Loyalist Flag Protests: Meet the Leadership

After another night of illegal loyalist road blocking descends into violence, with 8 PSNI officers injured, it has emerged that the loyalist protesters have formed a ten-member leadership committee to articulate their cause. Amongst the leaders elected are Willie Frazer, Johnny Harvey, Pastor Mark Gordon and Jamie Bryson.

The new loyalist leaders have wasted no time in forming a wish list, according to Willie Frazer:

We unanimously supported a return to direct rule and we agreed we will not be talking to politicians until they re-engage with people on the ground,” he said.

“We are saying that the flag has to go back up on Belfast City Hall; one-sided inquiries about the past have to stop; the demonisation of the security forces [during the Troubles] has to stop and there must be an inquiry as to how the £1.5bn peace money from Europe was spent. Who got it?”

The choice of leaders is interesting. North down-based loyalist Pastor Mark Gordon, a reformed glue-sniffer, has been making noises in Bangor in recent years, accusing the North Down council of “working to a nationalist agenda which will inevitably see the diminution of our culture and heritage.” That’d be the North Down council to which a nationalist representative has never been elected…..

Gordon was involved with the North Down Association of Bonfire Committees which threatened in July 2011 to organise a Prods in the Park rally to coincide with the BBC Proms in the Park event held in the borough that year. Gordon was also involved with the UDA Garden of Reflection in Bangor’s Kilcooley estate, which was the subject of much controversy when it was revealed that the Housing Executive and Department of Social Development were involved in organising and/ or funding the project.

Johnny Harvey, chairman of the Ulster Protestant Voice, has been to the forefront throughout the loyalist flag protests. Before Christmas, he rejected claims that Belfast traders were losing out due to the city centre protests:

Everything is being blamed on the protests, but at the end of the day we’re in a double-dip recession here and the online surge in shopping is growing.

Jamie Bryson was in the public eye before the flag protests. As vice-chair of the North Down Somme Society, he criticised North Down Council’s failure to support the group’s efforts to be involved in the main Remembrance Day commemorations in Bangor in 2009 after the Royal British Legion warned it would walk away if the allegedly loyalist-aligned group was included in the proceedings. In February 2011, Bryson met Martin McGuinness in Bangor as part of a group protesting on the issue of European funding for North Down’s loyalist communities.

Here’s Jamie explaining his family background, reasons for becoming a born again Christian and how Mark Gordon has influenced his life. At the linked page, Jamie can also be seen addressing loyalist protesters in Ballymena, where he declared to the assembled masses- including many with scarves covering their faces- that “Ulster’s back, Ulster’s risen again.” The linked video footage includes Jamie speaking at a protest in Newtownards, where he said “Ulster’s British, Ulster’s free and that’s the way it’s gonna stay.”

Inspired by the plight currently facing Glasgow Rangers, Jamie has written and published a book entitled ‘Four men had a dream.’ Below is the Amazon description of the book:

Four men had a dream is an inspirational story of friendship, love, loyalty and redemption.

Billy is a long lost footballing prospect, his best friend James is a school drop out whos (sic) life consists of smoking dope.

John is a WW2 veteran with emotional scars that turn to bitterness as he seeks peace in the bottom of a pint glass.

Bob is a pastor, a WW2 veteran and soul mate of Johns (sic) who has found peace through God and forgiveness but yearns to be reconciled with his long lost soul mate John to whom he hasn’t spoken since a dreadful falling out on the battlefields of WW2.

All four mens (sic) lives come together in the chasing of a dream, to see their football club Glasgow Rangers rise from the ashes of Division 3. The mens (sic) lives weave together to provide a fascinating, at times very funny and at times tear jerking tale of epic proportions. An ailing Glasgow Rangers side who have nothing but Billy and a few worn out 9 in a row legends set out on a journey that all started when FOUR MEN HAD A DREAM…

Jamie has been very busy on twitter recently. Last night, he tweeted to the Police Federation that they should “tell the truth, PSNI attacked peaceful protestors,” referring to the East Belfast violence. He has also tweeted that “I make it my aim to ensure the Lundys in cahoots with the IRA cannot continue to deceive ulster Protestants.” Additional tweets include stating:

“think Peter Punts deeds might be exposed soon.”

 

Jamie has also written a book entitled The First Shades of God, apparently the first in a series called ‘50 Shades of God.’ Here is the Amazon description of this book:

The first book in the 50 shades of God series. A short book that will leave you thinking for a long time.
The 50 shades series consists of 3 books of thought provoking and radical short studies that ask tough questions that are unpopular in modern Christianity and challenge the conventional Church wisdom with radical ideas and viewpoints that are sure to cause a stir among the great and the good. This book provides the first 16 studies of the series.
From the use of force to why traditional Churchs (sic) cannot attract young people, this book looks at it all.
Written by a radical young Christian with big ideas that go totally against the grain this book will either set you on a crusade to change the world or you will put it down in disgust.
Hailed by some as a God inspired ‘turn it all upside down’ blueprint and dismissed by others as a book to be kept out of the public domain.
One Church said ‘This book should be banned, it is too radical and has the potential to inspire to many minds for radical change.’ Read for yourself and make your own mind up. How dangerous can one mans opinion really be?

Gotta say I’d love to know which ‘church’ made that last remark……

And, finally, to Willie Frazer.

Willie is no stranger to these parts, having priors when it comes to flag-induced rage- though, on that occasion, Willie experienced a touch of colour blindness after it was revealed that the ‘Tricolour’ flying from the catholic primary school he deemed an ‘IRA training ground’ was in fact the Italian flag, being flown as part of a European exchange programme.

Willie intends on leading a group of loyalists to Dublin soon to demand the removal of the Irish National flag from the Houses of the Oireachtas in protest at the removal of the Union Flag from Belfast City Hall.

It is, of course, ironic that Willie mentions the issue of European funds as one of the matters of contention agreed upon by the loyalist flag leaders. Willie’s own organisation, FAIR, was asked in November 2011 to return more than £350,000 by the EU after investigations were conducted into how money allocated to the group had been spent.

 

 

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