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Billy King


Nonviolence News


Billy King

Issue 121: July 2004

[Return to related issues of Nonviolent News.]

Helloooo there, I hope the summer is treating you well, and that you are treating it well. Welcome to the last Colm until it's back to school time after the summer (there being no Nun Vile End Noose in August) but let's forget about that for now.

Bush in Ireland
So ten thousand made it to protest in Dublin and a thousand or two in Shannon, and all went very peacefully with the protests over George Dubya visiting Ireland for the EU/US summit. But I have an apology to make to the great people of the USA for how George Bush Potus was treated while he was in Ireland. Unfortunately, it does not look like anyone got near enough to serve him with an arrest warrant for crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war, torture and aggression, contrary to international law and contrary to the laws of Ireland (cf International war Crimes Tribunals Act 1998, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and Articles 6 and 7 of the Nuremberg Statute). And a move in the Irish courts to have him arrested were unsuccessful. On a very minor personal note I might add that because of other commitments, I was unable to get to either Dublin or Shannon and thus swell the numbers by another one. Sorry about all that, folks.

But what I want to know is - where were all the welcoming committees? All right, there was the odd letter in the papers welcoming Pontius (at the start of the Iraq war he posed in a Pilate's uniform, didn't he) but that was it. Which in my book makes it pretty decisively won by the protesters against his visit. It was a stark contrast to Bill Clinton's visits, or even to Ronald Reagan's which also generated many protests. Ronald Reagan's was the one which generated the peace movement slogan 'A million sandwiches can't be wrong' when far fewer than expected turned up to greet him at his ancestral homeland of Ballyporeen, and reputedly that many sandwiches were left over with hawkers who didn't have a prey. Bush didn't want to get near people outside of his fortified camp (the photo of the Irish army contingent going to Shannon made it look a bit like reinforcements on the way to Baghdad). And the world is more secure after the war in Iraq, my erse.

As for the furore over his RTE interview with Carole Coleman, well, you'd see more abrasive interviewing on a weekly basis on this side of the Atlantic pond (it doesn't say much for US democracy that the US president is treated as if he was the chosen one) And as for his security being compromised when official photographs were taken of him looking out the window in his vest. Well! We knew his visit was partly about US overseas in-vest-ments, so that's old news. Or maybe it was a case of the emperor's new clothes. But in any case, what was he doing looking out the window? In his entourage of hundreds he must have at least several people to look out the window for him.

Taking a dump
I referred in a previous Colm to a 'drive by shooting' I was involved in on St Patrick's Day, well, it was a drive by video shooting in preparation for a cycle to the Loughmann Road site of Thales Air Defence (previously Shorts Missile Systems), four miles from Ballynahinch on the Downpatrick road. On 19th June cyclists came from Belfast and Downpatrick (organised by BLEIC, the Belfast and Lisburn Ethical Investment Campaign - any similarity in name to the Foyle Ethical Investment Campaign in Derry is purely intentional) demanding that Thales disclose the sixty countries they claim exports to - because there are bound to be a significant number of countries which score poorly on human rights and other human development criteria.

Thales (the jury is still out as to how the name should be pronounced - ancient Greek scholars please advise) have underground bunkers at their Co Down site where they store and test weapons before exporting to Torturia and Povertana, or wherever they go. This is the biggest arms dump in Ireland, where UK£100 million of weapons pass through a year. The fact that Thales Air Defence/Shorts Missile Systems continued production right through the darkest days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland is highly ironic. Partly being in the heartland of Protestant east Belfast it escaped criticism but unjustifiably so. Now is the time to call it to account. There are 500 jobs there and the shame is that such high levels of skill in engineering, aeronautics, computing etc should be put to such nefarious ends. The cost on the world scale of the arms trade (bolstering up corrupt regimes, spending money on unnecessary armaments as opposed to human welfare) makes such a firm bad news even with five hundred jobs.

All the world's a stage
It's not the bit about us being actors that I wanted to look at. Oh no, though I could. It's the way we divide our own or other people's lives into stages, into befores and afters, I suppose as a way of making sense of life. If you have had a particularly traumatic or significant event, then everything may be before or after that. But the interesting thing I see as a parent is the way my life feels relatively seamless compared to how I perceive my children's. I presume this is because I am 'inside' me, I know what led up to a particular incident or event in my life and so it doesn't seem quite so clear cut in terms of divisions as I perceive my children; being born and early days, starting school, the final year's school play in primary school, their first girl/boy-friends, leaving school and so on.

Undoubtedly what are important for me as I look at their lives, is important for them. But I don't know that I am a particularly 'seamless' person, with one thing running into another. I know I am to some extent, and a creature of routine, not routine routine you understand [No I don't understand - Ed] but things being according to some sort of plan and not always coping brilliantly when the plan goes down the tubes as it must sometimes do - or at least taking a time to adjust.

But as the coffee purist said when he grabbed the appalling tasting coffee, poured it on the floor, and started walking up and down in it endlessly - "You never know someone properly until you have walked a mile in their mocca-sins". [That's pretty painful - Ed] [Don't keep all the sadism for the sadists, I say - Billy]

Hope for the wee North
There may be hope for Norn Iron yet. The 2003 Young Life and Times survey carried out by Ark (and featured in the Community Relations Council's CRC News for July 04) had some sadistics, I mean statistics, which might give some cause for hope. While half of the 16-year olds interviewed in Catholic areas and one third from Protestant areas have no friends from 'the other side', nearly three-quarters favoured mixed working places, over half favoured mixed neighbourhoods and almost half favoured mixed schooling. Four out of five said they had had cross-community contact at school and over half said they sometimes or often socialised with people from a different religious background. 42% felt that relations between Protestants and Catholics would be the same in five years time, 36% thought they would be better, and just 15% thought they would be worse. You can check out the details at

However the usual warnings need to be given about such statistics. Cross-community contact at school might just mean that Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren shared a bus to the same event where they remained segregated. And a willingness to confront the issues that divide people is not necessarily top of the list of things people are willing to do -at any age. In fact sometimes young people can refuse to look at issues by saying that they're all young people together and issues that divide the communities don't divide them, which is a cop out really. But you can make the presumption that the figures quoted are better than for adults and that must give some cause for optimism, provided of course that putting away these radical (!) ideas of integration is not something people do on the threshold of adulthood.

But even those figures indicate how far has to be travelled. Nearly half did not want mixed neighbourhoods, and over half did not want mixed schools. But if those figures were translated into reality then the situation would certainly be better. The final comment I would make is that 'young people as the hope for the future' should not be allowed to be used to let adults, young or old, off the hook of sectarianism and divided living and being.

Spider persons
I once before regaled you with some of the web searches that people put into their favourite search locomotive to end up at the INNATE website. I personally find it so intriguing that I will probably revisit the topic periodically. If someone looks up 'nonviolent protest' or something to do with consensus (consensus without voting, consensus methodologies etc), then it is not particularly surprising that they end up at the INNATE website. Or we even focus big if you put in something like 'bog oak carving' (thanks to me) [I knew I'd see it mentioned here again soon - Ed] [Thanks for asking, the latest work is a thin, slightly curving outdoor obelisk, about the height of a grown human; the advice from the bog oak class lecturer, for outdoor preservation, is to give it several coats of linseed seed oil and turpentine - half and half - and then a sealing coat of boiled linseed oil] [This is definitely more information than we need - Ed] [But just think of those people doing a web search on bog oak carving! They may want to know how to treat it for outdoors - Billy] [Enough, before you get boiled in linseed oil - Ed] [Threats, huh? - Billy] [I'll make you write more about Lynn C Doyle, a k a Leslie Alexander Montgomery] [I said enough in NN 103 - Billy].

Anyway, on to some of the things people were looking for in June, and this is a simple snapshot of a very small part of the traffic. "what the hell is the usa doing in guantanamo bay cuba" is a good starting point though that visitor didn't stay; I regard a 1-page download as statistically insignificant as it takes that to establish the nature of any site. In fact those who input 'livesexcam' (10 people for the first three weeks of June) and came to the INNATE site (OK, how or whereby, we don't know) downloaded on average 1.3 pages which is more per visitor....and we certainly weren't what they were looking for.

There are other bizarre arrivals, such as "montana history 1845" though with the old "Nonviolence in Irish history" pamphlet from Dawn included on the website, and that contains Séamas Cain's history of the 'other' or westward moving Irish in the States, well, maybe it is not quite so strange. "land league passive resistance" led to a 7 page download. "2004 email book of gay and lesbians" made it, and I mentioned before the quest for 'how to spake sexy Spanish online', well this time 'sexy Spanish seminars' made it into the list...and whoever input that then downloaded 4 pages; maybe 'sexy Spanish' is a recognised genre that I know nothing about. "Nonviolent direct action", "nonviolent protest" etc makes it in ("nonviolence definitions" led to 8 pages being downloaded) and consensus appears in various guises. A historical quest for 'crumlin road working out centre" led to a 20-page download. Various organisations such as "foyle ethical investment campaign", "mediation northern Ireland", "tools for solidarity" and "afrifaminewalk", or even "thales air defence castlereagh" and "ryanair racist" make appearances. 'bertie ahern dress' made it in, though it is only fair to point out that it was yeller trousers he wore rather than female clothing, otherwise Ireland would have had its first male cross-dresser marriage-separated taoiseach, which would be quite an achievement. But you might ask why "jean-yves beriou"? I think you're going to have to do a web search to find out......

So, summer is here, time to down tools when you can and hope that the rain also doesn't decide to come down from the clouds at the same time. And in the immortal words of Christy Moore's 'Lisdoonvarna' - "When summer comes around each year / They come here and we go there". I'm looking forward to a change of pace and a bit of a change of scene. May all your holi-days be happy days, and I hope the oul batteries are fully rechargeable. Have fun, and make hay while the sun shines, or, as they didn't used to say in poitin country, make moonshine while the sun is hazy, so til September, over (hills) and out (doors),


[Return to related issues of Nonviolent News.]

Who is Billy King?
A long, long time ago, in a more innocent age (just talking about myself you understand), there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train' and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor around with you).

Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little about horses even if someone with a similar name is found astride them on gable ends around certain parts of Norn Iron).

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