The cops yesterday returned my swords to me. They've finally concluded that I'm not a madman. I could have told them that anyway, but, you know, they just won't listen.
"No" says Sylvia the detective, "You're not getting your computer back."
Well, I decided to just say
and start posting from an internet cafe. I feel like sending them the bill. The least these fools can do is pay up after trying to silence me.
There was a residents meeting recently. It was the first we've had in five months. Naturally I waited till it was nearly over before I slipped in and dropped my little bombshell.
"this article in the paper claims that a residents group in the Holylands has been informing on their neighbours. I say informing, but how would they know who the resistance are. After all I don't know whose doing what."
"It could have been Rugby Road residents group or that one from the Lower Ormeau that meets in this church."
They know they're in deep trouble.
"I've some other questions to ask."
They've got that sinking feeling. They're reading the copy of the South Belfast News from November that I've passed round. Some are confused, some are outraged, some are terrified that I'll go ballistic.
Now I'm upping the ante.
"Is there a group called the Holyland Residents Group?"
"Whose the chairperson of this group?"
She's not there.
"Then why is David Farrell going to the press and saying he's chairman of the Holyland Residents Group?"
He's making excuses. If Katrina's not available and the press call him, what's he to do?"
" Tell them the truth. You don't speak for this community. And you should not tell the world what a great job you think Queens are doing and how succesful you think the warden's scheme has been."
"You have to say nice things about them or they won't get their funding renewed."
" Well, I've a lot of respect for the wardens. I think they're very good people, but they'll admit that they can't get the universities, and I've discussed this with you",
I look toward Gordon Douglas, the man from Queens,
"at the police meeting. They can't get the universities to take meaningful action"
Gordon's nodding. He remembers the meeting well. He didn't have a good time.
"It's a terrible thing to have to say"
They can see I'm going for the money shot.
"And no, I don't endorse it, but the only thing that makes a difference round here is direct action. Like it or not putting in windows, paintstrippering cars and painting X's on houses makes a difference"
"We can't support that" says Denise from the church.
"I don't endorse it, but it's made a difference."
"When?" says David Farrell" When has direct action made a difference?"
He walked right into it.
"You'll remember a young woman was sexually assaulted in Palestine Street in September. Well every window in that house was broken and those guys left pretty fast. Now I don't endorse it, but it worked.
"Well", says Denise, seeking the moral high ground. I would like to think that if someone saw a house being damaged they would call the police"
"It's one thing," I retort , "to report a crime. It's another thing to inform on your neighbours or, for that matter, stitch them up."
Time for the knockout blow.
" What's the name of this group?"
The Belfast Holyland Regeneration Association."
" This is not a residents group. If it was, the landlords would not have been coming to these meetings for a year and taking them over"
" But we got rid of them", says Denise.
" It took a year and a half and a hell of a fight. If this was a residents group they would have been told to get lost. There are people who don't live here, who have a home address and a term time address who can come to these meetings and vote"
"They're not here"
" If they wanted to, they could be, and they're not residents."
"What have You done?" Says David Farrell.
" I've stood up to students. I've written articles. I've given radio interviews and not used my full name because I'm not a self publicist. And I don't pretend to speak for this community."
"Neither do I"
" Then why are you telling the press that you are the chairman of the Holyland Residents Group?"
He has no answer to that.
" Where is the community?"
There are nine residents in the room.
" This group does not speak for what remains of this community.There are less than 200 residents left. You have regenerated nothing. Things have got worse over the past four years. The community is no longer sustainable."
"Well", says Denise, "If you want to propose changes you can come to the AGM next month."
They want to know why I will not go on the committee. I tell them I can acheive nothing on it. They agree that one voice can make no difference in that forum.
They Wrap it up. I leave knowing that I've said my piece and kept my cool the whole time.
The community has turned on itself. It had to happen. It was inevitable that people would start stitching up their neighbours. At least now it's out in the open and some people are squirming.