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)
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
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.
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.
“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.
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
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?
“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”
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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!