Categories
History

The Wee Twelfth

Every year, on the 12th of July, Loyalists in Northern Ireland express their culture by reminding  the world how insecure they are, and with good reason, since nobody wants a bunch of people trapped in a 300-year-old time bubble, with added silly hats and pit-bull terriers.

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

The Brits don’t want them. We don’t want them. Moderate unionists don’t want them. Their Irish nationalist neighbours in the Wee North don’t want them.  And therefore, in the new dispensation where Britain and Ireland have achieved a mature and respectful relationship, it means that a  fractious and truculent minority yearn for their evaporated past in vain.  A closed and dwindling community whose only option is to lash out and define itself by what it is not. These, I might remind you ironically, are the people still celebrating their victory over the indigenous population 300 years later,  still the cannon fodder and still not realising it.

Luckily, our fearless photographer, John Flavin, isn’t as dismissive of the loyalist culture as I am.  He takes them at face value, which is why he travelled north to record some of the festivities on the Sandy Row and in the process met an assortment of community leaders and loyalist bonfire builders who were happy enough to talk to him and explain their position which seems to amount to this: loyalist kids have no education and no jobs, so they spend months building bonfires for something they don’t understand because building bonfires is better than committing crime.

Such is the ambition loyalists have for their children.

Anyway, here are some of John’s pictures.

 

 

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

Twelfth July Belfast 2015

 

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Previously: John Flavin in Ukraine

Categories
Politics

The Twelfth of July

That time of year is here again when the Orange Order exercises its ancient right to remind the natives who’s boss.  Tonight, the eleventh, loyalists all over the North will remind us of their profound desire for peace by lighting bonfires, burning effigies,  getting drunk out of their heads and singing we’re up to our neck in Fenian blood, surrender or you’ll die.

I’ve often been accused of being anti-republican, when in fact, I’m just anti-coercion.  I have no difficulty with people wishing to see a politically united Ireland, and I have no objection to people wishing to retain the union.  What I do object to is triumphalism, especially among the drunken lowlifes who inevitably will spend the night flinging petrol bombs at the police and searching for Catholics to beat up or murder.

Let’s be blunt about it.  They’re scum.

The Orange Order, on the other hand, is simply ridiculous, and it grows more ridiculous with every year that passes.  It’s as laughable as the Ancient Order of Hibernians.  It’s as ludicrous as the Knights of Columbanus.  It’s easily as ridiculous as the Catholic bishops.  The Orange Order  is an anachronism in a land, north and south, that is turning its back on religious posturing, and yet, year upon year, it insists on marching through areas populated by people who do not want it.

What exactly do loyalist marches signify?

The Orange Order will tell you that they’re a celebration of unionist tradition, but I think that’s dishonest.  I think they’re not only a commemoration of the ethnic cleansing that took place during the plantation of Ulster, but a reminder to the conquered native population that the loyalists took what they have by force and will continue to keep it by force.

This is an ugly message to send out to the people you share the island with and it makes me doubt the sincerity of unionists and loyalists who say they want peace.

Look.  History is history, and we need to draw lessons from other conflicts, such as the recent one in Yugoslavia, that certain actions need to be put in the past.  Yes, the plantation of Ulster was a brutal and savage dispossession of a native people by a foreign invader, but that’s the nature of human conflict.  We move on and we integrate, and eventually we become one and the same people, but that has never been possible for the Ulster unionists and loyalists.  They have always needed to emphasise their otherness, their difference, the belief that  even after four hundred years, they still feel like invaders who need to dominate the vanquished.

I think it’s a form of collective insecurity that finds expression in violence and posturing.

For centuries, the British military bred a savage underclass that was willing to go out and be killed, to walk into a hail of lead at Passchendaele or fight to the last man at the Khyber Pass, and we who inhabit former garrison towns —  Dublin, Athlone, Limerick, Clonmel — know full well what the consequences are of that feral DNA, as we contend with their, ironically, orange-sprayed descendants.   That’s what we’re looking at with the lunatics who build the Eleventh Night bonfires.  Savagery.  As I said in a previous post, the loyalist community has never moved away from its origins as an invading force.   Despite their ignorance and the hopelessness of their future, the hooded youths who will prance around on bonfires tonight never ceased to regard the locals as inferior and deserving of subjugation.

Despite that, the locals got themselves an education, leaving the loyalists stuck in their mean streets, with only their grudges to nurse.

I’m afraid there will never be peace in Northern Ireland, because the hearts of those who think of themselves as invaders and conquerors are still filled with hatred even after four hundred years but I suppose that’s not too unusual.  Nobody could truly believe that ethnic cleansing is a good thing and therefore, if you regard yourself as a beneficiary of it, you’re left with no option.  Those your ancestors defeated must be sub-human, and their descendants must also be inferior, even if they happen to be professionally qualified while your only skill is to look after pigeons and ferrets, or to build a bonfire once a year.

Here they are attacking a man for filming their sectarian posturing outside a Catholic church.

 

Categories
Politics

Sectarian Violence in Northern Ireland

Isn’t it ironic that UVF attacks on Catholic homes in Belfast hit the news on the same day as the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team report on the Kingsmill murders?

Two sides of the same demented coin.

Last night, a mob of lowlifes attacked houses in the Short Strand area of Belfast.  Two of them were shot, and to be frank, I don’t blame whoever fired at them.  If I had a gun and someone was attacking my home, I’d do the same.

That horrible undercurrent of hatred that permeates the loyalist community remains as poisonous today as it ever was.  If they’re not attacking pensioners in their homes, they’re sending bullets to managers of Scottish football clubs.

They are truly the dregs.

Of course, the loyalist groups – as opposed to the unionist – have always attracted the lowest of the low.  You might agree with the unionist political viewpoint or you might not, but in the end it’s no more than an opinion.  Many people in Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, think the union should have been maintained.  Conversely, the vast majority, Catholic and Protestant, are fervent supporters of Irish political independence.  Loyalism, on the other hand, has to do with triumphalism, aggression, contempt for others and an atavistic tendency to violence.

Loyalists, for the most part, are idiots.  Violent, uneducated idiots who desperately need something to give them some kind of legitimacy.

Somebody once pointed out to me that the reason the loyalist paramilitaries, for all their murderous bigotry, were so unsuccessful was simply that they couldn’t attract anyone with a brain.  The unionist people in the North had options to join the police, the army,  even the despicable B-Specials who later morphed into the sectarian UDR.  By the time it reached the UVF and the UDA, the only thing on offer was semi-evolved knuckle dragging half-wits like Johnny Adair, Billy Wright and Lenny Murphy who in the end became such an embarrassment that the loyalist paramilitaries worked with the Provos to kill him.

The Provos, by contrast, had their choice of capable people who, in a normal society, would have joined the police force, the army or the professions.  Therefore, in addition to the knuckle-dragging half-wits they inevitably attracted, they also had people of genuine ability.

Unfortunately, and despite what Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness might claim, there was also a sectarian strand to the activities of the Provos, just as there was in the newly-formed republic when Protestants were burned out of West Cork in 1922.

So let’s have anough of this nonsense.  Let’s have enough of people telling us that the loyalists are sectarian — which they are — but that the republicans’ hands are totally clean.  They are not.

On the 5th January 1976,  ten men were going home from work on a bus in County Armagh.  The driver stopped when a man appeared waving a flashlight.  Armed men stepped out and ordered all the workers off the bus.  They demanded to know the religion of the men, and released the only Catholic, Richard Hughes, telling him to run away.  They then shot everyone at the side of the road, leaving only one survivor,

The murdered men were, in order of their ages,  Robert Chambers (18); John McConville (20); Kenneth Worton (24); Reginald Chapman (29); Walter Chapman (29); Robert Samuel Walker (46); Joseph Lemmon (49);   John Bryans (50); Robert Freeburn (56); James McWhirter (63).

The IRA, which was supposed to be on ceasefire at the time,  responded to the public outcry at the blatantly sectarian nature of the attack by inventing a false title for the murderers : South Armagh Republican Action Force.

You might respond with the Greysteel and Loughinisland massacres, and I wouldn’t disagree.  You’d be right.  They were examples of absolute mindless, loyalist moronic aggression. But somehow, and maybe I’m wrong here, the republican side always seemed to claim a purer legitimacy to the thing they called the “armed struggle”.

So, how did it help the struggle to shoot a dozen harmless workers at the side of the road?

I don’t want anyone telling me that I’m trying to minimise the sectarian loyalist campaign. There are plenty of articles on this site about such things, if anybody cares to read them.  But I think it’s about time we faced up to the fact that the Irish nationalist side has also been responsible for crimes of hatred against others solely based on their religious affiliations.

As the years went on, many things have become obvious about Ireland and about the Irish. One of the most obvious is that we are unable to take responsibility for our own faults and failings. Since the mid 1800s, we handed control of our country to a demented form of clericalism which we still struggle to shake off.  We handed control to a bunch of lunatic priests who invented an Ireland that never existed.

In other words, it’s time to drop the holier-than-thou victim persona we’ve traded on for too long and start behaving as adults, perhaps for the very first time.

The loyalists are just thugs and as long as the political will exists, they”ll never be more than a nuisance, however menacing.  The thinking republicans. likewise, will take a pragmatic view of what can be achieved, and that leaves the patriots who die for Ireland every Saturday night.

Maybe we should get them to exchange phone numbers with the loyalists.  They seem to have a great deal in common.

 

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Previously on Bock

 

 

Categories
Favourites Politics

There will never be peace in Northern Ireland

I know I won’t win any popularity for posting this but I believe there will never be peace in Northern Ireland.

I say it as someone who detests the Nation Once Again nationalists, and the aggressive Provos selling an Phoblacht in Dublin pubs.  The Póg mo Thóin patriots turn my stomach.  I say it as someone who refuses to stand up for the national anthem just because some some bunch of leipreacháns decide it’s time to finish their gig.  I say it as someone who couldn’t give a rat’s arse if there was ever a united Ireland.

I simply say it as a fact.

Remove the people from it and look at the system.

Take a rational approach to the problem, detached and untroubled by preconceptions.

No logical study of any phenomenon would arbitrarily exclude facts about that phenomenon.   If you had to examine a chemical reaction, you would never say that half the equation was irrelevant because it was too old.  No mathematician would ever suggest beginning half-way through a proof.

And yet, in the Northern Ireland issue, we’re invited to ignore much of the history and to focus on the present.  Nobody has quite defined the stage in history when it would be appropriate to cut off our attention because these days our discussion of such matters has been influenced by the unreality-field generated by two consummate liars: Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair.

But the fact is we can’t ignore the process by which our current situation came about.  This is especially so when one party to the conflict is so deeply rooted in the past.

The loyalist community has never moved away from its origins as an invading force.  It has never ceased to see itself as something separate from the indigenous Irish, and continues to assert its British identity.  It has never ceased to regard the locals as inferior and deserving of subjugation.

This attitude comes from within the loyalist community, which celebrates, every 12th July, its conquest of the native Irish and feels no embarrassment about proclaiming its otherness.

If I say these loyalist people are not Irish, I don’t in any way reject them.  I simply repeat their own words.  This is what they themselves believe, although they and their ancestors have lived here for 300 – and in some cases 400 – years.  Of course, to facilitate this mass settlement, local people had to be displaced and defeated.  That’s the reality of plantation, whether it takes place in Ulster, North America or Israel.

Since that time, loyalism has never seen itself as anything but a movement of colonists and invaders, which is a great pity.

This may be your land, loyalism says, and the place names may be Gaelic, but we own it now and we’ll hold it by force of arms.

I wish they had a more conciliatory attitude to the Irish, and I wish they had integrated, but unfortunately, they didn’t, and it seems they never will.

Let’s take an objective look at the problem.

Are the Irish so aggressive that they’d launch attacks on their neighbouring island for no reason?

No.

Would the Irish, left to their own devices, have produced the murderous Provos?

Clearly not.

If the Loyalists had found common cause with the Irish, would we have seen violent republicanism?

Plainly not.

Would the Irish have assimilated the loyalists?

Certainly, as history shows.

However, Irish history is dominated by the last three hundred years, in the minds of the  indigenous Irish and those who colonised the land.  Both are obsessed with religious affiliation as a marker of their faction, even though neither have any particular religious, ethical or moral beliefs.

This creates a bizarre situation where the Irish Protestants and Catholics whose alignment preceded the Ulster Plantations find themselves pushed into the same corners as the newcomers.

Neither the old Irish catholics nor the old Irish Protestants are the problem, however.

The real problem lies in the siege mentality of those who have never ceased to think of themselves as invaders and conquerors.  The problem will never go away until the loyalists free themselves of those mental chains and start to view the rest of humanity as equals, instead of enemies to be kept down in their own land by force of British arms.

I don’t say that as a rabid nationalist because, as any regular reader will know, I think nationalism is a curse.  I say it as a rational human being.

I can’t see the loyalists ever regarding the indigenous Irish as equals, and that’s why I think there will never be real peace in Ireland.   They will always think of themselves as the invaders, and therefore will always be looking over their shoulders.

What a shame.

Categories
Bock's People

The DUP Stick to Their Principles

You have to hand it to those DUP boys, don’t you?

Men of principle every one.  Never mind education.  Never mind the economy.  Let’s get right down to basics and collapse the whole agreement unless we get our most fundamental human right.

Forget the fact that the paramilitaries have abandoned their war.  Forget the fact that for once in generations, the children of the Wee North have the chance to a peaceful future.

None of that matters compared to a loyalist’s most fundamental right.

And what is that right?

It’s the right to prance around other people’s neighbourhoods in bowler hats, while banging drums, waving umbrellas and reminding them that your army beat their ancestors in some stupid battle 300 years ago.

It’s the right to remind the sullen natives that you are the conquering invader and will tolerate no back-chat from them.

Now there’s enlightened politics for you.

What are they like?

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Other Bock posts on Loyalism

Categories
Politics

There can be no viler act …

This is Iris Robinson’s view on gays:

There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.

At first glance, you might overlook the intent of that statement, because the real malevolence is hidden in the syntax.

Let’s deconstruct it.

There can be no viler act, than sexually abusing innocent children

apart from homosexuality and sodomy.


There you have it.  Homosexuality is worse than abusing children, in the opinion of Iris.

Two consenting adults having consensual sex is worse than a grown man raping a screaming child, in Iris Robinson’s world, and Peter Robinson — the First Minister —  was not among those storming the barricades when his wife, a Member of Parliament, issued this statement.

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll be well aware of my views on the shortcomings of this Republic, such as it is.  You’ll know that I think the Catholic church was one of the worst disasters ever to befall this country.

Likewise you’ll be familiar with my opinions on the religious nuts who have imposed their will on our country, but I’ve tended to stay away from the religious nuts in the Wee North, because it’s a bit outside my field.

Iris has changed that.

Northern Ireland is a deeply dysfunctional and schizoid society because of its origins.

Now let me say this.  I don’t give a rat’s arse who a man’s antecedents were.  I’ll take him for what he is, and I don’t care who his father was or his grandfather, and I certainly don’t care what religious tradition he came from.

Loyalism rejects such thinking.

The loyalist tradition has no interest in being Irish and has no respect for Irish ways.  Loyalism makes a virtue out of being different from the natives, as it perceives them, in much the same way as the Afrikaners.  Loyalism celebrates the fact that it arrived on these shores  and conquered the locals.  It symbolically replays these conquests every year to remind the natives who the boss is.

Without triumphalist, intolerant loyalism, we would not have seen the violence that took place from the sixties to the nineties, and I’m afraid that people such as  Peter and Iris Robinson  — good Christian, God-fearing people — are at the heart of this intolerant, triumphalist mindset.

In the same way as they dismiss gays, the Robinsons have little enough regard for those they would consider to be the conquered natives.

It’s a mindset that I find very hard to like or have any sympathy for.

Categories
Politics

Unionists Go Nuts

It’s GUBU-time for the DUP as it convulses in all its buttoned-up prudery.

This is the party that would have a nice cup of tea with Jesus if he ever reappeared.  The party of born-again evangelism and self-righteous condemnation when it comes to SINNING!

No sinners in the Democratic Unionist Party, let me tell you, and no sinful, evil children in Belfast’s playgrounds on the Lord’s Day either, by golly-gosh.  No indeed.

How proud they were when Iris Robinson, MP for Strangford  and wife of the First Minister, Peter Robinson, spoke out so forcefully against the evils of homosexuality.  How frantically Wild Willie strummed at his banjo when Iris informed the world that queers could be cured by psychiatry.

Ian Junior isn’t too fond of homos either.

I saw Peter Robinson on the tv today,  and he looked like a very sad figure.  He looked like a man who had lost all faith in everything as he announced that his wife had been in an inappropriate relationship.

An inappropriate relationship.  Oh Jesus, how Protestant is that?? as a Protestant friend said to me later on the phone.

But Robinson has always been tight-arsed and stiff and DUP to the bone so he was never going to call his wife a cheating bitch and kick chairs around his office and scream and cry and lie down on the floor and get drunk and break some windows and shout at the dog.   But what he did say was about as publicly emotional as Peter Robinson ever gets and you could see he was hurting.  The phrase, inappropriate relationship, for Peter Robinson, burned as much pain into his soul as a weeks’s screaming for another man.

Different strokes.

Iris, it seems, blamed the affair on mental illness, which is probably the first time that excuse has been used.

Why were you shagging that guy?

I was insane.

Oh, right.  That’s all right then.  But why did you say queers are damned?

Because they are.

I thought you were insane?

Only when I’m shagging that guy.

Look.  Peter Robinson isn’t my cup of tea, so to speak.  He isn’t my mug of cocoa either and he’s definitely not my pint of Guinness, but he had the guts to come out in front of the cameras and talk about the intimate details of his private life and his private feelings in a way that I don’t think many of us would be able to.  For that I admire him, but not enormously.  After all, he’s still the leader of the DUP.

Which brings us back to Wild Willie.

How long will the Party of Jesus be prepared to stomach fornication within its midst before smiting the evil-doers?  After all, it was one thing for the Reverend Paisley to lead mobs burning Catholics out of their homes.  That wasn’t sinful.  That was defending the loyal people of Ulster.  But it’s another matter to be harbouring a painted Jezebel in the bosom of a party founded jointly by Paisley and Jesus.

The anti-evolution party won’t stand for that, in my opinion.  And therefore the shaky northern two-step might easily slip out of kilter.  I can’t imagine Wild Willie or Nigel dancing comfortably with Martin and Gerry.  Can you?  We could see the entire Wee North destabilised by Iris’s  moments of passionate,  though inappropriate, madness.  Sweaty, furtive coupling — with flower arranging.  And biscuits.

While we’re on the subject of non-evolution, did anyone notice the UDA decommissioning more guns in another final meaningless act?   General de Chastelain has had enough.  They’re all done now, he says, all the Jap guns on my list are gone now and I’m off back to Canada and don’t ever call me again.

He’s nearly right.  All the loyalist guns are out of action except for the arsenal of ultra-modern sub-machine guns under the control of that Egyptian loyalist killer, Andre Shoukri,  who’s currently in jail for possession of firearms.  I believe there’s a big Coptic loyalist movement in Cairo.

When Shoukri gets out, there will be plenty of firepower to continue the struggle defending the people of Ulster through crime.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the main news item is about Peter Robinson’s homophobic missus having inappropriate relationships, and not about a gang of murdering, drug-dealing criminals doing away with weaponry?

That tells me something interesting.  It tells me that the UDA story is even bigger bullshit than the one about the DUP.

UPDATE:

Nigel  Dodds has announced that Peter Robinson has the full support of the party, which of course means he’s finished.

Meanwhile, it emerges that the man 60-year-old  Iris had an inappropriate relationship with was 21 years of age.  Good on you Iris, striking a blow for the mature generation, though I suspect if Peter had an inappropriate relationship with a girl of 21, people might be callling him a dirty old lecher.

All in all though, I have to say that Robinson’s statement was very peculiar, both in its wording and its timing.  After all, he’s known for nearly a year about his wife’s antics, so why did he choose this moment to call in the press?

And why did Iris Robinson’s statement talk about encouraging friends to  support a business venture involving this 21-year-old lad?  What sort of business was it and who contributed funds?  Is the money secure?  Is the business still in operation?

It’s all a bit strange.

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To cheer the DUP up here’s our dear departed friend Jock telling a story about the Presbyterian God.

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More on the Wee North

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Elsewhere: Paddyanglican

Categories
Crime

Ethnic Cleansing in Belfast

When one person is attacked because of their nationality, that’s xenophobia.  When 100 people are intimidated out of their homes and have to flee the country, that’s ethnic cleansing.

loyalistsOnce again, the loyalists of Northern Ireland show the world what an ugly bunch they are.  After years of intimidating their Catholic neighbours, they now  concentrate on immigrants, though the recent attacks on Romanians are nothing new.  Before this, they were attacking Poles, Africans and anyone else they perceived to be different.

Bigotry, of course, is nothing new to Northern Ireland’s loyalist culture.  Hatred of non-loyalists is at its very heart because loyalists, by definition, are intensely aware of their own status as outsiders.  They celebrate it.  They flaunt it.  They commemorate their ancestors’ arrival on these shores, displacing and dispossessing the indigenous Irish.  The manner of their commemorations has  for years been designed to cause maximum insult to those they perceive to be the conquered population.

On the face of it, to any reasonable person, they seem to be completely unaware of the irony in their position.  Any reasonable person might point out that the loyalists themselves are self-proclaimed outsiders, having no connection in any form with Irish culture.  The reasonable man might therefore ask how these manifest outsiders could display such hatred towards other outsiders instead of feeling empathy with them.

That would miss the point completely.  Loyalists don’t do irony.  Loyalists maddogcouldn’t give a flying fuck about anyone else.  At the heart of the loyalist credo is one simple theme: we took this place by violence and we’ll keep it by violence.

I’m not saying all unionists think like that.  There are many who happen to believe the union was a preferable political structure but consider themselves fully part of the Irish culture.

Loyalism is different, and increasingly dangerous as it binds closer and closer with European Fascist movements such as Combat 18 and the BNP.  We now see loyalist mobs attacking the homes of Romanians, smashing windows in the church where they took refuge and chanting Nazi slogans.

Where is this all leading?

________________________

Previously on Bock:

My gift to loyalism

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Categories
Crime Politics

Northern Ireland’s Legions of the Rearguard?

It was like a news bulletin of 20 years ago. Two Brits and one policeman shot dead.

People old enough to remember the bad days feared the worst and doubtless the perpetrators had hoped for the worst. Their strategy was to force a chain reaction that would unravel the peace process and make their fringe and outdated views relevant again.

Locating the first attack in South Antrim would bring local MP Wild Willie McCrea back on the public stage. Nationalists would recoil. DUP backwoods preachers are emboldened to make provocative statements. Simmering tensions between SF and DUP would boil over leading to paralysis of the Executive. Loyalist retaliation against uninvolved Catholics would harden attitudes, heighten fears and create further momentum for a harder line within the mainstream Republican Movement. This would be aggravated by an over-the-top security force response and a partial return of the British Army to the streets. After a number of iterations of this cycle, SF would find it impossible to survive in Government or would suffer a further damaging split increasing support for the fringe groups, or both. Arms would flow in from Eastern Europe, former USSR states and Africa. Within a few years or possibly sooner we would be back to 1980 levels of conflict and another generation would be filling the jails and the graveyards. Very plausible and very worrying. Except to date none of this predictable chain reaction has happened.

What has actually happened reveals just how much has changed in the North. After an early scary moment when Wild Willie was briefly allowed near a microphone, all parties have acted in a manner which defeats the purpose of the dissidents and have refused to revert to previous form. The Unionists including the DUP and former paramilitaries have by and large resisted the urge to use the killings as a means of embarrassing Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein has come out more strongly in favour of the PSNI than ever before. The First and Second Ministers, Robinson and McGuinness, have stood resolutely together and avoided the temptation to curry tribal favour. The Police Chief Hugh Orde has avoided talking up the role of British Army covert specialist assets. He may indeed have questions of his own to ask the army now. Like what Brits in desert battle dress were doing standing outside their barracks waiting for a pizza delivery in a week when the Police Chief had said the risk of violent attacks on the security forces was at its highest in 10 years. Reassuringly the “republican street” has appeared almost totally opposed to the dissidents who seem isolated and vulnerable to early police penetration and arrest. Hopefully, provided all key actors keep their heads, these events of 2009 will be a footnote to the long history of political violence since 1969 and the Continuity and Real IRA will be of concern to only the most dedicated of Table Quiz anoraks.

Who are the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA? The Continuity IRA derives from a split in the Republican Movement (Sinn Fein and IRA) in 1986 over the issue of abstentionism when those who wanted to stick to the orthodox republican ideology of not recognising partitionist parliaments left Sinn Fein to found Republican Sinn Fein. Gradually they developed a military wing but as long as the mainstream IRA was pursuing its military campaign the Continuity were barely relevant. Using a combination of semi-retired older operatives and very inexperienced youngsters they were notable only for their amateurishness. The Real IRA was initially a much more dangerous organisation who emerged after the second IRA ceasefire in the summer of 1997 which led to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This split had been long threatened and had only been delayed by skilful manoeuvring by the Adams-McGuinness faction. The Adams-McGuinness faction had managed to shift a lot of weapons and munitions out of the control of local commanders in advance of the ceasefire and into large secure dumps in the Republic. Nevertheless the Real IRA had access to much material through their leader McKevitt who had long service at the head of the IRA’s logistics operations. However they were short of manpower and were on occasions forced to rely on inexperienced Continuity IRA members. It is believed that the Omagh bomb was manufactured by experienced Real IRA bomb makers but was moved into position by Continuity IRA people who panicked under pressure. This earlier, more effective and politically dangerous RIRA-CIRA campaign was completely halted by the disaster of the Omagh bombing and the dissident factions who collaborated in that catastrophe have never regained the limited public support and ‘military’ effectiveness that they had displayed throughout the summer of 1998. The killings of the past few days have hopefully ended any hope of a revival in a similarly definitive manner.

What types of people participate in such organisations? We are told that the CIRA is strongest in Fermanagh and Armagh and Limerick and Tipperary. Limerick and Tipperary? You can’t be serious. Yes I am and recent court cases bear this out. On a quiet Sunday in Limerick in early January strange figures were noticed walking uncertainly around O’Connell Street. Skinny long-haired youths in drab combat jackets that were far too large for them, the odd pair of sunglasses, older and often overweight men and women in leather jackets trying to look important and serious. The casual observer might have thought it was some sort of experimental drama or a retro charity event. In Bedford Row, though, where these odd groups could be found massing, you would have realised that it was the annual Sean South Commemoration. Here things were more serious. A Band was playing and motley uniforms had been assembled into military-style formation. The banners said Republican Sinn Fein, (CIRA) and 32 County Sovereignty Movement, a group which is sometimes seen as the political wing of the RIRA. These are people for whom politics are a set of immutable certainties. It was odd, slightly amusing and also sad to see these people whose views once so dangerous and relevant were now so marginal and irrelevant to others in the street many of whom were too young to remember the ‘troubles’ and many others were not even Irish and who must have been really confused. Now of course this gathering appears far more sinister giving some sort of spurious legitimacy to the arbitrary taking of human life.

Hopefully some or even many of the people who turned out in Bedford Row to commemorate Sean South will reflect on the extent to which they may not only have collaborated or condoned the killing of three professional people but also have been party to a conspiracy to end the peace on this island. Everybody including the dissidents will need to learn the right lessons from these unacceptable and unnecessary attacks. Commemorations we can accept or even indulge. Actions designed to stop the peace process clock and return the island to hatred and bloodletting can not be condoned. Maybe these misguided and discredited legions of the rearguard have unwittingly provided a useful service to Ireland, reminding us and more importantly our leaders, how precious boring peaceful politics is, however infuriating and cantankerous it might appear at times, and how unthinkable the alternative would be.

Categories
Sexuality

Paisley Slams Gays

I see that Ian Paisley Junior is upset about the gays.

I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism, he told Hotpress magazine. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without care about it – harm society . . . I mean, I hate what they do. I think they should just free them[selves] from being gay.

Oh right. I see. So let me get this straight clear now. He doesn’t mind sharing government with people he used to call murderers, but he’ll have nothing to do with queers.

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Look! bellowed Wee Ian. This is how David Ervine might have turned out if he hadn’t been a true Ulster Loyalist. That’s what saved him.

Hmm. You can kinda see his point in a way.

He doesn’t want it shoved in his face.

Eh . . . so to speak.

I’d love to see Wee Ian’s face when he reads this and finds out King Billy was gay.

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Who’s that fella behind the flag, Son?

Ah, that’s my imaginary friend, Dad.

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My gift to Loyalism