Abortion; an open letter to the critics of Northern Ireland

Dear critics of NI, abortionists and other “useful idiots”

I understand that you have many questions in the wake of the Irish Republic’s referendum on abortion. Please allow me to answer those questions in a thoughtful, concise and polite manner.

NO. No we do not “need” to legalise abortion on demand because any other nation, or any other constituent country of the UK has legal abortion on demand. In case you hadn’t noticed (you probably hadn’t), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a (supposedly) democratic, decentralised state within which each constituent country has considerable devolved powers, and within which are three separate legal jurisdictions, Northern Ireland being one of those jurisdictions (look up that word, you’ll find it useful later on).

NO. We will not justify our position within the United Kingdom to the historically illiterate and politically ignorant. We are not part of the UK due to the benevolence of England, but because our forebears successfully fought for our right to remain part of the UK. Our membership of the Union is not up for debate. It is not dependant on us “acting like a part of the UK”. The United Kingdom is not a centralised, unitary state. It is a devolved, decentralised Union. The Ulster people have an inalienable right to self-determination, a right we have fought to uphold. We will not forgo that right in order to placate a section of the English population which wishes us to amend our laws on abortion because it is the “current year”, or because some vapid, moronic “TV personality” has issue with our laws.

NO. We will not succumb to bullying, pressure tactics or your pathetic attempts to scorn us. Quite frankly, the people of NI couldn’t care less about the opinions of virtue signalling, social acceptance seeking, has-been “celebrities” desperately trying to seem relevant and fishing for Facebook likes and positive reinforcement. We take our politics seriously. We don’t like bullies and we tend to laugh at people who try to threaten us! You want to take us on? Really? Lol. Take a good long look in the mirror, then ask yourself if this is a fight you can win. It isn’t.

NO. We won’t be doing anything simply because the Irish Republic does it. The Czech Republic significantly relaxed their gun laws a while ago, we won’t be following them either. Northern Ireland isn’t Hertfordshire or Northumberland. We are a separate legal jurisdiction (remember that word?) with considerable devolved powers. Many, probably the majority, of NI citizens believe that abortion on demand is morally reprehensible and will oppose it, vehemently. Others, such as myself, are ambivalent or undecided on the issue but we will not allow ourselves to be browbeaten, lectured, badgered or vilified by ignorant, conceited, self-obsessed, botox filled, drug addled, ridiculous, pompous and morally bankrupt media rejects. That I can promise you!

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The Forgotten Minority; Catholic Unionists in Northern Ireland

Thin on the ground?

According to a 2014 opinion poll, 22.8% of Northern Ireland Catholics described themselves as “British”. The poll also revealed that 20.6% of Roman Catholic’s wanted Northern Ireland to remain an integral part of the UK. That is almost over one fifth of NI’s Catholic population. A surprising and extraordinary statistic, or at least it will be to some people. There have however, always been Catholic Unionists, some of them very prominent, although in recent years the number of Catholic Unionists, and Catholic Loyalists, seems to have increased.

In October, 2017, Stephen McCarthy was co-opted unto Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, as an Ulster Unionist Party councillor. Nothing unusual? Well, actually Cllr. Stephen McCarthy is a little unusual. A former altar boy, he grew up a Catholic in the republican stronghold of West Belfast, growing up in the St James area before moving to the Short Strand. His grandfather was shot dead in 1991 by the UVF while working as a taxi driver.

He joined the UUP aged 19 despite coming from what he is on record as describing as an “SDLP family”. In an interview with the Irish News Cllr. McCarthy stated- “There are many Unionists in the Catholic community.” Adding that he is a Unionist principally for “economic reasons” but also that he feels “both British and Irish”.

Cllr. McCarthy is not unique and in the coming years and decades there will be many more like him. Unionism and Loyalism, despite the vitriol of the usual suspects, has never been about religion. As time moves on and religion becomes less and less important in people’s lives, an increasing number people will base their political opinions, not on the traditional outlook of their parents or grandparents, but on their own thoughts, feelings and aspirations.

Sir John Gorman, Ulster Unionist MLA for North Down (1998-2003) and “Catholic Unionist”

The real bigots

Those 20.6% of Catholic’s who said they wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK are, very obviously, Unionists, even if many would be reluctant to describe themselves as such. It is interesting that the 2014 poll also revealed that there were more than twice as many Catholic Unionists as there were “Protestant Irish nationalists”. Again, for some that will no doubt be surprising, and troubling. For a significant proportion of Irish nationalists and republicans, that 20%+ of Catholics who are also pro-Union, are traitors. Many Catholic Unionists hide their real political leanings, sometimes even from their own families, for fear of becoming pariahs. Like it or not, believe it or not, the “CNR” community is much more tribalistic and insular than the “PUL” community.

Sir Denis Henry. Catholic, Unionist and the first Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland

That is an uncomfortable truth, but it is one that nationalists and republicans are going to have to come to terms with. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” as the saying goes. We will see then, which political camp really is the most tribal and sectarian over the course of the coming years and decades. I am confident that as the number of Unionists and Loyalists from outwith the Protestant community continues to grow, that it will be Irish nationalism which will be exposed as the sectarian, intolerant and parochial doctrine Loyalists have always known it is.

Fan Art

We here at It’s Still Only Thursday were very pleased (and surprised) when we received a very nice message, praising our humble wee blog and accompanied by a fantastic bit of what we can only describe as “fan art”. Even better, the budding artist hails from Denmark, further demonstrating the reach of I.S.O.T

Thanks very much S.A.

Fire Up The Time Machine

The blog is back

Ok folks, I’m back. Almost three years since I took an enforced sabbatical from the heady world of blogging. On a personal level, things have changed. I have changed. At least in some ways. Sadly though the same cannot be said for Ulster politics. Twenty years after the signing of the Belfast Agreement, the political landscape in Northern Ireland still resembles a battlefield. The DUP and Sinn Féin still thrive on confrontation and contention, much of it wholly manufactured, whilst the majority of the population grit their collective teeth and try to get on with their lives.

The Loyalist community is supposed to be absolutely outraged at the prospect of a Gaelic language act (legislation to protect a minority language? Arrgggghhh, the horror, the horror!), whilst Sinn Féin voters are supposedly weeping and gnashing their teeth because of how oppressed and downtrodden they are. Well, that’s Northern Ireland according to Arlene and Michelle anyway. Personally I couldn’t give a monkeys if the toy-town parliament up at Stormont is ever restored or not. Don’t get me wrong, in principle I believe in devolution, indeed, I believe in the radical decentralisation of power, far beyond what the N.I. assembly delivers, or rather doesn’t deliver. In Ulster though, devolution has become a soap opera. A repetitive, stale and formulaic soap opera, rehashing the same old storylines again and again. Direct rule is hardly an attractive proposition, but at this point no alternative to the present self-perpetuating stalemate should be off the table. I’m sure I speak for many Ulster folk when I say that I have simply become bored with the whole DUP/Sinn Féin charade, which is why I’m now going to move on to the important bit—

An unenthusiastic return

In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure whether It’s Still Only Thursday would ever return. As I said, since 2015 I have changed personally.
I am still, as I have been since my mid teens, a militant Ulster Loyalist. I maintain the position that Ulster, in it’s modern six county form, constitutes an ethnic nation with an inalienable right to self-determination, and furthermore, that the Ulster-Scots people, like every other national community, have an inalienable right to defend themselves in the face of violence, aggression and attempted genocide. I make no apology for my political persuasion. I am not, nor have I ever been, a “loyal to the crown” Loyalist. My loyalty lies with my people, my ethnic cohort, I offer no loyalty whatsoever to the institution of the monarchy (an institution I am at best ambiguous about) and no loyalty to the UK state, or any organ thereof. To quote the old Ulster folk song, ‘the Armagh Brigade’, “Ulster is my heritage and Ulster is my cause”. The overwhelming majority of people here wish to maintain the Union, therefore, although I am personally agnostic about the benefits of continuing that Union (Loyalist not Unionist) I am obliged to accept that most Loyalists, and many others besides, see the continuation of the Union as being beneficial for this country (whatever non-Loyalists wish to call it). My politics remain unaffected by the passage of time, although it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I, as a human being, have remained untouched by the relentless march of years.

I would now describe myself as being very much in “post conflict” mode. I have, to wax lyrical, been overtaken by normalcy. The world I once knew; a world of conflict, violence and intercommunal tension, has long disappeared. So-called “legacy” issues notwithstanding, the Northern Ireland of 2018 has settled so firmly into relative normality as to be almost boring. That can only be a good thing. For me at least, politics has faded into the background. Whilst continuing to engage in community activity (or is that “activism”?), I have firmly relegated politics to the backburner, which is why I was unsure whether or not to resurrect this blog.

Had it not been for the surprising popularity of this blog, and no one was more surprised by it’s popularity than me, I honestly don’t think I would have returned to it. However, because it was/is far more popular than I could ever have imagined, and because of the almost universally positive feedback I received, I decided that I couldn’t just let it die, or rather, allow it to become a sort of cyber ghost, forever floating in the internet ether, untended, ignored and more or less forgotten. For some reason, some people (and in some very unusual places) found this blog informative, entertaining, or otherwise enlightening. I therefore felt I had something of an obligation to return to blogging, although to be frank it is an unenthusiastic return. A blog, like a small child, requires a lot of attention, although fortunately it requires only a modest investment of energy. I could put that energy into some other endeavour, but I’m here now so I might as well get on with it!

It’s Still Only Thursday might not be exactly as it once was. I will be covering issues beyond the usual fray of Ulster politics; futurism, the environment, economics etc., although I will still return to the politics and history of Northern Ireland regularly. I have written a fair bit about such things already but, as is so often the case in this troubled little corner of Europe, there is always much more to say. Unfortunately, the historical revisionism of the Irish republican propaganda machine shows no sign of abating, therefore I will no doubt feel obliged to address some of their more outrageous fabrications, however I intend, as always, to focus on being pro-Loyalist as opposed to being merely anti-republican. Hopefully my old readership will continue to read and enjoy It’s Still Only Thursday, and hopefully we will pick up a few new readers too. I can’t say that I’m enjoying writing again, yet, but we’ll see. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might. Soon.

PIRA/Sinn Fein: A Movement Without Morals (Part Two)

The Forgotten Atrocity

On Tuesday, the 12th of June, 1973, the Provisional IRA detonated two bombs in Coleraine, Co.Londonderry. The first device, 150 lb of explosives packed into a stolen Ford Cortina, went off at 3.00 p.m on Railway Rd, outside an off-license, killing six and injuring 33; several people lost limbs and several more were left crippled for life. Many of the wounded were children. A second bomb exploded five minutes later at Hanover Place. The Provos had sent a warning for the second bomb but said it had “mistakenly given the wrong location“. One would have thought that when dealing with deadly explosive devices the greatest care should be taken to avoid any error, PIRA/Sinn Fein though, did not give a damn about the deaths of civilians. Indeed I would contend that multiple civilian deaths was the very objective of such bombings.

The six innocent civilians killed by the Railway Road bomb were all Protestants, all over the age of 60. The victims were- Elizabeth Craigmile (76), Robert Scott (72), Dinah Campbell (72), Francis Campbell (70), Nan Davis (60), and Elizabeth Palmer (60). Elizabeth Craigmile, the Campbells and their daughter Hilary had been on a day outing and were beside the car-bomb at the moment of detonation. Hilary Campbell, whose parents had both been killed, lost a leg in the explosion. The bomb had left a deep crater in the road and the off-license was engulfed in flames; it also caused considerable damage to vehicles and other buildings in the vicinity. Railway Road was a scene of carnage and devastation, the mangled wreckage of the Cortina resting in the middle of the street, the bodies of the dead and injured lying in pools of blood amongst the fallen masonry and roof slates, shards of glass from blown-out windows blanketing the ground. Ambulance crews and firemen who arrived at the scene spoke of “utter confusion” with many people “wandering around in a state of severe shock“. Five minutes later, the second bomb exploded on the forecourt of Stuart’s Garage in Hanover Place. Although this explosion caused no injuries, it added to the panic and confusion caused by the first bomb. It also hindered the Emergency Services in their attempts to save the lives of the many seriously injured people on Railway Road. Undoubtedly this was the PIRA murder gang’s intention. Not content with causing horrific injuries, the unscrupulous killers seemed determined to hamper any effort to aid the wounded.

Only cowards murder pensioners, but what sort of people vote for such cowardly, murdering bastards?

Only cowards murder pensioners, but what sort of people vote for such cowardly, murdering bastards?

It has been alleged that no warning at all was given for the first bomb. This has led to speculation that the bombers intention was to draw people towards the bomb in Railway Road and inflict as many civilian casualties as possible. This would not be surprising given PIRA/Sinn Fein’s complete and total disregard for human life. Indeed, it would fit their modus operandi. The death toll would have been much, much higher had the bomb gone off just a few minutes later, when girls from a nearby school would have been leaving for home and walking along the street. In January 1974, a woman was acquitted of charges linked to the bombings. Her boyfriend however received an eight-year prison sentence for his part in the attacks, and the leader of the bomb team, 18-year-old Sean McGlinchey, was convicted of planting the Railway Road bomb. He was sentenced to just 18 years imprisonment in Long Kesh/The Maze. McGlinchey, the younger brother of former INLA ‘Chief of Staff‘ Dominic ‘Mad-Dog’ McGlinchey, later became a Sinn Fein councillor and, unbelievably, was elected mayor of Limavady in 2011. What sort of people go out and vote for a man that murdered six senior citizens? Throughout the conflict, the leadership of the Irish nationalist community (at that time mainly the SDLP) repeatedly gave assurances to their Protestant neighbours that the majority of Catholics and nationalists did not support the Provo death squads. Really? So then who’s voting for men like Sean McGlinchey? Ordinary, decent people in that community need to know, need to see, that every vote for Provisional Sinn Fein is a vote for those who murdered and maimed innocent women and children (or supported, aided and gave voice to those who did).

Birmingham Pub Bombings: Evil Beyond Belief 

Mention the Birmingham Pub Bombings to most people and the first thing many will say is “oh, the Birmingham Six“, to which the correct response should be, “no, the Birmingham Twenty-One”, for the focus should be on the twenty-one innocents slaughtered by Irish republican fanatics, not on the men wrongfully convicted of the crime! The Birmingham Six suffered an awful miscarriage of justice but it should never be forgotten that 21 people were murdered in cold blood, the majority of them under the age of 25.

On the 21st of November, 1974, a Provo bomb exploded inside the ‘Mulberry Bush’ pub. The bomb, containing 6lb of Gelignite and hidden inside a duffel-bag, went off at just after 8p.m. Ten people were killed and dozens wounded, many of them seriously. Police were attempting to clear the nearby ‘Tavern in the Town’ pub, on New Street, below King Edward House, when at 20:27 a second bomb exploded there, killing another eleven people and leaving many with appalling injuries. The bodies of the dead and injured were strewn about the ruined pub like ragdolls. The explosion was so powerful that several victims were blown through a brick wall into an area just below the main front entrance to King Edward House. Their bodies were wedged between the rubble and underground electric cables; it took hours for firemen to remove them. The scene was like something straight out of a horror film. The two devastated pubs were just 50yds apart. A third bomb had been left on nearby Hagley Road, but thankfully failed to explode.

A scene of devastation, Birmingham after the Provo's deadly bomb attacks.

A scene of devastation, Birmingham after the Provo’s deadly bomb attacks.

That PIRA/SF had set out that night to massacre innocent civilians is beyond question. However, I would also suggest a secondary, albeit subconscious, motivation. The Irish nationalist community, overlapping as it does with the Roman Catholic community, has always been deeply conservative in it’s attitudes. Despite the politically correct sound-bites of the nationalist/republican politicos, attitudes towards women, particularly young women, in that community have always been rather backwards and repressive. It is my contention that the real perpetrators of the Birmingham Pub Bombings, rather than being appalled by the deaths of so many young women, many of them just teenagers, would have , at least subconsciously, felt that those young English girls deserved their fate, for being out drinking and flirting with men, rather than being at home under the watchful eye of their fathers or brothers, as young women within the Irish nationalist community ‘back home‘ were expected to be, at least in those days. Like their friends in the Taliban or Hamas, the men of the Provisional IRA expected their women to do as they were told, be ‘seen and not heard’. I would argue that, deep down, the murderous scumbags that bombed those pubs were quietly pleased so many ‘English slags’ had been killed by their bomb. Perhaps I am completely wrong, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. The fact remains that PIRA/SF set out to murder as many civilians as they could. A final word about the Birmingham Six. PIRA/SF could have undermined those men’s convictions at any time. They could have ensured their convictions were overturned. Had the real bombers stepped forward, had they been big enough to take their punishment, those six innocent men would have walked free. To the Provos though, the Birmingham Six were expendable. They cared about their fate only marginally more than they cared about the fate of those they murdered and maimed.

The Second ‘Bloody Friday’

On Tuesday, 21st of January, 1975, the Provos set out to repeat the carnage and slaughter of ‘Bloody Friday’, that infamous day in July, 1972, when they had set off 26 bombs, killing eleven people and wounding 130 more. Now just two and a half years later, PIRA/Sinn Fein set out to do something similar. As the people of Belfast went about their daily routine, the Provo godfathers planned mass murder. Earlier that day they had sent out several young, misguided men to plant nine bombs across the city in crowded civilian areas. The intention was clear; to murder and maim as many innocent people as possible. Fortunately though, the Irish nationalist lunatic’s plans went awry. Two of the bombs were discovered and made safe by Army technical officers, the rest did explode but by some miracle no-one was injured. Details are sketchy but it seems that the RUC were vigilant and spotted some of the suspect vehicles containing the bombs, evacuating the areas in question before the bombs went off. Whatever the reason, vigilance or blind good fortune, the Provos were thwarted and many, many innocent lives were spared.

The people of Ulster had another slice of good luck that day. That morning two young republican thugs, John ‘Bap’ Kelly (26) and John Stone (23), had been dispatched towards Belfast city centre in a stolen car packed with explosives. No doubt instructed by their cowardly leaders to go out and ‘kill women and kids for Ireland’. The two would-be mass murderers set off, unaware that they were both about to pay for their actions with their lives. Just two more Irish republican gangsters who would die for nothing.

As the cowardly pair drove along Victoria Street, on the way to their intended target, the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely, killing them both instantly. As their mortal remains were being scraped off the public highway, the leaders of the Provo’s ‘D Company, 2nd Battalion‘ met to discuss the failure of their attempt at mass murder. They undoubtedly knew that people would die that day, killed at the hands of PIRA/Sinn Fein, just not their people. Their intention was to murder people out shopping, eating in restaurants and cafes, mothers pushing prams down the street. It had not been their intention to kill two of their own members. I only regret that the doomed vehicle in which Kelly and Stone died had not been a mini-bus load of Provos. Maybe the violent death of 20 of their own men would have focussed the minds of the Provisional leadership, just as the killing of entire PIRA ‘Active Service Units‘, in Loughgall at the hands of the S.A.S and in Cappagh at the hands of the Ulster Volunteer Force, had focussed the minds of the republican leadership in Mid-Ulster in the late 80s and early 90s.

Next Week: Part Three, The Murder of Ross McWhirter the ‘Dolphin Restaurant’ shootings and the Balcombe Street Gang

 

 

 

 

 

The Political Soul of Ulster Loyalism: Part Two

Epilogue

I am not going to go over old ground in the second part of this article. Part One is available for anyone who wishes to read it but hasn’t yet done so. In this, final, part of the article, I am going to examine how 30+ years of conflict changed Loyalism (and Loyalists). I will also address some other points I believe are pertinent to any thesis on Ulster Loyalism.

Loyalism: Forged in the Furnace of Conflict

The great philosopher Plato once said “necessity is the mother of invention”. Certainly in wartime, necessity can lead to all kinds of advances, in all sorts of disciplines. Humankind has proven itself adept at finding ever more efficient ways to kill, maim and destroy. But it is also worth noting that violent conflagration is often also a catalyst for political advancement. Hardened dogma seems to soften somewhat in the jaws of an especially deleterious military reverse. Ideologies seem to become less rigid when, after years of conflict, peace begins to look possible again. Of course, war can have exactly the opposite effect. Ideologies become even more entrenched. Specific issues become intractable. In such situations, the prospect of peace can become so remote that perpetual conflict actually begins to look, not just possible, but probable.

Fortunately for the people of Ulster, indeed for the people of the British Isles as a whole, ‘The Troubles’, as they are so euphemistically called, did not lead to a significant hardening of already fairly deeply entrenched positions. We (as a society) tend to forget the huge compromises that were involved in securing peace in this country. In fact it could be argued, and Irish republican dissidents would argue that, PIRA/Sinn Fein had to abandon some of the most fundamental principles of Irish republicanism, in order to get where they are today. Whether the Provisionals did this for selfish or altruistic motives, I will let you decide for yourselves. 

People also have a tendency to forget the role that Loyalism played in securing peace. Not just the work of the UDP and PUP in negotiating a settlement, but also the role of the UVF and Ulster Freedom Fighters in forcing violent Irish nationalism to the negotiating table in the first place. Would PIRA/Sinn Fein been willing to abandon ‘armed struggle’ in 1994 or 1998 had they not been thoroughly demoralised and fundamentally weakened by the Loyalist paramilitaries campaign of ‘selective assassination’ between 1988 and the declaration of the Loyalist ceasefire? In 1991 alone, Irish republican terrorist groups lost twelve of their personnel, killed by the UFF and UVF. By the mid-Nineties it had become all too apparent to (most) republicans that they could never hope to achieve any sort of military victory. ‘Armed struggle’ had become too costly, in terms of personnel, to continue for another 25 years. 

As the UFF and UVF intensified their campaign, PIRA/SF began to feel the strain of 25 years of killing.

As the UFF and UVF intensified their campaign, PIRA/SF began to feel the strain of 25 years of killing.

When the Conflict began in 1969/70, Ulster Loyalism was somewhat different than it is today. It was rather more unrefined. Perhaps even unsophisticated. Suddenly finding themselves in the midst of an intense conflict, verging on full blown civil war, Loyalists had to change their thinking, and their tactics. Necessity really did become the mother of invention. It was a very steep learning curve for all concerned. In my opinion, change within Loyalism was neither rapid enough, nor extensive enough. Too many young men and women within Loyalism seemed content to leave the political philosophising to a few individuals who seemed adept at it. Of course, in the middle of a bloody and bitter conflict, the priorities are somewhat different to what they would be in peacetime. In 1973, or 77, or even 91, Loyalism needed ‘triggermen’ and skilled bomb makers more than it needed fast talking politicos or articulate, well dressed spokesmen. The transition from making war to making peace was a difficult one, though no more difficult than the move from peace to war had been 25 years previously. Conflict had irrevocably altered Ulster Loyalism. It had strengthened it. ‘The Troubles’ forged Loyalism, moulding it into a stronger, more streamlined entity, but an entity that was also much more flexible. If Irish nationalist extremists had hoped that years of violence and bloodshed would destroy Loyalism, they were to be very, very badly disappointed.

The Role of ex-POWs Within Loyalism

Former POWs are the driving force of contemporary Loyalism. The men and women who felt motivated enough to take up arms in defence of their country and their community are today the men and women who form the backbone of many community projects, and also the backbone of the PUP and UPRG. They have learned, often from bitter personal experience, that change can only be facilitated when there is someone prepared to raise their head above the parapet and become a force for change. If you want to improve things for your family, your neighbours, your community, then action is required. A fact that ex-POWs know only too well.

The ‘Enemies of Ulster‘, in a desperate attempt to bestow legitimacy on their own ’cause’, seek to undermine the legitimacy of Loyalism by stereotyping (they’re rather fond of that) former Loyalist POWs. They insist that whilst Irish nationalist prisoners were “hitting the books“, Loyalist POWs were lifting weights and reading comics. Strange then that more Loyalists than republicans left Long Kesh (Armagh and Magilligan) with degrees and other 3rd level qualifications. These sheep like detractors also fail to explain what, according to them, Loyalist POWs were doing for the 20 odd years before gym equipment was available in Ulster’s prisons! They also conveniently overlook the fact that some of Loyalism’s most articulate, erudite and meditative representatives, people like Ray Smallwoods and David Ervine, received their political education in Long Kesh. Sometimes it is better simply to laugh at the intellectual impairment of certain Irish republicans and their ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ view of the world, sometimes though, it is worth taking the few minutes required to shoot down their venomous, deluded, historical revisionism.

Loyalist POWs at reveille in Long Kesh.

Loyalist POWs at reveille in Long Kesh.

Loyalist Adaptiveness 

Northern Ireland’s future will be radically different to that which we imagine. Society is changing rapidly. Technology is changing and advancing at a rate that is barely comprehensible. In the next ten to twenty years, the world will face challenges that we cannot comprehend. Nations, societies and communities will continue to evolve and change. Political and religious doctrines will also have to evolve, or die. Loyalism needs to be able to adapt and evolve, to meet the challenges of the future. Ulster Loyalism cannot allow itself to become a single issue ideology. 

Thankfully, in the past, Loyalism has demonstrated amazing adaptiveness and willingness to change. Loyalists, in general, have always been a pragmatic lot. We will probably need that trait more and more in the next few decades. As nationalism (worldwide) begins to fade and die, or change into something unrecognisable, there will be those who react violently. When it finally hits home that technological and societal advances are making nationalist doctrines obsolete, there will be those who wish to reverse the tide, so to speak. No doubt they will employ violence to try to achieve that end. Loyalism must learn from the mistakes of others. We must watch what unfolds very carefully. Irish nationalism will not “go quietly into the night”. Personally, I think that Irish nationalism/republicanism will adapt also. Morphing into some form of ‘Diet Nationalism’, a sort of ‘Nationalism Lite’. We Loyalists need to watch what way the wind is blowing, we need to look ahead, not 5 or 10 years but 25 or 50. As the world around us changes we must be careful not to let anyone pull the rug from under us!

Loyalism as an Export?

Can Loyalism be exported internationally? I would say yes, absolutely. Ulster Loyalism, as a political ideology, is hugely positive. The sense of patriotism, not based upon ethnic or racial make up, but rather on a sense of commonality. The emphasis on community action and self reliance. The core value of civil and religious liberty for all. What would preclude anyone, in any country, from subscribing to such principles? Of course, any theoretical Loyalist movement outside of the British Isles would have it’s own uniqueness, it’s own peculiarities. But I can see nothing which would preclude Loyalism from being exported abroad. Many people view Ulster Loyalism as a sort of a default position, or simply as a way of describing the working class element of Unionism. That is hokum. Loyalism is a political theorem, an ideology. One which is growing and evolving everyday. Loyalism, in terms of definitions, is no different to any other ‘ism’. 

Certain ‘ism’s are internationalist at their core. Anarchism, Marxism and Trotskyism for example. Others have a more ethnocentric foundation. Ba’athism, for example, in Syria and (formerly) Iraq. Others (Conservatism, Liberalism etc) are international without being internationalist. That is, they are found in many nations but are, in and of themselves, not internationalist in outlook. There is no reason whatsoever why Loyalism would not fall into that category. Less insular than nationalism, less self serving than Conservatism, less impractical than Marxism, Loyalism could provide an interesting political alternative in many countries where politics have become stale and the electorate disinterested and apathetical.

What We Have, We Hold!

In the first part of this article I described how Loyalism needed only to maintain the status quo in order to have ‘won’. It could be argued that the Loyalist people’s greatest victory came with the establishment of the State of Northern Ireland in 1921. To ensure that that state was not destroyed by force of arms, Loyalists (and Unionists) sacrificed life and liberty, safety and comfort. Many have died, been injured, been forever altered, to ensure the continued freedom and equal citizenship of our children and our children’s children. We, as Ulster Loyalists, will continue to maintain our “cherished position” within the British Family of Nations. We, as Ulster Loyalists, will continue to pledge ourselves to defend our native land. We should look forward to the future with confidence. We should redouble our efforts to improve our communities. We must never forget our past, but neither should we allow ourselves to be held prisoner by it.

The “Constitutional Issue” has been decided for a generation. Ulster’s position within the Union is secure. Now we must strive to ensure that Irish nationalism does not succeed in creating a form of cultural Apartheid in Northern Ireland. We must win the cultural war, not with violence, not with the tactics of the past, but with new stratagems and new tactics. We have allowed Irish nationalism to choose the battlefield, that was a grave error. We must now seek to outflank them. To do the unexpected. If we are unsuccessful, if we lose this cultural war, PIRA/Sinn Fein will embark on a campaign of cultural genocide. They will erase anything they deem ‘un-Irish’ from the cultural landscape of Ulster. If such a cultural genocide were to succeed, physical genocide would not be far behind. I would not be surprised if the chilling words of Nazi mass murderer, Adolf Eichmann, were not displayed somewhere in Sinn Fein HQ- “To destroy a people, you must first destroy their past”. That quote seems to describe the Irish republican ethos rather well, and of course, we all know who Sinn Fein and the IRA sided with during World War II.

Sinn Fein would like the world to forget their support of Hitler and the Nazis!

Sinn Fein would like the world to forget their support of Hitler and the Nazis!

You Refuse To Hear Our Voice

The poisonous Ulster media. The Parades Commission. The PSNI. The Stormont Executive. The UK government. You refuse to hear our voice. You have excluded us, you have pushed us down, you have left us to rot in some of the worst social deprivation in Western Europe. You have denied us our very culture, language and traditions. You, who should be impartial, who should be balanced and fair. You have slandered us, defamed us and condemned us. You have treated us as if we were less than human, but we will not just wither and die. We exist. We have the same rights and liberties as every other freeborn human being and we intend to start exercising them. You will not keep us down. You will not deny us. You will be made answerable for your actions. 

The Loyalist people of Ulster have endured worse than you. Whatever your agenda, whatever your motivation, you will not succeed in destroying us. No-warning bombs did not destroy us. Republican bullets did not destroy us. Bloody Friday did not destroy us. We are a resolute and determined people. A people bristling with indignation at the injustices and inequities perpetrated against us. You have sown the wind, now you will reap the whirlwind. Loyalism is resurgent. You refuse to hear our voice, we will find a louder voice, if you still refuse to hear, we will find another way to be heard!

The People Are Our Greatest Resource

Loyalism relies on the support of the people. Even if some choose not to engage in political or cultural activity themselves, their support is still invaluable. As the great Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap once said “We [the Viet Cong and NVA] are like fish and the people are the waters in which we swim”. Loyalism is also motivated by the people. It is a populist ideology. We must win more recruits for our cause, convince more and more people to take a stand for liberty and equality. We must renew our resolve and step forward, unblinking, into the uncertain future. We should do so as one. Shoulder to shoulder. United as a single mass of ordinary people, determined to change our country and our communities for the better.

“Not Gold But Only Men Can Make, a Nation Great & Strong, Men Who, For Truth & Honour’s Sake, Stand Fast & Suffer Long. Men Who Work Whilst Others Sleep, Who Dare When Others Shy, They Build a Nation’s Pillars Deep & Lift Them Towards The Sky”

 

 

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!