UNIONIST CYNICISM IS WORKED INTO STRATEGY
The bigots – unionist politicians and loyal order spokesmen say – are the critics, not the bandsmen and never the marchers. It wouldn’t convince a child, particularly not a child whose earliest days at school have to be guarded by police.
AFTER the distress and ugliness of Holy Cross 12 years ago, this was surely a sight few could imagine anyone wanted to recreate. North Belfast had enough woe this summer, before police arrived on Monday morning to guard children on their way to school.
Better not build tension, though, by lending credence to a mangy old fiction. Whoever made those phone threats – let’s remember that the ‘Red Hand Defenders’ emerged in the first place as the flimsiest of fake titles – few if any credited this a new grouping, separate from the UDA. The flag of see-through convenience brandished cynically over Rosemary Nelson‘s blown-up car gave the big-name paramilitaries cover, if only for the benefit of Northern Ireland office record-keepers and in their own minds, when they issued the limp denials while talking up their commitment to peace. Today’s unionists and loyalists have worked up cynicism into a strategy of sorts, limited but stubborn. Some came out and disowned the school threats. But why would anyone take them seriously after a summer’s tap-dancing around and away from rresponsibility? From leadership level down to party activist, unionist politicians who used to routinely and reflexively object, furiously to being accused of sectarianism, now use the word as a weapon. They throw in ‘intolerance’ and the ccomparatively recent discovery of a ‘culture war‘ to attempt to dismiss and belittle Republican and nationalist objections to marches, to swat away criticism of bands blattering their way past St Patrick‘s. What is truely sectarian, unionists insisists, is the critisism, not Orange or Black or Apprentice Boy or band behaviour. The bigots – unionist politicians and loyal order spokesmen say – are the critics, not the bandsmen and never the marchers. It wouldn’t convince a child, particularly not a child whose eariliest days at school have to be guarded by police. It cannont possibly convince many unionists at a greatful distence from North Belfast, and by all accounts it doesn’t even fly with Orangemen elsewhere. But too few have come right out this summer and said this is shocking stuff. Nice new NI21 and senior clergy got round to it eventually but there was no immediate chorus of disgust.
t is just too hard for Protestants to critcise elements in their own community – hard in terms of threats and ostracism, harder on their families. Watch what hapens to the Alliance vote next time out, particularly in East Belfast. Note the swithering of unionist commentators, trying to disown the entire marching season, unable to follow through. Stand the words sectarianism and bigotry on ther heads, turn the evidence of eys and ears inside-out, and if you are a unionist leder in want of ideas there’s a serviceable plan heading into the a run of the elections. Accuse nationalists of dancing to republician tunes, blame republicians for fomenting the trouble where bandsmen and marchers are merely celebrating their ‘culture’, and you have the makings of platforms and statements to ward off cracks from Jim Allister about sharing power with the IRA’s decendents. Not that they can silence Allister, nor set their own people up with any reason to be positive about the furture. Billy Hutchinson, once a heartening voice for the most disheartened loyalist districts, thinks to claim the threats against north Belfast Catholic schools in reality came from republicians. If he simply beleives it himself that’s bad enough. If he simply says it, without the least evidence or care for the implications, there is a small chance of decent politics emerging from the shell of Progressive Unionism. What’s left of the UVF or groupings round local hardmen, various UDAs likewise, plus a range of indivdulas at variious stages of ‘transition’ to peaceful politics. It is grim, unpleasant and dishonest approach from people who think no further than their own next vote and voice nothing counter to the instincts of their own least privileged potential voters. The Flags Protest morphed swiftly into a disorderly mess that many wanted nothing to do with but it didn’t pay to say so. The DUP sniffed the soot on the air and trooped into court to support Ruth Patterson. Peter Robinson tinkered with his text, reversed its messagd, and presumably decided to hid out in the Everglades for as long as possible – eat burgers, ride his bike, maybe play a little guitar of an evening. It will be harder than ever to take him seriously when he re-enters our sphere. Not a goid note to quit on, but surely time to consider those offers from the business world.
With many thanks to : Fionnula O Connor, The Irish News.
- Holy Cross Primary Our Lady of Mercy and Mercy Primary Schools ! All Quiet on the Northern Front . (northbelfastjournal.wordpress.com)
- Gilmore says State willing to confront unionist perceptions of role in Troubles (irishtimes.com)
- Why did HET not probe Sinn Fein, asks Ulster Unionist (newsletter.co.uk)
- Police investigating reports of paramilitary threat made to Catholic school pupils in Belfast (schoolsimprovement.net)
- Loyalist ‘Military’ Threat to Pupils (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
Posted on September 10, 2013, in BUTCHER'S APRON and tagged Belfast, Billy Hutchinson, Holy Cross, Holy Cross dispute, Jim Allister, Monday, North Belfast, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Office, Orange Order, Parade Commission, Red Hand Defenders, Rosemary Nelson, Ruth Patterson, Sinn Féin, Ulster Defence Association, Unionism in Ireland. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.