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?
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.