But let us not forget that the other side of that strangely-named Peace Process is also still very active. I wrote a couple of years back of four Catholic families who had been allocated housing in a ‘Shared Housing Area’, and who were abruptly told to leave by the Police because of UVF threats. As I commented; “all those fancy phrases, all those wonderful ideas, all those high-flying theories about how we can crush the life out of ‘sectarianism’ if only we stand together; are simply not worth a bucket of piss!

    So, I’ll not hold my breath about true change in a British Province: whilst a Sinn Fein leader states that the IRA’s campaign was “justified” and there is “every chance” she would have taken up arms during the Troubles.

  47. It’s good to see that even after his self imposed exile that some things never change and that Mike Cunningham is still the same curmudgeonly misanthrope speaking so authoritatively about Noel’s two days in Belfast from his home in Tyneside hundreds of miles away across the Irish Sea.

    So, I’ll not hold my breath about true change in a British Province

    Not to worry, I suspect ther’ll be a seismic change in your ‘British province’ within the next ten years.

  48. //I’ll not hold my breath about true change in a British Province://

    Mike, you must admit that I did mention the example of how the violence and killings in Tipperary suddenly ended once it was no longer part of a British province.

    Nobody can dispute that that really was a “true change in a British Province”.

  49. Hurrah ! its a long time since ATW had a good old fashioned ‘troubles’ related barney. If only some of the bygone unionist commenters could pile back in to help fight in Mike and New Yorkers’ corner 🙂

  50. I think any self-respecting Unionist would be too embarrassed to try and defend such a weak position, Colm.

  51. It’s funny that such a well written travel post can drawn such ire from some quarters.

  52. It’s funny that such a well written travel post can drawn such ire from some quarters.

  53. It shows working class nationalist and unionist areas of the city in a positive light Charles. That can’t be allowed for some who would rather concentrate on sanitised middle classesque museum, restaurant and theatre tourism or the Johnny come lately minuscule criminal opportunist remanants of a conflict, many of who were mere infants when it finished than those actually trying and succeeding in improving things.

  54. Seimi

    “As is well known, New Yorker has a dislike for Nationalists and Republicans” Wrong I only dislike Republicans like you who frustrate progress and never disavowed the use of violence.

    I’ve drove through West Belfast a few years ago. I have no desire to be more familiar with the place.

    You need to get out of West Belfast more and be less provincial.

  55. Wrong I only dislike Republicans like you who frustrate progress and never disavowed the use of violence.

    The only true and correct thing in this sentence is the spelling. How do I ‘frustrate progress’? What do you even mean by that? And I would love to know how you’re going to demonstrate that I have ‘never disavowed the use of violence.’

    I’ve drove through West Belfast a few years ago. I have no desire to be more familiar with the place.

    So you admit that you are not familiar with the area? Why do you suppose yourself to be expert enough to comment on it then? How many years ago is ‘a few years ago?’ 10? 20? 30?

    You need to get out of West Belfast more and be less provincial.

    To paraphrase your good self – do you have a problem with reading and comprehension? Noel specifically states that we visited east Belfast as well. Perhaps you haven’t got that far in the post yet?

  56. There’s great talk at the mo about setting up a new GAA club in East Belfast. Think there was one up until the early 70s.

  57. That would be St. Colmcille’s, Reg.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31770367

  58. New Yorker came onto this thread claiming Noel had a myopic fixation with West Belfast and needed to get out and see other parts of Northern Ireland. Noel’s responses showed how spectacularly incorrect NY was . That’s all that needs to be said.

  59. //I’ve drove through West Belfast a few years ago. //

    In a Humber Pig?

  60. Funny, Noel.

  61. Seimi

    “How do I ‘frustrate progress’? What do you even mean by that? And I would love to know how you’re going to demonstrate that I have ‘never disavowed the use of violence.’”. Republicans are retro by nature, ie, frustrate progress. You can easily disavow the use of violence by stating the use of violence in pursuit of political goals past, present and future is wrong.

  62. Colm

    I responded to the initial report Noel made not on Noel’s past visits.

    Importantly he did not answer why he wanted a ‘guided tour’.

  63. Republicans are retro by nature, ie, frustrate progress

    Yes, Sunningdale, the Anglo Irish Agreement & the Good Friday Agreement all being examples of when Republicans have frustrated progress.

    Utter drivel.

  64. Ah, you want me to disavow violence specifically where it involves political goals? Selective violence type of thing?

    No, I don’t disavow the use of violence in pursuit of political goals, but, I want to be quite specific here, just as you suddenly are – I do not disavow the use of violence in the pursuit of political goals when all other avenues have been explored and found to be unacceptable, unworkable or where they are simply ignored. Clear enough?

    It is noted that you are no longer giving us your expertise on a place that you apparently drove through ‘a few years ago.’

  65. Just out of curiositys’ sake which parts of WB did you drive through NYer? Were you in Hillhead, Willowvale & Suffolk?

  66. I reckon he just travelled along the Westlink, on his way to Giant’s Causeway or Portrush 🙂

  67. Thanks Seimi. That’s the one.

    I understand good Downmen from the Short Strand and further east are forced to play for St Malachy’s in Antrim. It will be good to see this historic wrong rectified.

  68. Seimi.

    Patrick was kind enough to give me your e-mail. I’ll be e-mailing you sometime!

  69. Reg,

    The Market and the Strand are only over the Albert Bridge. They’re so close they share wives & sisters, (sometimes in the one woman).

  70. Charles
    No worries mate. Look forward to receiving it 😊

  71. Seimi

    “No, I don’t disavow the use of violence in pursuit of political goals, but, I want to be quite specific here, just as you suddenly are – I do not disavow the use of violence in the pursuit of political goals when all other avenues have been explored and found to be unacceptable, unworkable or where they are simply ignored. Clear enough?” Yes it is clear you support the use of violence for achieving political goals. How is it decided when all other avenues have been explored and found to be unacceptable, or where they are simply ignored? And, who makes the decision?

  72. No, it is clear that I support the use of violence to achieve political goals in certain circumstances, which I have laid out for you.
    This is why I said I would be specific, in the hope that you would understand. I’d forgotten that you don’t read very well (©New Yorker)

  73. Which parts of WB did you drive through NYer? Were you in Hillhead, Willowvale & Suffolk?

  74. How is it decided when all other avenues have been explored and, who makes the decision?

    The B Special and loyalist mob burning you out of your home.

  75. Seimi

    My reading is fine. You conveniently did not answer the two questions I asked to qualify your answer. They are difficult but important to establish how likely you are to support the use of violence.

  76. All other avenues have been explored and found to be unacceptable, unworkable or are simply ignored when all other avenues have been explored and found to be unacceptable, unworkable or are simply ignored. No one person would make that decision. Hope that clears that up for you.

    So, which particular parts of west Belfast did you drive through a few years ago? How many years ago was ‘a few years ago?’ Be as specific as you like.

  77. Please don’t use phrases like ‘you conveniently did not answer the two questions I asked…’ when you are a master of obfuscation yourself.

  78. Seimi

    The questions are: How is it decided when all other avenues have been explored and found to be unacceptable, or where they are simply ignored? And, who makes the decision?

    What makes them unacceptable? What makes them unworkable? Please give an example and explain. It could be that lives are at stake, so a full understanding of what you mean is important.

    “No one person would make that decision. Hope that clears that up for you.” Do you mean many people make the decision? If so, how do they do that? Or, do you mean each person would make the decision themselves?

    “So, which particular parts of west Belfast did you drive through”. I cruised down Bobby Sands Boulevard, know where it is?

  79. I answered your questions, but now you ask more? No, I’m not following you down whatever rabbit hole you’re currently in.

    I cruised down Bobby Sands Boulevard, know where it is?

    Lol

  80. I cruised down Bobby Sands Boulevard, know where it is?

    No, unless things have changed in the time I’ve been away there is no ‘Bobby Sands Boulevard’ in WB.

  81. Its probably his mocking nickname for the Falls Road. As to his supposed trip, I would guess that New Yorker hasn’t ever been to West Belfast.

  82. Reg,

    Linda Ervine to be president of new east Belfast GAC:

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2020/06/03/news/new-gaa-club-to-play-on-the-cregagh-road-1961232/?param=ds441rif44T

  83. //You can easily disavow the use of violence by stating the use of violence in pursuit of political goals past, present and future is wrong.//

    I wonder is there anyone who opposes all violence in all circumstances.

  84. I take it New Yorker will disavow the United States, which was founded by people who used violence to achieve a political goal?

  85. Colm & Paul

    I doubt New Yorker has been within 10 miles of Belfast, let alone the west of the city, which just confirms what I said the other day,

    New Yorker has a dislike for Nationalists and Republicans which causes him to shift from a balanced, apparently well-informed commentator on US posts, to a hardline Unionist/Loyalist position on NI posts, where he will make the most bizarre and outlandish of claims and then double down on them when challenged. Showing west Belfast in any sort of positive light would therefore be as a red rag to a bull for him, causing him to immediately put on the political blinkers, to the point where he deliberately ignores the lengthy reference to east Belfast in your post, although that might also have been because you mentioned the Irish language with regards to the East.

    In this particular case, as in many others, he has been caught out in his made up stories, much like the ‘old man in the pub’ scenario.

    I’m actually expecting him to double down on the Boulevard story, and start telling people from west Belfast that they don’t know the area very well, at least not as well as he does, and that he must be in possession of some higher wisdom that us mere Irish mortals don’t possess.

  86. I apologise in advance to other posters, but I’ve just got to know:

    New Yorker – where in west Belfast is ‘Bobby Sands Boulevard?’

  87. You think NY will let you in on that secret discovery ? 😉

  88. I hope so, Colm!
    But what I expect him to write is something along the lines of, “So you don’t know where it is? Perhaps you don’t know your own area as well as you claim to.” He won’t actually reveal where Bobby Sands Boulevard is in west Belfast, but he’ll claim again to have ‘cruised’ along it.
    And then some more nonsense about Republicans being retro or something.

  89. Paul McMahon, on June 3rd, 2020 at 11:01 AM Said:
    Reg,

    Linda Ervine to be president of new east Belfast GAC:

    http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2020/06/03/news/new-gaa-club-to-play-on-the-cregagh-road-1961232/?param=ds441rif44T

    I’ve seen one suggestion on social media that the club should be named the Harland & Wolfe Tones, with the iconic H&W cranes photoshopped to resemble goal posts 🙂

  90. Seamus

    “I take it New Yorker will disavow the United States, which was founded by people who used violence to achieve a political goal?” They founded a country which is different than something like the Kingsmills murders. The American rebels were successful but the NI rebels were a failure. See the difference?

  91. Seimi

    “I’m actually expecting him to double down on the Boulevard story, and start telling people from west Belfast that they don’t know the area very well, at least not as well as he does, and that he must be in possession of some higher wisdom that us mere Irish mortals don’t possess.” It is in your head because it is a song. It is not higher wisdom but too clever for you apparently.

  92. Seimi, he must be talking about Falls Rd past the Mural, if he had the guts to drive down there!

  93. New Yorker, on June 4th, 2020 at 2:43 AM Said:
    Seimi

    “I’m actually expecting him to double down on the Boulevard story, and start telling people from west Belfast that they don’t know the area very well, at least not as well as he does, and that he must be in possession of some higher wisdom that us mere Irish mortals don’t possess.” It is in your head because it is a song. It is not higher wisdom but too clever for you apparently.

    A song? That’s a hell of a climb-down from your initial claims about your knowledge of the area. Why would this song be in my head? I’ve never heard any song, as far as I recall with those lyrics. Perhaps you wrote the song? Can you post the lyrics here? And whilst doing so, would you also like to admit that you have never actually been to west Belfast and actually just made that story up in a poor attempt to bolster you piss-poor argument?

    Seimi, he must be talking about Falls Rd past the Mural, if he had the guts to drive down there!

    Charles, New Yorker is a fraud, who likes to sound authoritative but can’t actually back up his claims with any substantive facts. His comments on NI should carry a health warning, as they should all be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

  94. “They founded a country which is different than something like the Kingsmills murders. The American rebels were successful but the NI rebels were a failure. See the difference?”

    So violence for political goals is acceptable as long as you kill enough people to win?

  95. // the club should be named the Harland & Wolfe Tones, //

    What an inspired name!

  96. There are many, many murals on the Falls Charles but to my knowledge there is no ‘Bobby Sands Boulevard’ anywhere in West Belfast. WB consists of quite a few neighbourhoods,some quite affluent, and I’d be interested to know where NYer ‘cruised through’, if he did at all.

  97. Hasn’t NY’er already indicated “Bobby Sands Boulevard” is a song. An admission that his ‘trip’ to West Belfast was really metaphorical. He was simply listening to this mystery song and probably imaging himself walking through West Belfast telling the residents where they had gone wrong.. 🙂

  98. As some here will be aware, there is a Bobby Sands Street in Tehran, home to the British Embassy, no less. I walked there from my hotel and got my photo taken at the sign, with the embassy in the background.

  99. There is also a Bobby Sands hamburger joint in Tehran!

    The world is a pretty interesting place

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/9bzpya/bobby-sands-burgers-tehran-545

  100. Interestingly also there are several rue Bobby Sands in France. The headquarters of Kappa, the sports clothing manufacturer is 41 rue Bobby Sands. Bobby Sands was an Aston Villa supporter. Kappa make Aston Villa’s tops, and on the Kappa label is their address. So every single Aston Villa jersey will have Bobby Sands’ name written on it.

  101. “There is also a Bobby Sands hamburger joint in Tehran!”

    For a man who starved to death that seems in pretty bad taste.

  102. Phantom, on June 4th, 2020 at 12:35 PM Said:
    There is also a Bobby Sands hamburger joint in Tehran!

    Believe it or not, I went there too. The owner knows all about Bobby Sands and there is not intention to insult. It might seem in poor taste to Western sensibilities, but it is very much a dedication.

  103. There’s also a Bobby Sands Way in Orangeburg NY. Maybe that’s the one NYer was referring to?

  104. “There is also a Bobby Sands hamburger joint in Tehran!”

    Perhaps that is their selling point. ” Don’t end up like Bobby Sands, stuff your faces with our tasty home made Islamic revolutionary burgers and help defeat wicked US and British sanctions and Imperialist oppression” 🙂

  105. My first post generating over 100 comments!! Gentlemen, gentlemen… you don’t know how breathlessly honoured I am. This would not have been possibly without New Yorker’s timely intervention. I hope they some day rename a street in Belfast Bobby Sands Boulevard just to show there are no hard feelings.

  106. Noel

    Who would have thought your post about a visit to Belfast would end up with a discussion about Bobby Sands burgers in Tehran !

    One of the joys of ATW. 🙂

  107. An admission that his ‘trip’ to West Belfast was really metaphorical.

    I don’t think that’s the first ‘metaphorical’ claim he’s made about Ireland either.

  108. I just can’t wait for his explanation as to where the boulevard is! 🙂

  109. Are there any streets in Belfast called ‘something’ boulevard?

  110. Not unless they’ve been built in the past 48 hours or so 🙂

  111. He’s gonna love being the centre of attention here 🙂

  112. //Are there any streets in Belfast called ‘something’ boulevard?//

    I’ve just checked and there’s actually a Titanic Boulevard in Belfast.

    https://www.google.de/maps/place/Titanic+Blvd,+Belfast,+Vereinigtes+K%C3%B6nigreich/@54.6040743,-5.910248,19z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x486109aed91b13ad:0x68d3685c1a900401!8m2!3d54.6039034!4d-5.9102534

    Maybe NewYorker was driving through it and simply confused it with Bobby Sands as it was the other famous thing that came out of Belfast and that’s still being talked about so many years after going down.

  113. I see it’s a road in the (as Paul mentioned) highly over-rated Titanic Quarter.

  114. When it comes to matters Irish, New Yorker is always driving along Bullshit Boulevard 🙂

  115. Seimi

    “A song? That’s a hell of a climb-down”. Its objective was to demonstrate what a dumbass you are and you kindly confirmed the objective.

  116. What song is it?

  117. Seamus

    “So violence for political goals is acceptable as long as you kill enough people to win?” You do not understand. A justified rebellion that founds a country is not comparable to murdering innocent workers. They are categorically different and thus cannot be compared. Understand this requires sufficient intellect: Do you have that?

  118. “You do not understand. A justified rebellion that founds a country is not comparable to murdering innocent workers.”

    You didn’t say murdering innocent workers. You said “the use of violence in pursuit of political goals past, present and future is wrong”. So is “the use of violence in pursuit of political goals … wrong” and thus Washington, Adams, Jefferson etc… were wrong or is the use of violence in pursuit of political goals sometimes ok?

  119. I’ll bet ‘it’s a song’ he can’t link to.

    Serious question NYer: Have you ever been in West Belfast? If so for what length of time?

  120. Paul

    I don’t think he is gonna answer that. He has been asked it several times since he made that claim .

  121. I once took a meandering walk all over Belfast, in the pre-GFA days.

    May not have been the wisest thing to do, but it was something that I wanted to do.

  122. Never been to Belfast. Been to Derry several times as I had relatives there. Back in the early 1990s I Got mistaken for an off duty British Soldier while in a pub in the Creggan area because of my skinhead haircut and English accent. I survived unscathed !

  123. Seamus

    “You didn’t say murdering innocent workers. You said “the use of violence in pursuit of political goals past, present and future is wrong”. So is “the use of violence in pursuit of political goals … wrong” and thus Washington, Adams, Jefferson etc… were wrong or is the use of violence in pursuit of political goals sometimes ok?”

    I said above: “They are categorically different and thus cannot be compared. Understand this requires sufficient intellect: Do you have that?” Stick with fact-checking and don’t aspire above that pay grade.

  124. “I said above: “They are categorically different and thus cannot be compared. Understand this requires sufficient intellect: Do you have that?” Stick with fact-checking and don’t aspire above that pay grade.”

    No you made an argument and when the reality of that argument was pointed out to you even you realised your argument was moronic.

    I take it, if even you don’t want to compare situations, that your support for Washington, Adams etc… means that you are ok with political violence when you support the politics?

  125. Seamus

    In addition to other limitations your reading ability deficient.

  126. So you didn’t say “the use of violence in pursuit of political goals past, present and future is wrong”?

  127. Seamsu

    I said: “They are categorically different and thus cannot be compared.” Do you know what it means to be categorically different? One is a justified rebellion and the other is sectarian crime without justification.

    Have you located Bobby Sands Boulevard yet?

  128. So you didn’t say “the use of violence in pursuit of political goals past, present and future is wrong”?

  129. I don’t think he is gonna answer that.

    Looks like you’re right Colm.I suppose we’ll just have to chalk it up to another ‘metaphore’ then.

  130. Lol

    I knew he’d double down, and double down he did!
    Absolutely shameless.
    New Yorker, you’ve been demanding answers all around you, but you can’t seem to answer the one that has been asked of you numerous times on this thread. I’m gonna give it another go, as it’s quite amusing, watching you squirm and obfuscate:

    Have you ever actually been in west Belfast?

    If the answer is yes, I have some follow-up questions.

    When did you visit? ‘A few years ago’ isn’t clear enough. What year?
    Where is west Belfast did you go? It’s a fairly big place, and I’d like to just narrow it down a bit.

    “A song? That’s a hell of a climb-down”. Its objective was to demonstrate what a dumbass you are and you kindly confirmed the objective.

    Actually, what it shows is that you were lying when you said you had visited west Belfast, and were trying to cover it up with one of your usual deflections and insults.

  131. In addition to other limitations your reading ability deficient

    Oh dear. Logical Unionist the 2nd.

  132. Semi Literate Crybaby

    “Actually, what it shows is that you were lying when you said you had visited west Belfast, and were trying to cover it up with one of your usual deflections and insults.”

    No. It shows you fell for the bait hook, line and sinker.

  133. New Yorker

    Have you ever been to west Belfast? Yes or no?

  134. I think this is one of those threads that might wisely involve everyone returning to their corners and moving on.

  135. Yes, give it up guys, New Yorker’s just playing with you .

  136. You mean let New Yorker off the hook? Save him the trouble of having to double down on his Walter Mitty crap?
    Why not just let him answer the questions he has been repeatedly asked?