Hamill’s Beat - Have Derry people got strange heads?

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Is Derry a good place to live? If you were to go by an Irish Times report, you’d say, yes. If you were to go by the BBC’s Spotlight programme on Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) you’d say, no.

Spotlight was depressing. It had been trailed as an explanation of the situation in Derry for those who live elsewhere. What a strangely sinister and foreboding atmosphere it had for a documentary! Contributors, including the presenter and even those attending a women’s meeting were all filmed from an odd angle with the tops of their heads cut out of shot. If it were intended for people outside the city maybe they thought Derry people have strange heads. Of course it was intended to create an other-worldly, surreal atmosphere.

Surreal it was with former paramilitaries describing the brutal activities of present paramilitaries. There were references to a “city of fear” as distinct from a “city of culture” but Derry was portrayed as a city of madness as much as a city of fear. If it weren’t all so grim it would have been funny. Many had profoundly hoped that with the ending of the long war estates like Creggan would return to being the saner, kinder, gentler places that they were back in the 1960s before they were engulfed by the Troubles.

Meanwhile, the Irish Times had a more favourable report on Derry. The city was included in a list of 24 finalists out of 563 entries in a competition to find the best place to live in Ireland. Derry’s entry had been submitted by local man Alastair McConnell. The winner is to be featured in the paper and it’s to host a celebration in the winning place