Newest Review: ... can not publish it. I can not publicly discuss anything told to me in private by a child. But I know how this has affected many l... more
I really may burn this book.
Interface : Flashpoints in Northern Ireland - Colm Heatley
Member Name: broxi3781
Interface : Flashpoints in Northern Ireland - Colm Heatley
Date: 12/11/11, updated on 12/11/11 (33 review reads)
Advantages: Might make good kindling.
Disadvantages: Completely biased, incites hatred.
This is, without a doubt the worst book I have ever read. I don't know why I even read it, the book has left me physically ill, and I hate to admit it, but also in tears. Now in all honesty, I have to admit, I may not be able to review this book without any bias. I like to think I am a fair and reasonable person, but we all have our own baggage, and I will advise the reader of this review to take that into account when reading this. I also want to make very clear, I have no wish to open old wounds for any reader, I do not wish to enter into a political debate here, and I will be the first to admit, there is enough pain and suffering to go around for all concerned.
As the title suggests, this book deals with Northern Ireland's many political Interfaces. The majority of these will be in Belfast. Such things as peace walls, rioting and sectarian murder will be discussed, but although he will throw in the odd quote from the other side, this book clearly only sees one side of the conflict. Theoretically, this book should give the reader some idea of the back ground into the conflict over the Holy Cross protests, marching and the loyal orders as well as what living in areas like White City / Whitewell, the Fountain area of Londonderry, Short Strand and Cluan Place, and other hot spots is like. In reality it is nothing but a disjointed diatribe with some quotes thrown in from both sides .
I was given this book to read, it's made the rounds with people I know, each person reading it with a mix of emotions from outrage, anger, sorrow, frustration, and even at times hatred. This is a book that opens old wounds and rubs salt in them, and then tells you have no right to hurt. When this was first given to me, I thumbed halfway through the book to see if it what I was told was true. Did this author really justify the murder of a child? After reading this, I feel that he did. As some may know, I was involved in youth work with children from the interfaces for sometime. I do have some personal knowledge of the incident, but unfortunately can not publish it. I can not publicly discuss anything told to me in private by a child. But I know how this has affected many lives, in other cases, such as that poor child's mother, I can only imagine the horror she must have gone through.
The author appears to lay the blame for this child's death on the child. He believes the child was throwing stones before he was chased in car for over a mile, pedalling as fast as he could in a vain attempt to save his life, and then deliberately run over. The killers left him to die while they drove home and attempted to remove all evidence of the crime from the vehicle. The were later convicted of giving false evidence and attempting to pervert the course of justice, yet it is their word that blames the child for his death. Still the author takes their word as fact. No one can say for certain if in fact he had thrown a stone before the attack. I personally believe, talking from people there at the time, that he did not. I would also point out that not many stone throwing rioters do so from a bicycle,. It would be awkward. I will also say I know how frustrating it is to have your car damaged. I can not count how many times our windows have been put in. I have been hit with bricks a few times, once while carrying an 8 month old baby. My son was nearly hit when boys opened fire on us with fireworks when he was 2 as well. The angriest I have ever been was when my son, aged 4 at the time was hit with a golf ball fired with a duck caddy while playing in the garden, when he a car load of men pulled up and threw vodka bottles at him ( he was 3) and when my youngest lost a tooth after hitting rubble from the previous nights riots. In some of these cases the attackers were grown men, but in others they were children. I won't say I wasn't very, very angry. But never would I be willing to murder a child in cold blood over something like this. In fact I know the one who has been behind much of the trouble. I would dearly love to be able to play judge and jury - what would I have done to him? I'd have sentenced his mother to drug and alcohol treatment, family counseling, and if the father could not stay out of jail, and the mother stay clean, I'd love to have been able to sentence the boy to life in a caring family. Contrary to the author's opinion - we are not animals - you don't hurt children.
But aside from this, I felt the book was either written by someone who has never been on an interface - or was deliberately twisted as a piece of dark propaganda. The author makes so many statements that anyone who lives here would scoff at. Beyond that, the author has clearly taken sides. If he mentions "facts" from one side, he will present them as "facts", from the other side he will stress that the residents claim this or that, in such as way as to make it appear that that there is no evidence to support these claims. This is a totally one sided work, which lays all blame on one side. The author can not seem to grasp the fact that in all the history of man's conflict, there has never ever been such a shortage of fools that one side can claim a complete monopoly. In addition to this, the book is a poor read, it is a hodge podge of quotations with no real flow or sense of continuity. There is no style or quality to the writing, no passion or fire, it is just a dull monologue condemning a culture he knows very little about.
He also doesn't have a clue how children here think. What ever you are brought up in is normal to you. I often watch television programmes and think "My God - how can people live there?" . I think this about places in America with alligators - these things look like monsters to me - I'd be packing my bags so fast....Or Japan, many people in Tokyo live a stones throw from a volcano and all those earthquakes would definitely have sent me scurrying away. I'll pass thank you very much, but I imagine they would find things about living here odd. To children growing up here, it's just the way things are. And as much as adults would like to pretend this isn't true, a great many children enjoy riots. My own boys already think I am mean and wicked to keep them in from all the fun - I'm sure it will get worse as they get older, but rioting is a pastime here. Recreational rioting it is called. The children are not traumatised they want to be there. Of course I have to wonder at the parents who allow it. This fellow has no idea how the children think.
He mentions stone throwing as being purely sectarian. It isn't. I have asked boys throwing stones, and they freely admit they don't know if the car they are hitting is being driven by a Protestant or a Catholic - they were just bored. I was in a taxi once when the car took a good battering from stone throwers. The drive slammed the brakes jumped out and trailed a 5 year old in. I was just about to protest when I realised it was his own child. The father was giving him and earful and the child said he did it because he was bored. His Mother was away out for a drink and he was on his own. And that I think is where much of the current problem lays - too many children on their own far too young. I happen to be great supporter of peace walls. They give us some measure of security. But if you really want to sort the problems with interfaces out - you need some major intervention from social services in some cases, in others family support, jobs training and hope. Yes it would cost more to keep a school leaver on an A scheme type programme, but if you keep a boy working - you'll keep most of them out of trouble. Decent youth facilities would help as well. This book offers no solutions - only hatred.
As I said, I do not wish to open old wounds for anyone, and I certainly do not wish to get into a political discussion on who did what to who. But I will say that for every incident this man mentions, I could name 3 more from another side. I feel, as does everyone I know who has read this book that it seeks to vilify a community, to open old wounds, and to incite people to hatred. Usually I would sell or donate any book I no longer want. I 'm sure other people I know would read it, even though reading is not a popular pastime here, but why share something so full of hurt? This book can only cause more hatred and more sadness - I see no reason to share to either.
Summary: This one will be going up in smoke.
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