Friday, 26 August 2011

Street news

Amazing how quickly the news moves on. At the moment papers, TV and radio are dominated by events in Tripoli. Yet it's only a very short time since they were all equally dominated by the disturbances on our streets. Already politicians are pulling back from knee-jerk reactions at the time. 
The news often compared or contrasted these events on the streets with those of the 1980s, but I haven't heard any recollection of the problems on the streets of several cities, including Cardiff, that occurred in the summer of 1991. At the time I was parish priest of the area where the troubles were. In fact, the centre of the action was right outside our presbytery. I remember the atmosphere of tension and unpredictability as a few hundred young people roamed the streets, many of them from outside the area, and even from outside Cardiff.
When it all calmed down, I took part in some meetings of "community leaders" which tried to ask the question why it had all happened. There was some very useful discussion, but sadly money took over. A lot of cash was clearly going to be thrown at the area, and everybody wanted to catch some. Housing, education, social services... these and others were, and are, all deserving sectors. But those underlying questions somehow sank back into the murky depths under the floorboards of our society.
So when these troubles happened this summer I was not at all surprised to see and hear various spokesmen and women blaming this and that aspect of life in Britain. With so many interested parties, politicians and others involved, you're not going to get a consensus.
And into all this spoke bereaved father Tariq Jahan. "My son is dead. Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home." Watch again his impassioned original plea here.

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