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Reply to Anthony McIntyre

Steve McWilliams • 5.9.02


"The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association were flagging up the situation of republican prisoners. I worked to quell the cynic within me which was saying ‘still holding up traffic’. While supporting the demands of such prisoners for segregation I wish they would desist from whatever it is that causes them to go to prison to begin with."

What causes them to go to prison? Nationalism, patriotism, a strong sense of identity, of community. The searing memories of centuries of oppression, discrimination, terrorisation, genocide, bigotry, sectarianism.

Like you, I do hope that soon, the children of Ireland know of the above inhumanities only from history books. I am not optimistic, but I do manage to hold on to hope.

On an aside, it seems to me that the people of Ireland insist on comparing Ireland's long-standing woes with America's blacks. Why!? In a stark contrast, the blacks rarely ever resisted their bondage (possibly because they endured bondage at the hands of their neighboring tribes back in Africa), rather tending to accept it as their lot. Slavery in America was more economic expediency than institutionalised racism.

Obviously I do not know, for I have never been to Belfast, but I would tend to dismiss the label of "City of Hate" applied to Belfast. Perhaps a city where hatred is all too often displayed, but one where also (I hope) love, kindness, brotherhood, community are also experienced. Perhaps I am only blindly optimistic, preferring to insist that there is good in everyone - yes, even the likes of Paisley, Robinson, Trimble, Thatcher, Major, and others. As for a "United Ireland by 2016", I think not, but maybe in my lifetime.



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