When will Irish lives matter, too?

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UK Black Lives Matter go on as if they’ve been the only ethnic minority subjected to racism. They should look at the bigger picture – and, in particular, reflect on how the Irish have actually had it harder than them.

When will Irish lives matter, too?

I feel those #BLM protesters in the UK should count their lucky stars that some of their deplorable behaviour – such as defacing statues of war heroes and attacking British Bobbies  – hasn’t been met with extreme force by the police… yet.

They should remember that there was actually a time when British authorities didn’t hesitate to shoot dead their own unarmed civilians who were participating in a peaceful protest. Let’s not forget Bloody Sunday in 1972, an atrocious act far worse than the deplorable death of George Floyd.

On that fateful day, British paratroopers indiscriminately sprayed bullets into a peaceful crowd – some waving white flags in a desperate effort to stop the massacre – on the streets of Derry. Do you know how many British citizens died that day? Thirteen died immediately  – many of them fathers with young children and another with an unborn child on the way – and a further one much later in the hospital. Twenty-six others were injured.

So where was the outrage when only one of these paratroopers, only known as “Soldier F”  – who was described as a “homicidal maniac” – was finally charged last year? I know the wheels of justice move slowly, as the old adage goes, but – come on! – it took almost 50 years here to get the ball rolling.

It really begs the question: why don’t Irish lives seem to matter? I apologize in advance for turning the air blue, but where are the f**king mass riots protesting about only one murdering b*****d out of 16 soldiers – supposedly carrying out orders for Queen and Country – who will maybe, just maybe, finally face the music?

A mockery of justice

It’s as if nobody seems to care very much about the memory of these 14 people – all British subjects – being gunned down in cold blood by their own people.  

“It makes a mockery of the UK justice system that only one paratrooper will face trial for the Bloody Sunday massacre,” I wrote in on one of my Irish Sunday Mirror columns last year, which you can read here.

I even doubt there will be much, if any, outrage in the biased English media, or any mass protests on the streets of London, if  – God forbid – justice is not served in this apparently open-and shut case, which has been hampered by the fact that the British army destroyed the (smoking) guns to get rid of any evidence.

The worst-case scenario of a not guilty verdict here would only reconfirm my suspicions that Irish lives simply don’t matter as far as the British public is concerned.

No Blacks. No Irish. No Dogs

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised by how it’s all being handled because we are, after all, talking about a country where it was permissible to advertise a flat for rent back in the 1960s with a sign declaring, “No Blacks. No Irish. No Dogs.”

Johnny Rotten, of Sex Pistols fame, was so disgusted about it that he ended up using it as the title of his memoir as a kind of two-finger salute and poignant reminder of the discrimination his own Irish parents faced when they emigrated to London.

I don’t want to Brit bash here, because I’ve made some close English friends, who have warmly welcomed me into their homes. I should also acknowledge that their Queen played her role admirably in her attempts to heal the wounds with her historic visit to Dublin in 2011, during which she bowed her head to lay a wreath at a memorial for the Irish who died fighting for independence.  

But I’d be lying if I said I’ve never witnessed any racism against us Irish in the UK. It feels like most Brits seemed to lump us Irish – north and south – into one melting pot. One memory that still sticks out is seeing a group of Dubliners wearing Republic of Ireland football tops – and not Northern ones, where all the trouble was going on – being spat at by middle-aged men back in the 1990s when the Tube was forced to suddenly stop, because there was a “suspicious parcel” on the tracks.

Paddy is our N-word

I’ve repeatedly been called Paddy – the derogatory term used by the British to describe us Irish, which is just as bad as the N word, as far as I’m concerned. And I was once forced – and this was in the noughties after the Troubles had ended – to vacate a bar, ironically in neutral Switzerland, of all places, when a group of British louts heard my accent and menacingly threatened me. 

I agree with my former journalist colleague Michael D. Higgins – whom I’d regularly bump into before he became president of Ireland – when he said earlier this week that Éire – the Irish word for Ireland – and Africa have much in common.

“Ireland brings to the African table its own experience, not only of an economic, social, political domination, but also the experience of a suppressed culture, exile and, frankly, of racism,” he said.

As the Jimmy Rabbitte character said in the Roddy Doyle movie ‘The Commitments’, “The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once and say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.”

You can still watch it here on YouTube – but be quick, as it will probably be removed soon by the PC police with their ridiculous OTT censorship of erasing harmless material, such as the Fawlty Towers episode making fun of the Germans.

I’ve always just laughed off any slightly offensive racist jokes in TV shows about “Paddies” – like the stereotype of a dodgy Irish builder in both Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses, or the leprechauns in the cringe worthy Disney film Darby O’Gill and the Little People. But I would never wish for them to be consigned to the dustbin.

But it’s certainly no joking matter how BLM protesters have been causing mayhem on the streets of London and elsewhere over the death of the ex-con George Floyd, who is not even from the same continent, for crying out loud. But I don’t understand the over-the-top reaction in the UK, because this gruesome murder at the hands of a white cop was, I’m sorry to say, nothing new or unusual in the good ol’ US of A.

It goes without saying that racism is not exclusively an American problem and I’m not suggesting it shouldn’t be tackled in the UK. But it’s hard not to view the BLM movement as being akin to an angry mob when they brawl with or attack police officers, or deface a statue of the war hero Winston Churchill. I feel they could have easily made their point with a couple of peaceful demonstrations. They should’ve done it all Gandhi style – i.e. peacefully.

Unlike the innocent Irish who routinely risked being locked up when in England just for being Irish – like Gerry Conlon, whose story was made into the film ‘In The Name of the Father’ – the black community there has clearly not been subjected to same level of police brutality as their brothers in the US – and certainly nothing like the violence suffered by the Irish. It makes any ongoing, aggressive protests now pretty much irrelevant in my book. Enough is enough.

The British BLM protesters need to stop going on like they’re the only ethnic minority in the UK and acknowledge that other lives matter, too.

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