I probably should start by saying I’m terribly cynical, and so by my nature I’m less than disposed to most campaigns.
I did however support, and totally agree with, last year’s #takebackthecity. It was a postive action, organised against the marshalled ranks of idiocy in loyalism, preventing the views of a minority destroying people’s enjoyment of the city at a crucial time of year, and of course having an assumed positive impact on the city centre traders (Michael Deane included).
I hated the “ten minutes of noise” , or whatever it was, and that sort of thing. I found it a protest that people wanted to be seen to support, but was basically a waste of time. As I said, I’m a terrible cynic.
Overall though, #takebackthecity was about walking past the protestors, walking to town so as not to have to rely on the temporarily stopped public transport, and it seemed quite a bit of drinking. Totally fine.
This year though, dissident republican idiocy (and that’s far from being a strong enough word) has caused the #takebackthecity to come back out. The cynic in me is raging. At my age I can barely remember mass peace rallies, though they did happen in Belfasta nd Dublin. I remember too the well emaning folk on the Peace Train. A cursory read of any “Troubles” literature will show some example of concerned (usually) mothers protesting in (usually West) Belfast about some atrocity or other. It never seemed to particularly go anywhere, and these were coordinated activites, not just a few extra people turning up in town, and obviously not idiotically tweeting.
The IRA didn’t listen much then, knowing as it did it in its wisdom it was right. I doubt very much if the dissers will listen much now. Neither holds much of a torch for vox populi.
So where does that leave #takebackthecity? In my opinion it’s encouraging complacency around personal security. It’s brave enough to encourage people to enjoy the city centre when it’s part of an organised response to a protest with violence round the edges, it’s another thing entirely to encourage people to put themselves in harm’s way of an explosion.
I’m not saying “give in”, I’ll still be going to town. I’m saying lets not be blase. A bomb in the city centre would be (is) an indiscriminate attack on innocents, but gonig to town to sepcifically show your stand against it would be foolish