Tuesday, 13 March 2012


A woman steps forward, saying that if the gunmen wish to shoot her son, they must shoot her first. Is she Mother Ireland?

At a meeting on International Women's Day in Creggan, Derry (54 degrees North, 7 degrees West), a group of people, mainly women, reacting to the murder by Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), call a protest. RAAD uses threats, expulsions, shootings and, in recent weeks, killing, against drug dealers and users.

There is a long tradition in Ireland of the ardent, powerful, courageous and demonstrative mother, who steps to the fore in defence of her children, particularly her sons. The image of the Madonna holding her dead son, the Pieta, follows the image of the woman speaking out, standing in front of the community centre asserting 'You'll shoot me first, if you want to shoot my son.'

Will such actions force the gunmen to stand down?

Further public rallies follow, this time in the city centre. A head of steam builds up. Threats are lifted, following behind-the-scenes negotiations. 

The problems with guns and drugs continue. 

People wonder what the police are doing. The blurred, overlapping boundaries between paramilitaries, former paramilitaries, police, drug dealers and RAAD make it difficult for citizens to resolve these problems.

A US soldier murders sixteen Afghan citizens, including women and children, after suffering a nervous breakdown. Is this an echo of the My Lai (15 degrees North, 108 degrees East) atrocity by US soldiers in Viet Nam? 

Strikingly, the man who commits these murders is mentally unbalanced, while his commanders, who order wholesale killings, are in full possession of their faculties.

Allegedly. Mar dhea.

There are Afghan mothers standing forward now, in grief and defiance.

Mothers. Ireland. Afghanistan. Courage.

With all its luck and all its danger
The war is dragging on a bit
Another hundred years or longer
The common man won't benefit.

Oh, perfect loving mother
Your exiled children all
Across the sund'ring seas to you
In fond devotion call

Mother Courage and her Children; Bertolt Brecht; play; Metheun; 1983
Ireland, Mother Ireland; song; PJ O'Reilly 

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