Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunday Evening

I was working yesterday evening and drove into the town centre on my break. There were lots of police around, some on guard at the two entrances into a car park where a fifteen year old boy was viciously beaten in the early hours of Sunday morning. On Wellington Street churchgoers gathered for evening services. I got to thinking about what that congregation thinks of Ballymena in the noughties. Me? I think it is a horrible town riven by sectarianism, rife with hard drugs and a frightening place in which to bring up a family.

A social worker friend tells me my view of life has become skewed because of the work I do.


EveMaryBD said...

I just saw on the RTE news after Lost that the young boy beaten in Garfield Place, died. I think you might be right about B'mena but from my point of view the only difference between here and Dublin is that sectarianism gives the otherwise mindless vicious violence a "label".

Since I had Ronan I relate every young boy/man to my son. Its my son's 3rd Birthday today and I hope not to be like that boy's mother tonight in 12 years time...

Nelly said...

You know you're right. Sectarianism is just a label. Some of those boys that were charged are from 'mixed' backgrounds.

Talking to the PSNI at work earlier on I knew they were already treating this as a murder enquiry. It was only a matter of time.

God help his mother and family.

God bless Ronan on his birthday.

Sandra said...

It is a terrible thing. God help his family and friends.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that sectarianism is just a label. It is the same as saying that racism is just a label. It goes without saying that the kind of people who carry out these attacks are violent thugs and, in other circumstances they might attack people for different reasons but, if their victims are chosen because of their religion or political allegiances then it is sectarianism. The fact that young loyalists have been claiming responsibilty for doing it and the police are claiming it as sectarian doesn't leave much room for argument.

Nelly said...

This murder is being identified as a sectarian hate crime. And simply it is. But the whole story is always more complicated. Some people from the South (loyalist) area of the town are saying it was not a sectarian attack. Already the tales that blacken the victim's character abound. Something is being made of at least one of the accused coming from a Catholic background. This is a community appalled by what has been apparently done in the name of loyalism. And wanting to distance themselves from it. That's wrong but it's also understandable.

But no matter the religion of any of the accused men's mothers the murder itself fits the police criteria of a sectarian attack and that makes it so.

And it's inevitable that the sectarian label will ensure that attacks like this will continue. There will be plenty of tit-for-tat incidents to come. This is going to be a dreadful summer.

What's the alternative? There is no alternative. This is Northern Ireland. Steeped in hate.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what, having grown up a child of the 90's here in South Africa, I suppose I missed out on the real horrors of apartheid, I can only imagine what it must have been like, but that said, there is still a lot of racial tension around, even here in the Western Cape, which tends to be the most moderate province.

However, I can tell you the times I was out in Ballymena, in pubs, at the Mall or just wondering round with wee Lo, I didn't like some of the looks I got. I felt unsafe, even after nearly eight months. It may have come from the fact that I was in a strange environment, but I think it's deeper than that. The people are different here. I can walk through the township, and all I'll get are smiles, greetings.

For some reason people in NI are, to strangers or people of another religion at least, hostile for no reason.

Don't get me wrong, I love the culture and hope to return, but here most crimes, violent or non, are purely for the aim of feeding children or supporting families or otherwise supplementing meager and inacceptable incomes. Poverty-driven, not senseless violence.

Of course not all crimes have "decent" motives over here, and there is never an excuse for violence except in defence of self and family, but still... I sleep with my door unlocked and a window open. I wouldn't do that in B'mena.

Thats my deep insight for the day.

- Khail

Nelly said...

Thanks for that fresh insight Khail.

Over here community leaders appear to be making the right noises about this killing. I really hope that my pessimistic forecast from last night does not come true.

Anonymous said...

Loyalist South Ballymena? Why do people want to carry on using labels? I was originally from South Balyymena and I'm a nationalist. People have to stop using these stupid categories I'm so glad I don't live in Ballymena now.