Wednesday 24 April 2019

Billy Keane: 'People in North have learned from past - but the DUP is hell-bent on making same mistakes repeatedly'


'The DUP has unwittingly given a massive boost to the possibility of a united Ireland. ' Stock photo
'The DUP has unwittingly given a massive boost to the possibility of a united Ireland. ' Stock photo
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind' asks a series of questions and the gist of it all is when will we ever learn?

Where else would you go from Dylan, but to none other than John Wayne.

For those of you who are not fans of the Western genre, John, or The Duke, as he was known, was a screen cowboy of some note. The Duke (pronounced Dook) was only ever killed 13 times in nearly 200 films.

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The Dook was struck dead by a Mexican lance in 'The Alamo'. He was playing the part of Davy Crockett, an American patriot. It could be that the young Donald Trump saw the movie and had it in for the Mexicans ever since. The president sometimes finds it difficult to distinguish between Hollywood history and reality.

I was about seven when I saw 'The Alamo' for the first time. I cried when John Wayne was killed. I looked over to my dad, who was sitting next to me, and he was crying too. It was in The Plaza cinema, here in Listowel, and as I write I can see my dad and myself up in the balcony.

I am a lot older now than he was then. Strange, isn't it, how you can become older than your own dad? Strange, too, is the notion of how history repeats itself, time and time again. The learning curve is a straight line.

'The Alamo' was shown during Lent and it was the custom of the men back then to go off the drink for the full 40 days. The abstainers used to go to the cinema to stay out of harm's way.

'The Alamo' was shown on consecutive nights, and one of the sober men got carried away on night two. He shouted out, "Watch out John, he's coming at you." John Wayne didn't heed the warning and he was impaled a second time, and the man who warned him went back on the drink, prematurely.

The British government is caught up in a continuous loop showing the same old movie time and time again, with the same disastrous ending.

The British people are very well disposed towards Ireland. Some know a little of our shared history. The problem for most is to try to keep track of all of the slaughters and all of the massacres and all of the injustices in the countries they ruled.

There is no such excuse for Theresa May. She is, or should be, a specialist.

Last week the British Supreme Court ruled a British government investigation into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 was not carried out to the required human rights standard.

The court left the question of whether or not there should be a public inquiry to the British government. The judgment was encouraging in that the highest court in the land backed the Finucane family's fight for justice. It's a big change from the time of the Birmingham Six.

Theresa May did not commit to the Finucanes' request for a full public inquiry. What has she to hide? Is it ever the same? Theresa May did give us the backstop but she did not get the support she deserved from either Labour or her own party, who are so lacking of any understanding of our shared history.

The ignorance of Irish affairs is endemic. The same mistakes are still being repeated on all sides. Jeremy Corbyn is stuck in his own remorseless ideology. He is really in favour of Brexit stage left. Ireland is but an afterthought.

For a while, we were spoiled. John Major understood Ireland and built a beautiful friendship with our then-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were best pals. They were huge players in the Good Friday Agreement.

David Cameron apologised for the murder of civilians at the peaceful protest in Derry known as Bloody Sunday.

But then Karen Bradley showed her lack of knowledge of her brief when she said there were no murderers in the British army. She did not apologise on the day after her ignorant remarks, but she has now. Because she was told to do so by her boss. Karen Bradley is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. She hasn't learned from past mistakes. Karen Bradley shows the mindset hasn't changed. She too is a character in search of a part in Tory groundhog day.

The dynamic is changing in the North. Our brothers and sisters are learning from the mistakes of the past. Recent polls show nearly 70pc of voters are in favour of remaining in the EU. This would suggest close on a majority of unionist voters are pro-remain. When will the DUP ever learn? It is petrified of a united Ireland. Fair enough. As a constitutional republican, I would like nothing better, but you can see where it is coming from. That's its tradition but the DUP would best serve those who follow the party by abandoning Brexit.

The more the EU is involved in Irish affairs, the more united we will become as a people, but there will be less likelihood of a united Ireland. The one-time unionists may say the EU works for us. Why change?

There is a strong possibility of a majority vote in favour of a united Ireland within a few years due to what will be a disastrous Brexit.

The prospect of remaining in the EU might well convince one-time unionist voters to switch over to a united Ireland. The DUP has lost much of its traditional farming vote. The farmers are dependent on the Common Agricultural Policy.

The DUP has unwittingly given a massive boost to the possibility of a united Ireland. It too is stuck in the morass of its own narrow thinking. We have no parliament in the North and the DUP is solely to blame. Sinn Féin's demands for an Irish language equality bill were not extreme. The DUP does not want a functioning parliament as it is afraid the legislature will come out in favour of a united Ireland or will go against Brexit.

Back around the time of 'The Alamo', the movie, we didn't even have 'one man, one vote' in the North. The Troubles ensued. It took years and many deaths for the traditional unionists to realise the old ways were rapidly changing.

The DUP must give the people their say by opening up a democratically elected parliament to help us through Brexit. There is 'one man, no vote' at present in the North.

The violence is never far away. Use your head and learn from the past. Do not allow those who will never learn to visit death and destruction on all of us. There can be no more repeats. We must make our own movies.

Irish Independent

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