Poem on John Hume’s 82nd birthday

John Hume has dementia, and cannot remember what he achieved in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. We should not allow the world to not remember.

I had the privilege of meeting him when he delivered the Glasgow Fabians Lecture in the late 1980s. (I also bought him a drink. Or maybe two)

This poem is about him and Seamus Heaney.

The St. Columb’s Old Boys Club.

John said let us spill not our blood, but our sweat together,
His father taught him on St Patrick’s night you can’t eat a flag
Seamus made poetry’s redress with words as harsh as weather
And gave it a glorious shake in the Good Old Rattle Bag
And John left off with a whiskey from the priesthood way
To give his people cross-border credit in unions where it was due
Seamus put poet’s pen to Ulster paper to grapple and to play
With lines to define like the Bann and Foyle and make the world anew –
So bordered, confessional lives need be not blessing nor curse
The craft and sweat of labour that those obdurate men could give
Bring blessings in themselves to save them and us from worse
Making room to argue out loud together as well as love and live
John, Seamus, from two-name city, an island, people, province of divide
From a school that made peace and poetry equally Nobel prized.

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Herald letter: Sturgeon and her Salmond shambles.

(Part in italics cut by the Herald.)

IN the present chaos that is British politics, Nicola Sturgeon could have easily stood out.

Although she has limited ability and zero imagination, all she had to do was to show competence, and she would have had a good Brexit war by default.

Her role was to remember her lines and not bump into the Bute House furniture.

However, that was before the Salmond case and the blunders and appalling judgment which she and those closest to her have displayed in this sorry and shambolic affair.

If the SNP was not controlled by the First Minister and her husband, Peter Murrell in a manner reminiscent of the Honeckers and the Ceaucescus, her party would call for – and would deserve to have– her head.

But the whole world will know from now on: never again can Ms Sturgeon pretend to be the only grown-up in the room and get away with it.

Peter A Russell