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.