Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Golden Thread and meeting Alban Maginness

There was an opening at the Golden Thread Gallery on Friday evening. I stopped by for a little while--most of my groupmates were there-- and then headed over to the afterparty at the Black Box.

The art itself wasn't really to my taste-- I don't go in for modern abstract stuff. Some of it was cool, but a lot of it was your standard pretentious 'emperor's new clothes' modern art-- but it was nice to see everyone. All I can say about the afterparty is I'm glad I didn't pay to get in. The band was a group of highschool kids-- four guitars and a drum set. One of their moms works at the gallery, which is how they landed the gig. I'll refrain from reviewing their performance, because I would be mortified if my youthful indescretions appeared on a perfect stranger's blog, but between their overactive amps and the smoke, it wasn't my idea of a fantastic time.

Earlier on Friday, we sat down with Alban Maginness of the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), a former Lord Mayor of Belfast (the first nationalist Lord Mayor). He's part of the new Northern Irish Assembly as well. He talked to us for a bit about politics in Northern Ireland, and gave his views about the Troubles, the Belfast Agreement, and the new assembly.

He said something about the national question that I found particularly interesting: that the re-introduction of the national question during the seventies was counterproductive, because it took the focus away from civil rights. My impression of the SDLP is that nationalism has always been a pretty secondary issue to them; taken up because every party's 'got to play either the green card or the orange card,' as one woman in L/Derry put it (though there are and have been parties, such as the Alliance Party and the Women's Coalition, who play neither). Hearing a prominent SDLP man refer to the national question as 'counterproductive' in the same breath he used to condem the violence for the same reason reaffirms that analysis.

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