The Siege of Clyde Valley

The controversy over the decision of Clyde Valley FB to wear a small Parachute Regiment emblem on their uniforms whilst on parade in Londonderry last Saturday has resulted in yet another battle in the ‘cultural war’ that has been fought in Ulster since at least 1996. Wagons have been circled. War cries have been shouted and the extremely deep (and dangerous) levels of division within Northern Ireland have been laid bare. Again.

The small Parachute Regiment emblem worn by Clyde Valley FB at the Relief of Derry parade on Saturday (10.8.2019)

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Yesterday’s statement by the Apprentice Boys of Derry was a welcome development. It may well take enough heat out of the situation to allow the very deep fissures in Northern Ireland society to be papered over, at least for while, although anybody with any sense can see that we are only ever hours away from the next “crisis” or controversy and now would be the perfect time to reflect on the reasons for that precarious situation.

Perhaps the more politically astute amongst our political ‘leaders’ could ask, publicly, why Irish republicanism has decided that the dead of ‘Bloody Sunday’ are to be held as the most important victims of the conflict, the apex of the pyramid of victimhood that Provisional Sinn Fein has carefully constructed over the last 20 years or so?

Why do republicans insist that any reference to the Parachute Regiment, anywhere in the city of Derry, is ‘verboten’ because it is an insult to victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’, yet these very same republicans insist that they have a right to commemorate republican murder gangs in that city, regardless of the feelings of the victims of such death squads?

INLA mural, Londonderry

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Surely, if references to (and emblems of) the Paras are “offensive” and “distasteful” in Londonderry, because of ‘Bloody Sunday’, then, by the same logic, references to (and emblems of) the INLA, Provisional IRA etc are equally offensive and distasteful given the fact that republican killer gangs were responsible for far more death and destruction than any other party or agency.

Indeed, it could be argued that the emblems and symbols of the Provos and INLA are even more liable to cause offence because they inflicted death and destruction on both communities.

Irish republican terrorist mural, Derry.

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In reality though, the “Clyde Valley controversy” has little to do with the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’ and their families. It has everything to do with Sinn Fein’s heirarchy of victims and their marking out of territory. According to republicans, the victims of so-called “state violence” are more important, more worthy of remembrance and more deserving of sensitivity and respect than any other victims.

On the next level of this heirarchy are the victims of militant Loyalism (those killed by the UFF and UVF), followed by those republicans killed by their own bombs. Everybody else is on the lowest tier of this sickening pyramid.

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“All of the animals are equal but some are more equal than others”

Did Provisional Sinn Fein show any sensitivity to the victims of their terrorist wing when they marched recently in Strabane? Were bands in paramilitary style uniforms considered “distasteful“? Were representations of armed terrorists considered to be a “calculated insult” to the victims of republican murder gangs in West Tyrone? Why not?

The answer is very simple- in the minds of republicans some victims don’t deserve respect, whilst conversely, some victims deserve every respect and should be treated almost as if they are ‘Holy martyrs’. According to republicans, the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’ deserve to be treated with kid gloves, insulated and protected from any reference to the Parachute Regiment, or indeed the British Army in general.

Victims like the families of Patsy Gillespie and Joanne Mathers however, deserve no such consideration or sensitivity. Those victims are not to be considered, or even brought to mind, when PIRA/Sinn Fein murals are unveiled in Derry, PIRA and INLA marches take place or commemorations are held.

Patsy Gillespie with his wife. Mr Gillespie was murdered by PIRA/Sinn Fein for cooking meals at an Army barracks in Derry.

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Make no mistake, we at ISOT believe that every community has an inalienable right to remember their dead. We have said so often, but there is a rank hypocrisy here. Surely if republicans believe that references to PIRA, INLA, IPLO and OIRA gangs are acceptable, even in towns and cities badly affected by the violence of those organisations, then surely they must be prepared to accept references to the Paras, even in the city where elements of that regiment killed 14 nationalists?

But, as I already stated, this is not about the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’. This about the republican heirarchy of victimhood and about marking territory.

In order for PSF to further their agenda and reinforce their revisionist narrative, victims of state perpetrated violence must be kept in the spotlight. They must be seen as the ‘premier’ victims of the conflict, for whilst the spotlight is on the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’, Ballymurphy etc then it cannot be on the victims of Claudy, ‘Bloody Friday’, La Mon, Darkley, Teebane, Enniskillen etc etc etc.

The aftermath of the Darkley massacre

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Sinn Fein must also present itself as the champions and defenders of the nationalist/republican community. If there is offence to be taken, then PSF must be the ones to take it! This is especially important in places like Londonderry where republican splinter groups and dissident factions are increasingly gaining a foothold.

Given Sinn Fein’s recent ‘difficulties’ in the New Lodge area of Belfast, Saturday’s events must have been a godsend. Indeed, there must have been some PSF members positively rubbing their hands with glee (that is not to insinuate that there wasn’t some Sinn Fein members who were genuinely outraged), there can be no doubt whatsoever that Clyde Valley FB have inadvertently handed so-called “mainstream” republicanism a much needed propaganda boost.

Gerry Kelly, for one, must have been delighted that something had quickly come along to distract people’s attention away from his ignominious (and hasty) withdrawal from the New Lodge only days earlier.

Why the long face Gerry?

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“This is OUR city”

There is another aspect to this gross overreaction too. There are many republicans, especially vocal on social media, who wish to use this incident as a stick with which to beat the ABOD and, somehow by extension, the Orange Order (such is the ignorance of republicans about the Loyal Orders and their relationship to each other).

an orange free zone”

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The reasoning seems to be that because Derry is a majority nationalist city, then all others must ‘toe the line‘ as it were, or the majority will withdraw their consent for any cultural expression other than their own. This too is deeply hypocritical. In Derry, Rasharkin and the Garvaghy Road it would seem that the majority rules ok but in Northern Ireland as a whole, majority rule is deemed “oppressive” and “undemocratic” and we must have mandatory power sharing, or else!

There is a lesson here for those who believe that a so-called ‘united Ireland’ is in any way viable, for it would appear that nationalists and republicans only believe in the sharing of power when they cannot obtain an absolute majority, or perhaps that is just cynicism. The available evidence, however, would suggest the former not the latter.

If ever Sinn Fein win an overall majority of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly, they will no doubt campaign for an end to power sharing and a return to majority rule, all in the name of “civil rights” and “equality”, naturally!

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Keep the fire stoked!

Provisional Sinn Fein will keep this incident in the headlines for as long as possible. There are others too, on the Unionist/Loyalist side who will seek to exploit this unfortunate situation for their own ends. The inappropriate behaviour of the PSNI has, rightly, been highlighted and there needs to be an investigation into that behaviour, however, it would probably be best all round if the entire business could be forgotten.

Rent-a-mob, aka PSNI DMSU

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The two communities in Northern Ireland are more deeply and bitterly divided than ever. In the interests of peace and reconciliation it would be best if incidents like the one on Saturday could be quickly dealt with, so as not to cause even further division.

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Sinn Fein lead the chorus

Unfortunately, with Sinn Fein leading the chorus of those who equate the wearing of a small Parachute Regiment emblem with international war crimes, that will never happen. It will not be allowed to happen. PSF cannot miss an opportunity to reinforce their vile narrative and, with dissident republicans fast gaining control of former PIRA/SF heartlands, they cannot afford to miss an opportunity to present themselves as the defenders of the nationalist community.

If that means taking a hypocritical and, frankly, absurd stance on any given issue, that will be no problem for the Shinners, after all, they do not seem to be bothered that Clyde Valley Flute Band take their name from the principal ship involved in ‘Operation Lion’, the 1914 UVF gun running which saw tens of thousands of rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition landed in Ulster by Carson’s Volunteers, some of which was used by the UVF in 1920 in very heavy street fighting in the cityside of Londonderry, which left dozens dead.

In 1920 the UVF took over Londonderry City centre and the Foyle bridge. Dozens died in subsequent fighting in the city.

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But they are offended by a tiny crest of the Parachute Regiment being worn on the uniform of the band, who also go by the name “the gun runners”. Bizarre. Are Sinn Fein telling us, at least subtly, that they only care about dead nationalists who were killed within living memory? Or, perhaps, those families of dead nationalists who are still around to vote would be more accurate?

Or, perhaps I’m being cynical again, they really couldn’t give a tinker’s curse about the victims of ‘Bloody Sunday’, or their families and are instead using this situation to-

A) shore up support in certain areas, especially Derry,

B) Exploit the situation to reinforce their narrative and heirarchy of victims,

C) Use the incident to further reaffirm that Londonderry is their city and everyone else must follow their rules, or-

D) All of the above.

Sometimes in Northern Ireland it’s hard not to be cynical!

The republican anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge area was a huge embarrassment for Provisional Sinn Fein

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On and on….

No doubt we will be hearing more about the ‘Seige of Clyde Valley‘ in the coming weeks and (probably) months. Preferred victim status must be upheld, narratives must be shored up and territory must be marked out. It’s not as if Sinn Fein (or the DUP) have anything else to do!

Meanwhile, ‘non celebrity’ victims across Northern Ireland and beyond, will just have to carry on as before- forgotten, marginalised and denied any semblance of justice. Indeed, in some cases, they have not yet even had their loved one’s remains returned to them for burial.

Best not to mention that though, not while the Shinners are having yet another little temper tantrum!

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Prisoners of Conscience

I had intended that this piece would be an examination of how the political centre, namely the UUP and the SDLP, seem to understand, or at least seek to understand, physical force Loyalism far more, and far better, than the extreme Liberal fringe, epitomised by the Alliance Party and the Green Party.

I had intended to clearly demonstrate that the DUP does not, and has never at any time, clearly understood or sought to understand the driving forces which motivate militant Loyalism. However, as I began to think about this piece, I began to realise that it was always going to go in a very different direction.

For in the process of considering those themes, I was (reluctantly) forced to re-examine the War which was wasn’t a War, the role of Loyalists within that conflict and, on a more personal level, my own role in it and the pseudo war which has been fought since.

A re-examination of my own conscience which has neither been easy nor comfortable but which, on reflection, has been a long time coming. Not that I shall be making public much, if any, of that ‘soul searching’, but I will examine the outlines of the thought processes which were involved in my own introspection.

I sincerely hope that this piece will serve some purpose and that, at least, some of those who were most deeply impacted by the ‘Troubles’, both victims and participants alike, will derive something from it, however small.

Crossing the Rubicon

I will begin by stating something which I feel should be obvious to anyone seeking to understand the Ulster conflict; i.e. that within the working class communities of Northern Ireland, on both sides of the divide, violence is not, and was not, viewed as intrinsically evil or immoral. Both communities had men made notorious for being “street toughs”, both communities believed firmly in corporal punishment, and both ‘sides’ very firmly believed in the biblical concept of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, even before the advent of the 2nd ‘Troubles’ in 1969.

The idea must seem utterly foreign to the contemporary middle classes. Indeed, it may seem somewhat odd even to the younger members of some working class communities, but it is the fundamental starting point of this analysis. Violence, in one form or another, was part of our lives from a very early age. It is unsurprising then that when NICRA provoked the crises of the late 1960’s, that violent interaction between the two opposing factions would soon follow. The only real surprise was the level of violence which was to follow.

It is a truism that violence begets violence but it is worth bearing in mind. Once one rubicon had been crossed, it became easier to cross another and another. No tactic became ‘off limits’, nothing became unjustifiable. The two communities became ever more polarised and ever more entrenched in their respective positions. Good men did bad things and bad men did even worse.

Loyalist barricade, Belfast circa 1972

Ordinary killers

It is my personal opinion that some men are indeed “natural born killers”. As far back as Socrates and Plato it was postulated that some men felt driven to kill; that some men subconsciously saw in the act of killing, a sort of natural counterpart to the act of giving birth, which of course men cannot do under any circumstances. This theory of “birthing envy” is an intriguing one and one which is deserving of far more attention.

For every born killer however there are many, many more who are driven to kill. Driven to kill by rage, by circumstances, by a need for revenge, or, as incredible as it may seem, by fear. It is these men, those driven to kill, that constitute the vast majority of the killers, the gunmen and the bombers, of the Ulster conflict, and it is these men (and women) who would go on to perpetuate the violence, not for their own gain, not for their own twisted pleasure or some sense of divine purpose, but for reasons which will seem utterly alien and incomprehensible to those detached from the War, by distance, by time or by virtue of social class.

I recognise, as I have always recognised, that there were those on both sides who were not motivated by soaring rhetoric, or by idealism, but were driven instead by their own psychosis. By a deep seated, guttural and irrational hatred which moved such people to commit the most heinous and barbaric atrocities. Things indefensible and unconscionable.

What, in the process of my own individual reflection, I am forced to acknowledge now, perhaps for the first time, is that there were men and women “amongst the ranks of the enemy” who were people of integrity and of undoubted courage. Such people, whom in my opinion were motivated by an acutely skewed reading of history and who had scant regard for democracy, were nevertheless, decent people with real concerns, real grievances and genuine aspirations, however far those aspirations were from my own.

Prisoners of history

It is an undeniable truth of history that a war between two nations, separated by great distance, or even between two neighbouring states, is invariably less bitter, less savage and less brutal than a war between two peoples who share the same piece of territory. When one also factors in the long and complex history of Ulster, then it is unsurprising that the ‘Troubles’ turned out to be one of the most dirty wars ever fought in Europe.

It is also unsurprising that we have become prisoners of history. Prisoners of our own times. We will never be set free. For us, every generation born into the conflict, it is already too late. Our lives have been irrevocably altered by the war we were born into. The ‘Troubles’ are a millstone around our necks from which we will never be unfettered. We deserve sympathy that we will never receive. We deserve a respite which will never come. However, we can, and must, tell our story. We have a burden of responsibility to the younger generations to ensure that we never again slide headlong into a situation in which ordinary people are forced to become killers, ‘intelligence officers’, bomb makers, gun runners and ‘spotters’.

I genuinely fear that we will not be up to the task. There is too much malice, too much distrust and animosity on both sides. If the generation that fought the Second World War are remembered as “the greatest generation”, then perhaps those 3 generations or so who fought the ‘Dirty War’, might well be remembered as the worst generations. One generation who began a war they could not possibly win (and that applies to both sides), one generation who continued that war because they had no idea how to stop it, and one generation who continued it because they could not imagine life any other way.

Looking inward

We should nevertheless tell our stories. Although it would be infinitely more helpful if we, ‘the worst generations’, were to explain to our young people that we were motivated far more by what we thought was going on, rather than perhaps what was really happening. Suspending, as it were, the historical narrative as we understand it and instead relaying the personal narrative.

In the immediate aftermath of the 1994 CLMC ceasefire, militant Loyalism underwent a period of deep introspection. Such a period of introspection is once again required, and this time Irish republicans must include themselves, if indeed there is any real desire from that quarter for real reconciliation (which I, personally, very much doubt). Those who participated in the Conflict must also free themselves from the constraints of moral recrimination; that is, we must abandon objective moralism and, taking into account the circumstances of the times, must not be afraid to see ourselves as sometimes having been the villians, those who were clearly in the wrong, if only on certain occasions or in certain situations.

We must share the responsibility of maintaining good government” – John McMichael

Unlike Irish republicanism, Loyalism does not need to portray itself as whiter than white. True patriotism is not tarnished by the occasional uncomfortable truth. We are, along with every other Briton, the inheritors of the legacy of the British Empire. We recognise the moral ambivalence of that situation. That is perhaps why Loyalists have no fear of a critical analysis of the past and of their role therein.

Where to now?

What Northern Ireland needs now is for republicans to engage in the same kind of soul searching. To admit the immorality of at least some of their actions and, furthermore, to admit freely that the motivation for many of their actions was, at the very, very least questionable. What we also need is for the ‘3rd party’, the extreme Liberal fringe, to end their illegitimate occupation of the moral high ground and recognise, if they are capable of doing so, that there are those in Ulster who do not share their pacifistic and utopian ideals.

In particular I would appeal to the members and supporters of the Alliance Party, Green Party etc to stop the politics of wishful thinking and to acknowledge the very real and very deep divisions within NI society. To stop the utterly ineffectual lecturing of the working class Loyalist community, especially in Belfast. As I, and others within Loyalism, have stated repeatedly since 1998, peace and reconciliation cannot be imposed from the top down but must instead be built from the ground up. Indeed, my own opposition to the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ stemmed primarily from my view that the Belfast Agreement was the very epitome of a ‘top down’ peace. Something that we, all the people of Northern Ireland, have a chance, however slim, to change.

Such change is however very unlikely unless or until all parties to the Conflict have the courage to admit our own past failings, recognise our common humanity (which applies even to those who have committed violent acts), fully recognise the intolerable hurt of innocent victims and resolve to never again allow our communities to be held to ransom by our inescapable past. In short, any real and just peace can only be achieved once we, the very people who, one way or another, created the Conflict, have all admitted that we are prisoners of conscience and that that is what we will always be.

YOUR CULTURE: USE IT, OR LOSE IT!

That’s lose it not ‘loose’ it (sorry but that really winds me up).

Ok, a lot is written about culture in Northern Ireland. Most of it is not exactly complimentary towards Ulster-Scots culture & Unionist/Loyalist/Orange traditions. Indeed, some quarters would have you believe that there is only one culture on this island. The Orange Institution is vilified & criticised from every angle, whilst the toxic NI media perpetuate the stereotype of working class Loyalists as being flag obsessed, kerb painting, tyre burning louts. We can complain about it until the proverbial cows come home. We can shake our fists at the TV screen or shout obscenities at the Biggest Ego in the Country (aka Nolan) whenever he’s on the radio, but where will that get us? How will that help? We (Loyalists & Unionists) need to become pro-active. We need to learn the lessons of the past & come up with new strategies for the future.

Can anyone seriously deny that Loyalist/Unionist/Orange heritage is under sustained attack?

Can anyone seriously deny that Loyalist/Unionist/Orange heritage is under sustained attack?

I’m going to shock you here. I was not born an Ulster Loyalist. It was not drummed into me at an early age. My father was in no way political until late in life. My mother was/is a Loyalist, though in what I’d describe as a cultural sense, rather than a political sense. Loyalism was not taught in our house! I became a Loyalist as a teenager, only after long & careful analysis of the situation in Ulster. I became a Loyalist because I believe that my homeland, Ulster, is separate to & different from the Irish nation. Because I believe that the people of Ulster, my people, have an inalienable right to self-determination, exercised in 1921, when Ulster (albeit with redrawn borders) decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom, the British Family of Nations. I became a Loyalist, rather than a Unionist, firstly because I believe Ulster to be a nation, not a Province nor some colonial outpost of the British Empire. Secondly, because I believe that, in the absence of adequate defence (as provided by the UK government) the people of NI have the right to defend themselves, by any means. Something that Loyalists have done many times in the past.

It was that, that quality of self reliance, that my teenage self saw as one of the finest attributes of Ulster Loyalism. If no outside help is forthcoming, then we’ll damn well help ourselves! And it is that quality that we need in abundance today. It’s all very well ranting & raving about the ‘cultural war’ being waged against us, but what are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it? There are more Loyalist bands now than ever before. That’s great, but how about we tell the world how bands give young people in our community a sense of purpose, teach them musicality & discipline, get them out being active & keep them away from drugs, crime & anti-social activity? While we’re about it, let’s open up Orange halls to community groups, youth groups, senior citizens clubs etc. Some halls already do this, but sadly, in many parts of the country, Orange halls are empty & unused apart from hosting Lodge meetings once a month. Orange halls are a fantastic resource. We need to utilise them far, far more.

There are so many things we can do to promote & protect our culture & heritage. Lambeg drumming clubs are flourishing in rural areas, there’s no reason why that success can’t be replicated in the towns & cities too. Street parties to mark important national occasions are another way to promote culture/heritage, with the bonus of being a great way to bring the community together & foster good relations. There is absolutely no reason why, for example, a street party to mark VE day, could not become a ‘cross community’ event, especially in areas where community relations are something approaching normal. I also believe that the OO, Somme Associations & bands should do more to encourage everyone to take part in commemorating the Battle of the Somme. The Imperial German machineguns didn’t discriminate between Protestant Ulstermen & Catholic Ulstermen. We as Loyalists have a duty to remind people of that fact. To remind people that we, as Ulster Loyalists, remember with pride, all of the Ulster Division’s fallen sons, regardless of creed, class or political persuasion.

Lambeg drummers in the United States

Lambeg drummers in the United States

Last but by no means least, let’s get serious about our mother tongue, Ullans (Ulster-Scots). Oft lampooned by those who oppose us, Ulster-Scots is the language of our ancestors & unlike many other (now sadly extinct) minority languages, it is still alive in the mouths of thousands of our people. Some people like to criticise Ulster-Scots, saying that it isn’t really a language because it, in terms of vocabulary, it is close to English. Indeed, many will tell you that it is just bad English. Really? Because Ullans is mutually intelligible with Scots & English? If that’s the case, then half of the languages of Europe will have to be written off. Norwegian? Swedish? Nah, just bad Danish. Dutch? Just bad German. Bosnian & Croatian? Just bad Serbian. Ukrainian? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. The sad thing here is, that those who use this argument are embarrassing themselves in the eyes of every person who knows anything about linguistics. English, Scots & Ulster-Scots share a lot of words (albeit spelt slightly differently) because they are from the same language group! Just as Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Manx etc are all Celtic languages, so English, Scots & Ulster-Scots are all part of the Anglo-Frisian branch of the West Germanic language group! Norwegians can understand most of what a Swede says (in Swedish) & almost all of what a Dane says (in Danish) so does that mean it’s open season to take the piss out of the Norwegian language? C’mon all you cultural fascists, lets hear you tell a Norwegian or a Bosnian or a Slovak (Slovak having far more mutual intelligibility with Czech than Ulster-Scots has with English) that they don’t really have a language. Better still, try explaining to a Scandinavian or someone from the Balkans, why you cling so bitterly, to the childish notion that Ulster-Scots is not a language because “its nat different enough from English”.

'mutual intelligibility' it's not rocket science!

‘mutual intelligibility’ it’s not rocket science!

I’m sorry if I’m labouring the point here, but this fallacious, infantile ‘argument’ that Ullans is not a language, is so stupid & so easily refuted that it makes my blood boil that so many of the enemies of our culture still cling to it like drowning rats. That they get away with using their kindergarten tactics is a mark of shame on all of those who call themselves a Loyalist or an Ulster-Scot (for the benefit of Irish nationalist readers: Loyalist & Ulster-Scot are not mutually exclusive terms. Despite what you’ve been told) It is time for us to collectively call bullshit on our hatefilled opponents & take pride in our mother tongue. Perhaps countering the close-minded, moronic, spiteful ‘argument’ of Irish cultural fascists should be lesson one in any Ulster-Scots language class. We Ulster-Scots, (Protestant, Catholic, Atheist or whatever) have a rich & diverse cultural heritage. Music, dance, food, language, poetry, mythology etc. But that culture will disappear unless we make a conscious effort to keep it alive. The world becomes a smaller place each day. Globalisation has done tremendous damage to many cultures around the world. Ulster-Scots face these problems and the strenuous efforts of bitter & bigoted people who have a vested interest in denying the very existence of anything on this island which is not Gaelic/Celtic.

Take pride in the Ulster-Scots language. Take pride in your heritage

Take pride in the Ulster-Scots language. Take pride in your heritage

Certain people want to perpetuate the stereotype of Loyalists as jeering, drunken, sectarian thugs, wrapped in a Union flag. Are we going to allow them to do that? Are we going to whine & complain? Or are we going to take up the challenge before us & destroy the pernicious lies of the cultural chauvinists? I hope that Loyalism has not lost it’s sense of self-reliance. I hope we have not lost that precious attribute which served our forebears so well (& in much more serious circumstances). The Brave Thirteen, who slammed shut the gates of Londonderry, had that sense of self-reliance. Carson’s Volunteers had it in 1912. Is it still part of our ethnic makeup in 2014? Only time will tell. Either we take a stand now, do something to preserve & promote our age old heritage & culture, something positive, creative & meaningful, or we will lose it forever. We can wait no longer. We can no longer allow the agenda to be set by others. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? It is the responsibility of all Loyalists & Unionists to ensure that our heritage & traditions are still here when we are not. It’s your culture, use it or lose it!

I leave you now with a few words of verse ben Ullans (in Ulster-Scots)

“Ir ye strange, frightfu’ chiel, auld Nick,
Tha’s come tae herd für Charlie,
Tae hiner thá smaa bürds tae pick,
Thá corn that ripens earlie.
Ir some vile wretch claad ben disguise,
That swings fowk i’ a tether;
Whá at Doonpatrick last assize
Did toom three aff the liéther.
Ir are ye jist a true scarecraa,
Wi’ clout an’ auld sca’t caster,
That’s come tae flie the bürds  awa,
Für pickin aff yer master.
The darna luik ye in thá face,
Nor yet aboot ye prattle;
Ye’ll save poor Charlie mony a rase,
That he ran waé his rattle.”

DRAWING SUPPORT

MURALS 

In Ulster, murals are more than just a creative way of covering up unsightly graffiti, they are a means of political & cultural expression. Some would argue that it is time for murals to be ‘decommissioned’, I would argue that they are a fantastic visual representation of local politics, history & heritage, & furthermore, a very fair & impartial way for communities to voice their opinions, since for every Loyalist mural, there can be an Irish nationalist/republican response (& vice versa) in the form of another mural. But maybe that’s why most in the media & the ‘lets-all-just-forget-and-hold-hands’ brigade are so opposed to working class communities (especially Loyalist communities) expressing their traditions, opinions & aspirations through murals?

Anyway, I’m not going off on a rant today! So instead I’m just going to present a few (Loyalist) murals from across the country that I find interesting, well executed and/or thought provoking, so here ya go!

BELFAST

mural1

mural2

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed"

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”

Another excellent East Belfast mural, entitled 'War & Peace'

Another excellent East Belfast mural, entitled ‘War & Peace’

Shankill mural, honouring the contribution of women to the Loyalist cause

Shankill mural, honouring the contribution of women to the Loyalist cause

PORTADOWN

UVF mural, Portadown

UVF mural, Portadown

BUSHMILLS

UDA mural featuring Finn McCool, Bushmills

UDA mural featuring Finn McCool, Bushmills

COLERAINE

Memorial mural, dedicated to UDA volunteer William Campbell, Coleraine

Memorial mural, dedicated to UDA volunteer William Campbell, Coleraine

LONDONDERRY

Mural dedicated to the memory of Cecil McKnight, a member of the Ulster Democratic Party murdered by republicans. Emerson St, L'derry

Mural dedicated to the memory of Cecil McKnight, a member of the Ulster Democratic Party murdered by republicans. Emerson St, L’derry

MONKSTOWN

UDA/UFF mural, dedicated to the memory of two fallen UDA volunteers. Monkstown, Newtownabbey

UDA/UFF mural, dedicated to the memory of two fallen UDA volunteers. Monkstown, Newtownabbey

I intend to post quite a few more photos of murals from across NI. There are some fantastic murals around. Any suggestions or contributions would be very welcome, so if you know of any good Loyalist murals in your area, don’t hesitate to share them with me.