And since we’ve been at it all week (ignoring the real world for the narrowing ground of symbol), here’s what I hope is the kicker to a bad week for Northern Ireland:
A Church of Ireland church in County Antrim has been daubed with IRA slogans in a sectarian attack. The republican slogans were painted onto the church and the church hall in Glenavy, near Crumlin. Threats to two named individuals from the area were also daubed on to the walls.
Two questions come to mind. Do those making this attack understand that most those being threatened or attacked by loyalist mobs earlier in the week were Protestants? Do they know the founders of Irish Republicanism were also Protestant? Either they don’t, or may be they do and simply don’t care.
You have to wonder what’s happened to Irish Republicanism’s commitment to the unity of the Irish people. Micheal Martin speaking at his party’s commemoration at Wolf Tone’s grave in Ballyboden was pretty harsh on the continued veneration of the ‘war’ amongst Northern Republicans:
As the First Minister Peter Robinson said in a largely unreported speech this week, “Sinn Fein wants devolution but they don’t want any of the difficult decisions that come with it.” Playing politics and putting their party interest first is a consistent part of their ideology – something we see every day in the Dáil.
They have also refused to acknowledge the founding logic of the peace process – which is that the campaign of violence and division was wrong. Today they sell t-shirts and mugs with “IRA Undefeated Army” on them. They glorify the Provisional’s campaign, including some of the worst atrocities. They are trying to have it both ways of demanding to be treated just like any party but refusing to be open about their past or apologise for it.
What is actively dangerous about this is what it says to others that might be foolish enough to want to keep their tradition going.
The controversy this week began with a rushing of the City Hall by a loyalist mob who then went on a fairly organised and mobile rampage against the one of the few parties still recognisably standing in the middle ground of politics.
It ends with a politically illiterate attack on a Protestant church in rural south Antrim. Luckily for the ‘activists’ there were no cameras around, and sadly for the small Protestant community that’s it target, it will not gain anything like the traction one band marching in a cricle outside St Patrick’s Church in Donegall Street got.
Dirty War by other means anyone?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty