Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Latest Outrage

First they threw bottles through her window, leaving her baby to crawl through broken glass.
Then they stole her garden bench.
Then they stole her pram from outside her front door.
Now the latest outrage.
A student walked into her house, forcing his way past her. He walked up the stairs and climbed into her childs bed.
She screamed at him.
He ignored her.
She dialled 999 then hammered on the window until a neighbour came.
He ignored both of them.
The police arrived.
He calmly walked down the stairs.
"Apologise to her!!" The police weren't taking the piss.
He smirked at them.
He wasn't drunk, he wasn't off his head. He knew what he was doing. He had not gone into that house by mistake. He gave the cops a false address.
When they drove him home to tuck him into bed they discovered 11 Palestine St was bricked up.He got out of the four wheel drive and ran. Now they had to arrest him.
Of course they'll make the whole affair go away. They have made no arrangements to take her written statement, essential if charges are going to be pressed. When she phoned them their response was,
"Nine times out of ten this thing won't happen again"
They're brushing it under the carpet.
Her nerves are shattered. She wants out, but knows a hostel will be worse. She's applied for emergency accommodation, but may not get it. What's happening to us is not classified as intimidation, so we've no hope of getting housing priority. We're lucky if we get any housing points at all.

The "speak truth to power" moment

"I'm tired of hearing this nonsense that police treat residents different to students"
"It's not nonsense, it's my experience."
"It's nonsense"
Lewis Brown thought he could bitch-slap me.
A voice pipes up,
"Who here agrees with Alan?"
Half the hands in the room go up.
"There you are, Lewis. We must all be talking nonsense. Don't ever patronise me again!!"
Now he gets bitch slapped
Inspector lewis Brown and some of his pals from Donegall Pass PSNI had come to a residents' meeting. The community had turned out in force. The anger in the room was palpable. Every speaker bar one voiced furious contempt for the police.
I was having a field day,
"Ever since Robert Peel, who at least was explicit about it, you people have existed to protect property privelege and power, and to keep the little people in their place. Well you're certainly good at keeping the little people in their place and making sure students can do whatever they want. They're above the law. Eveyone in this room knows that nobody will be prosecuted for the sexual assauly that took place in Palestine street. Your people refused to arrest the ones that assaulted David Farrell. You have declared every one of us to be fair game for students. They know that they can do whatever they want to us and you'll make sure nothing happens to them"
The hammering went on for an hour and a half. Almost everyone in the room gave them hell.
Gordon Douglas, the man from Queens, made some noise about student's exams being delayed as punishment. I wasn't having it,
"Gordon, I have had exams delayed. I have had academic year after year written off because I have to live among your students. This year has been written off because I suffered intimidation at the hands of a builder, something that your officers, Lewis, refused to investigate properly!!"
I was eyeballing Lewis. We were three feet apart. He was terrified.
Thus it came to pass, the speak truth to power moment. The bottom line, as Chomsky says, Is that power already knows the truth. It just doesn't care.

Public Accountability

"So what if I didn't write the article?!!"
Katrina was shouting. She'd wanted a row all night and now, finally, I was fool enough to give her it.
"If you've got anything to say about me come to my front door. Don't put it on the internet!!"
"OK, I'll say it now Katrina. Did you write the article in the South Belfast News?"
"You should be ashamed of yourself!!"
"Did you write the article?"
"So what if I didn't write it?!!"
And so it went on.It was an ignominious end to a resdents' meeting that had seen the community tear the cops to pieces (metaphorically), with one dissenting voice. Katrina, the esteemed chairperson of the Belfast Holylands Regeneration Association, thanked the police for the wonderful service they had provided for her. I commented that she was very priveleged indeed, a fact that was not unrelated to her position.
Katrina, it appears, wants all of the benefits of being a public figure: her face in the papers and on the TV, meetings with Lord This and Baron That (like they care) and the privelege of being the only resident in the Holyland the police actually protect. Well, being a public figure means that you are publically accountable. anyone can write about you on the internet and in the press, or talk about you on the TV or radio. That's the price you pay. That's why Mr. T. hides behind a woman, putting her name and not his on the disgusting article he wrote in the South Belfast News.
It's not acceptable to claim that you represent a community and yet tell them to their faces that you don't care if they boycott your meetings. You have declared your refusal to be accountable and, in the process, lost all legitimacy.
Naturally I'll be saying this to your face at the next residents' meeting.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"We don't want to arrest him"

The girls in 12 Carmel St certainly know how to cause trouble. So much so, in fact, that the words,
"Sluts. Whores live here"
were painted on their wall some months ago.
Now I don't care what they get up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms, but when they take it into the street it's a different matter.
Paddy was going out with one of the girls. Evidently they had fallen out because he wasn't invited to the birthday party in no 12.
Being an aggressive sort of hillbilly, he tries to kick the front door in. When that fails he tries to drag his (presumably ex) girlfriend out the front window. In the tug of war that ensues, the girls manage to pull her back in. He slams the window on her hands. I can see why she dumped him. They call the police.
One by one four cop cars arrive. They try to reason with Paddy who is too busy screaming at the house.
"I know he's in there. I know you're screwin' him. He's the one with the big hard cock!!"
Paddy appears to have some issues wih his sexuality.
By now a row has developed in the street between the girls in No12, their friends from down the street, Paddy's friends and Paddy. This continues for an hour, from 1.30 to 2.30. Four carloads of police do nothing to quiet it down.
The girls are handing out cups of tea to the cops. Evidently the same bimbos that regularly play cheesy republican music for the retarded are unfamiliar with the phrase,
"No More Tea"
Ciaran, the enormous cop with the shaven head, is most popular with them.
"Ciaran, you must play GAA do you? You'd make a great player."
Paddy wants the police to give him a lift home to the wilds of county Antrim. He seems to think they're a taxi service.
Now his mother's on the phone.He hands it to the cops.
"He's causing bother, but we dson't want to arrest him."
They reassure his dear old mother that they'll do their very best for him then walk him to the bottom of the street.
Five minutes later he's back. The cops return. Finally they arrest him.
The landlord of the property, Steven Magill, has shown no apparent interest in his tenants or the mayhem they've caused over the last year.

A Short Note on the Banality of Evil

I read Katrina's article in the South Belfast News recently. I call It Katrina's article, but it's obvious she didn't write it.
"We are pleased that the draft HMO subject plan now rejects PPS1, acknowledges the importance of HMO issues as material planning considerations, and affirms that the subject plan complies with equality legislation"
She certainly didn't write that. It reads like a Housing Executive discussion document.
The true author of it is, I beleive, a shadowy figure who shuns accountabiity like a vampire hiding from the sun. For the sake of brevity and to protect his identity I'll call him "Mr T" and he is in his own way a truly banal individual who does truly evil things. Of course I'm not comparing hin to Hannah Arendt's description of Adolf Eichmann, the dull bureaucrat who sent millions to their deaths in Auschwicz. Well, OK, I am, but only in the sense that Eichmann represents a ubiquitous type. Such people are driven by their own need for importance and delusions of relevance. Ultimately their compulsion becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy.They become relevant and significant as a result of the harm they do unto others.
Let's examine what "Mr. T" has to say for himself.
"In the Holyland around 300 properties, capable of housing families, are lying empty. This number is sufficient to house 40 percent of the social housing waiting list in south Belfast........ if community audits are carried out in other areas they will find that there is sufficient vacant stock in South Belfast to resolve waiting lists without the need to build new houses at enormous cost to the public purse."
Well, that's some bucket of words, none of them Katrina's. So let me decipher it for you. "Mr.T", clearly a man on the inside track, has jumped on the policy bandwagon that says,
"Privatise all Public Housing. Force people to rent from private landlords."
Across the UK Council housing is being liquidated by any means neccessary. The new housing policy is "Cathy Come Home": slum housing, enormous rents (not fully covered by housing benefit), no rights, no security of tenure, eviction on a whim, homelessness.
Never let it be said that banal people don't do evil things.
There is, however, more. He wants to imprison 300 families in the Holylands. He wants to make them live in this lunatic asylum. Now, for the record, there are no 300 empty properties in the Holylands. Almost every landlord property is tenanted with students despite market saturation of HMOs.
Sartre was right. In the end we can only be judged by our actions. And,
"Evil exists"

"Things have changed"

"What do you want now?!!"
He was taken aback
"We have a report from a local landlord that you walked out and stood in front of his van"
"I don't know what you're talking about"
"Your behaviour is bordering on harrasment. If we have to come back we'll arrest you."
"You're gonna arrest me are you? But you refused to arrest the ones who beat up David Farrell?!!"
A student and his "friend" had beaten up David Farrell, a defensless drunken fool, and prominent resident.I watched the cops caution those that did it and let them go without arresting them.
"When I stood up to your people and objected they were gonna arrest me"
I wish they had arrested me, but a friend and witness to the assault talked me down from the confrontation. The cops refused to question either of two witnesses, both of whom had to approach them and offer to give a statement. It was a week before they got back to one of them.
"We also have a report that you approached the estate agent and prospective buyer of a house in Palestine Street"
"What am I supposed to have said?"
"You told them a girl was raped in that house"
"A girl was raped in that house"
"It's not your place to approach them"
"It's not my place to tell the truth?! If I'm gonna buy a house I want to know if someone was raped in it. If you're gonna buy a house do you not want to know if someone was raped in it?"
He has no answer. Now I know it was Declan Boyle who complained.
"And when it comes to arresting people, I spoke to a former member of the RUC and he told me that he has never heard of two people assaulting someone and not being arrested."
"Things have changed"
"Yeah, these people can do whatever they want to us an we're nothing but scum to you."
They're getting into their van.
"If you don't like it you can always complain"
"We all know it'll make no difference"