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Thanks Stocki
Friday 16th March 2018 @ 10:45 pm

My old friend Stocki has written a brilliant blog on things which coincidentally, happen to have been swirling around in my head this week.

For the last few days I have been thinking about David Howes & Derek Wood – and how hard it is to believe that the killing of these two British army corporals at the funeral of Caoimhin MacBradaigh was 30 years ago. 

Those were dark days. 

Tense days.

Fear and mistrust roamed the streets alongside their companions aggression and violence.


Northern Ireland is a small place, and in the intervening years I have experienced a variety of small connections to those dark days.


I became friends with someone who attended the IRA funeral where Caoimhin was one of the three people murdered by loyalist killer Michael Stone. I am guaranteed a hug every time I see an elder friend who counts Fr Alec Reid as his closest accomplice in the struggle for peace. I’ve been in rooms with members of the IRA. I’ve chatted with people who visited Long Kesh prison to convince loyalist terrorists to back The Good Friday agreement. I’ve given a lift to an IRA bomber. I’ve sat in quiet back rooms of Stormont asking people who were literally ‘in the room,’ “what really happened in here – how’d you do it?”


I also hid amongst the trees at Stormont estate 20 years ago, as Ian Paisley marched his party (and his noisy followers) out of the talks process.


Northern Ireland is a small place. My experiences aren’t unusual.


On this feast of Patrick, thirty years after the horror in the midst of the troubles, I am reminded that Saint Patrick constantly self–deprecated in his writings. He desired to make it clear that he was ‘the least’ among men. God was God, saviour and redeemer. Patrick was not.

In real life Fr Alec (whom Stocki’s blog is about) was one of the most unassuming and genteel humans I’ve ever been in the same room as. His contribution to the peace process I assume will be largely untold as most of what he accomplished, he accomplished quietly.


This island is a small place. 

Thirty years ago I was watching the TV in horror, only aware that as a teenager I knew this was wrong, but I could not articulate who, or why, or what it all meant. In fact, thirty years ago Stocki was also a youth leader telling me and my friends to show some respect and hush down in the middle of the night.


This island is a small place. 


Now, Stocki has picked up the mantle, making friends with people from the other side, and is organizing one of the most important festivals in the Belfast year. He is making sure that the work of Fr Alec, and so so so many more under the radar folks, many of whom will not get remembered, continues. 


It’s a small wee island this. 


And we can do so much better.

Please read what Stocki has written.


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