Ulster politics

PIRA/SINN FEIN: A MOVEMENT WITHOUT MORALS (PART 10)

PART TEN
By 1993 the Provo leadership was slowly coming to the realisation that the so-called “Armed Struggle” would never bring Ulster to its knees. Years of bombing and murder had not forced any real concessions from the British government nor had it broken the will of the people. Loyalist resistance groups- namely the UVF and Ulster Freedom Fighters- were carrying out more and more audacious and brazen attacks. The previous two years had been particularly successful ones for the Loyalist paramilitaries. PIRA/SF had lost a number of high profile activists and many more had been wounded or left psychologically scarred. Sinn Fein ‘Advice Centres’ had become frequent targets of UVF bombers and the UFF’s ‘Rocket Team’, a specially selected group of volunteers armed with RPG-7s.

UVF volunteers pose with an assortment of weapons, including an RPG. 

With much of their terrorist activity curtailed by the actions of the UFF and UVF, and with more and more of their NI based members devoting more and more of their time and energy to try to retaliate against- and keep themselves safe from- the Loyalist groups, PIRA/Sinn Fein took the decision to concentrate their efforts on the British Mainland. Some within the senior ranks of the Provos had been advocating a renewed bombing campaign in England for some time. Believing that such a campaign would finally bring some sort of victory. Even though behind the scenes, the SDLP and senior figures within the Roman Catholic Church had been tentatively discussing the prospect of a ceasefire with PIRA/Sinn Fein, and even though there were those within Provo ranks who appeared to genuinely desire peace, there was still a strong element which argued that a Mainland bombing campaign could, and would, rejuvenate the so-called “Armed Struggle” and bring the fevered desires of rabid Irish nationalists a step closer to realisation.

Indiscriminate Violence

On Friday, the 26th of February, 1993, a PIRA bomb gang exploded three devices at a gasworks near the town of Warrington, Cheshire. The bombs caused extensive damage but no injuries. Whilst fleeing the scene, the bombers shot and injured a police officer and two of them were then caught after a high-speed pursuit. Less than a month later the Provo bombers were back, though this time they were out for blood. On Saturday, the 20th of March, as the people of Warrington went about their daily business, PIRA/Sinn Fein plotted mass murder. Two bombs, hidden in litter bins, exploded on Bridge Street, a busy shopping area. The two devices had been placed less than 100yds apart, one outside McDonalds, the other outside Argos. The blasts happened within a minute of each other. Eye-witnesses reported how “the first explosion drove panicking shoppers into the path of the next blast just seconds later“. A brutal and cynical tactic used many times by the bloodthirsty Provos. It was later found that the bombs had been deliberately placed inside cast-iron litter bins, causing huge amounts of shrapnel to fly out in all directions, causing maximum death and serious injury. Buses were organized to ferry people away from the scene and 20 paramedics and crews from 17 ambulances were sent to deal with the terrible aftermath.

Three-year-old Johnathan Ball died at the scene. He had been in town with his babysitter. The second victim was 12-year-old Tim Parry, who received the full force of the blast and suffered terrible injuries. He died on the 25th of March, 1993, when doctors switched his life support machine off, having asked permission to do so from his family, after tests had found minimal brain activity. Fifty-four other people were injured, including a dozen children and two pregnant women. A piece on BBC North West’s ‘Inside Out’ programme in September, 2013, speculated that the bombing may have been the work of a “rogue” PIRA gang, which was supported by the Provos but operated independently and was driven by a warped, extreme Left-Wing ideology. This murder gang reportedly used operatives who were from England to avoid suspicion. The programme suggested, but provided no evidence, that those who planted the bombs were members of the Marxist-Leninist group ‘Red Action’.

Tim Parry, age 12, and Jonathan Ball, age 3. Innocent victims of psychotic Irish republican gangsters 

More Bombs- More Tragedy
Despite the international outrage at the deaths of two children in Warrington, PIRA/SF continued to attack civilian targets in England. On the 23rd of April they bombed a fuel storage depot in North Shields, near Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. On Saturday, the 24th of April the Provos detonated a massive bomb, containing more than a ton of home-made explosives, at Bishopgsate, London. Photographer Ed Henty was killed and 44 others wounded. The bomb caused extensive damage and extended as far north as Liverpool Street station. On the 12th of May, the city of Oxford became the Provos next target. They detonated a device in an area popular with students but the device only partially exploded and no-one was injured.

The Provos then decided, for reasons unknown, to target England’s seaside towns. In August they targeted Bournemouth, detonating a number of crude fire-bombs in shops in the town and also targeting the pier. Brighton was next, though fortunately the 4 devices left by the incompetent PIRA gang all failed to explode. On the 4th of October PIRA/SF once again turned their attention back to London. Five bombs, all placed in crowded civilian areas, exploded injuring five people, the youngest of whom was just 8 years old. More innocent people would have died but for the fact that, for some reason, timer units being used by the terror gangs seemed to be defective and devices were only partially exploding.

The Shankill Bombing: Sectarian Slaughter
The Shankill Road in west Belfast has long been regarded as one of the spiritual homes of Ulster Loyalism. Alongside Dan Winter’s cottage and the walled city of Londonderry, the Shankill Road has become something of an iconic location for Loyalists and Unionists. The ‘Road’, with its close-knit community and spirit of defiance had become a powerful symbol of Ulster Loyalist resilience. On Saturday, the 23rd of October, 1993, PIRA/Sinn Fein visited carnage on the people of the Shankill. Coldly, calculatedly and deliberately. The Irish republican gangsters unleashed terror onto the entire Unionist/Loyalist people and, as a direct result of their murderous actions, onto their own community as well.

Two PIRA members, Sean Kelly and Thomas ‘Bootsy’ Begley were dispatched on a mission of mass-murder. Unbeknownst to Kelly and Begley, the Provo godfathers had intended it to be a suicide mission. Kelly was 21 years-old, Begley was slightly older but had been described at secondary school as being “educationally sub-normal” and was functionally illiterate. The two hapless goons were bundled into a stolen Ford Escort car, handed a five pound bomb with a 7 second fuse and told to place the bomb on the counter of Frizzell’s Fish Shop on the Lower Shankill and “run like Hell”.

The alleged target was a supposed meeting of the UDA’s ‘Inner Council’ (the collective leadership of that organisation) which was taking place in an upstairs room. Irish nationalists/republicans claim the bomb was designed to kill Johnny Adair and the entire leadership of the Ulster Freedom Fighters. That myth, presented as truth by, among others, Wikipedia and the CAIN Index of Deaths, is a deliberate and cruel lie! It is also stretching credulity to breaking point. How can anyone expect there not to be civilian casualties when a bomb with a seven second fuse (or an 11 second fuse, or even a 30 second fuse) is placed in a busy shop, in the middle of a street packed with innocent people? What kind of hate-filled imbecile really believes that everybody in that fish shop, in adjacent shops and walking past outside, could put a safe distance between themselves and the bomb blast in just a few seconds? What kind of terrorist masterminds send two gluesniffers, one of them (Kelly) a petty thief and joyrider, the other (Begley) an illiterate man-child with learning difficulties, on a hugely important (if the Irish republican narrative is to be believed) mission to destroy the HQ of your most bitter enemy and obliterate their leadership in the process? Surely such an allegedly vital mission would have been undertaken by much more experienced and senior members of the Provisional IRA? How can a device with a 7 second fuse “explode prematurely“? But that’s just it, nobody does seriously believe it. Those who trot out that despicable, callous, filthy lie do so in the full knowledge that it is absolute garbage. It is designed to divert blame and absolve the perpetrators of their guilt. The Provo godfathers knew full well that they were unleashing sectarian slaughter on the Shankill, that was their objective, and that is why, rather than sending hardened and competent terrorists they sent two utterly expendable, completely ignorant young thugs. If Adair or other senior members of the UDA/UFF were killed alongside the civilian dead, then in their eyes- “so much the better“- for the deaths of any Loyalist activist would, no doubt, be used as pathetic justification for a cowardly and sickening attack.

“They Were Bringing Out Limbs in Plastic Bags”

The Shankill Road was devastated by the PIRA bomb. The whole road was covered by a thick layer of dust. Acrid smoke rose into the air. Local men formed a human chain to remove debris from the wrecked and partially demolished fish shop. The first thing many of the desperate rescuers saw was a mangled pram, sticking out from under the rubble. Tiles, bricks and pieces of wood were falling from what remained of the shattered building but nobody was deterred. They disregarded their own safety to search for survivors. There were a number of girls trapped in a hair salon above one of the adjoining shops and rescuers were faced with the dilemma of whether to try and get them out first, or to try to help people on the ground until the emergency services arrived.

Seven year old Michelle Baird, youngest victim of the Shankill bomb outrage. 

As the rescue operation continued, a huge crack appeared in the wall of a nearby building, sparking fears that more buildings would collapse, killing and maiming even more people. One local man later spoke of how severed human limbs were carried away from the scene “in plastic bags“. In total 9 people were murdered on the Shankill that day. Provo killer Thomas Begley was also killed. More than 50 people were wounded, many of them women and children. Some of them suffered horrific injuries that still limit their lives to this day.

A Heavy Price

In the wake of the sectarian carnage on the Shankill, the UFF issued a chilling statement warning that “Gerry Adams, John Hume and the entire nationalist electorate will pay a heavy price” for the attack and also stating that “all units” had been placed in a state of readiness. Ulster held it’s breath, waiting for the inevitable retribution. Two days later the UVF shot and killed two men- Sean Fox, an elderly man killed at his home in Glengormley and Martin Moran (22), an alleged republican activist shot dead as he delivered take-aways in the Donegall Pass area of Belfast. The following day, the 26th of October, an ASU from the UFF’s 2nd battalion, C’ company, opened fire at a Belfast City Council depot in Andersonstown, killing two council workers. Meanwhile, the Mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF shot and killed the Cairns brothers at their home near Lurgan. As bad as these ‘tit-for-tat’ killings had been, worse was yet to come. On the night of the 30th October, two UFF volunteers entered the ‘Rising Sun‘ bar in Greysteel, an exclusively Irish nationalist village a few miles from the city of Londonderry. The two gunmen opened fire, killing 8 people.

Northern Ireland was on the edge of an abyss. PIRA/SF had unleashed unbridaled carnage on the Loyalist/Unionist community, the UFF and UVF responded in kind.

The Downing Street Declaration 

On Wednesday, the 15th of December, 1993, the Prime Minister, John Major and the Irish Taioseach, Albert Reynolds, delivered the Downing Street Declaration, affirming both the right of the people of Ulster to self-determination, and the concept of consent, i.e.- that there could be no change to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland unless a clear majority of the population advocated such a change and thereafter voted to that effect in a referendum. It also included, as part of the prospective of the so-called “Irish dimension“, the principle that the people of the “island of Ireland”, had the exclusive right to solve the issues between Ulster and Éire. It is the latter statement that provided PIRA/SF with a “way out”. The joint declaration had pledged the British and Irish governments to seek a peaceful constitutional settlement, and promised that parties linked to armed groups, such as Sinn Féin, could take part in the talks, provided that they abandoned violence.


Contrary to recent historical revisionism, the 1993 Downing Street Declaration was not universally well received by Irish nationalists and republicans. 

Irish nationalism now had an opportunity to completely abandon their rapidly failing military campaign, without losing control of their core constituency, and without the humiliation of having to quietly slink away back into the shadows without a single concession to show for 25 years of murder, destruction and atrocity. Messrs Major and Reynolds had just provided PIRA/SF with an opportunity for “peace with honour“. The Provos were neither foolish enough, nor suicidal enough, to reject the “exit strategy” that had just been handed to them on a silver plater. Any ethically minded organisation, any group sincerely interested in the well being of their community, would’ve begun the transition from war to peace immediately, but Provisional IRA/Sinn Féin are neither. Better, at least for them if not for their community, to carry on killing and maiming, whilst at the same time negotiating. It would seem that for the Provo godfathers “war/jaw” was preferable to either “war/warorjaw/jaw“. 

1994: New year, same old nightmare 

As 1994 dawned a few in Northern Ireland dared to hope for peace, but for many that peace seemed as far away as ever. In December of the previous year the Provisional IRA and the Ulster Freedom Fighters had continued the killing, and the UFF continued to plan for a renewed bombing campaign against Irish republican targets in the Irish Republic. In the first three months of ’94 ten people were killed, half by Loyalist groups, half by republicans. Amongst the dead was former INLA warlord Dominic McGlinchey, shot dead as he stood in a telephone box in Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Very few people, anywhere in the British Isles, were aware of the intricate politicking that was inching PIRA/SF, painfully slowly, towards peace. As Winter turned once more to Spring, the violence that had blighted Ulster since 1969 continued. Inside the “republican movement” however, the uncomfortable truth that the Provos were a razor’s edge from military defeat, not by the “Crown Forces” but by the Combined Loyalist Military Command, had become an accepted fact. The so-called “armed struggle” could not be maintained in the face of constant and brutal pressure from the UVF and the Ulster Freedom Fighters. In the wake of the Downing Street Declaration and the United States’ allowing Gerry Adams to enter the country, apparently to seek the counsel of some of the terrorists more senior financial backers, the Provo leadership seems to have come to the obvious conclusion that “the war” was lost. Their only realistic option was the abandonment of their much vaunted “armed struggle“, and with it a significant portion of traditional republican precepts, negotiating a settlement with their sworn enemies and accepting the existence of the Northern Ireland state. Such a defeat had been unthinkable just a few years previously and their were many PIRA activists who would never acquiesce to a “partitionist settlement” or a “return to Stormont“, but Adams and McGuinness felt confident that they could secure enough support to at least claim that they spoke for the majority of their mafia like organisation. Peace was on the horizon, but the murder gangs of the Provisional IRA had not completely satisfied their bloodlust, not yet. They had a few more innocents to slaughter first!


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Stuck In The Middle With Who?

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you. So the song goes (Stealers Wheel if I recall). I had asked my twitter followers what this blog article should be about. I had asked them to vote; Irish anti-semitism or the sectarianism of the PIRA murder campaign. They voted for the latter. Today though, I’m not going to write about either of those subjects. As serious and worthy of study as they are, I’ve decided instead to vent my spleen a little. After all, blogging is supposed to be cathartic. A way of letting off steam. So today I’m going to write about a group of people that (rightly) receive little attention from those who study, write about and analyse ‘The Troubles’. A group of people that have, in the last 2-3 years suddenly become very vocal and very opinionated. I would describe these people as the middle class but that would be unfair to middle class Unionists and nationalists, so I will instead use the term ‘pseudo liberals’ to describe this small, spiteful, cowering clique.

These pseudo liberals (or rather their parents) used money, privilege and the artificial social construct of ‘class’ to insulate themselves from the ravages of war. When Ulster burned around them, they sheltered in the leafy suburbs. They exempted themselves from the Conflict, yet were (and are) only too eager to offer their half-baked opinions and ill conceived ideas about how that conflict should be brought to a close. Politically and personally, they invested little or nothing in the communities on either side of ‘the divide’. Their motto, if they had one, would surely be ‘sod you Jack if I’m alright’. In terms of the history of The Troubles, they are an irrelevance, not even worthy of a footnote in the multiplicity of books written on the subject. In terms of the present however, as these pseudo liberals, emboldened by years of relative peace, suddenly find their voice (and a shrill, hectoring voice it is too), they are, at least, worthy of some study, albeit a brief and cursory one.

The Price of Everything, The Value of Nothing

The pseudo liberals of Cultra and the Malone Road (for example) do not think like ordinary Ulster punters. They think only in terms of money. For them, money is a sort of ‘cure all’. A wonderful remedy for all of life’s ills. For them money brings, not only happiness, but social standing, respect and a feeling of superiority too. The pseudo liberal looks down upon the ordinary mortal. Snubs their nose at the ‘spides’ and the ‘chavs’. In the mind of this repellent clique, such people shouldn’t be allowed out of their ghettoes. The pseudo liberal, faux intellectual, why-can’t-we-all-just-join-hands-and-sing-Kum-by-ya set cannot see the quiet dignity of the working class. Just as some maintain that might is always right, so the pseudo liberals maintain that money is always right. Not that they would ever admit to such a thing mind you. Oh no, the pseudo liberal will always think of themselves as a friend to the poor, unfortunate, vulgar ‘spide’, in much the same way as Colonial missionaries thought themselves to be the friend of the ‘savage’. Indeed, had some pseudo liberal ‘wit’ not coined the term ‘spide’, I’m pretty sure that ‘savage’ is what the spineless wonders would call us working class oiks.

"Eh, no thanks pal. We don't want your 'civilization'. The one we got works just fine"

Civilisation you say? No thanks, we’ve already got one”

Bad enough for people to harbour such elitist, petty bourgeoisie views in private. The pseudo liberal however, was not content with that, they had to make their twisted Weltanschauung, their malicious outlook on life, known to everyone. Well, everyone who uses social media in Northern Ireland. In 2012 the flag protesters stole Christmas, at least according to the pseudo liberals. Therefore, in their silly wee heads, the flag protesters ought to be vilified, lampooned, ‘satirised’ and attacked at every turn, on a daily basis, for the foreseeable future. And that is exactly what they have done. Every single day. Ad nauseum. At first Irish nationalists/republicans thought they had found a friend, somebody (actually a small cabal of people) who loathed and despised the pro-Union community as much as they do. Sadly for them, they were soon disappointed, for although the online anoraks hate Loyalism with a rare intensity, they seem unwilling to wholeheartedly embrace the tenets of Irish expansionism (for now at least). The reason for the pseudo liberal hatred of Ulster Loyalism and working class Unionism? The answer is simple…

"Changing society" one c**t 'joke' at a time!

“Changing society” one c**t ‘joke’ at a time!

Fear and Loathing in Helen’s Bay

(May Hunter S. Thompson have mercy upon my soul)

The pseudo liberal is one of nature’s true cowards. If Northern Ireland society was an ocean, the pseudo liberal would be it’s jellyfish. A nasty little sting but absolutely no backbone! The use of violence for political ends is an alien concept to them. Many would consider that a virtue, I consider it a contemptible vice, an irrational aversion to the realities of a cruel and inherently violent world. Politically motivated violence is not always wrong. Indeed, in certain situations, and at certain times, it is the only realistic option. During The Troubles, the pseudo liberal clique failed to see the big picture. Loyalists faced annihilation, extermination, at the hands of an enemy that, at times, seemed wholly psychotic. Violence, or rather, counter violence, became absolutely necessary. The Ulster-Scots people were fighting for their very survival. The pseudo liberal though saw only the detail, never the whole picture, and thus the handwringing and condemnation began.

To those safely cocooned in their mock Tudor villas and turnkey townhouses it must have seemed like their ‘social inferiors’ would tear Northern Ireland apart, and at any moment, rise up out of their sink estates and terraced streets, seize power or trigger a lengthy, all out, no holds barred, civil war. For these people, with their pseudo liberal sensibilities and their unrealistic political outlook, the Ulster Conflict was an inconvenience. A terrible, bloody sideshow. As long as the bombers and the trigger-men stayed out of their cosy little affluent enclaves, they couldn’t care less about who was winning or who was losing. They did not pay the price of failed security policy in blood. Their homes were never ransacked by the RUC, or damaged by republican bombs, the bars they frequented were never bombed or riddled with machine-gun fire. Money gave them distance from it all. Not distance as measured in meters or miles but distance nonetheless.

To the pseudo liberal, Loyalists were no better than the Provisionals. Today they will often recite the mantra of ‘both sides were as bad as each other’. Really? Because in my book murdering babies is a lot worse than killing a grown man. Let’s not forget though, the pseudo liberal doesn’t think like the rest of us ‘plebs’. To them it’s all the same. Mainly because it was happening to someone else. Anyway, somehow, somewhere down the line, the pseudo liberals came to hate Loyalists (and to a lesser extent ‘mainstream’ Unionists) with a passion. Maybe Mummy and Daddy were detained briefly at a UDA roadblock during the UWC strike. Maybe Daddy and wee Jonathan/Tarquin/Joshua missed the rugby two weeks running because of the Drumcree crisis in ’95. Who knows? What is obvious though is that the hatred runs deep. Today, in the mind of the pseudo liberal, Loyalists are worse even than the republican mad men who bombed and murdered, mostly it seems, simply for the pleasure of bombing and murdering. My own pet theory is that the hatred of Loyalists stems from pure fear. Undoubtedly the cowering, snivelling pseudo liberal fears republicans too, but Loyalism would have been, simply due to geography and demographics, a little closer to home. More familiar, and thus in a sense, more real? It is a curious quirk of human psychology that it is easier, more internally acceptable, to hate that with which you are more familiar. Maybe. Or maybe some (or most) of the middle-of-the-road brigade really do desire a unitary all-island state. That would at least explain their irrational hostility towards Loyalists, (and their moronic obsession with the Ireland rugby team!)

An Impotent Minority

The ‘two communities’ in contemporary Northern Ireland have reached an uneasy kind of plurality, no one ‘side’ can realistic hope to dominate (or obliterate) the other. There are however, still many minorities in the ‘new’ NI. Ethnic minorities, so-called Dissident republicans (who ironically have not deviated from republicanism’s stated principles as PSF has), religious minorities (such as the fast growing Mormon community) and, of course, the pseudo liberals. I sometimes wonder if minority groups, in any setting, feel a sense of impotence. A powerlessness that they can do little to change. In the case of the pseudo liberals, I am convinced that this is the case. Perhaps uniquely though, the pseudo liberal minority does have an infinitesimally small chance of overcoming that powerlessness. The pseudo liberals do not have to get the majority to change religion or somehow magically change their ethnicity, they just have to get the majority to change their outlook, their politics, and get the population to think like them. It’s a forlorn hope. It is impractical and outlandish, but still, it would seem that it’s a pipedream that is being actively pursued by a small number of pseudo liberal ‘clicktivists’, who naively believe that internet trolling and outright stalking can “change society here” (a direct quote). If nothing else, one must admire their sheer bloody-minded optimism, as misplaced and flagrantly unrealistic as it is.

Most within the ranks of the pseudo liberals however know that there is no possibility of turning the majority of people here into clones of themselves. They are, at least, realistic. For them, the sense of impotence must be palpable. No doubt some of them put it to the back of their minds. Play golf or drink chablis instead. Others get angry and frustrated, taking to social media to berate and sanctimoniously lecture others. Then there are those pseudo liberals who decide that they can not only launch malicious online assaults on Loyalists and Unionists, but also sneakily make a few pounds as well. Though maybe someone should have explained copyright law and intellectual property rights to them beforehand!

“Someone Has To Make The Coffee”

Much to the chagrin of pseudo liberals they do not really have any credible political voice. The lamentable Alliance Party of Northern Ireland being the closest thing they have to political representation. The pseudo liberal’s feelings of powerlessness must have reached an apex during the negotiations that led to the signing of the Belfast Agreement in 1998. One would have thought that ‘The Agreement’ would have been a time for rejoicing in the cloistered suburbs and cul-de-sacs that the pseudo liberals call home, but no. Pseudo liberals, with their inflated sense of self worth and their utter contempt for the ‘riff raff’ (especially Loyalist riff raff) couldn’t quite bring themselves to celebrate. Yes, no doubt, they were delighted at the prospect of peace and so-called ‘normality’ (as most people were) but why, oh why, did that lovely Mr Blair have to include those Loyalist ruffians at the talks? The presence of Provisional Sinn Fein they could just about handle but the fact that ‘low-downs’ and ‘spides’ like the Ulster Democratic Party and the Progressive Unionist Party were playing an active (and vital) role in deciding the future of Ulster must surely have been too much for them to bear. They failed to recognise (as evidenced by contemporaneous online rants) that it was armed Loyalism that had forced PIRA/SF to the talks table. They refused to see Loyalists as anything more than thugs and cornerboys. Oh how they must have fumed when they watched the national news and saw Secretary of State Mo Mowlam, go cap in hand into Long Kesh, giving assurances to the Loyalist POWs, in order to obtain their support (which they had recently withdrawn) for the ‘Peace Process’. Oh how their bile must’ve risen every time they switched on the TV and saw Gary McMichael, David Ervine, Davy Adams et al, strutting confidently in or out of Parliament buildings.

"Oh Mummy, that terribly common little man is on our TV again"

David Ervine MLA

I am reminded of an amusing anecdote from that time. An off the cuff remark that illustrates just how irrelevant the pseudo liberal minority really is. A reporter asked a member of the Loyalist negotiating team what he thought of the Alliance Party’s input into the talks, completely deadpan he replied “Well, someone has to make the coffee”. That rather nicely sums things up. Alliance, the only real voice the pseudo liberals have ever had (ignoring the farce that was NI21 of course) were only in the room to make up the numbers. They couldn’t be excluded because they had a mandate, though who would vote for the likes of Davy Ford I’ll never know, but they were never considered serious players in the political process. At the time, everybody knew who the big players were, and aside from the UUP and the SDLP (Europe’s only right-wing Social Democrats) the ‘big players’ were the parties that spoke for the ‘men of violence’. Something which sticks in the craw of the pseudo liberals even now. The fact of the matter is, it was down to those who had made war to make the peace. Loyalism had made war very effectively, Loyalism had forced the Provisional republican movement to the talks table. Loyalists have a lot to be proud of. Pseudo liberals have nothing. For to have something to be proud of, or indeed ashamed of, one must first do something. The pseudo liberals of course, are renowned for doing nothing, aside perhaps, from bellyaching and complaining. My message to them is simple: You are powerless and irrelevant. Criticise Loyalists all you want, free speech is something Loyalists cherish after all. Keep bitching and moaning. Sit in your nice house, mortgaged to the hilt, dishing out sarcasm and self righteous dogma. Better still, do what your parents did throughout the Conflict, absolutely sweet f**k all.

‘The Troubles’ were fought by the working classes. Peace, as flawed and unjust and fragile as it is, was brought about by the working classes, the ‘spides’, the riff raff. The people you so despise. It was us, the nobodies, the ‘scroungers’, that determined the future of Ulster and we still determine it. You, pseudo liberals, will never know what that feels like, because you are political and moral cowards. Figuratively speaking, you crawled under the duvet in 1969 and have only recently found the courage to re-emerge.

“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox