He spoke with a passion born of desperation. The landlords don't want their properties trashed. The students want to study. The universities want to help. The cops will enforce the law. We have to pull together!!
It was sincerely felt horseshit. We've been here before, six years ago. We'll regenerate the Holyland. We'll redress the population balance. The wolf will lie down with the lamb. We'll all be friends. Let's have a group hug and Praise Jesus!!
There is no community left. The landlords and universities have won. They had already won six years ago, or ten. Everything since has been perception management. Who knew the horrors? The universities did. They spent six years silencing it. Now they have shit on their face. It doesn't matter. They have the Holyland. They have their campus and no-one can do a thing about it. Between them they can spend £545 million on corporate architecture. So a community had to die. So be it. More will go the same way. That's what this is really about.
The PACT meeting was a time-warp. The venue was different; no longer the smelly back room of a church, but the Lanyon Building of Queens University itself! My we have come a long way. And the politicians are there. It's all one big partnership!
The people from Stranmillis and Rugby Road and Lisburn Road are there talking about sanctions and expulsions and Partnership. There's that word. Queens are gonna have a committee meeting. Stormont are gonna have a committee meeting. I can recall people running round like blue arsed flies, going to meetings about meetings about a mural. Residents and students will paint a mural together and we'll put it on a wall and we'll all have lunch in City Church afterwards and we'll go on the TV and it'll be so good! And we'll have an art festival. And we'll get school kids from some Christian summer camp to come once a year and scrape the dead animals out of the entries and clean the landlords gardens for them and have a barbecue where residents and landlords can sit down together and .............................group hug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The objective is to make Stranmillis and Lisburn Road and Rugby Road and Ballynafeigh and Lower Malone partners in their own destruction. This is what “partnership” really means. The power agenda centres around universities and property developers. Give them whatever they want. For thirty years inner cities in the developed world have been reamed out. Think of London's Docklands. Twenty years ago I was living in a hostel and found myself watching a documentary. New York's homeless talk to Michelle Shocked. Their story is one of public housing projects demolished, their tenants dumped on the street to make way for big money. Affordable Housing?? Fuck That!!! This land is for the Rich. Every square foot represents maximum profit.
Before New Orleans had its Katrina Moment, its Mayor, Ray Nagin, was evicting his fellow blacks from public housing so he could sell it off to his property developer friends. A reign of terror was inflicted upon the tenants of HUD. Any and every excuse was found. Get them out; by any means necessary. Then the storm came and the levees broke and he cried his crocodile tears all the while knowing that he would be mayor of a Theme Park. The population would not be allowed back. Public housing was sealed up. Private landlords dumped tenant's possessions in flooded streets and waited for the Big Money to flow. On the higher ground Blacks owned their homes. Men with guns from Blackwater came and you would submit to ethnic cleansing or you would die. Don't take my word for it. Malik Rahim was there and his community resisted. They organised schools, they organised food, and they organised guns. They're still there.
The reason I digress is to show that the rape of South Belfast is neither new nor unique. Driving communities from their homes is the way power does business. It's not a conspiracy, it's coalitions of shared interests. Daniel Guerin described it well in “Fascism and Big Business”.
What about our local politicians? They'll help, won't they? Won't they?