Liv Tyler is tall and slim with long dark hair. So am I. Liv Tyler cannot tell left from right, and finds driving intermittently challenging. So do I. Liv Tyler knows a lot about hobbits. So do I. Liv Tyler sleeps with rock stars (well one in particular). So do I, when I get the opportunity (although I don’t narrow my options so much, not having bagged one yet).
However, I’m not Liv Tyler. I know this, because I do not have incredibly beautiful eyes and translucent skin, nor do I have a lifestyle that involves getting paid to go and live in New Zealand, or free dresses to wear to the Oscars.
I’m quite upset about all the kerfuffle around the IRA, their lying and thieving and hoodwinking of just about everyone over the last few years. I’m more than a little miffed at the thought that all the overtime put in during the nineties, by citizens of three countries, including the United States, the peace process might be about to be flushed down the toilet. I am annoyed that, having grown up in a country where it was possible to watch people being murdered live on television, my views are not considered important. I am particularly upset that seventy people saw Robert McCartney have his throat ripped open in a Belfast bar last week but they’re saying nothing because they’re too scared (I don’t believe that for a second, pack of fence sitters).
But mostly I am upset, because Martin McGuinness, who I know to be a very clever man, seems to be under the illusion that he is not currently a member of the IRA Army Council. I was having breakfast on Sunday morning when I heard him quite clearly say that he was not, on live radio. And then he said that Gerry Adams never was, and I nearly choked on my toast.
I’m like everyone else riding the Celtic Tiger. I would like the peace process, and its dreary steeples, and its brown suited men, and its suave apologists, and its oppressive righteousness to go away. But it never does. And now I have to think about it again.
I thought about it yesterday morning when I saw a photo of Gerry Adams addressing a gathering of his supporters at a memorial for three IRA operatives who were assassinated by British troops (I’m being diplomatic in the use of my language here, knowing that some people felt the Troubles was a war). These people were wearing green military clothes and berets. Like the National Guard, or the Territorials. Only cooler of course, because Gerry Adams, architect of the peace process was there.
Now I’m prepared to consider the possibility that my government is lying to me, that’s what governments do after all (isn’t it?), but I think that if I went to a memorial to commemorate my dead comrades, I would expect their leader to address the gathering.
I also think that traditionally, Irish revolutionary movements that did not have a joint military/ political leadership usually ended up having a split when the political route was chosen. And that never happened in 1997. Not really.
But mostly, I wonder why these mysterious men (or maybe women) who make up the IRA Army Council have never made themselves known. They must be very unassuming. They fought the British army to a standstill, after all. They must be very proud of what they did. They must have wanted to walk triumphantly into the Houses of Parliament. To beard the hated enemy in his den. To use his phones and photocopiers and expense accounts to build a brave new world. I wouldn’t have been able to resist. I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself enough to let some unblooded mouthpiece take my place in the next stage in the process. No sirree, I wouldn’t.
But maybe I have it all wrong. I’m not Liv Tyler after all, despite the superficial similarity, and the driving dyslexia, and the penchant for rock stars, and the diploma in hobbit lore.
Just because Gerry Adams calls himself the leader of the republican family, and addresses military gatherings, and calls all the political shots north and south of the border, and speaks authoritatively on all aspects of the peace process, and struts around like he owns my goddamn country, doesn’t mean he’s a member of the IRA Army Council.
Up until now, I was prepared to let it slide. I thought that Army Council members didn’t name themselves to prevent their enemies using it against them politically. After all, it’s a dirty game. But whatever about stealing money from a bank, or smuggling petrol across the Border, or running parts of Belfast like a personal fiefdom, ripping some bloke’s throat out in a pub because he dissed your capo is not on. So I’m not going to let it slide anymore. And neither is anyone else.
And so the appalling vista reopens itself, just in time for the next round of elections. Legions of martyrs and not a hero in sight!