Doing justice to the memory of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison
Doing justice to the memory of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison


More than 60 community groups and organisations from nationalist areas of Belfast have endorsed the following open letter to praise the senior republican Jock Davison and criticise attempts by the media to “criminalise his past”.


As friends, comrades and fellow community activists of our highly esteemed colleague. Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison. who was brutally murdered by cowards on May 5th. we feel it necessary to publicly record our revulsion at the insensitive and disgraceful media coverage that has ensued from his untimely death.

Gerard’s legacy as a selfless community stalwart has been completely ignored in the ugly headline grabbing narrative that has emerged from some quarters following his murder. Some have sought to dehumanise and depersonalise the real Jock we all knew, respected and loved.

There has been a barrage of speculative innuendo, including unsubstantiated and baseless allegations, that has sought to criminalise his past and negate his present. This post-hoc vilification and defamation of his character, has either intentionally or inadvertently attempted to provide some perverse form of contextual justification for his brutal murder.

Jock is renowned in his area and across the city and country. He will always be remembered as a courageous community activist who put life and liberty at risk to defend his community in the Market. Short Strand and further afield. In a conflict that consumed our society. he stood up for his community in its hour of greatest need.

They say that the hardest thing for a man to do is change with the times. Jock not only adapted but managed to thrive in difficult circumstances, without compromising an iota of his deeply held principles. Crucially, and most tellingly, his tireless work in recent years as the Strategic Regeneration Officer of the Market’s Development Association (MDA) has been completely ignored in almost all media coverage. During his time at the helm of the MDA he took on a highly challenging organising role in a working class community that suffers disproportionately from historic neglect and socio-economic exclusion and marginalisation.

The community empowerment projects pioneered under Jock’s stewardship have included: adult education programmes; outreach programmes for excluded young people: book clubs; cycling and community health and fitness programmes; a summer festival; a sure-start initiative for mothers and toddlers; a historical and political lectures series; ongoing housing and welfare advice and support; internationalist solidarity work on behalf of Cuban, Basque and Palestinian peoples, which included coordinating and spearheading a city wide community response to the slaughter in Palestine publicised in the Irish news last summer; and most significantly the Market Regeneration Strategy, of which the flagship and ground-breaking Tunnels project will be ratified by Belfast City Council this week.

Gerard cherished his independence as a community activist and advocate who was neither affiliated to nor supportive of any political party or organisational agenda other than his own and that of his community.

He was not precious about organisational affiliations , being loyal to the struggle to which he selflessly dedicated his entire life and for which he ultimately died -- the struggle for the betterment of his class and community.

He saw his role to both challenge and hold those with power and responsibility to account by lobbying, campaigning and advocating on behalf of the most marginalised and excluded. He was also constantly evolving, developing and challenging himself as a person and as an activist. This included starting university on a part-time basis as mature student on the University of Ulster’s Community Development BA degree, where he excelled and will posthumously be awarded the First Class honours degree for which he worked so hard. Tragically, he will miss out on his graduation which was to take place in July. We, as undersigned community organisations from across Belfast, with direct experience of the real Gerard ‘Jock’ Davidson have taken out this advert to help correct the narrative in the media, which runs so contrary to our shared experience of the man.

His friends and comrades, colleagues and eo-workers know a very different man to the one some have chosen to vilify to sell papers whilst his family prepare to lay him to rest. For those who never had the pleasure to get to know a man of such immense honesty, integrity and humanity, this is a small gesture to do justice to his memory and unfolding legacy while committing to do our utmost to fill the massive void left by his terrible loss.

We also wish to convey our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to his family at this traumatic truly was an honour and privilege to have known, worked and campaigned with you Jock.

True to the Last - Suaimhneas siorai a chara. Ni bheidh do leitheid aris ann.

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