OPINION: The Yin and Yang of Coalisland15th March 2011 | By: Oliver-Corr | 1 Comment »
LIVING in a small town like Coalisland has it’s advantages and disadvantages.
I love the sense of community that this place has and the many great friendly people who also live, work and play here.
I however hate its claustrophobic, parochial attitudes that sometimes want to make you scream.
Two recent things seem to illustrate this “yin and yang” in Coalisland.
The first happened last weekend when a carpenter and shop worker in the town decided to leave his van overnight at the Cornmill car park.
The police contacted him in the early hours of Saturday morning to tell him that his van had been burnt out by a group of youths in an act of seemingly mindless vandalism.
The headline on one of the local newspapers read “Masked youths destroy van in Coalisland attack”, reporting that twenty young people had been involved.
Masked youths running riot in Coalisland echoes another time in the town, ravaged by social and political turmoil. There are still political questions to be answered.
The following morning I met a man in the newsagent’s and we got chatting about what had happened.
“Them bloody foreigners wrecking the town,” was his verdict. He then proceeded to blame members of the traveler community for a break-in at a Main Street shop.
Small-minded racist bigotry based on the fear of “the outsider”. These are the political issues to be addressed today.
The other event that took place in Coalisland this week centered round Craic Theatre. After six weeks of rehearsal, a group of 50 young people staged a modern dance performance called “Sutemos” – the Lithuanian word for twilight.
Many of these young people had never danced or performed on stage before.
Many came from very wide and diverse backgrounds. Some originated from Poland, Lithuania, East Timor and Africa, while some had disabilities.
Under the expert direction from dance choreographer Sheena Kelly, these youngsters presented a show that won over even the most hardened cynics who would sneer at modern dance.
Every week many of young people in Coalisland participate in drama, music and dance at the Craic Theatre, and hundreds play sports such as gaelic, soccer, cycling, boxing, and athletics.
But every week, these are the positive activities that fail to make the front-page headlines.