The look of shock, sadness and disbelief on the faces of hundreds of people told their own story last night. The Lenadoon community was in mourning for a good neighbour and friend Seamus Fox.
Seamus was a well known and respected Lenadoon resident. In the early hours of Thursday morning he was returning home from the Donegal Celtic Club, on the Suffolk Road, following a darts match. He was brutally assaulted and murdered close his home in Horn Drive.
Yesterday I visited his wife Phyllis and family, and offered my personal condolences and those of the people of west Belfast.
Later the community came together in a vigil to demonstrate our solidarity with the family and our abhorrence of the murder. It was a quiet but emotional event.
It was chaired by local Councillor Gerard O Neill. The family had asked Sue Ramsay to read a statement on their behalf which spoke of their devastation at the ‘loss of a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. This has come as an enormous shock for all of us.”
The family statement thanked the community which has rallied round, those who are helping the PSNI, the paramedics who tried to save Seamus, and ‘lastly a huge thank you to those who were with our father when he died and remained with him.’
Gerry McConville of the Falls Community Council and the Upper Falls Community Safety Forum also addressed the vigil and local priest Father Martin Magill said a decade of the Rosary. This was followed by a minute silence. Afterward those with flowers walked the few yards to the place where Seamus was found and placed the flowers there.
Tomorrow I will be meeting the PSNI to discuss the circumstances surrounding Seamus’s murder. An entrance to the Colin Glen Park, just across the Suffolk Road from where the murder took place, is a well known hot spot for anti-social behaviour. A strategy involving the PSNI and other statutory agencies is needed to address this problem.
Dishonouring the name of Republican
A few hours before the murder of Seamus Fox a bomb exploded in Newtownhamilton injuring two people and causing damage to local property. Residents have praised the actions of firefighters whose prompt action helped evacuate residents and seal of the area around the bomb.
The small militarist group responsible for this attack, and other similar factions, dishonour the name of republican. At a time when republicans have constructed a peaceful and democratic path to achieving a United Ireland, which has popular and growing support, these militarists have no strategy and no politics to offer.
They appear incapable of doing what successful revolutionaries and those in struggle across the world long ago learned. That is to review, adapt, change, make struggle relevant in its own place and time and most important of all win popular support.
Without popular support or at the very least the support of a significant section of the population no group can survive, much less win. That’s not just the view of this blog. That’s at the heart of every book ever written on the subject, including those leaders who succeeded in their goals. That’s the lesson of successful struggle world wide.
In the Assembly elections three years ago political representatives of some of these groups stood. They received derisory votes. This time they’re not taking the chance of repeating that humiliating performance and have chosen not to stand.
These groups are not the IRA. No matter how many letters they put in front of their names they are not the IRA. The IRA was a people's army with popular support. It was a sophisticated political army which had strategies and a politicised membership. It also had the courage to debate the merits of the peace process and when a peaceful and democratic path to Irish unity was created to take big decisions democratically and to honour them.
Wannabe groups like those who placed the bomb in Newtownhamilton play into the hands of those in the Brit system who are dissatisfied with the progress which Sinn Féin has made. Instability is the name of the game.
All democrats must defend the progress that has been made and to defend the peace process against all comers. This election gives us that opportunity.