A year and half has elapsed since similar picture was taken from the same window only this time I’m a free man and don’t have to rush back to my cell for fear of being late and losing all my home leaves. I showed my Dad at the time and he was proud but worried for me. Worried about my name being spattered across newspapers by a sensationalist press. My Dad, today, is in Intensive Care in the hospital just five minutes up the road. I’m early as usual and I have time to sip coffee and take in the decor, marble, pillars, polished wooden floors, ornate floral cornicing and a sense of history and skullduggery permeates my very soul. I think of the commitment my father made to this country so that we as children could sleep in our beds at night and the normal decent people of Northern Ireland could get to their work. As I got older I realized that most days my Dad went to work he might not be coming home or that if we didn’t check under the car properly for bombs that we as children might not be going anywhere. I’ll say no more of my Dad, he’s critically ill, tired and frightened and I just wish he could let go, breathe out, be at comfort and peace. We grow up in a horror show of hate, bigotry and evil that still runs through the veins of those in power; some who are standing nearby and some who just stuck there head round the door turned up their noses and walked back out again.
Is this it then, this place of so called peace. Peace has to be fought for or does it? I spent six years in jail four here in Northern Ireland where the wings where divvied up 50/50 Protestant and Catholic. I only ever heard one utterance of sectarianism out loud during my whole time there. This by a guy who was permanently off his face, who intimated and bullied the weak and thought he was someone affiliated to an organization but was soon told where to get off. You see we had to live together, we had no choice. It was not something one could opt out of. Personally I found it quite powerful that the heavy hitters where able to sit round the breakfast table and chat about the wrong doings being inflicted upon them by the authorities. At one stage two guys from opposing sides got together for a little chat. The atmosphere on the wing was electric. Then the circle started to fill up with staff, the staff on the wing looked quite pale. For me it was pure magic. These guys realized they had a common enemy. It wasn’t each other or what each other stood for.
So, I find myself attending a Participation and Practice of Rights Event concerning the Right to Equality and Housing. The people there are normal people like you and I who live in shit and are treated like shit. There is lopsided allocation of housing that falls in the favour of Protestants but this does not exclude the rights of my community either. I don’t know if it’s’ OK to use peoples pain as political tool. I’ve seen it in South Africa and I’ve seen it here. There are areas of social deprivation on both sides but as long as we continue to create ‘both sides’ or “us and them” there will always be inequality. The trouble with inequality is that there has to be some sort of equality in the first place. I’m sorry but the majority of politicians I have to listen to see themselves as speaking for the people but really only tow whatever their particular party line is and that has been handed down from one bigoted bastard to another. A friend of mine once declared that Northern Ireland was full of 1.8 Million Bastards. Not me mind, I’m a different type of bastard. What I see is a big pile of non-sense. I see some good people attempt to throw their hat into the ring and make a difference but once they get into politics they become sullied by it.
Power is corrupt –
I’ve been fighting for the right to vote inside prison for years. Trouble is now I’ve got one who the hell do I vote for? Can I vote for myself? Should I stand up and be counted? In relation to the equality issue on housing I find it hard to put into words the sorrow I feel as I walk round our beautiful city a free man and see so many derelict buildings and unclaimed land that could be used for housing. There is no Orange or Green line going around the guy lying in a sleeping bag by the entrance to Botanic Station. Time to wise up folks. Take control of your politician. He or She is yours to control. Not the other way round. If ten of you get together and lobby him or her then he or she must ask questions on your behalf. If he or she does not then they him or her can be held accountable. If we want the next generation to grow up in peace we must not only use our vote wisely but become a personal pain in the ass to the one who puts their name to what they think we believe. It’s all about reality and perspective folks. Make it real, make it count and make it yours – not theirs.


About micsirwin

I'm a Postgraduate student at Queens studying Criminology, writer, poet and lover of integrity, dignity, respect and morality
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