lump of rock, half an ocean wide that grinds slowly towards the next tectonic plate producing earthquakes and all sorts of horrible stuff. I nearly panicked at the idea of some massive earthquake, tsunami or seismic shift hitting us all but again I was wrong.
Dr. Matthias Delescluse from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris assured us that we had nothing to worry about. It shall be at least a million years until this plate settles down and starts to do a bit of damage. I reckon this is about the same time that the Euro crisis shall be sorted, England shall win the world cup again and Derry shall take Sam up here for the second time. According to Dr Delescluse, seismic shifts don’t happen every day.
We’ve had our own seismic shift in the New North this past week. The Orange Order is going to start to talk to the resident’s groups, which is a back door way of saying “we’re going to talk to the Shinners”.
David McNarry, who is a former assistant grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said: "The grand lodge has empowered any district, putting forward a reasonable case to enter into discussions on a localised basis on local issues, to do so if it feels comfortable."
Mr McNarry MLA added: "The best people to do this are the people on the ground."
Someone must have bought the Orange Order a bucket of common sense. Think of the things that have happened and the world has not come to an end; no march down the Tunnel in Portadown, Articles 2 & 3 dumped, Ian and Martin becoming buddies. At last we seem to be making progress. No matter what you think about Ian Paisley, the man had a great hearty laugh and could take a joke.
Darren Heraty found out that they can’t take a joke Down Under. He was fined about £1500 for kicking Mr John Elferink, a former policeman who has since become the Northern Territory's attorney-general. Heraty handed himself in, said sorry, and received a fine. End of story. Just as well he’s not a student at home.
Cork University wants students to sign a pledge of honour stating that they shall not do anything untoward in the city or the area where they live.
I think it’s a bit rich of our generation, whether in the UK or Republic of Ireland, which has spent our children’s money, ruining their hopes of a better future, telling our young people that they are not living right. Maybe we should look at our own behaviour first.
The UK is spending £15 billion a month more than it earns, which means we are borrowing £15 billion a month that has to be paid back sometime. We can’t keep this up indefinitely; something is going to have to give.
The whole money system is up the left but it’s an ill wind that blows no good. David Gilsnenan sold eight and a half acres of farmland to three brothers, Seamus, David and Daniel Fagan seven years ago. The land was for building houses in the Dublin commuter belt and was situated just outside Kells in Co Meath.
At the time he got 1½ million euros for it: last week he bought it back for € 60,000. That’s a 96% drop in value. Nice work if you can get it!
But the sale back to Mr Gilsenan is seen as part of a growing trend where development sites on the edge of rural villages are being bought by farmers and reverting to pasture. Tom Crosse, of GVM auctioneers, said there is a realisation by banks that holding on to rural development land is pointless.
We sensible adults, north and south, have behaved like a bunch of madmen, getting caught up in property bubble mania and we are going to tell our children to behave properly. Had we behaved more sensibly we might have had a leg to stand on.
Plenty of legs in Belfast as I write this on Saturday evening; it seems that up to 30,000 people have spent the day marching to commemorate the signing of the Ulster Covenant. I know nothing about it and to be honest I could not care less what it said or what it implied.
The only thing important to me about the signing of the covenant is that Carson was the first man to write his name on it. Now to a unionist man that might be very important but for me, Carson is more infamous for the way he treated a hero of mine, one Oscar Fingal O'Flaherty Wills Wilde, in a minor court case concerning Oscar’s sexual peccadilloes.
Oscar had a dalliance with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the Marquess of Queensbury, the man who gave us the rules of boxing, and for this crime he was punished with two years in prison. Hard to believe that this was 1898 and that now, just 114 years later, he could almost marry him.
The prosecuting counsel in the case was one Edward Carson. He had been a friend of Wilde’s while they were younger and dear Oscar famously said after the case, “He (Carson) prosecuted me with all the vindictiveness of an old friend.”
“Am I reminiscing for the sake of it or is there a serious point to my utterings?” I hear you ask.
There is indeed a very serious point to my ramblings; an event of colossal importance for a million of my fellow New Northerners happened a hundred years ago on the 28th September 1912 and I neither know nor care about it. And it is the same for most Catholics in this fair land.
We live in parallel worlds in Northern Ireland. There is a whole section of the community whose culture, faith and way of life is completely alien to me. I don’t attend their weddings, funerals, sports or anything. They may as well be living in South Africa or Australia. Every now and then I am inconvenienced by one of their marches but other than that they and their lives are a mystery to me.
Edward Carson, unionist hero, statesman, upholder of unionist rights, is for me the so and so who put my beloved Oscar in jail.
What a world we live in! Maybe we should sign a pledge like the students in Cork, to be respectful of our Protestant and Catholic neighbour, to speak to them once in a while, (not too often in case they try to convert us to the other side) and to take our heads out of the clouds and look at what we are really doing to our community.
We could all start with a cup of tea in the local tea shop-if we can find one. One in five shops in Northern Ireland are now closed. Our town and villages are becoming ghost towns with boarded up windows and the newest fad is the painted imitation shop front. We are living through a mighty change in culture where our towns and villages shall be unrecognisable in a few years.
But we shouldn’t lose faith. Something always happens to fill the void. Perhaps specialist shops like dressmakers or cobblers shall return as rents go down and trades people want to try something new. There’s a whole new world awaiting us and we can’t see it because of money worries and fears about jobs and things.
Things might have been so different if “de little man with de moustache” had had his way. “Militargeographische Angaben uber Irland,” was Adolf’s plan for the invasion of Ireland. Now that would have been marching.
“Ve must not invade Irland on de 12th af Juli. A villion Orangymanns par-adding is too much for even de Fuehrer’s glorious storm troopers.”
History gets written in so many ways; there is the history of the victors, the history of the defeated and the history of the oppressed. I wonder which one is right. Was the Ulster Covenant a good or bad thing? Would the Civil Rights Movement have forced change quicker if the Provos had never emerged out of the boiling cauldron that was Northern Ireland?
Friday is the fifth of October. For those of us who have lived through the Troubles this was the day that they truly began. For many people the sight of the RUC man using his baton on a man who was standing quietly in a line of protestors showed us what was really thought of the Catholics. The fact that it was on TV and could not be denied, and then shown all around the world, only added to our sense of injustice.
We were brought up to believe that we were Irish and that the “Britishness” of our unionist neighbours was only pretence to justify the Protestant Ascendency.
I’m not sure if I believe that any more. I am not denying the Protestant Ascendency but I have come to believe that a large section of our population regard themselves as British in the same way as I regard myself as Irish; it is my culture and my heritage, what else can I be?
If this logic applies to me then why should it not apply to my unionist neighbour? So they keep marching and we keep ignoring them. Is that an answer to our problems? I think not.
We are enjoying a time of relative peace. It may be a sham peace like the sham fight in Scarva, but it is the best we have. Perhaps we should begin by asking ourselves some hard questions; do we really want peace or are we comfortable in our tribalism? Are we prepared to discuss with each other the fact that we are not fully Irish nor are we fully British and that definitely neither Britain nor Ireland want us?
I sit here thinking to myself, pondering how society works and how we put up with so much injustice. As the rich get richer and the poor more numerous are we heading towards either breakdown or something new? I think it’s something new.
People have a way of functioning in the world in order to make their community work. Every week this and other local newspapers report what ordinary people are doing at ground level and how this or that function is being held to raise funds for such and such cause.
That’s what people do when the ordinary people become detached from the “elite.” We have learned from bitter experience that government and politicians are not capable of running society in such a way as to benefit the ordinary people; big money and special interests are too powerful.
We become, like me and the Orangemen, marching to commemorate the signing of the Ulster Covenant; we live in parallel worlds. I have nothing to do with, do not understand, nor do I wish to understand, the world of the rich. I live a life that has nothing in common with them. And so do the vast majority of the ordinary people who shall read this.
So how then does society function?
Oswald von Nell-Breuning
The Catholic teaching of “subsidiarity” comes into play. The principle of subsidiarity was developed by German theologian Oswald von Nell-Breuning. His work influenced the social teaching of Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno, a teaching written in 1931 to state the proper course between rampant capitalism and communism. In this document Pius states:
“It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and industry.”
In other words an individual should be left to do what he can do best. When the enterprise, whatever it is, gets too big for one person then a group becomes involved, and when it is too big for a group then local government takes over. It continues like this to the top, where national governments look after national issues.
But national governments have become too involved in every detail of our lives, and they have made a mess of it. The natural result of this is that we no longer even recognise their authority in the small things of life; they legislate and we ignore.
And now when the money has run out, rather than take the money off the rich to run the country they let community groups like Charis, St Vincent de Paul and the Sally Ann do the work for them.
Good, honest, simple people organise charity events, collections and whatever else they can do to take over the work that was never really the governments in the first place. It is not hard to see the face of Christ in these good people.
At least we have the knowledge that the work these groups are doing is based on sound Christian teaching and is the experience of mankind for a thousand years.
Just as I let the Orangemen march and I ignore them, so shall I let the “elite” go on in their greed and I shall work with the “little people” who are the salt of the earth.
“Our God is a great God.”
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