PUP Conference encouraged to be self-critical; recognises another marginalised community & adopts pro-Equal Marriage policy

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The PUP conference left Belfast this year and headed to Brownlow House in Lurgan.

More motions, more members speaking up to propose or support those motions, more women, more men in suits and ties, more delegates than recent years with lots of new faces from the new Mid-Ulster branch. If was a conference that valued protest but was told to concentrate more on politics. Co-operation and cross-party dialogue was necessary to deliver solutions.

PUP Belfast city councillor Dr John Kyle suggested:

It feels like ground hog day. Our parliamentary democracy has ground to a halt and those pressing issues of education and jobs and health have been parked. Nobody is making decisions. All action has almost dried up. We’re adrift and there’s no wind …

Parity of esteem has become a bit like Lord Lucan. Everybody knows what he looks like but nobody’s seen him. Everybody knows what parity of esteem should feel like but very few loyalists feel it.

His speech began with some familiar themes: loyalism being scapegoated and stereotyped; the Good Friday Agreement promise of “just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities” and because that hasn’t happened justifies why the PUP has “not just supported the protests but participated in them and if necessary has led them”. Cultural expression was absolutely integral to political identity and Sinn Fein were trying to deny this.

Protesting at injustices was not enough. To show leadership the PUP needed “to be the architects of the solution” to “the problems that we’re in”.

We need not just be the guardians of our legacy. We also need to point people to the future. We need to create a vision of what this place could be like … a future that is just, peaceful, prosperous and rewarding … achieving a confident loyalism.

John Kyle said he admired David Ervine’s ability to be self-critical: it would be easy for the PUP to know how they’d like Sinn Fein to change to create a fair and just future; but it was “much more challenging to look at ourselves and see where we need to change”.

The PUP are opposed to sectarianism and John Kyle also laid down challenges to delegates.

It’s unnecessary for our bands to play provocatively outside catholic chapels. We don’t need to do that. It’s unnecessary to abuse republican politicians … Poverty is poverty whether it’s on the Shankill Road or the Falls Road. We’re not opposed to Protestant poverty, we’re opposed to poverty. We’re not opposed to Protestant unemployment, we’re opposed to unemployment. Unemployment is a curse and wherever it is in our country or our city we are working to get rid of it.

Sectarianism is looking after yourself and if we act only in narrow self interest then morally we’re bankrupt. Sectarianism is corrosive and damaging to our communities and we don’t need it. We’re a party that’s dedicated to an anti-sectarian, equitable, pluralist society.

John Kyle suggested that “showing generosity to our opponents is how to disarm them”.

Despite what Newton Emerson, Chris Ryder and other media hacks say, we will not give cover, excuse or justification for criminality from whatever quarter it comes. Instead we are committed to working for the common good.

Previous PUP conferences have listened to guest speeches like from Denis Bradley and Matt Baggott. This year’s critical friend was Irish News editor Noel Doran who had been asked to speak about what the PUP needed to do to be taken seriously by readers of the Irish News.

While couched in a good deal of humour and wrapped up in a lot of sporting references, Noel Doran’s speech included a range of suggestions for the party.

Irish News editor Noel Doran speaking at PUP conferenceHe pointed to nationalism becoming pragmatic about the border (reducing the drive from Belfast to Dublin down to 90 minutes might be “nationalisms greatest achievement in living memory”) and asked whether unionism and the PUP needed to be a little more philosophical about flags and parades.

I know how important symbols and emblems are to many people in the protestant, unionist and loyalist tradition. The image of the union flag coming down from Belfast City Hall clearly caused major upheaval. I’m also aware it was the two larger unionist parties rather than the PUP which coordinated the leaflet campaign against the Alliance Party, which in retrospect I think has to be regarded as a pretty shabby episode which had serious consequences …

Taking to the streets to restore the status quo I feel may have missed a key point: the vote that caused all the fuss in Belfast City Hall was a democratic one and the switch in the balance of power on the council which made that possible came about because Alliance worked exceptionally hard on the ground and won a series of seats, not just through first preference votes but through lower preference transfers. And that enabled it to switch the balance of power at the City Hall.

The PUP could emulate this, and learn from the organisation of Alliance.

On parading, Noel Doran reminded delegates that unionists had the opportunity to replace the Parades Commission during the Hillsborough 2010 negotiations. Unionism could come up with agreed alternative proposals and then seek consensus from the other parties. The PUP’s involvement in this would be “taken seriously by Irish News readers”.

The PUP is a relatively small group. But it was able to influence the dramatic outcome of the East Belfast parliamentary election of 2010 and the victory of Naomi Long. Some people think that Peter Robinson has never managed to get over that setback and would put regaining that seat for the DUP almost ahead of every other consideration which is out there.

There’s also going to be a pretty tight contest in North Belfast the next time round and a small number of votes from the PUP or elsewhere could prove decisive in that constituency as well. There seems to be an assumption out there that your party is inevitably going to endorse the DUP on both fronts. But I’m sure as many of you have realised, you’re in a very decent bargaining position. You’re in a position that could go well beyond flags and parades if you were to use that opportunity to push for investment in social areas in both those constituencies in a way that would benefit residents in both sides of the divide many people would start to regard the PUP in a very different way.

PUP members could learn from and about the GAA, an organisation that Noel Doran said was less based on politics and more about pride in people’s own areas, towns and counties.

After his speech, Noel Doran told me that this was the first party conference he’d spoken at and summarised some of his main points.

After morning coffee, conference returned to debate a pro-Equal Marriage policy motion proposed by Julie-Ann Corr and seconded by Billy Drummond. Julie Ann’s impassioned and well-delivered speech channelled the spirit of ex-party leader Dawn Purvis and was one of the few moments when the party conference left the arena of  PUL  identity politics. She explained the difference between civil marriages and civil partnerships and called on delegates to be progressive and continue the party’s long history of supporting equality.

Julie-Ann Corr successfully proposing Equal Marriage policy to PUP conferenceShe explained that “religious and civil marriages both exclude the LBGT community” and outlined differences she saw between civil marriages and civil partnerships including that any subsequent name changes can only happen by deed poll. Pension payouts on death are limited: civil partners only entitled to pension from the data of the civil partnership, a limitation not in force for married couples. Adultery is only applicable in the dissolving of a marriage and not in a civil partnership.

As a single lesbian woman … I can adopt a child as long as I do not commit to my partner.

Julie-Ann Corr reminded delegates that “loyalism itself is an under-represented and marginalised section of society … this is no different for other minority groups”. The party should be “battling for equality for all issues for all citizens”. Like many other speakers, she quoted from the Principles of Loyalism, adding that the same rights should granted across the UK .

As a young child I grew up and watched our elected unionist parties fight for my British rights and long felt a sense of pride. Now I watch these same elected parties oppose my human rights and that pride is crushed. This has led me to the door of the PUP, the progressive party, the party that has been ahead of its time since its inception in the 1970s.

Julie-Ann’s speech received loud applause.

Delegates who spoke up from the floor were mostly in favour of the motion. One delegate said that the motion was an opportunity to decide if they were a “progressive unionist party” or “just a poor man’s DUP”.

Another delegate said he a difficulty with marriage not being between a man/woman, but on basic of equality he could not vote against the motion.

Former leader Brian Ervine expressed his fear that churches would be discriminated against by European Court if the LGB community challenged ministers who wouldn’t marry same sex couples. His belief was that “same sex marriage is a tautology” and would not support the motion.

A delegate says she had a difficulty with the motion beforehand but had been swayed by Julie-Ann Corr’s speech and would now vote to support it.

Votes were counted and the motion passed into PUP policy with 58 votes for and 36 votes against (from a largely silent minority). Talking to people afterwards, it doesn’t feel like the PUP will lose any members over the vote – democractic decisions are respected within the party.

Billy Hutchinson speechAfter lunch Billy Hutchinson took to the podium to deliver his third annual speech as party leader, this time entitled “a confident outward-facing unionism”. Half the length of previous years, it largely dealt with generalities rather than addressing specific recent events or situations.

Working class unionist communities are struggling to find any semblance of the much-vaunted peace dividend. High unemployment, social exclusion, poor housing and high levels of deprivation underpinned by an education system which has consistently failed working class unionist young people and serves only to condemn future generations to the same spiral of unmet need, draining hope from working class communities … They deserve better …

Billy Hutchinson used the speech to address criticisms from some that he’s moved away from the principles of the party.

This party’s challenge is to continue to find ways to change the political atmosphere to one of inclusivity and equal citizenship … As a unionist I want some of that equality because I haven’t found it yet.

He accused republicans of “constantly using the past to make gains and force concessions in present day politics”.

We must not point score on the past. We must protect its integrity as a warning to the present and future generations that violence is not the way to go. It is counterproductive and only marginalises working class unionists further.

He referred to the party’s paper Transforming The Legacy which “established important minimum conditions for engagement with any meaningful conversation about reconciliation and dealing with the legacy of the conflict”.

The Eames/Bradley report talks of ‘moral symmetry’ in dealing with the past. This is very important since any process of reconciliation cannot be seen as merely an extension of the power struggles which existed throughout the conflict. A genuine process of reconciliation should not be preoccupied with point-scoring but should be about coming to terms with what conflict did and is continuing to do to lives in Northern Ireland. It should be a social and not a political process. The major difficulty is designing any process that all sectors are comfortable with. We have already seen how difficult the task will be with the reaction to the Eames/Bradley report. In fairness Eames/Bradley consulted widely and [their] outcomes should perhaps have been given more consideration.

Billy Hutchinson said that the NI Assembly “was supposed to give expression to local concerns and opinions [but] our opinions are not being heard, they are masked by the language of a peace process that has not delivered for our people”.

Sinn Fein’s grassroots policy today is to divide and conquer, separate Ulster loyalism from wider British unionism. The vilification of the Orange Order this summer and the aftermath of the flag decision when unionists were asked for leadership and loyalists were given the blame offers a glimpse into their agenda.

He said that Sinn Fein’s “current strategy undermines the overarching spirit of the Belfast Agreement that they widely lament”.

Personally speaking I believe that Sinn Fein’s preoccupation with flags and emblems is more to do with wanting to remove any visible sign of their failure to break the link with Britain that it has to do with republican ideals. Having lost the constitutional battle they have resorted to agitating for the removal of symbols that remind them of the failure. British symbols are a stark reminder that after a sustained campaign to break the union, Northern Ireland remains British and that is hard for nationalists to stomach. The removal of those symbols from public buildings may help to alleviate the pain of failure. But it is nothing for nationalists to be jubilant about or for unionists to be despondent about.

The rest of his speech walked in turn through the four Principles of Loyalism: http://www.pupni.com/news/principles-of-loyalism/ Material well-being of Ulster; Civil & Religious Freedom; Equal citizenship within the UK; Use of unarmed resistance.

On the right to protest …

People are entitled to protest and parade. We have also supported that right to make a protest even when it was against us.

On Sinn Fein …

I’m telling you that [Sinn Fein] have moved away from the spirit of the letter of [the Belfast Agreement] and you have done so for your own selfish reasons. You have put yourselves and your party before your country. Your hunger for power has left the rest of us politically malnourished. But because there is no way of registering that, no opposition in the local Assembly, we feel ourselves with out a voice.

He referenced the party’s long time policy of “Sharing Responsibility”.

Billy Hutchinson called on party members to “be magnanimous to those with a different political aspiration which is currently unobtainable and dispel the perception that unionism is equated with negativity” and asked them “not to consider expressions of Irishness … a threat” and to differentiate them from republicanism.

Other motions addressed education, combating illegal drugs, the shortage of social housing (some of the new housing in The Village is affordable if you’re on the dole but not if you’re in low paid work without housing benefits) and the Military Covenant (including details of talks with ex-Minister of State Mike Penney). And the PUP Youth movement (18-30) presented their ongoing work to study historical political documents (from both republican and loyalist movements) as well as plans for literacy training.

PUP Youth

The final motion called for the PUP to work with other parties and unionist organisations to obtain a “unity of focus” (rather than actual unionist unity). The proposer suggested that fragmentation amongst pro and anti-agreement unionists led to antagonism that was at times as bad as between unionism and republicanism.

Party delegates also received an update on election preparations. The PUP didn’t launch their Euro candidate at conference: their selection convention hasn’t yet come to a decision. But plans were outlined to recruit and train candidates for council, and members were encouraged to be consistent in how they shaded party policies on the doorstep and to be careful with social media.

The UVF weren’t explicitly name-checked by any of the speakers during the six hour conference, not even Noel Doran. Issues of criminality and drugs were addressed, but not the paramilitary group most closely associated with the PUP. During the coffee breaks, delegates did however freely talk about their views and were consistently critical of potential UVF activity.

Amongst the articulation of the issues facing loyalism, there was a more inclusive tone from the top table, wanting issues to be seen without political or cultural demarcation – eg, dealing with poverty and unemployment across the board rather than in one community. However this inclusivity wasn’t often reflected in contributions from the delegates.

The PUP definitely seems to be better organised and less chaotic than a year or two ago. The fresh faces will be tested at the next elections. Bandsmen in the room will have to reflect on John Kyle’s call to omit provocative playing in sensitive areas.

I usually find PUP conferences to be full of upbeat messages that aren’t translated into public action in the weeks and months that follow. If the party and its leader are serious, then they need to be seen to work across traditional divides, highlight working class issues in all communities and leverage their influence to justify the votes they want at the council elections. They’ll be tested a lot sooner that next year’s conference (which I predict will be in Mid Ulster and seriously suggest should have Declan Kearney as the guest speaker).

And if loyalism is marginalised, then standing up for other marginalised groups should be part of PUP activity. Saturday’s conference took an important step and recognised the LGB community. There are other minority groups that the PUP could wholeheartedly be seen to support – good news as well as an opportunity to put the oft-quoted Principles of Loyalism into action.

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  • Turgon

    An excellent report Alan. You correctly point to the chasm between what the PUP claim and then do. It is also interesting that even supposedly intellectual argument from their leaders is so flawed:

    Brian Ervine continuing the family tradition of using big words he clearly does not understand. You quote him saying “same sex marriage is a tautology” Judging by his speech he may have meant “same sex marriage is a contradiction.” In contrast a tautology (as I have no doubt you know Alan) is defined as “needless repetition of an idea, especially in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness”

    Julie-Ann Corr’s explanation of same sex marriage is also flawed. Above you say she claimed “Adultery is only applicable in the dissolving of a marriage and not in a civil partnership.”

    That may well be correct but is an issue the same sex marriage law does not address. In same sex marriage only adultery with a member of the opposite sex is grounds for dissolution of the marriage. Finally she claims “religious and civil marriages both exclude the LBGT community”. Same sex marriage also, however, discriminates against parts of that community as bisexual individuals are deprived of the right to form formally recognised marriage bonds with both their same and opposite sex partner and indeed by the current law sex with the opposite sex partner is grounds for ending the same sex marriage just as with the same sex partner is grounds for ending the marriage with the opposite sex partner. As such same sex marriage produces a sort of semblance of equality for the gay members of the LGBT community but if anything increases discrimination against the bisexual part of that community.

    One could point to similar examples in all the above speeches. Those are just examples. There is the impression of a lack of understanding of many complex issues but a wish to comment on them to appear “Progressive” or whatever. As I said above it highlights the chasm between what the PUP claim and what then are interested in and do on the ground.

  • gaygael

    Ah, great piece Alan, and thanks for the live tweeting and audio boos yesterday.
    No surprise that Turgon, the out phoebe, ignores most of the substantive points and hones on a single issue to tackle, namely that of equal marriage, and once again exposes his ignorance and fatalistic obsession with this issue.
    The ridiculous guff about bisexual people show particular ignorance. I presume Turgon identifies as heterosexual, (but then that old adage of those being most obsessed with Lgb people) and probably is attracted to more than one woman. That does not mean that he should be able to marry all those he is attracted to. Unless he is advocating the biblical types of marriage……..
    Glad to see the pup makes steps to try and return to the progressive element of their name and I particularly like the quote of being ‘a poor man’s dup!
    I would curious as to whether this is equal marriage policy like alliance, sadly or sf? With alliance reps failing to vote in favour and experiencing no discipline, sdlp being allowing a conscience opt out, or like sf following arty whip and policy.

  • Red Lion

    I get the sense from this of the PUP sounding progressive on several issues and thus seeemingly putting blue clear water between themselves and DUP/UUP as an alternative voice for unionism.

    However the perception that such an alternative voice went missing in action during all the recent disturbances is very tangible, and that reverting to playing to tribal bases and not being able to think for themselves is what actually happened.

    Political talk is cheap in NI, it’s action that counts.

    Great to see they are ‘progressive’ on equal marriage, unlike traditional unionism. Time to follow through on street and tribal politics. If they do, they may have a future and can do good for NI.

  • DC

    Same sex marriage is to me about ensuring status equality and same sex marriage should be legally recognised so gay people don’t lose out on benefits and entitlements that come with conventional marriage.

    It only gets very complex when legislation is used to force churches to become compliant with same sex marriage in effect modifying its religious practices, something i think which can be got round by exemptions and so on but doesn’t do what gay christians would like it to do – make the church see the errors of its way and turn traditional christianity into gay christianity.

    Re the Irish News

    A nice touch mentioning master mcgrath the greyhound buried in lurgan, i liked that intro.

    However, Noel Doran would not have got such an easy ride with me, but i do realise he was guest speaker there and no one wanted to upset him.

    For instance, I would like to ask him why his paper stuck by LAD and pretty much promoted it / advertised it in its paper around july time in particular, despite facebook removing it countless times for valid reasons.

    Here is the Irish News bigging it up:

    http://loyalistsagainstdemocracy.blogspot.co.uk/2013_07_30_archive.html

    But facebook had to remove photos and the page because of complaints like this:

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2hhhcwo&s=5#.UlqYB1Drx20

    Harassment
    Insults
    Annoyance
    Distasteful humour
    Insulting nations

    etc

    So the Irish News was complicit in all of this pretty much – in effect – complicit in promoting harassment and bullying.

    http://dgmagee.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/exposing-bigotry-or-exposing-their-own-bigotry-loyalists-against-democracy-part-1/

    This from a widely published male community worker and writer and on Loyalism and Unionism:

    ‘..my opinion is that the growth of this kind of satire is fascinating, painful to see and that it will grow. For what was it Karl Marx said about history occurring the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce? You see the loyalist cultural project is now so eaten through with incapacity that it seems entirely farcical for bands calling themselves Young Conquerers to be so patently losers – and so this invites the kind of vicious comic treatment that LAD offers, made all the more potent because twenty five years ago, loyalism still had tragic muscle and in certain quarters a sharp, grounded and innovative ethos. Yes, LAD is cruel, as all humour can be very cruel and it makes the abasement of the PUL psyche even more grievous but I doubt if the tide of ridicule can be turned, until enough PUL people come to see that one needs to exercise self awareness in order to know how to stop being a butt of humour and a laughing stock. Any school teacher knows that a kid who is mocked will only stop being mocked either when he learns to modify his behaviour or when he is protected by an authority figure, and that authority figure ain’t there so there has to be some quick learning going on, in the art of self-scrutiny and self-remodelling.

    [There is] nothing more delicious to a nationalist or to someone who was a rotten Prod than mocking the deposed and neutered Loyalist bully, risky too as he may still have strength for one more knuckleduster punch. Dangerous too. As Nietzsche pointed out, he who fights with monsters must beware lest he too becomes a monster. The mockery of Bryson is in part a fearful class based thing, the derision for the uppity wee skitter from the estate, who wears cheap sports gear and a gold chain and gives you lip at the bus stop.

    Clearly this is about ridicule and bullying as a means of modifying loyalism or the most poorly behaved segments of it – and is ultimately political.

    Finally, I noticed that Ken Wilkinson thanked the Irish News for at least listening to him and being there on the end of the phone and to print his concerns in the paper, it was probably only to reinforce loyalists communities as bigoted, backward, drug taking, anti social hell holes as presented on the LAD page, which the Irish News was only too keen to promote. Probably counldn’t believe their luck when ken had a story that could help validate this in some particular way, probably about drug selling in his estate.

  • DC

    Check comment moderation.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    DC – perilously close to being off topic at points.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Turgon – ‘oxymoron’ would have been a good word to use.

    Despite some issues in the proposal of the Equal Marriage motion, it was still remarkable that a ten minute oration changed the minds of some people in the room on how they would vote. In an age of whipped MLAs and settled opinions on big issues, convincing people was a rare and powerful moment to witness.

  • DC

    You’re absolutely right ulster press centre.

    In fact the irish news’ treatment of hunter was similar in taste to the mail’s treatment of miliband.

  • drmisery

    Ah, more of the same eh? To quote that 80s classic song by Belouis Some, “imagination”; i suppose that decade is where I believe several heads are quietly buried. Pity satire is beyond unionism. .. perhaps Bernard manning jokes are.more apt?

  • Charles_Gould

    Alan

    Did you notice an influx of talent, energy, and purpose from this time last year?

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    @Alan,

    Thanks for the audio boo links to the various speeches. I think it illustrates the gap between Hutchinson’s speech and the party’s actions. As long as it is linked to the UVF the party won’t be acceptable to the vast majority of unionists, for the same reasons that many SDLP voters and Alliance voters from a nationalist background find Sinn Fein to be unacceptable.

    I think that Hutchinson was dead-on about part of the reason behind the Sinn Fein flag policy. But it is also an attempt to get the loyalists wound up and in this they succeeded brilliantly.

    I thought that Doron spent too much time trying to build a connection with the audience at the start and not enough on analysis. By the way, how long does it take to go from Belfast to Dublin by train?

  • sherdy

    Fine words. Pity the reality is so different.

  • paulG

    Does John Kyle even realise his party is linked to the UVF ?

    A party populated by hypocrites and eejits.

    “Equality for minorities is just like the equality were trying to get for Orange Prods. Vote Aye and lets watch the lads bash a Taig or put some Darkies windows in”.

    What a load of Horseshit.

    Can any of these ‘progressive’, equalitarian,socialists explain why their party needs to represent a drug dealing, brothel running, racist and sectarian murder gang ?

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    PaulG[9.23] It’s a merrygoround of fantastists. Paragraph 3; Well, Quite.

  • wild turkey

    Alan

    as the ever astute and compassionate Turgon said

    “An excellent report Alan. ”

    america has a prestigious award for outstanding reportage. The Pulitizer. now i do not know if it applies to out-country reporting. however, if it does, given your ongoing efforts, as evidenced by your posts on Slugger, considered yourself nominated

    ya know what i like about your postings? they are clear, concise… and sometimes i may agree or disagree. but then again as Mark Twain said (i paraphrase).

    the difference between the nearly right word and the right word is the difference between the lightening bug…. and the lightening

  • weidm7

    Can someone explain to me in what way the PUL community is marginalised or discriminated against as everyone at the conference seemed to agree on?

  • Dec

    Weidm7

    At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, Goebbels nailed the technique in the 1940s:

    ‘When one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it.’

  • Damian O’Loan

    Julie-Ann Corr’s speech, and the responses to it, are remarkable.

    It’s easier to be progressive when you’re not trying to hold together a national majority, but that takes nothing away from the courage and eloquence of this contribution. At a time when leadership within the PUL community is often questioned, this deserves attention.

    It certainly changed my perception. I hope they can build support for this policy, and more importantly the inherent shift towards logical policy deduction, among their wider electorate.

  • Jagdip

    “We’re not opposed to Protestant unemployment, we’re opposed to unemployment. Unemployment is a curse and wherever it is in our country or our city we are working to get rid of it.”

    So, is that why there is going to be a re-run of the flag protests in December; just in case any of the surviving Belfast businesses weren’t devastated enough last year. Ah well, the roads and trains to Dublin will be packed again. Maybe that’s what Billy meant by “wherever it is in our country”, he meant Dublin!

  • tacapall

    Some great and admirable wishful thinking but given past and recent events and the inability of the UVF to control its barstool commandos or honor any commitments given in pursuing their goals by purely peaceful means renders anything that comes out of any UVF linked party conference as nothing more than false promises, lies and the promotion of division. With speeches like that from Billy Hutchinson calling for civil disobedience, a call echoed by the Orange Order, those of us who are old enough to remember know to expect more of the same when it comes to these two organisations. We can all expect violence, disruption, confrontation and most likely murder. Great piece Alan but not fooled by the rhetoric from wolves in sheeps clothing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It sounds like there are a lot of decent people with good ideas (not intended to sound sarcastic).

    But one has to wonder what the hell they think they can accomplish in a party which is linked to the UVF and which the UVF clearly feels it is under no obligation to pay heed to. People like John Kyle, Julie-Ann Corr and a number of others are, unwittingly I’m sure, lending credibility and respectability to an unreconstructed and active paramilitary organization.

  • sherdy

    Was it just a chance booking or was holding the PUP conference in the headquarters of the Orange Order making a ‘Prods only need apply’ point?

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    sherdy – the venue is regularly used by cross-community groups, so while Orange owned and perhaps not entirely neutral, it’s not a cold house stately home for non-unionists.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    PaulG[9.23] The PUP and their support for the fleg rabble camped out at twaddell should be challenged directly on whether they would be in favour of repartition to end the siege mentality because it’s that demographic time bomb which is the real base of the angst The News letter pointed out, today, parallels between unionism’s splits and those of the Republicans in the US and their shameless brinkmamanship regarding the deficit. Both the protestant ascendancy here and the WASP ascendancy in the states are coming up against the demographics as well. In the era of the plantation of Ulster and the independence of America, Scots settlers here who later had to go to the States later, adopted a typical double standard in supporting US fredom from British Rule, and opposing Catholic irish independence since. Nothing changes with them.

  • paulG

    Daniel,

    I think they’d take it now. Problem is they’ve left it so late that the repartition boundaries they thought they could fall back on, have receded greatly. Now they’ll have to have a far bigger campaign of ethnic cleansing than before.

    Anyway, the main thing is that they’ve shown great solidarity with the man lovers from C company, who can now finally have their big day with Billy Hutchinson’s blessing. – Don’t you just love a happy ending!