|Only one of these fires in the heart of Derry on the middle of a busy road is illegal.|
This is how you ensure division and undermine the potential of the working class. I wont join the chorus degrading young working class people.
What's taking place in Derry and across the North happens every summer and has been happening for as long as I can remember.
It is much more complicated than the narrative constructed by the political establishment and peddled by the media.
I don't condone sectarianism. Far from it. I don't want to see our communities flooded with smoke and toxins from burning wood, plastics and rubber. It's sad to see the working class use violence on each other. It genuinely concerns me that vulnerable people in our community feel frightened and intimidated.
Listening to the commentary though, it seems no one seriously wants to tackle the issue.
The usual talking heads want to scream about 'poor parenting' or condemn our youth as 'off the rails'. They want us to believe all this happens in a vacuum. They seem focused on narrowing and limiting the discussion to how we can 'control' young people. Yet none seem concerned in discussing how we can begin to provide opportunities for our young people to lead.
It's obvious when listening to this commentary on bonfires and attacks at peace walls that the political establishment is only too happy to talk of the 'lawlessness' of 'these' youth. Not one of them recognise that they spend year in, year out, disenfranchising young working class people and their families. Not one of them want to recognise the legacy that they've left for our young people and unfortunately there is not a journalist with the principle or back bone to put this to the so called leaders of working class areas.
When you spend election after election stoking sectarian tension, drawing tribal lines and peddling the lie that you're unemployed, have no access to further education or that homelessness is a real possibility in your future, because 'them' on the 'other side' are to blame then you have no right to act surprised or outraged when tensions rise and anger is directed at the "other" . It is your doing, when you mock and misrepresent those of us who speak of solidarity over sectarianism you encourage exactly what you're now feigning an outrage about.
Let's be honest: young working class men and woman of all communities continuously fall victim from all quarters. Seen as expendable and preyed upon by the state. Exploited and forced to work zero hour contracts, failed by the education system, demonised by the media and dictated to and abused at the hands of the church.
Since when have these Cllrs, MLAs, social/political commentators ever given a shit about the working class people of The Bog or The Fountain? I don't remember them lending their voices or commentary to the resistance, or in defence against public housing to be sold off to private associations in our communities. In fact I remember well these politicians attempt to deploy sectarian tactics when "consulting" on a proposal to cut either a residential care home in the Waterside or The City side of Derry, the people of Derry refused to be divide and neither were cut.
When our communities are filled with smoke tonight, flags are burnt and if anti-social behaviour occurs I blame the establishment that has been using the working class of all sides as fodder for generations.
Provide opportunities. Make education, housing, and employment a priority. Not only a priority but make homes, employment and education a reality. Resist drawing tribal lines, get off the backs of working people, allow them to love whoever they want and have control over their own bodies and you'll see a dramatic decline in sectarianism and anti social behaviour. Truth is, the establishment understands exactly that bonfires and tensions are a direct result of the divisions they sow and the rights they deny. They believe it a price worth paying though. The solution won't ever be found with them.
I cant wait for the time when working class people of all 'sides' recognise their worth and strength, move far beyond bonfires and attacks on each other and realise that they'll continue to wait generation after generation for equality until they abandon the fostered divisions by those intent on exploiting them.
Unite, reject sectarianism embrace solidarity and take what is ours!!
#UpTheWorkers #SolidarityNotSectarianism #FuckTheEstablisment #FodderNoMore
➽Gabhann Mac Cathmhaoil is a Derry branch activist with People Before Profit.