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Tribute brings community sector into disrepute

Published 14/05/2015

'Jock is renowned in his area and across the city and country." This is taken from the advertisement placed in the Irish News (but not the Belfast Telegraph, or Belfast News Letter) by 63 community groups in relation to the recently murdered Gerard "Jock" Davison.

The bombastic account of his life was notable for what it didn't say. But, down the years, the silenced voices in the Markets and the Short Strand have spoken privately of a different man; of someone they feared and for whom they had little respect. In view of Davison's questionable past, one wonders why certain community groups - many funded by British and European taxpayers - would rush to produce the kind of hagiography apparent in that notice. Was this a misuse of public funds?

The list reads like a roll-call of nationalist organisations, suggesting some kind of communal, sectarian reflex behind the initiative. Let's hope this is not emulated on the Shankill in relation to alleged loyalist killers - be they "community workers", or not. This clearly brings the community sector into disrepute and raises disturbing questions. How were former IRA, UDA and UVF members recruited into paid positions in community organisations? Should the Equality Commission carry out an investigation into recruitment?

As regards the 63, were the boards of management consulted on the decision to back this initiative? What of the community workers themselves within these organisations? Were they consulted before being associated with the project?

With characteristic bravery, the McCartney sisters told us how it is: Jock Davison was a terrible loss to his loved ones. His murder was a dreadful crime. So also was the killing and mutilation of others in his neighbourhood. But community groups did not find a voice to defend these other, less powerful victims of political, or criminal, violence.

LIAM KENNEDY

Belfast

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