Once he fought them tooth-and-nail,
now he saves their skin. There have been many transformations
in politics down through the years, but few have been
as dramatic as that of Gerry Kelly.
see a once committed IRA volunteer clearing a path
for the occupation forces and waving them through
Ardoyne - an area which suffered appallingly at the
hands of the British military for decades- is truly
is visible proof for anyone naïve enough to still
have faith in the Provos, that not only are they no
longer republicans, they are active counter-revolutionaries.
Gerry Kelly doesn't yet sit on the Policing Board
but he might as well because he did a good enough
job, without a salary, for the PSNI on Monday night.
should be clear about events that evening. The PSNI
and British Army were there to ensure a bunch of supremacist
thugs passed through a nationalist district. Gerry
Kelly helped them do their job.
understand if Kelly personally decided against resistance
to the police and Brits. Maybe he thought that sort
of thing was no longer for him. Maybe he feared the
response from the crown forces. There would have been
nothing shameful in Kelly not becoming involved in
the rioting himself, in just walking away.
would be a position with which many of us would instinctively
disagree, yet it would be an honourable one. But Gerry
Kelly did what he had no right to do. He attempted
to stop other people, who do believe in resistance,
from challenging the Brits and their PSNI henchmen.
attempted to pacify the crowd. We saw him clearing
the way for the Brit Land Rovers and how they trusted
him! Did you see how quickly they moved through when
he gestured? Clearly, they didn't suspect for one
minute that he would lure them into a trap. Gerry
Kelly, the former Old Bailey bomber is now seen as
friend, not foe.
was hissed and booed by the crowd but he should have
been chased. He doesn't live in Ardoyne and he should
have been treated with as much courtesy as any outsider
coming in and attempting to tell the people what to
do in their own streets.
different is Gerry Kelly to the old SDLP politicians
who arrived from time to time in areas where they
didn't live, and tried to lay down the law? The irony
was that the SDLP representative, Martin Morgan, behaved
far more honourably than Gerry Kelly on Monday evening.
You'd have expected Morgan to have been clearing the
way for the crown forces but, to be fair to him, he
didn't. It was Kelly who saved their bacon.
it would be understandable if Kelly was urging restraint
in a situation where nationalists were massively out-numbered,
where it was obvious they would be hammered. But Ardoyne
was a scenario where, for once, nationalists were
in a strong position. They had the upper hand. It
was the Brits and the cops getting the hiding. Yet
Gerry Kelly wanted it to stop.
sight of nationalist youths armed with batons, riot
shields, and hammers, getting laid into the crown
forces, is soul-stirring stuff for many radicals and
revolutionaries. It brings back memories of days when
one could be proud of republican resistance.
republicans have been heartened by Ardoyne and the
spirit of its people in taking on the state and ignoring
the Provos. But the challenge is to build on events
in Ardoyne. Those who remain true republicans haven't
been able to do this significantly in the past. Exactly
the same scenarios have prevailed on the Lower Ormeau
and Garvaghy Roads and the Provos have always managed
to put the lid back on.
do what they always do - voice anger to the media
against the crown forces (despite the fact they actually
helped them); send in their 'A' team to reassure the
locals their grievances are being addressed; and then
let the whole thing fade away.
enough, on Tuesday, Big Gerry arrived in Ardoyne to
support Wee Gerry by meeting the residents. It looked
good, it sounded good, but it was all about dissipating
grassroots anger, pacifying people, and securing the
was Gerry Kelly, man of the people, playing the victim.
Normally, you couldn't get the suit off him with a
crow-bar. But a suit doesn't do justice to an arm
in a sling. So Kelly appeared jacketless and in a
short-sleeved shirt, looking appropriately wounded
for the cameras.
those who remain true republicans are unfortunately
letting the Provos set the agenda. Why wasn't the
anger in Ardoyne immediately channelled the next day
into a white-line picket to show that residents were
unrepentant and still raging against the State? There
is a myriad of other activities anti-Agreement republicans
could have organised to show the community there is
an alternative to the Provos.
Adams, Gerry Kelly and their ilk can live with the
odd bit of argy-bargy after a march. What the Provos
fear is people, who have been far too loyal to them
since 1994, realising that their attempts to pacify
the situation wasn't a misjudgement or a bad call.
It was a symbol of how they are now actively upholding
partition and British rule in Ireland. They are not
misguided, they are collaborators.
and booing Gerry Kelly for one night is pointless.
What terrifies the Provos is the possibility of long-term
anger, of people deciding they'll never vote Sinn
Fein again; they'll never listen to anything big or
wee Gerry say; they'll make up their own minds and
do their own thing; they'll laugh at the idea that
Provo leaders are working in the interests of the
working-class nationalist communities from where they
once came; they'll realise that no-one who remains
republican would ever, ever dream of helping the Brits.
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