Month: July 2014

The Political Soul of Ulster Loyalism: Part One

What is Loyalism?

Ulster Loyalism is most simply defined as being, loyalty to Ulster. Not loyalty to the institution of monarchy, not loyalty to any government or party, not loyalty to England, but loyalty to Ulster. Having Ulster’s best interests at heart and working to ensure that Ulster, as an entity, both literal and abstract, is not harmed or destroyed, and the willingness to use any and all means to prevent any such possible harm or destruction. It can also be described as loyalty to one’s community. Of course, there are those who would vehemently disagree with my definition of what Loyalism is, they will insist that Loyalism means loyalty to the British Crown and constitution, as revised after the Glorious Revolution of 1688-90. Or that Loyalism is merely a misplaced sense of loyalty to the British state. That is their prerogative. I have self-identified as being a Loyalist since I was in my early teens. In the years since I have examined and re-examined the defining characteristics of Ulster Loyalism. I have had many, many conversations with others about what they believe Loyalism means, about what it means to them to be a Loyalist. I have studied the history of my country and the history of Loyalism. I live and work within a predominantly Loyalist community. Those who know me personally, know my ‘credentials’. Forgive my arrogance but I am of the firm belief that those best qualified to define Loyalism, are Loyalists themselves.

That the very definition of Loyalism is a matter of debate says much about the Loyalist community. We are a ‘broad church’, welcoming of dissenting voices. Often divided on specific issues and seemingly content to tear each other to shreds over those issues. But all Loyalists (and indeed the vast majority of Unionists) share a sense of common purpose. From the upper echelons of mainstream political Unionism, to the ordinary woman or man on the street, from the Loyalist/Unionist ‘moderates’ to the former POWs, all have one thing in common. The sincerely held belief that Ulster should never enter into any form of political union, or be annexed by, the Irish Republic.  Beyond that point though, Loyalism begins to diverge from Unionism, at least in terms of terminology. There are many Unionists (I use the term here to denote those who would self-identify as Unionists but not as Loyalists) who hold the view that this country, the land of their forebears, is not worth the shedding of even a single drop of blood. To many no doubt, this would be an admirable quality, from my point of view however, it is a naïve rejection of the political and intercommunal  realities of life in Northern Ireland. Anyone who describes themselves as a Loyalist should, as a point of principle, defend the right of any (and every) free people to resist, by force of arms if necessary, that which they cannot tolerate politically.

Are Loyalism and Unionism the Same?

Not all Unionists are Loyalist. Not all Loyalists are Unionist. Many self-styled Unionists disagree fundamentally with some of the core principles of Loyalism. Some Loyalists lean more towards Ulster nationalism than support for the Union. Indeed, there are many Loyalists, myself included, who support the Union only for as long as the Union is beneficial to Ulster. For me, one of the central tenets of Loyalism is the principle of self-determination. Historically the Ulster people have exercised that inalienable right, choosing to remain within the British family of nations. There is, however, nothing which precludes Ulster from exercising her right to self-determination and choosing independence, in some form or other. If, for example, some future Westminster government was to display more than the usual level of obsequiousness towards Irish nationalism and declare that Ulster would cease to be part of the United Kingdom from such-and-such a date, some form of independence would be Loyalism’s only viable option, at least in the short to medium term.

Not all Unionists are Loyalists but most Loyalists are Unionists.

Not all Unionists are Loyalists but most Loyalists are Unionists.

The media and others used to use the terms ‘Unionist’ and ‘Loyalist’ interchangeably. Today they do not. Is this a recognition of the clear distinctions between the two, or perhaps merely a ploy to aid in their further demonization of Loyalists? I am prepared to, grudgingly, give the media the benefit of the doubt and say it is the former rather than the latter. The issue of Loyalist identity is an extremely complex one. It would be perfectly acceptable for one to proclaim that all Irish republicans are also Irish nationalist, but that not all Irish nationalists are republicans. One could also state that, for example, all members of the Tea Party in the United States are conservatives, but not all American conservatives are Tea-baggers. The same idiom cannot be employed when discussing Loyalism and Unionism. Although one could perhaps get away with using the phrase “most Loyalists are Unionists but only some Unionists are Loyalists”. That may well be as close as we can get to a succinct summation of the relationship between the two.

Aside from the pragmatic view that many Loyalists have of the Union, there is one other important issue where Loyalists and Unionists differ significantly. The issue of armed resistance.  As I have  already said, there are some within Unionism who are completely pacifistic. There are many more who seem to have no problem with armed counter measures, but only if and when such counter measures are undertaken by the forces of the state. For them the idea of citizen soldiers engaging in clandestine warfare is anathema. Yet a century ago even ‘Big House’ Unionists were prepared to engage militarily to defeat the 3rd Home Rule Bill, or at the very least, to ensure Ulster’s exclusion from any quasi-independent state arising out of it. It is bordering on the hypocritical for some Unionists to commemorate the use (and threatened use) of armed resistance 100 years ago, and yet totally condemn it in the context of the more recent conflict.

The People’s Right to Defend Themselves

Loyalism, in both principle and in practice, has always asserted the right of the Ulster people to defend themselves. In April, 1689, the representative of government in Londonderry, Governor  Robert Lundy, attempted to surrender the city to the forces of King James II. The people of the city, no doubt inspired by the Apprentice Boy’s shutting of the gates the previous December, paid no heed to Lundy’s orders and, under the leadership of Col. Adam Murray, began a fierce attack on King James’ besieging army. Technically, the citizens of Londonderry were, in disobeying Lundy’s orders, acting illegally. They were however, morally justified. If they had not resorted to armed resistance, King James’ army of French and Irish cut-throats would have entered the city and slaughtered the inhabitants. It would have been an extermination.

Loyalists have an inalienable right to defend themselves and their communities.

Loyalists have an inalienable right to defend themselves and their communities.

In the early 1970s many Loyalists felt that they too were facing extermination. The Provisional and Official IRA were detonating no-warning bombs all over Ulster. Outside pubs, shops, offices and restaurants. In town centres and outside police stations (often in built-up residential areas). Meanwhile, Irish nationalist death squads roamed the streets looking for potential victims and IRA snipers (both ‘Pinhead’ and ‘Sticky’) created panic in the terraced streets of Belfast and Londonderry. The ‘authorities’ seemed powerless. The Army seemed either unable or unwilling to fully engage the republican gunmen and bombers. With little or no other option, the Loyalist people once again had to rely on themselves. To arm and organise themselves as best they could and begin to fight back. The Ulster-Scots, as a people, had an undeniable right to self-defence. A right to armed resistance. I will never, ever, condemn any Loyalist who took the momentous decision to disregard their own safety and take up arms in defence of their country and their community. In fact, I would commend anyone who took that decision. In the face of a ruthless, barbaric, genocidal enemy, armed resistance is a necessity. Indeed, in such circumstances, armed resistance should be regarded as a moral obligation.

We Oppose Only One Thing

Those who make it their life’s work to attack Ulster Loyalism often say that: loyalists know what they are against, but they don’t necessarily know what they are for” I fundamentally disagree. Loyalists know exactly what we are for. We are for full and equal citizenship. We are for civil and religious liberty for all. We are for integrated, secular education. We are for an end to discrimination in education, housing and employment. We are for a better standard of living for all the people of Northern Ireland. We are for an end to the cultural Apartheid that has seen one community lay claim to certain areas (in some cases whole towns and villages) to the exclusion of all others. We are for an end to Irish nationalist/republican terrorism. We are for normality, peace and conflict resolution. We are for justice. For peace with honour  (not peace at any price). For an accurate and truthful account of our country’s recent past. For our children and our children’s children. We oppose only one thing. We oppose the childish, reductionist, arrogant idea that our country ought to be politically, economically and culturally unified with the other country with whom we share this island.

At it’s very core, that is the only thing that Ulster Loyalism opposes, as an ideology. We will oppose this or that, in the course of normal daily political life, but fundamentally, ideologically, we oppose only that one nefarious notion. Loyalism does not have to work to change the status quo. Loyalism won when we achieved separate status for Ulster in 1921. The vast majority of Loyalists (those who, at least tacitly, support the Union) have what we desire. We are not working towards the fulfilment of a pipedream. We are not trying to subvert and overthrow the state. At times I think that it is to our detriment. Perhaps the Loyalist community would have more cohesion, more purpose, if we were working to achieve some romanticised ideal, rather than simply working to maintain what we already have. I shouldn’t covet the attributes of other communities though. For we, as Loyalists have different, but equally advantageous attributes. Our sense of self-reliance. Our indefatigability. The very fact that we, the Loyalist people, are not a single, homogenous, tightly controlled group, which is far more of a strength than a weakness. Something we should perhaps, be quicker to recognise.

Is Loyalism Reactionary?

For Irish nationalists this is almost a rhetorical question. “Of course loyalism is reactionary” they’ll say. “After all, loyalist violence was a reaction to the republican armed struggle”. For Irish nationalists and republicans this is one of those unquestioned truisms that their political doctrine clings to like a drowning rat. It is also one of the politically immature responses which makes one further question the ‘merits’ of a segregated/sectarian education system. For just because Loyalist violence was, some of the time at least, a reaction to republican violence, does not prove that Loyalism, as an ideology, is reactionary. On the contrary, throughout the conflict now known as ‘The Troubles’, it was Ulster Loyalism that provided the only real political innovation. As far back as the mid-seventies, David Trimble, then of the Ulster Vanguard movement, was writing eloquent and scholarly articles and theses on how the Conflict might be brought to a close. In the 1980s, the UDA, through their political wing, the Ulster Democratic Party, produced ‘Common Sense’, a document at least a decade ahead of its time. ‘Common Sense’ was itself the successor to that organisation’s earlier thesis, ‘Beyond The Religious Divide’. The Progressive Unionist Party had also contributed much to the debate about how Ulster might move beyond conflict, sectarianism, social exclusion and ‘zero sum politics’.

'Common Sense': A visionary  and innovative document that Irish nationalism had no answer to.

‘Common Sense’: A visionary and innovative document that Irish nationalism had no answer to.

Any objective observer may well conclude that, in response to such Loyalist thinking (for instance- ‘Common Sense’), Irish nationalists and republicans seemed unable to even garner an articulate response. Absolutely unable to come to any new conclusions themselves, or even re-examine their own ‘sacred beliefs’, Irish nationalism could do only what it knew how to do best- reject any innovation. The accusation that Loyalism is reactionary is, in light of the evidence, not only patently untrue, but also absurd. When the UDA produced ‘Beyond The Religious Divide’ and later, ‘Common Sense’, Irish nationalists were forced to react, but were unable to do anything more meaningful than sit in the corner, their fingers in their ears, whistling ‘A Soldiers Song’. When the armed wing of Loyalism escalated it’s military campaign, from about 1989 onwards, PIRA/SF, INLA/IRSP and the IPLO were forced to react. When the CLMC talked of “abject and true remorse”, for the killing of innocent people during the Conflict, Irish nationalism/republicanism was again forced to react, their reaction was a deafening silence! 

Loyalism is NOT reactionary or motivated by antagonism towards others.

Loyalism is NOT reactionary or motivated by antagonism towards others.

Loyalism as a Catalyst for Social Change

Arguably, working class Loyalist communities are the most tightly knit of any communities in the British Isles, with the possible exception of the Traveller Community. Close bonds were forged during the long, weary years of bitter, internecine conflict. In the last few years, with the increasing demonisation of working class Loyalists, those bonds have become stronger still. We, as Loyalists, know what community means, what it is. Loyalists have always had a deep, indeed profound, social conscience. It is that social conscience, and that feeling of being a part of something greater than the individual, that inspired many Loyalists to become politically, and/or militarily, active in the first place. Loyalism is primarily a working class, community based, ideology. Can Loyalism therefore act as a catalyst for social change? The answer seems obvious to me. Yes, of course it can. Loyalist communities the width and breadth of Northern Ireland face numerous complex social issues. Poverty, lack of social housing, educational under achievement, social exclusion, drug abuse etc etc. Loyalist communities are though, I believe, uniquely equipped to deal with such challenges. Loyalist marching bands and Lambeg drumming clubs are not only overt expressions of culture, they are also a fantastic way to occupy young people, to keep them from loitering on street corners or engaging in antisocial activity, encouraging them to be more physically active and expanding their minds through music. Loyalist communities also have other unique aspects which can be utilised for the benefit of the whole community. Orange Halls can be used for a multitude of purposes beyond that for which they were originally intended- crèches, slimming clubs, evening classes, community meetings, cultural events etc etc.

Loyalism is already a catalyst for social change.

Loyalism is already a catalyst for social change.

Not only can Loyalism can be a catalyst for social change, I would contend that it already is! In the future, the role of Loyalism in social change will only expand. The recent resurgence of the Progressive Unionist Party is a clear illustration that many within the Loyalist working class are sick and tired of the right-wing, economically conservative, socially inactive parties in the Unionist ‘mainstream’. ‘Joe Public’ has had a belly full of the vague and diffuse promises of the DUP. Most ordinary people in places like Rathcoole, Ballykeel, Ballysally or Tigers Bay, can see with their own eyes who the politically and socially active people in their neighbourhoods are. They’re not the property speculators and businessmen of the DUP. They’re the former combatants, the ex-POWs and the activists of the PUP and UPRG. People who have a vested interest in seeing improvement in those communities because they live in those places too. Loyalism has always been socially aware, today however, Loyalists are fast learning how to get things done, how the ‘system’ works and what needs to happen for Loyalist communities to get their fair share. Loyalists have always striven to fix the problems in our communities, now though, we have the tools at our disposal to do the job right. 

Loyalism and Feminism

One of the core principles of Loyalism is civil and religious liberty for all! So to exclude women from any aspect of political, social or cultural life would be an absurdity. Any man who calls himself a Loyalist needs to recognise the vitally important role women have played in the Conflict. I can think of no greater example of courage than those women POWs incarcerated in Armagh gaol, outnumbered by their enemies but never outfought! Enduring all manner of hardship and indignity but never allowing themselves to be broken. All men need to also recognise that gender equality is a necessity in any democratic, free and egalitarian society. As a man, I feel slightly uncomfortable speaking on behalf of women, after all, women need to be able to speak for themselves. We men though have a role in providing an environment within which women and girls feel confident enough to express themselves  freely

If civil and religious liberty for all is not just rhetoric, then it must be our guiding principle as we go about our daily lives. We must think before we speak, before we act. The task of transforming communities and attitudes is an arduous one. Loyalism is not a part-time political philosophy, it is an ideology which can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives. That includes our relationship with the opposite sex. I would like to believe that working class Loyalist communities have never been especially patriarchal, but then again, I’m a man, my experience and the experience of my mother, sister, aunt, daughter etc are no doubt very, very different. I do know one thing though, as an Ulster Loyalist I have a great desire to see equality and fairness in all aspects of society and in every community!

Loyalism and Intellectualism

If one assumes that ideology is, in general, a mask for self-interest (whether personal, national, ethnic or religious), then it is a natural presumption that intellectuals, in interpreting history or formulating policy, will tend to adopt an elitist position, condemning political mass movements such as Ulster Loyalism. Throughout the years of conflict, Pseudo-liberal intellectuals have often dismissed Loyalism as if it were an irrelevant nuisance, if they bothered to offer comment on Loyalism at all. The self-appointed ‘intellectual elite‘ have come in for almost constant criticism from elements of Loyalism, but there is no real reason for such antagonism between intellectualism and Loyalism. Unlike Irish nationalism, with it’s over simplification of historical issues and it’s obsessive mysticism, Loyalism is rational, pragmatic and stoical. As an ideology, Loyalism has it’s basis firmly in the real world. Whereas other ideologies, Irish and Scottish nationalism for example, are an appeal to the heart, Ulster Loyalism is an appeal to both the heart and head.

Perhaps it is because of the ingrained, phoney Leftist agenda prevalent in most British university faculties, perhaps is it because intellectuals view Loyalism as being inextricably linked to violent street protest, paramilitary activity and counter insurgency, but whatever the reason, many intellectuals see Loyalism as anathema. Certainly there are some within ‘intellectualism‘ who are, at least, closet Loyalists, but there are many others who have decided, for whatever reason, that they must attack Loyalism at any given opportunity. It is imperative that Loyalists challenge the perceptions of the intellectual class. Loyalism, as an ideology, does not have to make itself answerable to anyone, but it should seek to redress the misconceptions of certain sections of society, especially those sections of society that have no automatic reason to harbour any antipathy towards it. 

To determine the nature of man, the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau proceeds to compare man and animal . Man is “intelligent, free….the sole animal endowed with reason”. Animals are “devoid of intellect and freedom”. Do the intellectual class not view Loyalists as men (and women)? Are we not endowed with the reason that Rousseau spoke of? It is time for intellectuals to step out into the real world, to engage with Loyalists (and others), so that a more comprehensive and inclusive view of Ulster politics emerges. The intellectual class do themselves, and the communities in which they live, a great disservice if they refuse to re-examine their opinions and prejudices. Intellectuals, and everyone else in Northern Ireland (and beyond) need to recognise that Loyalists are people too!

To be continued…

 

 

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Politics is Life

Tired Of Life?

Samuel Johnson once wrote that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life“. I don’t know about that. London can be a daunting place at times, especially for us Yokels. That quotation though is extremely useful if one substitutes London for Politics. For truly, all men (and women) must be tired of life if they say they are tired of politics. Politics is life! The price of a loaf of bread? Politics. The cost of a litre of fuel? Politics. Your children’s education? Politics. Your pension? Politics. Whether or not you’re required to carry an ‘ID card’ at all times? Politics. I think you get the picture. Sadly, it is all too common to hear people declare themselves non-political. As if somehow one can simply detach oneself from the very mechanisms of daily life.

We here in Ulster are more politically active, more politically engaged, than most population groups in the developed world. The underlying reasons are a matter of historical record. A population in conflict with one another, or emerging from such a conflict, will naturally be more politically conscious. Even so, political apathy and disinterest are slowly becoming more normal here too. Indeed, in some quarters of Northern society, to declare oneself ‘apolitical’ is seen as another way to declare oneself non-sectarian. This mindset is, of course, based on the false premise that in Ulster, politics and religion are somehow analogous. They are not. One can find numerous examples of Catholic Unionists and Protestant nationalists, for instance. It is unfortunate that so many people, not just here in Ulster but across the globe, are denying themselves a voice and simply switching off, disengaging themselves from the processes of democracy and governance. Politics may seem “boring” or complicated, but only because the media’s definition of the word ‘politics’ has become so narrow and non-inclusive. And we all know that where the media leads, society follows!

Freedom Is Never Free

Perhaps the apolitical should be reminded of the sacrifices made by generations past to ensure that democracy survived. Reminded of the 19,240 (British & Commonwealth) soldiers killed on the 1st day of the Battle of the Somme. Or of the 12,500 Allied POWs who died working on the ‘Death Railway‘ in Burma during WWII. Or the nearly 18,000 men who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Market Garden in 1944. I could list battles, conflicts and casualty figures all day. I think you get the point here. But would such stark reminders do any good? For many people, especially younger people, the sacrifices of previous generations seem remote, distant.

Would it be more useful to simply remind people that politics is inescapable? To remind them that almost everything in their daily lives is affected by politics. Maybe. The issue of political apathy though, is one which ought to be addressed with some urgency. When less than 50% of eligible voters actually go to the polls and vote, should the result of that election be allowed to stand? Where is the cut off point? 40% turn out? 25%? At what point do we say ‘this cannot be allowed‘ and actually begin to look seriously at the underlying reasons for such abrogation of democratic duty? And, just as importantly, what can be done to get Joe Public to re-engage politically.

The Redefining Of Politics

In the last few years British politics has done itself no favours. First the ‘Expenses Scandal‘, then the ‘Bank Bailout‘, a sordid euphemism for government giving trillions of pounds of public money to their old school chums and golf partners, caused more and more people to turn away from politics (at least at Westminster level) and lose what little faith they had left in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’. The shadow of paedophillia now hangs over the Palace of Westminster, like some abhorrent spectre, haunting the entire nation. Perhaps this latest scandal (or rather, outrage) can instil some kind of righteous anger in the proletariat and force some very real, and substantial, changes to our political life in this country. The sort of anger that welled up after the ‘Expenses Scandal‘ broke, seemed to gather momentum, but then simply ebbed away again. It seems tragically pertinent at this point to quote the Manic Street Preachers, who sang: ‘If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next’. 

The World's Largest Gravy Train?

The World’s Largest Gravy Train?

The UK political establishment cannot continue in the way it has for the last 40 or so years. If it does, voter turnout in 2020 will be down to about 15%. Democracy in Britain will, at that point, have lost all legitimacy. The politicians must change, but the voters must change too. The unscrupulous media too, must undergo some form of transformation. The scandalous behaviour of some within British politics simply cannot be tolerated any longer. The public need to get ‘as mad as hell’ and make it abundantly clear that we, as a collective entity, are not prepared to be governed by immoral vermin. The media needs to consciously and proactively demonstrate to the general public that politics is meaningful and important. The BBC also needs to abandon their own machiavellian agenda and become an impartial public broadcaster again.

We (all of us) must redefine politics. We must change the political lexicon. No more ‘spin doctors’, no more backroom deals, no more allowing young people to think of politics as the preserve of old, upper class, men. When we talk of politics in the future, we must be sure to include local politics, community politics. The politics of the street, the housing estate, the rural community. But, to take ownership of politics, there must be an engagement with politics. The next time you hear someone say: “I don’t do politics”, don’t laugh at them or mock them. Don’t look down on them. Don’t argue with them. Encourage them. Engage with them. As much as we would like to think we are influential, we politicos cannot change society, or at least, we cannot change society alone! Politics is a dirty business, and it’s high time we all got our hands dirty!

 

 

Nations: Man Made, Not God Given!

What is a Nation?

NOUN

1): A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.

Karl W. Deutsch, in the opening lines of his book Nationalism and its Alternatives  wrote that- “A nation is a group of persons united by a common error about their ancestry and a common dislike of their neighbours”, quoting what he described as a “rueful European saying”. Rueful or not, the saying has something to it. At least it makes the point that a nation is not a geological feature like a mountain, a lake, or an island. It is a human artefact. A cultural artefact, and an abstract one at that, which emphasises ideas, beliefs and traditions held in common by one group of people, which distinguish them from other groups of people. It is, in other words, both inclusive and exclusive.  What is significant about a nation is that unites a number of population groups over an extended area. What holds these people together is not necessarily a “common dislike” of their neighbours, but rather a sense of common difference from them. They may believe this or that about their ancestors, but among themselves they are aware of two things: a high level of mutual understanding (this usually, but not always, implies a common language) and a high level of interdependence.

Nations are constructs. They are formed, not by geography, but by history. Usually they have been formed, partly at least, through political processes, through which the more or less universal mutual hostility between neighbouring villages or tribes to more remote ‘foreigners’, and in the sense of fates being bound together. Such a process is virtually impossible without some sort of centralised organisation. This need not be political, indeed in times past it was more often cultural or religious, but the creation of a nation from an earlier tribalism appears to be the most common way in which, historically, nations have been formed. Irish nationalists and republicans often forget that a nation is an artefact. A construct. The Irish nation is not a ‘fact of nature’, nor was it bestowed by God. It is a cultural and political construct, just like any other nation.

That the Irish nationalist is unique in almost anthropomorphising his/her country is disconcerting. There is something not quite right about any group of people who seem to endow the land upon which they live with it’s own persona. Eriu it seems, is more than just a mythological figure in the minds of many Irish nationalists and republicans. For some she seems to be, disturbingly, all too real. Perhaps this is a by-product of the overly sentimental and outrageously romantic view of history that Irish nationalists seem to embrace. Their sense of ‘mythos’ is matched only by the German nationalists of the late 19th century and the first decades of the 20th. The ‘völkisch’ ideologues who inspired, and in a lot of instances became, the Nazi party’s upper echelons. Pseudo-history, quack science, racism and occultism seem to have been the ideal ingredients for the creation of the most immoral and despicable regime the world has ever seen. Yet the same kind of claptrap didn’t take Irish nationalism down a similar path of murder, forced expulsion and violence of every kind. Well, at least not on the same scale!

The mythological Eriu. Monocultural, 'racial pure', blond haired, blue eyed Gaelic supremacy personified.

The mythological Eriu. Monocultural, ‘racially pure’, blond haired, blue eyed Gaelic supremacy personified.

What is Nationalism?

NOUN

[MASS NOUN]

1) Patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts.

1.1) An extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.

1.2) Advocacy of political independence for a particular country.

It has been the common experience that nations, in modern European history at least, have tended to (or aspired to) organise themselves as states. The ‘nation-states’ however, which were the characteristic political formations of post-medieval Europe, were usually, to a greater or lesser extent, multinational entities. France, Spain and the United Kingdom are good examples. As a result, ‘nationalism’ is an ambiguous term. It may refer to the aggrandising or ‘super-nationalism’ of nation states, or it may refer to the purely reactive nationalism of the submerged nationalities, like the Catalans, the Bretons, or (before 1918) the Czechs and the Poles.

Nationalism is a marked feature of comparatively recent history. It is intimately associated with the rapid growth in the power and functions of the state.  At the beginning of the 20th century nationalism appeared to be natural and normal. It was respectable, intellectually, socially, culturally and politically. Nations appeared to be as ‘self-evident’ as races. Each nation, like each race, had it’s own distinctive characteristics, which could be readily recognised and easily stereotyped.  It is no longer so. The ‘racial’ and national presuppositions are no longer intellectually respectable, nor, socially, politically or culturally acceptable.

The nation, in the modern ‘Western’ world at least, has served as one of the chief vessels of culture. This is changing now though. Entropy appears to be the current norm in cultures across the world, as more and more parts of the world become more and more like every other part. Perhaps the appearance of globalist uniformity is deceptive. If not, it is paradoxical; for life is the reverse of entropy. Cultural differences not only still exist, despite the trend towards uniformity,  but are still keenly felt, especially in places, like Ulster, where one or more culture seems to be under threat. Nationalism, in a global context, is a dying political doctrine, though it’s demise will be slow and no doubt, painful. Tragically, people will continue to die (and to kill) in the name of ‘national liberation’ for many years, perhaps decades, to come. Nationalism is however, an ideology of the past, not of the future. Of course, social and political evolution may well come to the aid of nationalism. Patriotic inclination is unlikely to simply disappear (at least for the foreseeable future) but whatever form the expression of those patriotic inclinations takes, it will not be the unreconstructed, unreformed nationalism of today.

Nationalism and Racism

Racism needs a political context or background to become relevant and such a context was provided at the correct time with the development of nationalism. The French philosopher Balibar stated that there was a relationship of “reciprocal determination” between the two ideologies, meaning they were not the same but instead served to support each other. Nation-states were often  based on false pseudo-scientific claims. These false notions of ‘race’ provided ideal fuel for nations which, were attempting to promote themselves as separate constructions. Irish nationalism (at least historically if not contemporaneously) used such a notion, extolling the virtues of a supposed ‘Irish Gaelic race’ often, and made strenuous attempts to make this imagined ‘race’ as different to (and distinct from) the ‘hated Saxon foe’ as possible. The Gaelic Athletic Association, arguably the largest Irish nationalist organisation that has ever existed, still makes reference to “our race” in their constitution (also known as the “Official Guide). I should also remind everyone that the words of the Irish national anthem  “Amhrán na bhFiann” (A Soldier’s Song) contains references to “Sons of the Gael”, “children of a fighting race”, and even more shockingly, the line, “Out yonder waits the Saxon foe”. Surely if, for example, the national anthem of an African state contained references to ethnic/tribal warfare, as the Irish anthem does, questions would be asked and concerns raised at the UN.

The political and racist ethos of the GAA. In their own words!

The political and racist ethos of the GAA. In their own words!

Racism is inextricably linked to the doctrine of nationalism. History’s most heinous example of racism blended with ultra-nationalism- Nazism (National Socialism) was also known as ‘Pan-German Nationalism’ or simply as ‘German Nationalism’. The Nazis’ contemporaries in Imperial Japan were also driven by a kind of synthesis of nationalism and racism, believing themselves (the Japanese ‘race’) to be ‘supermen’, descendants of the Gods, and as such, superior to every other nation and people in Asia (if not the world). Predestined to rule a vast dominion because of their ‘superior bloodline’. More recently we have seen something of a resurgence in nationalism in Europe, in movements like Greece’s ‘Golden Dawn’ and the UK’s BNP, which have deep and often overt racist undertones. Irish nationalism has done it’s best to play down any racism that remains within. The latent anti-Semitism displayed by some more extreme Irish nationalist/republican elements recently clearly illustrates however that the old racism is still there, and it doesn’t take all that much to bring it bubbling back up to the surface again.

Is Loyalism a Form of British Nationalism?

Possibly yes. It could be construed as such. I would argue though, that Ulster Loyalism, like the mainstream body politic in Mainland UK, is post nationalist. That is, whatever more traditional nationalist ideologies morph and evolve into over the next couple of decades, Loyalism, like ‘Labourism’ or ‘Conservatism’, has already become. Certainly there is a sense of patriotism within it. Yes there is a keen sense of needing to preserve and protect Ulster-Scots culture and Loyalist traditions, but Loyalism, as an ideology, has never concerned itself with race, ethnicity or ever espoused the notion that Britain should be the pre-eminent power in world politics. It hasn’t needed to. Ulster Loyalism is concerned, first and foremost, with Ulster. An accusation of parochialism could be levelled at Loyalists (and indeed sometimes is). Our detractors need to bear in mind though, that the United Kingdom is a multinational state. A union of nations. From it’s very inception the UK has been, by definition, multicultural. British nationalism, leaving aside the repugnant racialist views of the likes of the BNP, is a peculiar beast. More akin to Spanish nationalism, or, if such a thing even exists, Swiss nationalism. Even if Loyalism could be proven to be a form of British nationalism, comparing British nationalism with the nationalism of Ireland, or for that matter, Sweden, Croatia, Italy etc is not a useful exercise, because of the gulf of difference that exists between them.

Loyalism, or at least certain strands thereof, could more readily be described as a form of Ulster nationalism. Although again, no worthwhile comparison can be made with Irish nationalism (to cite a pertinent example), for whilst Irish nationalism still seems to employ a rather archaic, 19th century view of ethnicity (or ‘race’), wherein Irish equals Gaelic, as if no drop of Saxon, Pict, Norman or Viking blood had ever intermingled with the ‘pure Gael’, Ulster nationalism has no such ‘historic’ foundation. For any supposed Ulster nationalism to base itself upon the idea of an ‘Ulster race’ one would first have to be invented. As an Irish republican online troll once told me, “The Ulster-Scotch are a bastard race” (sic). Of course, in a way that is true. Whilst I would disagree with that particular Irish nationalist’s definition of the word race, I would agree that the Ulster-Scots people are of mixed ancestry, mixed ethnicity. After all, we are mainly Scots (ethnically speaking) but we also have a large measure of English in us, not to mention Irish, Moravian, French Huguenots etc. An Ulster nationalist would therefore, have to be compared, not to an Irish (or Slovak, or Ukrainian etc) nationalist, but to a Pakistani nationalist, or an East Timorese nationalist. Two nation states formed by seceding from a larger entity (India and Indonesia respectively) not because of perceived ‘racial’ or ethnic differences but because of more subtle cultural and linguistic differences, in the case of the Timorese, and cultural and religious differences with respect to the people of Pakistan. Ulster nationalism is not however a major strand of Loyalism, it is at most, an undercurrent. Ulster Loyalism cannot simply be understood as being simply the mirror image of Irish nationalism. Much study has been made of Irish nationalism, little study has been made of Ulster Loyalism. Although thankfully now that is changing. Nationalism, of all stripes, has been extensively studied and dissected, thanks to the work of many renowned scholars academics and historians, it has been laid bare.

We, as a species, should hope that the worst examples of nationalist extremism are not repeated in the coming years. We should also collectively determine that nationalism should be kept under close watch until such time as it dies it’s natural death, evolving into something more inclusive, something less imbued with dangerous romanticism and reckless historical revisionism. The 20th century was pockmarked and scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing and terrible, industrialised slaughter. Most of it done in the name of nationalism. If the 21st century were to turn out the same way, if we are to be doomed to repeat the desperate follies of previous generations, then in my opinion, we will have failed as a species. In such an event, Homo Sapiens Sapiens would be better going back to being simple hunter gatherers and leaving civilisation to creatures who would make a better job of it. After all, cockroaches have never murdered six million of their own species, just for being ‘different’.

Maybe the Cockroaches could make civilisation work better than us advanced primates?

Maybe the Cockroaches could make civilisation work better than us advanced primates?

Israel’s Reply To Provisional Sinn Fein

Irish Nationalist Antisemitism Raises Its Ugly Head, Yet Again!

Last week Sinn Fein members of Dublin City Council sent the Israeli embassy in Ireland a rambling, buzzword loaded letter, calling on the State of Israel to stop attacking Provisional Sinn Fein’s friends- Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Below is the reply sent to PSF by Israeli Ambassador Boaz Modai. Whilst social media is swamped by pro-Hamas propaganda, you’re much less likely to see the other side of the story, so please feel free to go to Israel In Ireland’s Facebook page, at-https://www.facebook.com/IsraelinIreland/posts/713745171996526?fref=nf and share this with as many people as possible. Thank you. 

"Share The Truth With The World"

“Share The Truth With The World”

“I wish that all those Sinn Fein activists who write us daily private messages in which they “send us back to Auschwitz” to stop their false comparison between the Irish and the Palestinians. FYI, here is the reply letter of the Israeli ambassador to the hostile Sinn Fein Councillor letter. I doubt it if most of their followers will ever read it. It’s probably much easier to remain ignorant, bash Israel and demonize it than to know the facts…

July 18th 2014
Dear Councillor,
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated July 16th.
I reject out of hand your expression of ‘disgust’. Please excuse me if I missed a similar expression of ‘disgust’ from Sinn Fein representatives at the incessant and indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups. These attacks, which began in 2001 and escalated dramatically after Israel withdrew its army totally and evacuated all settlers from Gaza in 2005, have now reached the number of almost 15,000. Since the 12th of June, around 1,500 rockets, including Iranian Fajr-5 and long-range Syrian-made M302 missiles, have been launched at Israeli men, women and children. At this moment, 5 million people, a number greater than the population of Ireland, are exposed to rocket fire every day and night.

I may also have missed your expressions of disgust at the ever-mounting death toll of 170,000 Arab people, including 10,000 Palestinian Arabs, in the Syrian civil war, or the daily and weekly mass murder of innocent people in Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan by Islamist jihadists similar to those of Hamas. Just now, over 200 Nigerian Christian teenage schoolgirls remain in captivity three months after being abducted and enslaved by the jihadists of Boko Haram. I do not recall an expression of disgust at this horror, but forgive me if I missed it.

I will not accept a lecture about international law from Sinn Fein, an organisation with a long record of supporting Palestinian terrorism. In my letter to The Irish Times this week, which I would strongly recommend you read, I set out the legal position regarding, on the one hand, Hamas indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians (in violation of Articles 48 and 51 of the Geneva Convention Additional Protocol) and, on the other, Hamas’ use of Gazan civilians as human shields in order to maximize casualties to score PR victories against Israel (in violation of Articles 51(7) and 58 of the Protocol).At the same time, the cowardly leaders and commanders of Hamas hide in underground bunkers and tunnels.

It is no thanks to Hamas and the other terrorists that Israeli casualties are not greater. We in Israel invest a lot of money and effort in building the Iron Dome system, the bomb shelters and the safe rooms that protect our civilians from attack. The terrorists, by contrast, invest their funds in building a sophisticated infrastructure of tunnels and rocket launch facilities, but build nothing to protect the ordinary people under their rule or to improve the life conditions of the Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

The democratic (it is not a ‘claim’ but a reality) state of Israel has as its first duty to protect its citizens, Jewish, Arab and others from terrorist attack. The military operation launched by Israel, far from being ‘collective punishment’ of the Gazan population, is the very opposite of ‘indiscriminate’ – it is precisely targeted at Hamas command and control centres, rocket launch sites and terrorist operatives. Israel’s armed forces do all in their power, helped by the latest technology, to limit their attacks to legitimate military targets and to avoid harming the innocent civilians of Gaza. That cannot guarantee that mistakes will not happen. Even the best technology is subject to human error. Every innocent life lost on either side is a tragedy for us. But the sad reality is that, for Hamas, every Israeli death and injury is a cause for celebration and each Palestinian who loses his life is seen by them as a PR victory.

The Palestinian people are not our enemies. If Israel really wished to ‘slaughter’ them, as you allege, it has the firepower to do so many times over. Instead, it takes all possible steps to prevent harm to the people of Gaza, sending advance warnings of attacks by telephone calls, text messages and leaflets. The chief blame for the Palestinian death toll lies with the terrorists who rule their people with an iron hand and deliberately and cynically put them in harm’s way. Hamas is collectively punishing the citizens of Gaza and creating a genocide of its own people.

As is stated clearly in the Charter of Hamas (available on the internet for anyone to read) the goal of Hamas is the elimination of the state of Israel and the murder of every Jew. The prevention of this goal being realized is the chief reason why Israel must maintain its military strength. The people of Israel will keep up their resistance to Hamas aggression. As for your call to ‘lift the blockade of Gaza’, I can tell you that Israel will continue to do its utmost to cut off the smuggling of weaponry and the supply of materials used to build the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. That will not lessen the inflow of food, energy and other necessary humanitarian supplies which Israel has maintained through every day of this conflict. In the last ten days, almost 700 trucks filled with humanitarian goods, food, medicine and other supplies have entered Gaza from Israel via the Kerem Shalom Crossing and almost 2000 people have crossed in and out of Gaza via the Erez Crossing.

No democratic country in the world would fail to take the actions undertaken by Israel if its civilians were under attack. True proportionality is not a matter of the relative tally of casualties on each side, but of doing what is necessary to eliminate the threat to civilians, and that is what Israel has been doing since 8 July. As public representatives, elected by the people of Dublin, I would like to respectfully suggest that you try to adopt a more balanced, rational and fair approach to what is a most complex conflict.

Yours sincerely
Boaz Modai
Ambassador of Israel,”

Israel should make no apology for defending itself

Israel should make no apology for defending itself

Ignorance and Hate Are Second Nature To PIRA/Sinn Fein 

The Northern Ireland media have dutifully ignored most of PSF’s attacks and tirades against Israel. Yet again acting as cheerleaders for republican extremism. Nobody can be allowed to see the repulsive antisemitism that lies at the very dark heart of Irish nationalism and republicanism. That Provisional Sinn Fein activists are sending messages of pure, racist hate (“go back to Auschwitz”) to anyone remotely connected to Israel is sickening yet sadly not surprising. This is the same disgusting, bigoted, twisted organisation that still pays homage to Irish nationalist Nazi collaborators like Sean Russell. 

The statue of Nazi collaborator Sean Russell which stands in Dublin's Fairview Park

The statue of Nazi collaborator Sean Russell which stands in Dublin’s Fairview Park

If the media will not act impartially, if they won’t point out PIRA/Sinn Fein’s inherent racism and antisemitism, if they will not do their jobs, then we, the people, will do it instead. The internet, and especially social media, now makes it possible for ordinary people, people like you and me, to ensure that the truth cannot be covered up. We will no longer accept the media’s drip feed of lies and half-truths. The world will see exactly what motivates Irish nationalism (hate, intolerance and rage) regardless of how Ulster’s media try to spin and propagandise on nationalism’s behalf. These are changing times. The old saying that “a lie can travel half way across the world before the truth gets out of bed” no longer holds true. Don’t let the professional liars spread their hate speech about Israel, don’t allow Sinn Fein to spread their antisemitic propaganda. Together we can expose these unreconstructed fascists!

“No legacy is so rich as honesty” –William Shakespeare 

BBC’s Simpson admires Hamas engineering ‘feat’ and ignores its intended victims

BBC ignoring the victims of terrorism

BBC Watch

A filmed report for BBC television news from July 21st – supposedly one of the BBC’s never abundant but now increasingly rare ‘Israeli point of view’ pieces – was presented by John Simpson and it appears on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Clashes go on as Israel holds funerals for the dead“. Simpson, we are told in the synopsis, “sent this report from Sderot on Israel’s border with Gaza”.Simpson Sderot 21 7

Kibbutz Nir Am – which was the target of the attempted terrorist infiltration addressed at the beginning of Simpson’s report –  is within easy walking distance of Sderot but nevertheless, Simpson apparently saw nothing newsworthy in going to talk to any of the people there who have been living under the terror of missiles for well over a decade and who now face the new threat of underground terrorist infiltrations – literally in…

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Stuck In The Middle With Who?

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you. So the song goes (Stealers Wheel if I recall). I had asked my twitter followers what this blog article should be about. I had asked them to vote; Irish anti-semitism or the sectarianism of the PIRA murder campaign. They voted for the latter. Today though, I’m not going to write about either of those subjects. As serious and worthy of study as they are, I’ve decided instead to vent my spleen a little. After all, blogging is supposed to be cathartic. A way of letting off steam. So today I’m going to write about a group of people that (rightly) receive little attention from those who study, write about and analyse ‘The Troubles’. A group of people that have, in the last 2-3 years suddenly become very vocal and very opinionated. I would describe these people as the middle class but that would be unfair to middle class Unionists and nationalists, so I will instead use the term ‘pseudo liberals’ to describe this small, spiteful, cowering clique.

These pseudo liberals (or rather their parents) used money, privilege and the artificial social construct of ‘class’ to insulate themselves from the ravages of war. When Ulster burned around them, they sheltered in the leafy suburbs. They exempted themselves from the Conflict, yet were (and are) only too eager to offer their half-baked opinions and ill conceived ideas about how that conflict should be brought to a close. Politically and personally, they invested little or nothing in the communities on either side of ‘the divide’. Their motto, if they had one, would surely be ‘sod you Jack if I’m alright’. In terms of the history of The Troubles, they are an irrelevance, not even worthy of a footnote in the multiplicity of books written on the subject. In terms of the present however, as these pseudo liberals, emboldened by years of relative peace, suddenly find their voice (and a shrill, hectoring voice it is too), they are, at least, worthy of some study, albeit a brief and cursory one.

The Price of Everything, The Value of Nothing

The pseudo liberals of Cultra and the Malone Road (for example) do not think like ordinary Ulster punters. They think only in terms of money. For them, money is a sort of ‘cure all’. A wonderful remedy for all of life’s ills. For them money brings, not only happiness, but social standing, respect and a feeling of superiority too. The pseudo liberal looks down upon the ordinary mortal. Snubs their nose at the ‘spides’ and the ‘chavs’. In the mind of this repellent clique, such people shouldn’t be allowed out of their ghettoes. The pseudo liberal, faux intellectual, why-can’t-we-all-just-join-hands-and-sing-Kum-by-ya set cannot see the quiet dignity of the working class. Just as some maintain that might is always right, so the pseudo liberals maintain that money is always right. Not that they would ever admit to such a thing mind you. Oh no, the pseudo liberal will always think of themselves as a friend to the poor, unfortunate, vulgar ‘spide’, in much the same way as Colonial missionaries thought themselves to be the friend of the ‘savage’. Indeed, had some pseudo liberal ‘wit’ not coined the term ‘spide’, I’m pretty sure that ‘savage’ is what the spineless wonders would call us working class oiks.

"Eh, no thanks pal. We don't want your 'civilization'. The one we got works just fine"

Civilisation you say? No thanks, we’ve already got one”

Bad enough for people to harbour such elitist, petty bourgeoisie views in private. The pseudo liberal however, was not content with that, they had to make their twisted Weltanschauung, their malicious outlook on life, known to everyone. Well, everyone who uses social media in Northern Ireland. In 2012 the flag protesters stole Christmas, at least according to the pseudo liberals. Therefore, in their silly wee heads, the flag protesters ought to be vilified, lampooned, ‘satirised’ and attacked at every turn, on a daily basis, for the foreseeable future. And that is exactly what they have done. Every single day. Ad nauseum. At first Irish nationalists/republicans thought they had found a friend, somebody (actually a small cabal of people) who loathed and despised the pro-Union community as much as they do. Sadly for them, they were soon disappointed, for although the online anoraks hate Loyalism with a rare intensity, they seem unwilling to wholeheartedly embrace the tenets of Irish expansionism (for now at least). The reason for the pseudo liberal hatred of Ulster Loyalism and working class Unionism? The answer is simple…

"Changing society" one c**t 'joke' at a time!

“Changing society” one c**t ‘joke’ at a time!

Fear and Loathing in Helen’s Bay

(May Hunter S. Thompson have mercy upon my soul)

The pseudo liberal is one of nature’s true cowards. If Northern Ireland society was an ocean, the pseudo liberal would be it’s jellyfish. A nasty little sting but absolutely no backbone! The use of violence for political ends is an alien concept to them. Many would consider that a virtue, I consider it a contemptible vice, an irrational aversion to the realities of a cruel and inherently violent world. Politically motivated violence is not always wrong. Indeed, in certain situations, and at certain times, it is the only realistic option. During The Troubles, the pseudo liberal clique failed to see the big picture. Loyalists faced annihilation, extermination, at the hands of an enemy that, at times, seemed wholly psychotic. Violence, or rather, counter violence, became absolutely necessary. The Ulster-Scots people were fighting for their very survival. The pseudo liberal though saw only the detail, never the whole picture, and thus the handwringing and condemnation began.

To those safely cocooned in their mock Tudor villas and turnkey townhouses it must have seemed like their ‘social inferiors’ would tear Northern Ireland apart, and at any moment, rise up out of their sink estates and terraced streets, seize power or trigger a lengthy, all out, no holds barred, civil war. For these people, with their pseudo liberal sensibilities and their unrealistic political outlook, the Ulster Conflict was an inconvenience. A terrible, bloody sideshow. As long as the bombers and the trigger-men stayed out of their cosy little affluent enclaves, they couldn’t care less about who was winning or who was losing. They did not pay the price of failed security policy in blood. Their homes were never ransacked by the RUC, or damaged by republican bombs, the bars they frequented were never bombed or riddled with machine-gun fire. Money gave them distance from it all. Not distance as measured in meters or miles but distance nonetheless.

To the pseudo liberal, Loyalists were no better than the Provisionals. Today they will often recite the mantra of ‘both sides were as bad as each other’. Really? Because in my book murdering babies is a lot worse than killing a grown man. Let’s not forget though, the pseudo liberal doesn’t think like the rest of us ‘plebs’. To them it’s all the same. Mainly because it was happening to someone else. Anyway, somehow, somewhere down the line, the pseudo liberals came to hate Loyalists (and to a lesser extent ‘mainstream’ Unionists) with a passion. Maybe Mummy and Daddy were detained briefly at a UDA roadblock during the UWC strike. Maybe Daddy and wee Jonathan/Tarquin/Joshua missed the rugby two weeks running because of the Drumcree crisis in ’95. Who knows? What is obvious though is that the hatred runs deep. Today, in the mind of the pseudo liberal, Loyalists are worse even than the republican mad men who bombed and murdered, mostly it seems, simply for the pleasure of bombing and murdering. My own pet theory is that the hatred of Loyalists stems from pure fear. Undoubtedly the cowering, snivelling pseudo liberal fears republicans too, but Loyalism would have been, simply due to geography and demographics, a little closer to home. More familiar, and thus in a sense, more real? It is a curious quirk of human psychology that it is easier, more internally acceptable, to hate that with which you are more familiar. Maybe. Or maybe some (or most) of the middle-of-the-road brigade really do desire a unitary all-island state. That would at least explain their irrational hostility towards Loyalists, (and their moronic obsession with the Ireland rugby team!)

An Impotent Minority

The ‘two communities’ in contemporary Northern Ireland have reached an uneasy kind of plurality, no one ‘side’ can realistic hope to dominate (or obliterate) the other. There are however, still many minorities in the ‘new’ NI. Ethnic minorities, so-called Dissident republicans (who ironically have not deviated from republicanism’s stated principles as PSF has), religious minorities (such as the fast growing Mormon community) and, of course, the pseudo liberals. I sometimes wonder if minority groups, in any setting, feel a sense of impotence. A powerlessness that they can do little to change. In the case of the pseudo liberals, I am convinced that this is the case. Perhaps uniquely though, the pseudo liberal minority does have an infinitesimally small chance of overcoming that powerlessness. The pseudo liberals do not have to get the majority to change religion or somehow magically change their ethnicity, they just have to get the majority to change their outlook, their politics, and get the population to think like them. It’s a forlorn hope. It is impractical and outlandish, but still, it would seem that it’s a pipedream that is being actively pursued by a small number of pseudo liberal ‘clicktivists’, who naively believe that internet trolling and outright stalking can “change society here” (a direct quote). If nothing else, one must admire their sheer bloody-minded optimism, as misplaced and flagrantly unrealistic as it is.

Most within the ranks of the pseudo liberals however know that there is no possibility of turning the majority of people here into clones of themselves. They are, at least, realistic. For them, the sense of impotence must be palpable. No doubt some of them put it to the back of their minds. Play golf or drink chablis instead. Others get angry and frustrated, taking to social media to berate and sanctimoniously lecture others. Then there are those pseudo liberals who decide that they can not only launch malicious online assaults on Loyalists and Unionists, but also sneakily make a few pounds as well. Though maybe someone should have explained copyright law and intellectual property rights to them beforehand!

“Someone Has To Make The Coffee”

Much to the chagrin of pseudo liberals they do not really have any credible political voice. The lamentable Alliance Party of Northern Ireland being the closest thing they have to political representation. The pseudo liberal’s feelings of powerlessness must have reached an apex during the negotiations that led to the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. One would have thought that ‘The Agreement’ would have been a time for rejoicing in the cloistered suburbs and cul-de-sacs that the pseudo liberals call home, but no. Pseudo liberals, with their inflated sense of self worth and their utter contempt for the ‘riff raff’ (especially Loyalist riff raff) couldn’t quite bring themselves to celebrate. Yes, no doubt, they were delighted at the prospect of peace and so-called ‘normality’ (as most people were) but why, oh why, did that lovely Mr Blair have to include those Loyalist ruffians at the talks? The presence of Provisional Sinn Fein they could just about handle but the fact that ‘low-downs’ and ‘spides’ like the Ulster Democratic Party and the Progressive Unionist Party were playing an active (and vital) role in deciding the future of Ulster must surely have been too much for them to bear. They failed to recognise (as evidenced by contemporaneous online rants) that it was armed Loyalism that had forced PIRA/SF to the talks table. They refused to see Loyalists as anything more than thugs and cornerboys. Oh how they must have fumed when they watched the national news and saw Secretary of State Mo Mowlam, go cap in hand into Long Kesh, giving assurances to the Loyalist POWs, in order to obtain their support (which they had recently withdrawn) for the ‘Peace Process’. Oh how their bile must’ve risen every time they switched on the TV and saw Gary McMichael, David Ervine, Davy Adams et al, strutting confidently in or out of Parliament buildings.

"Oh Mummy, that terribly common little man is on our TV again"

David Ervine MLA

I am reminded of an amusing anecdote from that time. An off the cuff remark that illustrates just how irrelevant the pseudo liberal minority really is. A reporter asked a member of the Loyalist negotiating team what he thought of the Alliance Party’s input into the talks, completely deadpan he replied “Well, someone has to make the coffee”. That rather nicely sums things up. Alliance, the only real voice the pseudo liberals have ever had (ignoring the farce that was NI21 of course) were only in the room to make up the numbers. They couldn’t be excluded because they had a mandate, though who would vote for the likes of Davy Ford I’ll never know, but they were never considered serious players in the political process. At the time, everybody knew who the big players were, and aside from the UUP and the SDLP (Europe’s only right-wing Social Democrats) the ‘big players’ were the parties that spoke for the ‘men of violence’. Something which sticks in the craw of the pseudo liberals even now. The fact of the matter is, it was down to those who had made war to make the peace. Loyalism had made war very effectively, Loyalism had forced the Provisional republican movement to the talks table. Loyalists have a lot to be proud of. Pseudo liberals have nothing. For to have something to be proud of, or indeed ashamed of, one must first do something. The pseudo liberals of course, are renowned for doing nothing, aside perhaps, from bellyaching and complaining. My message to them is simple: You are powerless and irrelevant. Criticise Loyalists all you want, free speech is something Loyalists cherish after all. Keep bitching and moaning. Sit in your nice house, mortgaged to the hilt, dishing out sarcasm and self righteous dogma. Better still, do what your parents did throughout the Conflict, absolutely sweet f**k all.

‘The Troubles’ were fought by the working classes. Peace, as flawed and unjust and fragile as it is, was brought about by the working classes, the ‘spides’, the riff raff. The people you so despise. It was us, the nobodies, the ‘scroungers’, that determined the future of Ulster and we still determine it. You, pseudo liberals, will never know what that feels like, because you are political and moral cowards. Figuratively speaking, you crawled under the duvet in 1969 and have only recently found the courage to re-emerge.

“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

THE TRUTH ABOUT ‘PARTITION’

WHY NOBODY CALLS FOR A ‘UNITED HISPANIOLA’

Partition is not unique to this island (Ireland, a term I use only geographically), throughout history many regions/islands & landmasses have been ‘partitioned’. Borneo, Cyprus, St Martins, Hispaniola, the Indian subcontinent etc. Yet if, as Irish republicans claim, partition is a natural injustice, an artificial imposition on the ‘sacred soil’ of a historic nation, why do the peoples of these other partitioned lands not campaign for the ‘reunification’? Why, for example, do the people of Haiti & the Dominican Republic not call for a united Hispaniola? Quite simply, it is because the people of those other partitioned lands recognise political realities & realise that it is simply not feasible (or morally defensible) for them to lay claim to the entirety of the landmass on which they live.

Irish republicans supported partition of the island of Timor but oppose it at home

Irish republicans supported partition of the     island of Timor but oppose it at home

That Irish nationalists (or expansionists?) do make such territorial claims, says much about their mindset. Irish nationalists/republicans aspired (originally) to devolution within the UK, then to quasi-independence within the British Empire, once that was achieved they moved the goalposts yet again, reneging on previous agreements, to lay claim to the entire landmass of this island. Yes, Irish nationalists have always considered (rather childishly) that an island equals a nation & yes, they have historically laid claim to Ulster, however, in 1921, the leadership of the nascent Irish Free State were content to abandon those claims & gave de facto recognition to Northern Ireland, concerning themselves only with the demarcation of the border between the two new polities. That recognition was eventually withdrawn & the old national chauvinism re-emerged. Some republicans will no doubt claim that the Irish Civil War was fought over the very issue of partition, in reality though, the Irish Civil War was more about the issues of Republic vs Dominion status, the oath of allegiance & the fact that King George V would remain head of state in the new Irish Free State.

NOT PARTITION, JUST SECESSION

The arrangement now retrospectively referred to as ‘partition’, was not so much a partition as a secession. The predominantly Unionist people of Ulster had wanted to remain within the same constitutional framework in which they had lived & worked for over a century. Within that constitution they had lived with the Irish as they had lived with the English, Scots & Welsh. They were prepared to go on doing so. Ulster had never been, in any meaningful modern sense, politically unified with Southern Ireland, except under British rule. The symbols & definitions of the new Southern Irish republican nationalism were quite alien to it & positively excluded it. The Articles of Agreement, which enabled the Free State’s establishment, had left it up to the Parliament of Northern Ireland to accept the same relationship to Eire has it had under the 1920 Act to the UK government, or alternatively to vote itself out of any such arrangement & continue as part of the United Kingdom. The latter option was promptly chosen. The new Irish Free State had seceded from the UK, Ulster chose not to. A parallel can be drawn with the Confederate States of America, which during the American Civil War laid claim to the border states of West Virginia, Kentucky & Maryland. The CSA claimed these states were part of their ‘natural territory’, the fact however, is that those border states had not gone down the road of secession & had exercised their right to self determination, choosing to remain within the Union. Had the CSA somehow survived, would people now refer to an American ‘partition’? Somehow I doubt it. The simple truth of the matter is, Southern Ireland chose to (partially) secede from the United Kingdom. Ulster did not. 

TWO NATIONS, NOT ONE

To assert that Northern Ireland is an artificial construct, without precedent or historical antecedence, is to ignore historical fact, cultural reality & ethnic difference. Northern Ireland is the successor to the ancient nation of Ulster. Indeed one could say that NI is the contemporary expression of something far more subtle. That Ulster is a separate nation has been noted throughout history by many observers. Nassau Senior had perceived two nations on this island, remarking on the difference felt when passing from one into the other. Lord Macaulay had opined in the 1860s that Ulster ought to be recognised & treated differently from the rest of the island. Even the dishonourable Ted Heath is quoted as saying that: “There is no historical or logical justification for saying that it [Ireland] must be one country. You might as well say that Spain should absorb Portugal”. Another former PM, Lloyd George, said on the 31st of March, 1920, that “Ulster is a not a minority to be safeguarded. Ulster is an entity to be dealt with. It is a separate & different country”. In the same year, Chief Secretary of Ireland, Ian MacPherson, referred to: “A feeling that if what was described as ‘a fairly solid homogenous & loyal population in Ulster, alien in sympathy, alien in tradition, alien in religion’ desired to govern themselves in complete loyalty to the Crown in their own way, it would be an outrage, in the name of self-government, to use the Prime Minister’s word, to place them under the remainder of the population”. 

PIRA/Sinn Fein are incapable of tolerance & respect for other cultures

PIRA/Sinn Fein are incapable of tolerance & respect for other cultures

Irish nationalists argue that Ulster is a mere province of Ireland, no different to the rest of the island. This is, at best, wishful thinking. At worst it is the deliberate obfuscation of the facts. If there is no difference between the Irish of Dublin or Cork & the Ulstermen of Belfast or Armagh, then the word ‘different’ must mean something to Irish nationalists & republicans that it does not mean to the rest of the world. Of course, nationalists & republicans will never recognise Ulster’s separateness, for to do so would be to concede that there are two nations on this island, not one. Irish nationalism is incapable of embracing difference. It is a narrow & restrictive doctrine. One which discourages acceptance, or even tolerance, of anything which is not Irish, Gaelic & anti-British. The Irish/Gaelic nation achieved self government in 1921, Ulster chose not to become a part of that nation. That choice needs to be respected. Political & historical realities need to be recognised. If Irish nationalism/republicanism is incapable of facing up to reality, then Ulster Loyalists should perhaps re-examine the policy of recognising the aspiration of Northern Ireland’s destruction (as a political entity) as being a legitimate one. Put simply, if Sinn Fein, the SDLP et al cannot bring themselves to recognise NI as a separate state, perhaps Loyalism & Unionism should refuse to recognise Irish nationalism as anything other than a form of delusional megalomania. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander! 

 

Armageddon cancelled: Irish nationalists hugely disappointed

ARMAGEDDON CANCELLED

Well it seems that the end of the world has been cancelled, or at the very least postponed. There was no violence from the Unionist/Loyalist community, NI enjoyed one of the most peaceful Twelfths for many years, the sky refused to fall & Irish nationalist attempts to goad Loyalists into a violent, kneejerk reaction, thankfully failed. On Saturday evening, the Ligoniel lodges & their supporters showed great restraint & peacefully protested the ludicrous, vindictive determinations of the Parades Commission. Irish nationalists/republicans & their faithful lapdogs in the NI media had been predicting riots, huge disruption to everyday life & massive damage to both the local economy & the reputation of the country worldwide. Their bewilderment & disappointment that this predicted apocalypse failed to materialise, is extremely telling. The enemies of Loyalism have sunk so low, have become so full of hate & bitterness, that they were actually hoping for violence & disruption over the Twelfth, so that they could use that violence as an excuse to further demonise the U/L community.

WHO WOULD SINK SO VERY, VERY LOW?

Indeed, one of the most ugly, disgusting, utterly nauseating incidents of recent times, the vicious, unfounded rumours concerning a picture of the late Oscar Knox being placed on a bonfire, amply illustrates the complete moral bankruptcy of Irish nationalism. Oscar Knox, a child who bravely fought cancer & had become a local celebrity in NI, was supported by people from all backgrounds, from all traditions & from all political persuasions. That some bigoted, twisted, hateful person started the foul rumour that Loyalists in Randalstown had put a picture of wee Oscar on their 11th night bonfire, is scarcely believable. As late as yesterday Irish nationalist extremists were still spreading this vile rumour (& reacting very badly when challenged) around on Twitter & Facebook. The sad fact is, nationalists & republicans wanted it to be true. They were actually disappointed when it was proven to be a nasty, sordid, disgusting falsehood. I actually thought I had some understanding of Irish nationalist/republican thinking, after recent events though, I am happy to say that I have very little idea about how nationalists think. How any community could harbour such deep rooted hatred & bitterness baffles me. How anyone could use the name/image of Oscar Knox to try (& fail spectacularly) to start an ugly rumour in order to score a few cheap political points, is completely beyond me. Although, of course, we are talking here about the same group of people that often try to justify the PIRA, RIRA, INLA, OIRA etc’s murder of children & deliberate targeting of civilians. Perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked by the depths they are willing to sink to. Maybe I have given Irish nationalism far too much credit these last few years. There are other examples of Irish nationalist depravity too, the incident in Kilkeel for example when a Catholic church was vandalised, had republicans & certain others (ie the liberal extremists who have attached themselves to the Alliance party) absolutely salivating. Before any further details emerged, Loyalists had been blamed for the incident & condemned high & low. When it emerged that the incident was not sectarian, simply a matter of lamentable vandalism, absolutely no effort was made to offer any apology to the Loyalist/Unionist community of South Down who had been blamed in error. As with the repellent bonfire rumours, Irish nationalists were actually left feeling angry & despondent that this hadn’t happened as first reported. What kind of hatred drives that sort of thinking? What type of psychopathy motivates these people?

Irish nationalists wanted these ugly rumours to be true!

Irish nationalists wanted these ugly rumours to be true!

LOYALISM IS NOT ABOUT BIGOTRY

Is there hatred festering within the Loyalist/Unionist community? The simple answer is yes, unfortunately there is. Is it as deep seated & as prevalent as the sort of raw hate that lies at the very dark heart of Irish nationalism? No. Loyalists do not want to create a monocultural, exclusivist ‘Orange State’. True Loyalists recognise that there has to be an accommodation with our neighbours. Ulster, as part of the British family of nations, must be a place where all are welcomed. After all, the Glorious Revolution, & therefore the Battle of the Boyne which we celebrate each year, was all about civil & religious liberty for all. Sadly, much of what is passed off as ‘Loyalist bigotry’ is, in fact, the bigotry of a very small group of Protestant fundamentalists. True Loyalism is secular. True Loyalism cherishs democracy. True Loyalism embraces the principle of equality before the law. An intoxicated idiot carrying a bottle of tonic wine & roaring obscenities about the pope, is not a Loyalist. They are just an idiot. Ulster Loyalism has no opinion about the pontiff of the Roman Catholic church. Loyalism is political not theological. True Loyalism is not about hate, although of course it is not difficult to hate organisations like the INLA or PIRA/Sinn Fein, organisations that carried out the most despicable crimes during the Conflict. The plain truth here is that there is much less vitriol & hatred within the Loyalist/Unionist community, than in the Irish nationalist/republican community. Recent incidents are a mere demonstration of that.

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

In any conflict, the belligerents attempt to instil a certain level of hatred in their people for the enemy. It is entirely logical, entirely understandable. How can any nation fight a major war against an enemy that is not deemed to be loathsome & hateful? The leadership of Irish nationalist murder gangs, like the OIRA & PIRA, recognised that fact. To maximise the ‘war effort’, republicans needed to present Unionists/Loyalists, the Security Forces & the UK state, as being evil, wicked & beyond redemption. Loyalists did of course, do the same, albeit on a lesser scale, since it was unnecessary to further demonise those who were planting no-warning bombs, murdering civilians & trying to rip the very heart out of Northern Ireland. The misdeeds of Irish nationalists were self evident, Loyalists & Unionists had no need to invent further charges against them. Irish nationalism did invent various wrongs & amplified actual wrongs. The leadership of Irish nationalism repeated, again & again, the wrongs (real or otherwise) committed by their ‘enemy’. The youth of that community was taught to think of Loyalists & Unionists as being mere ‘immigrants’, ‘planters’ & ‘huns’. As people unworthy & undeserving of living on this island. All of the Irish nationalist community’s ills, all of that community’s problems, were laid at the door of the U/L community (& to a lesser extent, the UK state). If only the ‘huns’ could be driven out, if only the ‘Brits’ could be exterminated, then an all-island utopia could be achieved, such was the mantra of nationalism & republicanism. Has that mantra changed? The Provisional republican movement, in premeditated & careful fashion, engendered hatred for everything Unionist/Loyalist for generations. Dehumanising the ‘enemy’ in order to maximise the ‘war effort’ began to become dehumanising the ‘enemy’ simply for the sake of it. Irish nationalist hatred began to take on a life of it’s own. Such deeply ingrained abhorrence was not just going to fade away with the outbreak of peace. Irish nationalism did not want it to fade away. For PIRA/SF & others had already decided that a new cultural war should replace the failed terrorist campaign. In that context, the hostility of their community for anything different, anything ‘foreign’, would prove to be more useful than ever. Rather than try to dial back the Irish nationalist community’s vitriolic hatred of the U/L community, PIRA/SF & their fellow travellers, decided that it would be in their best interest to let it fester & grow. As was always inevitable, the hate has gotten out of control. Reaching such a fever pitch that Irish nationalists/republicans will use a dead child to attempt to demonise Loyalists. Reaching such a ridiculous pinnacle that some nationalists now spend their entire waking hours, maintaining anti-Loyalist websites, Twitter accounts & FB pages. If it were not so lamentable, it would be comical.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

The Provisional republican movement have done their community a great disservice. They have created a monster that they can no longer control. The hatred that helped motivate that community to endorse & support the murder campaign of PIRA/SF is now being used & exploited by Dissident republicans to further their agenda & draw support for their campaign of violence & murder. We, as Loyalists, can revel in the fact that the Twelfth has passed off without major incident. We can revel in the fact that thousands of visitors from England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, the United States & countless other places, have come to Ulster & enjoyed the warm hospitality & welcome of the Loyalist/Unionist community, taking away with them a positive & accurate image of Northern Ireland. Armageddon didn’t come. The Apocalypse wasn’t now. For the time being, the cultural war is not going to plan for Irish nationalists. Maybe though, now is not the time to gloat or pat ourselves on the back. The endemic hatred within Irish nationalism is not going to go away anytime soon. There will be more incidents like those over the past few days. More rumours will be started, & sadly some of them will gain traction, thanks to the activities of a small army of social media trolls. Loyalists will have to remain vigilant. Hatred breeds violence & attacks against individuals, Orange Halls, Churches etc will undoubtedly continue. Until Irish nationalism is prepared to recognise the extent of the enmity their community harbours for others, until nationalist/republican leaders are prepared to admit the truth of the problem & begin to tackle it, there will be no real peace on Ulster’s streets. That should be of real concern to everyone who has a genuine interest in ensuring that violence never returns to Northern Ireland.

 

A happy & peaceful 12th of July. Leaving republicans disappointed & dispondent

A happy & peaceful 12th of July. Leaving republicans disappointed & despondent

 

No Orange Feet = No Prods Here

Imagine if, for example, the Muslim community in part of Bradford, West Yorkshire, decided that they did not want the local Boys Brigade, accompanied by brass band, marching past a row of shops on the edge of a Muslim neighbourhood, once or twice a year. Imagine if one of the slogans used was ‘No Christian Feet On Our Road’. Do you imagine that such (hypothetical) intolerance would be accepted by the authorities? Do you think the media would ignore the root causes of such deep seated & overt bigotry? Would such intolerance become normalised? I think we all know the answers to those questions. And yet here in Northern Ireland, it seems it is perfectly acceptable, perfectly understandable, for a small section of society to claim ownership of the public highway, to proclaim it a ‘no go’ area for everyone else & for this sickening bigotry to be legitimised, pandered to & accepted as somehow being normal.

Republican hatred for Protestants is not normal & will never be acceptable

Republican hatred for Protestants is not normal & will never be acceptable

OUR SHOPS DON’T LIKE YOUR SORT

The situation is almost tragically comic. The Orange Institution has been prevented, by an unelected quango, from returning home along a stretch of the Crumlin Road (a main arterial route) because part of the parade passes the Ardoyne shops, which have been proclaimed as the exclusive territory of the Irish nationalist/republican community. The Orange lodges do not go into Ardoyne, they do not go past the homes of republicans. It takes only a few minutes for the parade to pass. Yet the malignant, poisonous, morally bankrupt Parades Commission has ruled that the Irish nationalist cry of “No Orange Feet On Our Road” be respected, that the bigotry of Ardoyne republicans be accepted & that the petty territorial claims of a small minority in that area who simply cannot abide the thought of Protestants walking past, are viewed as legitimate. Unionism, in a rare show of mutual solidarity, has promised a response to this repugnant situation. Maybe some in positions of leadership within Unionism should have listened a decade ago, when they were warned that recognising the legitimacy & authority of the Parades Commission would lead only to disaster & the kind of cultural Apartheid we see being imposed today.

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE?

Is political Unionism’s “graduated response” going to be adequate? Is this just more marching up to the top of the hill before doing a swift about turn & marching (or rather slinking) back down again? It’s time for Unionists & Loyalists to began acting with ingenuity & guile. Personally, I would advocate that the Loyal Orders, Loyalist bands & all the Unionist political parties publicly proclaim that they will no longer recognise the PC. Remove all legitimacy from that rotten, poisoned, injudicious quango. No more meetings with the Parades Commission. No 11/1 forms completed. Nothing. I would then go further. The ‘Pan-Unionist Front’ should confront those in the media who demonise Unionists & Loyalists whilst tacitly approving the unflinching bigotry of the likes of CARA & GARC. A statement should be released, informing BBC NI & UTV that no interviews will be conducted with representatives of any of the Unionist/Loyalist parties & no statements or information given to them, until those two organisations publicly admit to having a pro-nationalist bias & make demonstrable efforts to rectify that bias. This is not cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. In this day & age there are more media agencies than ever before. A boycott of UTV & BBC NI would send out a clear & unequivocal message: play fair or we’ll cut you out of the game! In addition, would it not be beneficial to expose the bigotry & sectarian hatred of certain Irish nationalist/republican ‘residents groups’? For example, could a group of ordinary Protestants walk past Ardoyne shops, or would they, like the OO, be met with a violent reaction? What would the world’s media think if the mere presence of Protestants was enough to send Irish nationalists/republicans into a violent frenzy?

THE SCRIPT IS ALREADY WRITTEN

If Unionists/Loyalists totally disregard the diktats of the Parades Commission, use exclusively peaceful & lawful means of protest & force a radical rethink of policy in regards to parading, the outcome is obvious. The return leg of the 12th parade along the Crumlin Road will go ahead & republicans will react, as they always do, with violence. Even if Provisional Sinn Fein managed to restrain their supporters, the so-called Dissidents would doubtless use the parade (the presence of Protestants near their area being an affront to their sense of ‘Irishness’) as an excuse to attack the ‘Crown Forces’, as they have in the past. With no Parades Commission quango to reward such violence, the future of the Crumlin Road parade would be secure. Such an outcome is however, merely a pipedream unless Unionism continues to present a united front, comes up with innovative means of protest & follows through on what they say. If not, then that section of the Crumlin Road, like the Garvaghy Road before it, will become a ‘no go’ area for Protestants. The media will normalise the tribalist carving out of exclusive territories & the ugly bigotry at the heart of Irish nationalism will continue to thrive. Like everyone else here, I will watch & wait. I sincerely hope that Unionism has drawn a line in the sand this time. “This far & no farther”. I may well be wrong, but regardless of the weather, I can feel a long, hot summer drawing near!

 

According to Irish nationalists, Orangemen are 'intimidating'. Gunmen though seem to be fine!

According to Irish nationalists, Orangemen are ‘intimidating’. Gunmen though seem to be fine!

Unsinkable Sam!

I might be pushing it, posting two blog entries in less than 24 hours, but I was doing some research on a totally unrelated subject when I found out about Unsinkable Sam & decided I needed to share this story with you. After the latest farcical decision of the Parades Commission, I thought perhaps one or two of my regular readers could do with a little light relief. So, ladies & gentlemen, I give you the epic story of Unsinkable Sam!

Ulster has been home to many remarkable war veterans, but the story I’m going to tell you relates to one veteran you’ve probably never heard of. A remarkable individual, his name was Unsinkable Sam, aka Oscar (or Oskar) & he spent his retirement in Belfast.

Unsinkable Sam wasn’t a soldier or an airman, but as his name suggests, Sam was a sailor. To be more accurate, Sam was a ship’s cat. A cat who saw service in both the Kriegsmarine & Royal Navy during WWII, serving on board three vessels & surviving the sinking of all three. The black & white Tom cat had been owned by an unknown crewman of the German battleship Bismarck. He was on board the ship on 18th of May, 1941 when it set sail on Operation Rheinübung (“Rhine Exercise”) the mighty ship’s first & last mission. On 27th of May, Unsinkable Sam, then still plain old Oskar, was on duty, hunting mice on the lower decks, when the RN finally caught up with the pride of the German High Seas Fleet. After a fierce battle, Bismarck was sunk. Only 118 of 2200 hands survived. 119 if one includes Oskar, found floating on a board and picked from the water, the only survivor to be rescued by the homeward-bound British destroyer HMS Cossack. Unaware of what his name had been onboard Bismarck, the crew of Cossack named their new mascot “Oscar”. The cat served happily on board Cossack for the next few months (seemingly being no fan of Herr Hitler) as the ship carried out convoy escort duties in the Mediterranean & North Atlantic. On 24th of October, 1941, Cossack was escorting a convoy from Gibraltar to Liverpool when it was badly damaged by a German torpedo. Attempts were made to tow Cossack back to port, but to no avail, weather conditions making the task impossible. On 27th of October, a day after the tow was slipped & the attempt to rescue the ship was abandoned, Cossack sank to the west of Gibraltar. The initial explosion had blown off one third of the forward section of the ship, tragically killing 159 of the crew, but Oscar survived this too & was brought to shore.

Unsinkable Sam was, of course, a black & white cat. All of Europe's Orange cats having enlisted in the Royal Navy!

Unsinkable Sam was, of course, a black & white cat. All of Europe’s Orange cats having enlisted in the Royal Navy!

Now nicknamed “Unsinkable Sam”, he was soon transferred to HMS Ark Royal (ironically one of the vessels involved in the sinking of Bismarck) but his luck was not much better whilst serving on the aircraft carrier. When returning from Malta on 14th of November, 1941, Ark Royal was torpedoed by U-81. Attempts were also made to tow Ark Royal to Gibraltar, but the unstoppable inflow of water made the task futile. The carrier rolled over & sank 30 miles from The Rock. The slow rate at which the ship sank thankfully meant that all but one of the crew could be saved. The survivors, including Sam, who had been found clinging to a floating plank, & described as “angry but quite unharmed”, were transferred to HMS Lightning & HMS Legion (the same ship that had rescued the crew of the Cossack) The loss of Ark Royal proved the end of Sam’s shipborne career. He was transferred, first to the offices of the Governor in Gibraltar, & then sent back to the United Kingdom, where he saw out the remainder of the war living in a seaman’s home in Belfast. Sam lived to a ripe old age, passing away in 1955. The men of the seaman’s home burying him with full military honours, befitting a feline of his rank.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a heartwarming story, but the story of Unsinkable Sam was more than that, during the middle years of the war, stories such as his proved to be invaluable for boosting morale & providing a little distraction for the brave men of the Royal Navy. Unsinkable Sam was more than just a ship’s cat, he was a symbol. Unsinkable Sam, the cat that couldn’t be killed!