Last night, I went to a event for Relatives for Justice, a nonsectarian Non-Governmental Agency that seeks the truth behind the killings of civilians in the conflict in Northern Ireland. The group is nonpartisan and nonsectarian- they are seeking justice for all the slain, be they Catholic or Protestant, whether the killers were affiliated with the IRA, UDA, UVF, RUC, or others. One major goal of the organization is the determination of the extent of official state involvement in the violence. According to the organization, the government of the UK has thrown up roadblocks in the search for information. A lack of transparency and accountability is something I decry in all governments, especially my own.
The event itself opened with a brief talk by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (some of the attendees assumed I was a member of her police bodyguard detail due to my demeanor), and was followed by a video presentation and a speech by Mark Thompson, the director of the organization. (Relatively) local musician Ted Leo gave a live performance at the event. The final speaker was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who gave a brief talk in which he emphasized that the search for justice was of paramount importance. He referenced the execution of Troy Davis (which probably wouldn't have been out of place in a hellhole like Long Kesh), and mentioned the need for social and economic justice. He referenced Eastern Kentucky, one of the poorest regions in the U.S., represented by a congressman who pushes for tax breaks for billionaires. After the speeches, I did a little bit of networking.
Being a resident of Yonkers, I approached the organizers about doing an event in the Woodlawn vicinity. My homework after the event is to see if Rory Dolan's or The Rambling House could host a large event- it's a busy month coming up, but I figure putting my ear to the ground and passing along info won't be too arduous, especially if it means stopping in for a couple of pints.
I have my work cut out for me- I have to earn my free Tullamore Dew, and do my part for the fact-finding campaign that has to take place before true justice and reconciliation can take place. I'm going to close out by saying that Ted Leo is a good guy, and post a video for the song he opened his set with, Bleeding Powers:
As an aside, I took the liberty of passing along to Mr Leo something that Truculent and Unreliable wrote about him:
You know those rare people who make you want to be a better person? Ted Leo is one of them, and I’ve always wanted to thank him for that.
T&U, Ted told me that that had to be the single nicest compliment he's ever received. I hope this doesn't embarrass you.