There has been considerable concern around Queen's Student Union about This.
They had little to worry about. No-one showed. As one commenter put it,
"They wouldn't have the brass neck"
He was right. Despite copious posters and leaflets and texts, nobody came. The True Believers of the Socialist Workers' Party stood around in the rain hugging their wet placards and looking ever more stupid. I would have felt sorry for them, but I thought their protest was a cynical prank at the expense of the handful of residents imprisoned in the Holyland.
-No Riot Police in student areas.
An interesting demand. How are we to deal with public disorder? You will by now have seen the clips on YouTube. Should we offer such people a nice cup of tea and a bun if only they'll keep the noise down and stop wrecking cars? There are churches in the area that hand out free burgers and coffee and biscuits to this lot on their way to and from the pub. A representative of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church told a residents' meeting that they should do just that and it'll make things better. I suppose he thought we should pray too. The prayers of many have not prevented the death of the area, nor will they resurrect the corpse of a community that has clearly died.
-No Slum Student Housing
An admirable demand. One might ask where the untold millions in HMO grants have gone. At the recent PACT meeting it was pointed out that the landlords have demolished the area and built a slum. Declan Boyle took great offense at this.
"My properties are to the highest standard. They're passed by Building Control. They're passed by the Housing Executive. There's nothing wrong with them."
Such righteous indignation ignores the obvious question. What exactly are the authorities doing? They have doled out £240 million in HMO grants across the province, financing the rape of untold communities. This money came out of the housing budget, a fact that would explain the presence of 20,000 homeless. The Housing executive is not allowed to build. Instead it finances the private sector through grants and £140 million every year in housing benefit. In a sane and just society this money would be recycled to finance environmentally sustainable public housing. I digress. To demolish a family home and build flats to house 16 students in rooms smaller than a prison cell is slum housing, no matter what the authorities say.
- No expulsions for St Patricks Day.
I, and apparently the Union, had expected a large turn-out in support of this. No show. Why? Perhaps because no-one will be expelled and we all know it. At the PACT meeting Gerry McCormack belittled the concerns of residents to the point of obscene absurdity. As it happens Queens do expel people; if they can't pay fees for example, or their studies have suffered because of health concerns or adverse circumstances. Students call this the "Sweeny Todd" syndrome, but it's not just the head of Occupational Health, Denis Todd, that flushes people down the toilet. The School of Psychology does it too, and this 40 years after they expelled Bernadette Devlin just before her finals.
This brings me to the big point. Queens was once a hotbed of radical student activism. Today it's a cultural sewer. Why will they not fight against fees? Why will they not demand full grants? Why do they not demand decent housing for all? The destruction of the Health Service; anyone care? Apparently not. Water privatisation; anyone listening? Silence.
What has happened to the student body? The answer can be found on YouTube. Thinkers are packing their bags and going. We are in intellectual meltdown. We are also in moral meltdown. Whether it is privileged nihilists high on ethnic chauvinism, or a lost generation who drown their despair in drugs, our youth have no sense of purpose. I could argue that this shows the moral bankruptcy of Christian schooling, and I would not be wrong. I think the larger issue is structural. Thatcher and her heirs have quite literally destroyed society and in its place is that thing understood by Connolly; the morality of the pig trough.