Stormont needs to raise itself above the level of events

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If nothing else the flags trouble has exposed the dearth of genuine engagement over  grievances that are the expressions of low morale. They’re not all about making  excuses for rioting and grabbing fifteen minutes of fame with egregious and calculated exercises of disinformation and distortion. I’ve listed below two sets of grievances carried in separate Newsletter reports arising out of the disturbances.  Whatever you may think of them and their spokespersons, it has to be admitted that they have remained in the file marked “pending” for far too long. And of course there are nationalist and republican lists, rural lists and west of the Bann lists and yes, even your own personal list which perhaps we might reserve for your own post.

Lots of effort and expenditure has been put into East Belfast and other parts of the city and it’s facile to lay all the blame on the political class. But politicians generally should surely realise that too little has been achieved in all these areas for far too long. Ironically one of the main obstacles standing the way is the  sort of protest and limited analysis which has once more brought them to the surface.  Stormont needs to transform itself into a genuine forum where these chronic issues are thrashed out. “Empowerment”  is jargon  but there is a good idea within it.

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland’s list is more on the present and the present’s verdict on the past

Ex-servicemen say that Stormont proves that the bad guys won;

:: There is a feeling that unionists should have been delivered more than this;

:: It is almost impossible for people to get new social housing in their own areas;

:: High levels of unemployment and educational underachievement.

“There has been substantial investment in east Belfast but the psychological feeling of people is akin to mass depression, as reflected in benefits claimant levels and suicide rates.

“East Belfast is not a happy place. Ex-security force personnel see those who were, for many years, intent on killing them, and in some cases their families, now at Stormont. They feel that they fought a war within the law and that those they fought against are now placed in authority over them. The republicans simply see it as a continuation of that war.”

 Jim Wilson has emerged as an habitual interviewee. He’s described as “an East Belfast community worker, former Red Hand Commando internee from 1973..  and a former member of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party. His grievances mentioned here are more about dealing with the past.

the Parades Commission;

– the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team (HET);

– and those mechanisms which see the security forces quizzed for their conduct during the Troubles while republicans remain largely unaccountable.

only 48 per cent of unionists voted at a local polling station in a recent election.

inquiry after inquiry for republicans and apologies from British Prime Ministers but none of it ever being good enough”.

And now they are trying to charge members of the security forces [after the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday]. The HET last year had 92 people on their list and 89 of them were Protestants. How does that balance? The flags issue was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

inquiry after inquiry for republicans and apologies from British Prime Ministers but none of it ever being good enough”.

He continues: “And now they are trying to charge members of the security forces [after the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday]. The HET last year had 92 people on their list and 89 of them were Protestants. How does that balance? The flags issue was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Willie Frazer’s list is similar. On the Republic’s part in the Troubles which is one of Willie Frazer’s preoccupations, Henry McDonald of the Guardian offers his own viewpoint in the  Bel Tel that:

While the flag furore appears to be manufactured hysteria – especially given that the policy switch at the City Hall makes no difference to UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland – paradoxically Frazer and those who will travel south with him have, perhaps, a more justifiable grievance.

They can argue, with some historical evidence, that the southern state has still not properly addressed its role in the Troubles. Unionist victims’ groups will charge that the southern Irish political class is more concerned about controversial killings, such as the Pat Finucane murder, which the Irish government is still not satisfied has been thoroughly and independently examined, than the dozens of killings carried out in the name of the republic by the IRA and INLA.

Unionist suspicions – tapped into of late by hardline loyalists – that their community’s victims are lower down the scale of Dublin’s priorities have some foundation in reality.

Henry says the present administration have a defence,  but it is” still shrouded in secrecy” and should now be unveiled. It’s inevitable that as the protests lengthen, so does the list of grievances. The Troubles grievances may be rooted in older generations but memory can be inherited by the younger. They are all reminders of how limited has been the genuine sharing of experience about the past and the present and of the need to do better.

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  • MALCOLMX

    These lists are an absolute joke. Unionists seems to be saying that republicans won and got everything, PUL community lost and got nothing but not only that but somehow issues of suicide, social housing PUL’s not voting is all part of this and it’s just nonsense.

    Take the issue of the HET. During the conflict it was in the interest of the state to do all in its power to kill or imprison republicans as they were trying to overthrow the state, loyalist were not a big concern but not only that, add to the mix collusion with loyalist and it definitely wasn’t in the states interest to go after them. Now that the HET are going through the evidence is clear that many loyalist murders could have been stopped or solved and much of the evidence has been there for years so that’s why it looks one sided.

    Unionism needs to grow up, accept the changing realities of this statelet and stop blaming their own ineptitude and reluctance to move forward because of their supremacist mindset on republicans.

  • Brian Walker

    Ok, Malcolm, so how do we deal with the “absolute joke”? Will laughing it off work?

  • MALCOLMX

    No it won’t, when I say it’s a joke I mean when unionism try’s to tie it in with the peace process or the fault of republicans.

    As a republican I recognise some legitimate social issues there that need addressed but in both communities not solely in loyalist areas.

    Sinn Fein are helping address many of the issues given their background in working class areas, the same cannot be said for the DUP or UUP.

    These list of failures lie squarely at the feet of the unionist parties and the parasites in the loyalist armed groups who are bleeding their communities dry in every way possible.

    Loyalism, like republicans had a decision to make, committ to democratic means or don’t, loyalism choose instead the ‘bobby Moffat’ school of democracy and continue to hold their communities to ransom, the same cannot be said of republicans so the failure of democracy in loyalist areas is of their own choice or at least the choice of the godfathers

  • sherdy

    Listening to the speakers after today’s Stormont PUL love-in I would sum it up that:
    PUL paramilitaries stood for election at different times and were almost totally rejected by their own people.
    But because Republican paramilitaries were accepted at the polls, the PULs now want representation, plus the fancy salaries.
    Pay up or we’ll wreck the place – again!

  • sonofstrongbow

    Nationalists have responded to claims of deprivation in loyalist areas by stating that the most deprived wards in NI are predominately nationalist.

    Who are responsible for these “failures”? Perhaps nationalists should take a leaf out of the loyalist handbook and start compiling lists of complaints to place before Shinner grandees?

  • MALCOLMX

    Sherdy,

    Point well made, loyalism had every opportunity like every other player in the peace process and they choose not to and somehow its the fault of Republicans success. Copeland, Bryson and Frazer are as deluded as each other and are coming off with absolute nonsense each and everyday to attempt to deflect attention from the real issues and the real questions that need to be asked.

  • MALCOLMX

    sonofstrongbow,

    All Nationalist are doing is stating fact and i know Chris Donnelly has some good figures on this very issue.

    Some of these failures are longstanding social issues that exist is england, scotland and wales as much as they exist here. Sinn Fein dont have some magic wand but they are trying like for instance removing academic selection which will benefit working class loyalists as much as nationalists.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Malcolmx,

    You said at 5.54 that Sinn Fein are “helping address” these issues. Where is the evidence given the widespread deprivation in nationalist areas. Have the Shinners had no success?

    In loyalist areas the self same failures lie “squarely at the feet of unionist parties and the parasites in the loyalist armed groups”. How is it that the failures in nationalist areas are not the responsibility of nationalist politicians and the ABC IRA rather than “longstanding social issues”?

    Finally taking pride in voters supporting murder gang members at the ballot box is simply astounding. At the very least unionists in large part refused that ‘accolade ‘.

  • MALCOLMX

    sonofstrongbow,

    Well there is over £100 million of investment coming into West Belfast over the coming year for various projects so thats a start.

    Because the longstanding social issues were created from years of unionist domination and misrule, republicans have only been involved in positions of power for a small time in comparison to unionism so it will take time to address all those issue which unionism created or done nothing about for years.

    I take pride in anyone from whatever background exercising their democratic right to vote. For too long catholics were not given the chance to vote just like so many other people throughout the world.

    Whether you agree with Sinn Fein’s politics is irrelevant but they have a mandate and they have never hid who they are or what they are about and people have the right to vote for them and choose to do so in increasing numbers so while unionist choose to vote for those who served in terrorist organisations like the UDR or British Army, while i dont agree with their politics i respect their right to do what they choose and dont think that is astounding as you put it.

  • Neil

    Perhaps nationalists should take a leaf out of the loyalist handbook and start compiling lists of complaints to place before Shinner grandees?

    You have a point there. The one thing the shinners do well is stay connected to their voters through living in the areas (by and large) that elect them. So when Unionist leaders win an election and then move to a half million pound house out in Dundonald they appear disconnected from their voters. While on the other side I can think of a number of Shinner reps that live within a half mile of Andytown.

    And there’s only so much you can do for people on either side re: education and to a lesser degree employment. As the man says, you can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Malcolmx,

    So obviously those “longstanding social issues” that as you said at 7.01 “exist in england, scotland and wales” ” were also “created from years of unionist domination and misrule”? How’d have thought unionists were indeed once the Masters of the Universe of nationalist myth?

    You see that’s the trouble with MOPERY and sheeplike Shinner devotion lad it just leads to nonsensical musings. Best to park your bigotry and try, for even a short time, to reason for yourself.

    Although to be honest I don’t hold out much hope of that.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Are there many in “Andytown” with private health care and Manhattan apartments, to say nothing of second homes on Donegal?

  • Neil

    Only the odd politician I’d wager but I’m no authority on the subject. The point stands. Are there many DUP/UUP councillors living in Cluan Place these days? Nope. But there are three Shinners (that I know of, most likely more that I don’t) living within 5 minutes of the Andersonstown Road, and that makes them seem much more connected to their working class voters.

  • ayeYerMa

    All such lists boil down to a single point: the past 40 years (or even 90 years) there has been endless compromise in one direction. It has long went past the point whereby the more is compromised the more Republicans demand, the more tension is created, and the worse community relationships get. It simply can’t continue.

  • MALCOLMX

    Son,

    Firstly i’m not a bigot and where you come by that from my comments show more of your inability to debate and instead reach for personal insults.

    I dont follow Sinn Fein like a sheep as you say, just because someone supports a political party doesnt mean they do so blindly so you have mean wrong again.

    And the issues i raised regarding england etc where to firstly show that the social issues loyalism are complaining about are not unique to here. The blame for them here is because of unionist domination and sectarian misrule, the causes of them in england are because of an unequal society brought about by right wing tory and labour governments.

    So what i’ve learnt is you are unable to debate without resorting straight away to personal insults based on no evidence and draw wild conclusions from your own blinkered unionist views, well done!

  • tacapall

    AyeyerMa so could you list all those compromises over the past 40 years or even 90 years that Unionism has made to Nationalism or Republicanism that Unionism/Loyalism didn’t already have themselves by the way do you do realise we were also here when the state was first formed undemocratically.

  • MALCOLMX

    ayeYerMa,

    You see your deluded into thinking that somehow unionist have some god given right to control this part of Ireland and it is for them to decide what to give and what not to give. There have been no concession to Republicans, what their has been is Republicans getting what is rightfully theirs, like for instance the right to vote, proper housing, jobs, investment, education etc. There are basic rights which were denied to Catholics so their are concessions they are rights.

    What simply cant continue is unionisms deluded sense that somehow they are in control and are meant to be with their supremacist mentally. The days for second class citizenship are long gone and aren’t coming back.

    Rights not Concessions.

    Did African Americans get concessions when asking for civil rights or did they just get rights, same as the south africans.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Neil,

    Your point does not of course stand. Dundonald for example is a short walk from the ‘loyalist’ Ballybean estate (maybe a 5 minute walk as that seems to be your test for ‘connection’ with the electorate). It’s also probably about 3 or 4 miles at most from the Newtownards Road.

    Mx,

    Your bigotry is evident in your drone like devotion to blaming unionist politicians for social challenges whilst at the same time admitting they are not unique to Northern Ireland.

    In England it’s down to “right wing” governments of whatever hue. It seems only the Saintly Shinners are beyond reproach; and producing £100 million out of their back pockets for West Belfast to boot.

    I note in your response to ayeYerMa you continue in your unionists-as-evil-incarnate theme.

    As to ‘debate’ don’t make me laugh. You don’t debate you chant the same interchangeable slogans over and over again.

  • MALCOLMX

    Apportioning blame doesnt equal bigot so once again you show you ineptitude in reading whats really being said. Discrimination isnt a social challenge, or being denied a vote or job because of ones religion, unionism was to blame for these and many other things while in power, FACT!

    My theme on unionist being evil is based on historical fact not some fiction that they were really good to Catholics all them years and I didnt say they were all evil all of the time but not far off it.

    They are slogans chara, they are facts so call them what you will but they wont change what realky happened and you debating skills basically involving ignoring the uncomfortable truths and focus on how the other person is putting the argument accross, I suppose its a good strategy to deflect from engaging in a real debate. Once again you call me a bigot when I am not based on who you think I am and not once did I suggest sinn fein was beyond reproach so your tinted glasses means you can’t engage in a proper debate, how sad.

  • MrPMartin

    I find it interesting that many in the PUL community see the peace process as compromise going in one direction ie in favour of the CNR community

    I suppose there are people in right wing circles in the US southern states and South Africa as seeing racial equality as a one directional process but we choose to ignore and rightfully ridicule them and challenge them, not pander to them.

    Equality between unionist and nationalist aspirations does not diminish one at the expense of the other ; rather it enhances both

    Note how the old National Party in SA eventually saw the light an not only ended apartheid but threw in their lot with the ANC for the greater good of inter racial integration and common good for all.

    Ok there is a long way to go in SA but all parties had the right intentions and they will come good in the end if they continues along this path.

    The only moral progression in NI to end this obviously failed state and for unionists to negotiate an agreed pluralist united Ireland ruled by all for all. Politician parties should then reorganise along infer racial inter community lines and stop taking about loyalist deprivation and nationalist deprivation and just address deprivation per se as well as enhancing the way of life for the whole new country

    Can anyone here from the PUL community explain to me how you have been deprived off BBC, English language newspapers, Coronation St, watching the Premiership, learning and speaking Ullans, listening to British classical or popular music etcetera for these are the true expressions and pursuits and enjoyment of British culture in the modern day sense of the meaning?

    I am both British and Irish yet ironically the voices of SDLP and SF are more in line with modern day British inclusiveness and progressiveness than narrow political Ulster Unionism which claim to be nothing more than a narrow sectarian supremacist mindset which merely hides behind the skirts of G nativity and political and military cover to indulge in the mire of backwardness, nastiness and non inclusion

    For I say to Ulster unionism in all its political forms, you are not British anymore than a racist Boer is Dutch. I know what Britishness is for I’ve lived in GB and you are nothing like them

  • MrPMartin

    *skirts of GB*

    stupid iPhone

  • MrPMartin

    *naivity* and not *nativity* bah!!

  • David Crookes

    Whether or not the #flegs people approve of it, here is an idea which all sides in Stormont might consider.

    No more enquiries, ever, into pre-GFA matters. End of story.

  • Professor Yattle

    MalcolmX – may I ask your age?
    You write: “For too long catholics were not given the chance to vote”. This was never true, so it is remarkable how many people now seem to believe it. What made you post this? Do you sincerely believe it, or vaguely believe it, or know it is just propaganda?

  • tacapall

    Its hardly propaganda Professor, but it does give us a picture of why there was discrimination in the allocation of housing during that period.

    http://campaignforcivilrights.org/northernirelandarticles.php?id=158

    “Northern Ireland operated a voting system for local government that retained the company vote and ratepayer suffrage. Therefore, any person who did not own a home or pay rates was not entitled to vote in local council elections. This had the effect of disenfranchising over one-quarter of the population, most of whom were Catholic. Alternatively, a business owner, most of whom were Protestant, was entitled to more than one vote. The predictable outcome of this state of affairs was that most local councils remained under Unionist control.”

  • Professor Yattle

    That’s just re-stating the propaganda. The 1969 Cameron report, which examined the housing problem, saw it completely differently – a minority of councils practicing some discrimination, with nationalist councils as likely to do so as unionist councils, and as likely to benefit from the ratepayer franchise. It advised modernising that merely to remove it as a grievance. There was no ‘not giving Catholics the vote’.
    This excessive portrayal of past discrimination is not helpful to reconciliation now – quite the reverse.

  • tacapall

    Professor your believing your own propaganda (The 1969 Cameron Report) fortunately people like myself who were around in the 60s and who’s family has been living in this part of Ireland for generations would disagree. I would take the findings of the Cameron report like I would take the findings of the Widgery Tribunal.

  • Professor Yattle

    Equating the Cameron report to the Widgery Tribunal is absurd, and I can only assume that at some level you must know it. For one thing, it led directly to the creation of the Housing Executive.

  • tacapall

    “For one thing, it led directly to the creation of the Housing Executive.”

    And the same people who objected to it being created, are today trying to dismantle it, no doubt yearning for the old days when houses meant votes for them.

  • Professor Yattle

    The HE review was begun under Hain and continued under Attwood – and it won’t lead to a return to council control. Calm down dear.

  • tacapall

    Well professor I’d rather adopt a wait and see attitude after all Nelson McCausland couldn’t be described as someone who acts in the best interests of everyone in our society.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Goggle tells me that Nelson McCausland was 19 in 1969. It says nothing of his ‘objection’ to the creation of the HE.

    MOPE hysteria seems to infect every aspect of the average nationalist’s life. ‘It’s the Brits/unionists fault’ is their default response to everything.

    They draw their perceived victimhood around them like a child with its favourite blankee. I expect if reason ever darkens their minds they rush to the MOPE spa for an immediate detoxification.

  • Professor Yattle

    You should calm down as well.

  • tacapall

    SOS maybe you dont watch the news much or read newspapers but the only moping being done is by your own kind about how its everyone elses fault for them wrecking their own areas.

  • sonofstrongbow

    tacapall,

    Pretty pathetic sidestep there. So come on what about some context. Where do you place the ‘Downtrodden Croppie’ [TM] in the pantheon of misery and oppression?

    Where does he figure in this list for example; Armenians, Native Americans, European Jews, South American Indians, Dufaris in Sudan, Tutsis in Rwanda? Head and (yoked) shoulders above them no doubt?

  • tacapall

    Im sure most of those people above would identify with what the Irish people suffered under British rule –

    http://www.sikharchives.com/?source=Patrick.net&p=8937

    They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

    Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

    We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? After all, we know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade. But, are we talking about African slavery?

    King James II and Charles I led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

    The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

    Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

    From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.

  • http://www.e-consultation.org/ davenewman

    Well, there has not been much investment in East Belfast outside the Titanic quarter. And few jobs there fitted the skills of people in poorer parts of East Belfast. What we find are areas boarded up for future development, where nothing happens, and decaying NIHE houses.

    What really hits the economy in East Belfast are the two sets of business rates local firms have to play: one official and one to the UVF or UDA. A thorough campaign to stop protection rackets would transform the area more than flying a flag.

  • sonofstrongbow

    As I suspected: the MOPE.

    Poor choice of patron saint though. A Briton enslaved by the Irish? Surely there must have been a better local candidate rather than a (forcefully) imported Brit?

  • Mc Slaggart

    sonofstrongbow

    A bit of advice do not comment on what you don’t understand.

  • David Crookes

    “What really hits the economy in East Belfast are the two sets of business rates local firms have to play: one official and one to the UVF or UDA. A thorough campaign to stop protection rackets would transform the area more than flying a flag.”

    Thanks for that magnificent piece of good sense, davenewman. I wonder if the DUP, the UUP, and the TUV have the necessary courage to put that very necessary pair of sentences on one of their press releases. If they have not, they deserve never to be elected again.