13 June 1997 Edition

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Mála Poist

Unwelcome witness

Not a Roman Catholic, I read with enthusiasm a Guardian article wherein the Orange Order's ``grand master'' and ``grand county chaplain'' explained that they see their parade in Portadown ``as an outward witness to our sincere belief in the reformed faith''.

Jesus Christ deals explicitly with the matter of what to do where one's witness is not welcome. He does not say, ``March through their town'', but rather, ``if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you...shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them'' (Mark 6:11).

Do the Orangemen mean to win converts by their marching witness or just, in their sincere belief, to disobey Jesus the Lord?

T. Hutchison McFadden
Sometime doctoral candidate in theology,
Pembroke College, Oxford.

Exciting times

A Chairde,

Congratulations to Caoimhghín O Caoláin, TD on topping the poll and being on the list of top 10 vote-getters in the country and fair play to the electorate of Cavan-Monaghan. A great result for all the other Sinn Féin candidates, especially Martin Ferris. The many years of working for people and with people in the community is now paying off in terms of votes both North and South.

In Dublin North West we didn't have the opportunity of voting for a Sinn Féin candidate but we tried to do our bit and almost succeeded in getting rid of John Bruton's other best friend, Frankie Ross. A vote for Democratic Left is a vote for Fine Gael.

The dire warnings of a hung Dáil from Bruton and Bertie Ahern went unheeded by the electorate. People don't like being dictated to as to who they should vote for and were not impressed with either of the government options on offer. It's now up to Ahern to put together a government which reflects the choice of the electorate, including the choice of the people of Cavan-Monaghan. I think it's good that Caoimhghín O Caoláin is going to take his seat - we need a change from the political clones in Leinster House. We live in exciting times.

Máire Ní Mhuircheartaigh,
Dublin 9.

Don't throw out those leaflets!

A chairde,

Could I appeal to all of our candidates who stood in the recent elections (Westminster, Six County Local Government and 26 County General Election) to send me copies of material produced for these campaigns. Any material received will be lodged in the Sinn Féin collection in the Linenhall Library here in Belfast.

The Linenhall has been collecting material relating to the conflict in the Six Counties since 1969. Their Sinn Féin collection ranges from the most ephemeral - stickers, leaflets, posters - to a more substantial collection of books, pamphlets, manifestos and audio-visual items. The Linenhall's collection is complemented by a complete press cutting service spanning the entire period of the conflict.

I would appeal to all of our candidates not to throw out any materials, but send them to me at the address below. The Linenhall is of course interested in any material going back over this last thirty years.

Councillor Tom Hartley,
Belfast City Council,
City Hall,
Belfast BT1.

Annoyed and disappointed

A chairde,

I am annoyed and disappointed by Michael Kennedy's remarks regarding Marie Jones (An Phoblacht 22 May), as obviously he is not au fait with the person or with her work.

As the particular play referred to was on the topic of football, and to continue this theme, to refer to Marie as ``the Belfast actress who has written a play'' is like referring to my former Cork neighbour Roy Keane as ``a Mayfield lad who plays football''. Both statements are true, but well short of the reality of what is involved.

Marie is to the fore of progressive theatre in these islands. Her exploration of political, social, cultural and feminist issues has been well received and appreciated. The box office success that her works have deservedly merited is a more than adequate indication of her achievements in an area of theatre that could hardly be considered mainstream.

Some years back, when Marie toured Ireland with her show ``Hang all the Harpers'', I met up with her in Cork and she keenly explored all aspects of Bardic culture and, in particular, the era and times of Eoghan Rua O Súilleabháin, Aoghan O Rathaille and the other poets of Sliabh Luachra's Bardic tradition during the oppressive colonial regime. She was far better informed on this subject than many southern academics lecturing on these themes, and her investigation into the lives of these people was such that, at the end of the discussion and questioning, even I was left with new insights and appreciation of aspects of the tradition that, up until then, I had taken for granted.

To armchair reviewers in the south, the fact that Marie's play could be performed in Belfast, and that she could have attempted to influence even a few of the loyalist community to reflect on some unsavoury aspects of their make-up, may have been one small, unnoteworthy step. Given the attitudes of some of the people she was trying to motivate, however, recognition and discarding of bigotry is nothing less than a long march from the 17th to the 21st century, to the acceptance of attitudes of common decency that are the norms for the majority of the inhabitants of this island, and indeed of Europe generally.

In holding up such a mirror to bigotry and sectarianism of her own community, as Marie did with this particular play, she could hardly expect thanks for her services, as it is always easier to break the mirror than deal with the reflection. She should, however, be entitled to some appreciation from a progressive paper that should be attempting to move all matters froward, be they social, political or otherwise, in a meaningful way, to provide at least the toleration of a climate of cultural normals to which we can all, if not subscribe, at least be at ease with.

In conclusion, I would like to wish Maire every success in her future dealings with such themes and preoccupations as she has explored to date in her plays. And as to the TV reviewer, knifing Pat Kenny is one thing, but knifing his guests, especially those like Marie Jones, in an effort to get Pat is a definite, unnecessary and counterproductive overkill. If this is the best that Maire Jones can expect from those who should be her friends, then God help her with her enemies.

Donal O Siodhahcháin.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1