Recently representatives of the Loyalist Community Council met with the Northern Ireland Office to discuss their concerns about the so-called “border in the Irish Sea” and its implications for all the people of Northern Ireland.
The reaction to that informal meeting was, at best, hysterical.
The SDLP, PBP and Alliance Party were outraged, with the megalomaniac Naomi Long and her erstwhile lieutenant Stephen Farry particularly vocal in their condemnation.
Such a reaction was, unfortunately, only to be expected. What was unexpected however, and what was deeply worrying, was the reaction of Provisional Sinn Fein.
John Finucane, Provisional SF Member of Parliament for North Belfast took to Twitter to voice his opinion that the NIO should not be meeting with what he termed “armed gangs”.
The hypocrisy in his sentiments is staggering. Members of Mr Finucane’s own family were active members of the Provisional IRA. What was (and is) the Provisional IRA if not an “armed gang”?
Let us not forget that the Provisional republican movement were (and are) involved, not only in violence, but also in smuggling, armed robbery, intimidation, extortion, drug dealing, people trafficking, blackmail, prostitution and kidnapping.
John Finucane might wish to legitimise the Provos and imagine that they are some kind of legitimate army or guerilla organisation, the world however knows the sordid truth.
Thanks to the efforts of ordinary members of the Loyalist/Unionist community, more people than ever before, right around the world, know the real truth about the Provisional IRA murder gangs and the psychotic violence in which they engaged.
The Peace Process in danger
It is not just the breath-taking hypocrisy of PSF that is at issue here however. What is far more concerning and, in fact, dangerous, is that it now appears to be official Provisional Sinn Fein policy to try to exclude Loyalism from politics altogether.
People like John Finucane and his friends in the SDLP, Alliance Party etc, seem to forget that the ‘Good Friday Agreement’, the very agreement that so many within Irish nationalism seem to venerate to the point of worship, was co-negotiated and co-signed by the representatives of armed Loyalism who negotiated on behalf of the UDA/UFF and UVF in exactly the same way as Sinn Fein did on behalf of the Provisional IRA.
At the time, Provisional Sinn Fein insisted that everyone involved in the conflict should be involved in the resolution of that conflict. The Ulster Democratic Party and the PUP agreed, as that was the only realistic way to proceed with any genuine peace negotiations.
Sinn Fein had no problem sitting down with and negotiating with the political representatives of “armed gangs” in 1998, just as Loyalists reciprocated by entering into negotiations with Sinn Fein, who themselves were/are the political representatives of another “armed gang”, namely the Provisional IRA.
What changed? Why are the Provos now insistent that Loyalism be excluded from the political process?
Surely PSF knows that such a position is not only untenable but also incredibly dangerous?
The Unfinished Process
The Peace Process is not over, as we are reminded each time an Irish republican (of the Provisional variety) is detained by the police and that individual suddenly becomes a key player in the peace process and “vital to peace”.
Sinn Fein (and their acolytes) now however, seem unconcerned with the Peace Process as a whole and are happy to endanger that process in order to further exclude Loyalists from the political landscape.
Perhaps they are blinded by their own irrational bigotry and their misplaced sense of ethnic/cultural superiority. Perhaps they have fallen for their own childish propaganda and now believe that Loyalism is incapable of derailing the Peace Process.
Either way, this is a worrying new development. Nationalists and republicans of all stripes are pushing hard for a disruptive and highly divisive “border poll”, which in itself has the potential to seriously endanger the Peace Process. If an attempt to exclude and marginalise Loyalists is added to that, then the entire process will be on life support.
One has to wonder just what is going on in the minds of Sinn Fein elected representatives. Have they seriously devolved back to a position where they regard Loyalists as an irrelevance?
Are they trying to garner more votes, or grassroots support that might otherwise go to the myriad of republican dissident gangs, by adopting the sort of dehumanising narrative made popular by (now largely defunct) online trolling groups? A narrative within which Loyalists (and Unionists in general) are viewed as dirty, stupid and subhuman.
If so, then the entire political process is doomed and Ulster is fated to relive her bloody past, with yet more generations of her children condemned to lives of violence, barbarity and fear.
Loyalism will not be silenced!
Loyalism cannot and will not be excluded from the political process. The Loyalist community will not be ignored or further marginalised.
John Finucane and Naomi Long might fantasise about a world where Loyalists do not exist but here in the real world we do exist and we will not be silenced. Years of violence, murder, repression and incarceration did not silence Loyalism and neither will the hypocritical ramblings and hysterical ranting of political pygmies like Mr Finucane, or his “comrades” within the “armed criminal gang” that his party represents and is inextricably linked to.
That Provisional Sinn Fein even contemplate adopting a position of trying to exclude Loyalism, that they frame such a pathetic attempt in terms of moral grandstanding, is almost laughable.
The party that could not bring itself to condemn some of the most heinous, vile and sectarian massacres of ‘The Troubles’ is now pontificating about representatives of the Loyalist Community Council (a grassroots organisation) meeting with the NIO, attempting to present themselves as the moral guardians of a country whose name they will not even utter.
If a scriptwriter dreamt something like that up he would be laughed at for making his script so implausible and, quite frankly, downright bizarre!