The murder of Ronan Kerr. Not in my name.

Ronan Kerr; will his name be the last on the memorials? Any decent person will be hoping so but you can’t help but fear that his will be joined by others over the course of time. His is now the latest PSNI death in the long history of terrorist murders in Northern Ireland, just below Stephen Carroll who was gunned down just over 2 years ago.

For many young people in Northern Ireland, these murders will seem all the more shocking, out of the blue and totally at odds with the current lifestyle Northern Ireland has grown to know. I was reminded just how many people on Twitter and Facebook were being exposed to the real horror of these things for the first time – many of them young enough to have been shielded from the worst of the Troubles. Also of note was the very real sense of anger on social media, a platform for people to join together in instant protest at the murder of a young man, going about his business on a regular Saturday afternoon. The #notinmyname hashtag was quickly latched on to and became the vehicle for those unable to do anything else but stand shoulder to shoulder, across communities both on and offline.

It was best summed up by one tweet I saw:

“Do you know a 25 year old? Someone who’s just started a new job? Well, someone just like that was just killed today, for no reason at all.”@theronster

Also very sad was a tweet from Philly Taggart, member of Omagh’s own rising stars Colenso Parade:

“RIP Ronan Kerr. Can’t believe what happened today in Omagh. He was in my class fourth and fifth year. He was a total gentleman.”@PhillyTaggart

The futility of the murder has baffled me. It furthers no cause. Wins no battle. Wins no support.

If anything it will forge communities together. Increase solidarity. Make people more defiant to defend the peace we now have.

Perhaps the forthcoming election will be a chance for those who have previously been apathetic about politics in Northern Ireland to come out of the woodwork,  become part of a record turnout and vote. Show the world that this is the way to make a change. Peaceful change.

To place a bomb or other such device under a car in order to kill someone is ultimately a cowardly act. It’s hardly a fair fight and the perpetrators don’t have to witness the outcome, no mental image to live with for the rest of their life. Somewhere, there were celebrations of this cowardly success. Someone saw them, someone knows who did this. It’s time for those people, the ones who know the names, to be real heroes, to stand up for something that really matters and come forward and share that knowledge.

And all this – #notinmyname

Saint Gerry?

Following his recent appearance on the Channel 4 series “The Bible: A History“, Gerry Adams has come in for a very mixed press.  

Many of his long-standing critics now have another arrow to launch at him, seeing him as the most inappropriate person you could imagine to be presenting a documentary on the last days of Jesus.  After all, here is a man with a very dark past, who has a cloud of allegations around him that is even darker.  

What is it then that has led to Gerry Adams going from the spectre of my youth to becoming a recognised, and often admired, international statesman? Taking his chequered history away, he always comes across as a witty and intelligent man, a clearly charismatic leader and a very determined individual. I assume then it is these skills he has honed over the last 15 years rather than those that led to paths of violence in the seventies, eighties and beyond. He and his colleague Martin McGuinness have become the new men of Northern Irish politics in recent years, with a very well orchestrated PR campaign to show us just how far they’ve come. Nelson Mandela had a long walk to freedom, Adams and McGuinness have an even longer one to acceptance.  

Coming back to the documentary, Gerry Adams has clearly made his peace with God somewhere along the way, I have to believe that. Surely it would be a step too far for him to be touring the Holy Land in a publicity scam. So is he a man of faith now, I do hope so, the documentary showed him praying on his bed and visiting with interest the key geographies of Jesus’ last days. Yes it was well edited and portrayed him in rather saintly light but I must say he was more than convincing. 

Jesus Freedom Fighter

A less conventional view of Jesus from the Churches Advertising Network

Perhaps, he feels an affinity with Jesus; after all He too pushed for freedom, flew in the face of the occupying powers of the day and was a charismatic leader. Is that beard a mere coincidence? Obviously I am in no way comparing Adams to Jesus (be very clear about that) but it is evident that Jesus has entered Adams’ life at some point and the journey towards forgiveness has been one which has yielded positive results not only in his own life but in the lives of the majority of Northern Irish people.  

So what of his critics? They are still entitled to their opinions of him of course, to continue to harbour any feelings of mistrust, anger and heartbreak that they direct at him. I know it takes a lot to get beyond those feelings, I have seen first hand the misery it can bring and the fear of violence that people live under. I also know that this was on both sides of the community. Forgiveness though is a journey, not just a moment in time. Some may never get there.  

Clearly though, even in his West Belfast constituency Gerry Adams is still unpopular, with this graffiti appearing on the Falls/Grosvenor Road the morning after the documentary was shown. Perhaps no amount of public or private repentance can change some people’s views. “Saint” Gerry is still a long way off. 

Gerry Adams Grafitti

Gerry Adams Graffiti on Monday 22nd February 2010