by John ConroyIt may be a blast from the past but it hurts just the same. John Conroy's Belfast Diaries takes us back to the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 70's, reminding us of how it all went ballistic in 1972 on Bloody Sunday, and hit its peak during the hunger strike of 1981. Most of the struggle has been romanticized in countless books and movies (including my own Tiara), but Conroy's account details the needless suffering of the lower-class Irishmen caught in the crossfire with no place or means of escape.
Conroy, a Chicago journalist, was awarded a year's salary by the Alicia Patterson Foundation to document a first-hand report of the Troubles in Ulster. He rented a room in the Clonard district on the West Side from Bridgit Barbour and lived alongside the natives, a time during which the term 'harrowing' would be almost a laughable adjective. He was held at gunpoint by Irish Republican Army gunmen and British Army soldiers numerous times, held captive in his apartment during an attempted bombing, and heard dozens of stories of people in the neighborhood who were beaten, shot, tortured and killed by loyalists and Republicans alike. He endured a living hell, but the difference between him and the citizens of Belfast was that he was able to leave rather than spend an entire lifetime there.
How times have changed. We read about the dark side of Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Maiden who stood by Ronnie Reagan's side during his dismantling of the USSR. In return, America was forced to overlook some of the worst human rights violations since WWII. Although it came short of the genocide in Bosnia, the suspension of legal rights for two decades and the government collusion with loyalist death squads was on a level with Latin American dictatorships. The New World Order is tracking down Nazi war criminals and bringing Serbian leaders to trial to this very day, but the perpetrators of Bloody Sunday and every other military action in every Catholic neighborhood has been conveniently laid to rest.
Conroy's in-depth narrative includes numerous vignettes and interviews with women, children, the elderly, and any of his neighbors who had a story to tell about murder and mayhem as casually as people in the USA recall a car accident they had witnessed. We look at the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy and rejoice in how the global community joined to relieve the suffering of the victims. Over two decades in Northern Ireland, that same community merely looked away in embarrassment and shame.
Thankfully for Ulster, the Good Friday Agreement restored a fragile peace, and with our New World Order, the British Empire will never be allowed to commit the same crimes again—-or will they? Lest we forget, Belfast Diaries is a reminder of the atrocities that can happen in our own back yard.
|eBook format||Paperback, (torrent)|
|File size||4.6 Mb|
|Book rating||4.68 (327 votes)