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Billy King


Nonviolence News



These are regular editorials produced alongside the corresponding issues on Nonviolent News.

Issue 122: September 2004

This editorial includes:

Retaining Support, Moving On

While the all-party talks on Northern Ireland taking place this month may not yield miracles, they may be an indication that the log-jam may shift sometime in the foreseeable future, even if direct rule is copperfastened for the meantime. With the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin in the ascendant, it is going to make interesting watching.

The death of old republican stalwart Joe Cahill in the summer was the occasion of eulogies from Sinn Féin and condemnation of those eulogies from many others. But it is clear that Sinn Féin is trying to take its core support with it, and part of this is emphasise the continuity of the current, peaceful, struggle with the previous, violent struggle. The rest of the world may not believe it but if it works for Sinn Féin in taking its supporters with it then it may be part of a necessary evil at this stage. But, as with the loyalist paramilitaries, at some point things have to move on, and whether that will be reached this year, next year, or sometime, well, waiting can be painful but essential. There are many paradoxes in Northern Ireland and paeans of praise for violent deeds may be the least of our troubles.

But we remain convinced that the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater. ‘Nonviolent’ aspects of struggle, used in alliance with violent aspects, particularly on the republican side, have been set aside at the same time as violence has been discarded. The ‘constitutional’ route of party politics ignores many possibilities for campaigning and organising which are implicit in a nonviolent approach. In discarding violence it is ironic that the possibilities of non-violence should not be more fully utilised, and that only the standard party-political model should be in vogue.

However, despite the problems which beset Northern Ireland the current reality is undeniably a vast improvement on what was a decade and more ago. It looks like the waiting game will continue for some time yet.

Ireland And Kyoto
The Republic’s record in ‘cutting’ greenhouse gas emissions has been abysmal. With the Celtic Tiger economy growling, greenhouse gas emissions have been spiralling upwards and not decreasing at all. The Irish government and people in the Republic have singularly failed to decouple economic growth from increased emissions. Now it seems the Irish government has decided against introducing a carbon tax. This may be for a variety of reasons – popular opposition from motorists and hauliers, the low level of effect it would actually have on emissions, etc.

But the question is – what is the government going to do? Sit on their collective behind while the seas swirl around them and the wind blows the country apart? We need imaginative, creative, and potentially costly, action now. Is it too much to invest massively in wind power and biomass? If people react against windfarms in scenic areas, well, what about locating many of them in cutaway bogs? And the problem of commuting has to be tackled to enable people to live as near as possible to where they work. The continued growth in flying has also to be tackled. These are massively big issues but one which our children, and even more our children’s children, will judge us to have failed if decisive action is not taken.

Of course advances in technology, and the growth in the possibilities of hydrogen as a fuel, will help. But we need some serious action and planning now rather than the current approach which is to do nothing or only do anything halfheartedly and ineffectively. Let’s show the world that Ireland really can be green ecologically and not green naively.

Luken From Below
This month’s poem from Lothar Lüken:

Millennium Blues

Blues time now for us old fogeys -
we’ve worn out our ‘blue suede shoes’.

‘The famous blue rain coat’ is totally in tatters
and eclipsed by a spunk-stained blue dress.

We’ve lost the freedom of ‘blueberry hills’,
those shoes, coats, dresses, that innocence.

All emperors are naked and blue with cold.
Yet, sometimes, there’s hope - out of the blue.

[Return to related issues of Nonviolent News.]

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