A MOST successful summer school in the view of visitors and locals alike was held in The Mills Inn, Baile Bhuirne last weekend organised by Sinn Fein.
The event which attracted large crowds over the two days involved lively discussions on a wide range of topics from reconciliation, media and to the arts and its contribution in an Ireland recovering from recession.
Brian Kennedy is a favourite with many people for his singing ability but his humour and self-deprecating style proved highly entertaining.
His depiction of growing up on the Falls Road and his gravitation to singing was full of humour.
He ended with a fine rendition of Four Green Fields when prevailed upon by the audience and his use of Gaeilge surprised many.
He appealed to young entertainers to use their own background and their own accent in developing singing style.
This is often his advice on the TV programme, The Voice of Ireland.
Temper-Mental MissElayneous an actor and rap performer from Finglas certainly does not hide her Dublin accent with mid-Atlantic riffs.
Her basic message was that she was discovering her own ‘truth’ and her disarming honesty had the whole audience in the palm of her hand.
A breath of fresh air. Some readers will be intrigued that this ‘clued-in’ young performer has boycotted TV and always tries to make up her own mind independently of media power and spin.
The eagerly anticipated discussion on the ‘Legacy of the Conflict’ was riveting.
Alan Mc Bride who lost his wife and father-in-law in the Shankill bombing in 1993 was clear in his analysis but also very honest.
He did not hide the fact that his father was a staunch member of the UDA and he was very critical of the leaders of Unionism, past and present. He criticised republicans for taking so long in admitting certain acts were wrong.
The chairperson of Sinn Féin, Declan Kearney, outlined many initiatives to involve the entire community in dealing with national reconciliation.
He said the killing of Alan Mc Bride’s wife was wrong, pure and simple.
Sinn Féin wished to recognise all the hurt of the past and help in the healing process. While movement is taking place on the ground with people like Alan McBride the leaders of Unionism are still standing off.
Amanda Fullerton spoke of the killing of her father, Buncrana councillor, Eddie Fullerton by the UDA in 1991.
The family is seeking an inquiry into collusion between security forces and the UDA. She felt here is a compelling case for an inquiry.
Looking directly at Alan Mc Bride she thanked him for his courage in coming to Baile Bhuirne to outline his views.
The hurt on all sides must be acknowledged she contended.
While Paul O’Brien, Political Editor of the Irish Examiner, contended that the media in Ireland was in a much healthier state than pertains in Britain he did concede that in some cases there was a reticence which favoured the establishment.
He said the case regarding Willie O’Dea (then Minister) was one such example where his own paper sat on information for months.
It took Maurice Quinlivan, Limerick Sinn Fein councillor, being forced into legal action before the truth emerged with Quinlivan winning out.
Rob Morrison, former head of News at UTV, was strongly challenged by Eoin Ó Murchú, former Political Editor with RnaG.
Robinson claimed that there was no media bias unless one goes back to the days when Official Sinn Féin/Workers Party had deliberately positioned its members such as Eoin Harris within RTÉ.
Ó Murchú contended that RTÉ and most news outlets sift out “trouble-makers” and that group think allows everyone to feel totally unbiased and objective.
“How many reporters ever come from places such as Finglas, Tallaght or South Hill?” he asked.
The event is growing year on year and the calibre of well-known speakers attending is getting the attention it deserves.