Community spirit is high in Moneymore. Higher than normal. A new after school Stone Throwing Club was officially opened by the Minister for Education and Skills. Run in tandem with the estate’s Homework Club, kids learn how best to attack emergency service vehicles called to the estate.
The initiative is the latest in a series of extra-curricular programs aimed at up-skilling Moneymore youths. The scheme is aimed at students from the ages of six to seventeen. The scheme is 95% funded by the EU.
However, it’s not all fun and games. Students must first complete their homework and attend classes on the theory of street violence and vandalism. Failure to do so means not being allowed to participate in vigilante activities and work experience.
The course has been widely praised in the business community for its focus on transferable skills. Students learn the value of:
- logistics (selecting the most effective masonry for the job, supply lines etc.)
- decision making (when to launch the attack, when to move to petroleum based weaponry)
- teamwork (co-ordination between lookouts, throwers & innocent bystanders)
- leadership (knowing when to take one for the team) and
- loyalty (keeping schtum under pressure)
The course has three levels, Intermediate, Advanced and Fluent. It is assumed that students have a basic knowledge of the subject.
The intermediate course involves preying on the weakest of the emergency services, the ambulance, or ‘amblince’ in the common parlance. Students are given a set timeframe to work in. They must successfully call out an ambulance and then work as a team to force the vehicle to retreat by stoning it.
There’s nothing like the sound of rock on amblinsis. – Scaldy Burns, vigilante.
The poorest performing member of the group is then set upon and the ambulance called to a different location where they find the limp, battered body. This keeps the group sharp and eliminates any weak links. Tutors assess the ambulance for damage before awarding a mark.
A similar approach is taken to the Advanced (fire engines) and Fluent (Garda squad cars) courses. Grading is by continuous assessment and students of a sufficient level can continue their studies at DIFE where a FETAC Level 9 qualification is offered.
Speaking at the launch, Programme Supervisor Nedser was keen to stress the importance of the scheme. “Lookit. It keeps the kids out of trouble. At least here they’re in a supervised, adult controlled environment. The key thing is that they’re learning and building for their futures. There’s a great community spirit here. We’re the salt of the earth.”
Hasselhoff Haggins, anti-drugs activist by day, vigilante by night, went on to say, “It’s a great course. We do do a summer exchange programme to Gaza…no, not the one in East Meath, the real one with the Arabs and that.
“There the children can exchange tips, combat techniques and generally improve their skills in a competitive environment. Cost wise we’d prefer to go North but things have quietened down up there and fuck it yeah? Sure we’re not paying for it anyways!”
Parents are advised to enrol their kids early as places are limited. A night course for adults is also under consideration.