Derry/Londonderry (or ‘How Monty Python named Ulster’s second city’)

Picture the scene

BBC television centre, 1971, comedy group ‘Monty Python’ have, for reasons unknown, been tasked with naming Ulster’s second largest city. John Cleese wants to call it ‘Derek’, but is dismissed by the others as a “lumbering buffoon”. Chapman, Idle and Jones want to name the city ‘Derry’, but Gilliam and Palin think the name should be ‘Londonderry’. The Pythons are bitterly divided. Michael Palin has been holding Eric Idle in a sleeper hold for almost an hour. Terry Jones has adopted the role of a sniper, viciously firing a homemade slingshot at Palin, Gilliam and the supposedly neutral Cleese, from behind the cover of an overturned desk. The BBC tealady, a Mrs. Edith Runnymede of Peckham, has refused to enter the room, likening the scene to the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE.

After many hours of comedic warfare, and with the belligerents exhausted, a compromise is agreed. Dismissing Cleese’s suggestion as “the deranged utterance of a gigantic, moustache wearing fruit-bat”, the group decide, in typical surrealist fashion, to simply give the city both names. From then on, the second largest city in Northern Ireland would be known by the unlikely moniker of ‘Derry/Londonderry’.

Londonderry. Northern Europe’s forgotten jewel

Fast forward to 2018

Ulster’s barbarian tribes have been warring since time immemorial. They fought over which flag to fly. They fought over which language everyone should be forced to speak, and they fought over what exactly their second city should be called. The Green tribe, known for their love of strong drink and their propensity for blowing up small children, insisted that it be called ‘Derry’. The Orange tribe, known for their love of synchronised walking and their propensity for shooting people in the face, insisted that the correct name was ‘Londonderry’. For decades, both tribes stuck to their respective choice, then unbelievably, the freshly installed High Chief of the Green tribe, the fabled warrior queen, Mary Lou, uttered the ‘L’ word, calling the second city ‘Londonderry’!

The Green tribe was sharply divided. Some, perhaps mellowed by years of alcohol abuse and sad folk ballads, argued that it was ok to call the place Londonderry sometimes. Others though, incensed by the addition of two extra syllables, argued that Mary Lou had committed an inexcusable act of treason and could no longer be High Chief of the Green tribe. Meanwhile, most of the Orange tribe merely smirked and went back to beating their very large drums with very thin sticks, whilst the civilised tribes to the south and across the narrow sea to the east, scratched their heads and wondered just how they had ended up being the neighbours of such clearly insane people.

A section of Derry’s walls

Seriously though

The furore that erupted recently over Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald’s use of the term ‘Londonderry’, was tragically comic. I was born and raised in County Londonderry. I use the terms Derry and Londonderry interchangeably. The Orange anthem ‘the Sash my Father Wore’ calls it Derry. The Apprentice Boys of Derry call it Derry (shocker!). In all honesty it is simply not that big an issue for most Loyalists and Unionists. An official name change is a different matter, although personally I would not be that bothered. It would seem though that for Irish nationalists and republicans this is a much more touchy subject.

Derry is both historic and modern

The reaction of some Irish republicans has been hilarious. To see the usually well rehearsed and polished republican propaganda machine scrambling to try and bury this “controversy” has been highly amusing. These are the same people who made much of the fact that (some) Unionists and Loyalists placed such importance on flags and emblems. Is the word ‘Derry’ not a verbal emblem? I hope, although I don’t expect for one moment, that the numerous ‘satirical’ groups (lol) on social media have lampooned hardline republicans over this issue in the same way that they used the flags issue to try to belittle and mock the fringe elements of Loyalism and Unionism. Of course, that would be too much to ask. After all, one cannot be the drinking buddy of certain north Belfast republican dissidents, and then use one’s multiple social media accounts to lambast and laugh at republicans. Better to just trot out the same old bile you’ve been vomiting out since 2012 (there might still be a few £ in it yet ;).

And finally…

You see, this is why I was reluctant to start blogging about N.I. politics again. Whilst I’ve had a chuckle at the pettiness and insecurities of Irish republicans, the whole episode has also been slightly depressing. Twenty years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement and Ulster remains as divided, and as ridiculous as ever.

Between 1969 & 1999, more than 30,000 Ulster-Scots were “ethnically cleansed” from Derry’s west-bank

If you are one of the many foreign readers of this blog, please don’t let the infantile squabbles of extreme Irish nationalists put you off visiting our beautiful little nation, and visiting Londonderry in particular. Derry is a wonderful, charming, vibrant city. The most well preserved walled city in western Europe. It is historic, picturesque (mostly), welcoming and inexpensive to visit. In fact, whatever you like to call it, it’s the greatest little city in the whole British Isles!

Beautiful and historic Londonderry

Advertisements

J. M. Andrews; Ulster’s forgotten Prime Minister

https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/j-m-andrews-ni-s-second-prime-minister-got-the-job-a-decade-too-late-1-8479933

A superb piece from the Newsletter on the subject of John Miller Andrews, second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and something of a forgotten figure in Ulster history.

Andrews served as MP for Mid-Down (and before that as MP for Co.Down). He served as Minister of Labour from 1921 to 1937, and as Minister of Finance from 1937 to 1940. When Lord Craigavon died, in 1940, he became leader of the Unionist Party and the second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

In April 1943 dissent from backbenchers forced him from office. He was replaced as Prime Minister by Sir Basil Brooke. Andrews remained, however, the recognised leader of the UUP for a further three years. Five years later he became the Grand Master of the Orange Order. From 1949, he was the last parliamentary survivor of the original 1921 Northern Ireland Parliament, and as such was recognised as the ‘Father of the House’. He is the only Prime Minister of Northern Ireland not to have been elevated to the peerage; both his successor and predecessor received hereditary viscountcies.

Throughout his life he was deeply involved in the Orange Order; he held the positions of Grand Master of County Down from 1941 and Grand Master of Ireland (1948–1954). In 1949 he was appointed Imperial Grand Master of the Grand Orange Council of the World.

J. M. Andrews as a young man, with his parents and family, including his brother Thomas

Andrews was a committed and active member of the ‘Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church’. Regularly attending worship in his home town of Comber. Andrews served on the Comber Congregational Committee from 1896 until his death in 1956 (holding the position of Chairman from 1935 onwards). He is buried in the small graveyard adjoining the church.

Your Offence Offends Me

Institutionalised Offence

It seems that there is an element within Irish nationalism that is offended by everything the Loyalist/Unionist community does. They’re offended by parades, offended by bonfires, offended by certain historical facts, offended by the names of a small number of bands, offended by the sight of Orange men walking to Church, offended by flags, offended by red-white-and-blue bunting, offended by almost everything.

Where did all this ill-feeling come from? Why all the intolerance? Well, let me start by saying that yes; there are some things that Loyalists and Unionists’ could do differently. Stop burning tricolours and Roman Catholic paraphernalia on 11th night bonfires? Yeah, I’d be open to that. Indeed, I would encourage it. Voluntarily rerouting a small number of so-called ‘contentious’ parades? Yes, I would support that too, but there has to be give and take on both sides.

PIRA/SF must take responsibility for their actions. It is the Provisional republican movement that has whipped the nationalist/republican community into a frenzy. It is PIRA/SF that carefully created yet another flashpoint at Carrick Hill. It is PIRA/SF that is insisting that their constituency has the god-given right to go through life without ever being upset or offended by anything or anyone. The Provos have institutionalised offence. Made it into something that it’s not. Causing offence is not a crime. It is certainly not a ‘hate crime ‘.

Change Comes From Within

No amount of lecturing, of haranguing, of carping, of constant hysterics will force Unionists/Loyalists to suddenly drop centuries old tradition and heritage. Loyalist youth will not be bribed, nor bullied, into drastic changes to their annual bonfires. The OO will not just decide to disband, however much republicans want them to. Change will only come from within. It can’t be dictated, it can’t be forced.

The really unfortunate thing is that the more Irish nationalists stamp their feet and cry about being “offended”, the more Loyalists will simply dig their heels in. Indeed, as has been seen in some areas already, a generation of angry young Loyalists, sick of constant and over-the-top criticism, will actually go out of their way to offend nationalists and republicans. Sticking two fingers up to the world and deciding to carry on regardless.

If Irish nationalists were not so easily offended, if they were not seemingly bent on a campaign of cultural genocide, then a real dialogue could be opened up to address the genuine concerns of both sides of the community. For example; If nationalists are serious about being offended/intimidated by a small number of bands being named after Loyalist activists, then perhaps the nationalist/republican community could take onboard the U/L community’s concerns about the naming of GAA clubs, competitions and grounds after dead PIRA and INLA killers.

Like most other things in Northern Ireland, such things must be balanced and both sides must be treated with equal respect. But respect for U/L traditions and heritage is in very short supply among nationalists and republicans. Compromise is not in their vocabulary. I doubt if even half of these so-called “concerns” are genuine. It is cultural warfare. Not genuine concern. And as per usual, the more PIRA/SF and their fellow travellers kick and scream, the more stubborn and intransigent Loyalism will become. Community cohesion will be sacrificed for petty political gain. Once again, the whole of Ulster society will be caused to suffer for the sake of Irish nationalisms twisted games.

Shinner-Bots: Stirring the pot in the name of Sinn Fein

 

What PIRA/SF don’t want you to know!

If you scroll through the comments section of many Northern Ireland news websites you’ll begin to notice something a bit odd. For every comment from a Unionist/Loyalist or political neutral, there will be at least twice as many from Irish nationalists/republicans. You can’t miss them. The condescending, self righteous tone. The smug sense of superiority. The hollow, disingenuous “humour”. These are their trademarks. But why are there so many Irish nationalist “cyber activists”? Where do they all come from?

The answer is very simple and thankfully many people are starting to catch on – PIRA/SF have many, many “volunteers” prepared to give up their time and energy to troll the internet, all singing from the same hymn sheet, all using the same verbose language, all seemingly sharing the same warped sense of humour. And the Provisional republican movement aren’t the only ones!

Not Nearly as Anonymous as They Think

There are other groups of anti-Loyalist bigots who engage in this sort of behavior. One such “collective” (who describe themselves as “satirists”) have well over 200 twitter accounts, 100+ Facebook accounts and dozens of other accounts on other social media platforms. These individuals, and in particular the three masterminds of this particular group, are under the illusion that they are totally anonymous, sadly for them, they couldn’t be more wrong!

Perhaps they believe their own toxic narrative, that all Loyalists are “stupid”, perhaps they themselves are the stupid ones. Either way, they are labouring under a false assumption. They would also do well to remember that what is posted online has a tendency to linger, remaining in the public domain, long after certain groups and “collectives” have dissolved into history. Nobody is ever really completely anonymous online and publicly “outing” people is a double edged sword!

Show Me The Money!

Not all of these pathetic trolls are “volunteers”. PIRA/SF have many paid activists. Extraordinary as it may seem, some of those activists are actually paid to troll the internet, leaving nasty barbed comments on anything remotely related to Loyalism/Unionism. Such is the desperation of a politically and militarily defeated movement.

It is laughable. These desperate, bitter, angry people are as far away from their political goals now as they were 30 years ago and so, rather than come up with some new, innovative approach, they resort to childlike, almost tragically comic tactics. Setting up bogus FB pages twitter “sock-puppet” accounts and fake email address after fake email address.

My advice to Loyalists: Don’t become embroiled in pointless online discussions with these “cybernats”. Ignore them or simply respond by calling them out as proxy accounts. Report any and all content on their FB pages or twitter accounts, whether or not it breaches those sites ‘ rules. Keep calm and let them rant away. They are the dregs of Ulster society, and deep down they know it.

How Far They’ve Come

I welcome the election of Mitchell McLaughlin as Stormont speaker. No doubt that some extremely misguided Irish nationalists will see it as some kind of triumph, but to anyone with a brain in their heads this is yet another sign that PIRA/SF have abandoned all pretensions of being a truly republican movement.

Not only are they happy to help govern NI as an integral part of the UK, they are quite content to become a part of the very system of government. Would the thugs who murdered former Stormont speaker, Sir Norman Stronge, approve of their political wing sitting in a “partitionist” assembly, let alone a so-called republican becoming speaker of that institution? I don’t think so. How far these fascists have come in such a relatively short time.

McLaughlin’s elevation to the position of speaker is no victory for Irish nationalism, it is yet another defeat, indeed it is a humiliation, dressed up as another blow to the Union. Loyalists would do well to remember that and refuse to allow themselves to be goaded by those who live in a fantasy world where everything is interpreted as a triumph for nationalism and republicanism. Remember, PIRA/Sinn Fein vowed for years to “Smash Stormont” now they are part of the Stormont establishment . Does that not seem like a defeat to you?