Slugger O'Toole

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Northern Ireland Culture Wars (part 4) – Culture, Politics & Society panel with Jon Tonge, Marisa McGlinchey, Catherine McGlynn & Gavin Hart

Thu 12 December 2013, 8:30am

The fourth of six posts shared by the organisers of a symposium exploring the “Northern Ireland Culture Wars” on Friday 22 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast.

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Cultural contestation has been the inevitable outworking of the parking of the constitutional question in Northern Ireland. This has significant implications for how political parties use culture as a means of pursuing their ideological aims and placating their support bases.

jontongeJon Tonge’s presentation on the unionist party politics of culture argues that despite the on-going, highly visible, battles over expressions of traditional unionist culture and identity, the clash between moral conservatives and social liberals could represent a greater challenge for politicians in Northern Ireland in the future.

Jon Tonge is Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool. He has written widely on Northern Ireland and most recently is co-author of the forthcoming book Inside the Democratic Unionist Party: From Protest to Power (Oxford, 2014).

MarisaMcGlincheyCultural contestation in Northern Ireland is not merely played out between nationalists and unionists, social liberals and moral conservatives. There is also a great deal of cultural contestation occurring within groups. Marisa McGlinchey explored the internal debates about what constitutes legitimate republican culture between Sinn Féin and their former colleagues in dissident republican circles demonstrates.

Marisa McGlinchey is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Cohesion at Coventry University. She is currently working on an ESRC-funded study on the ideology, strategies and organising principles of dissident Irish republicanism.

CatherineMcGlynnGavinHartThe final presentation by Gavin Hart and Catherine McGlynn considered the impact of on-going culture wars on the increasing numbers of people from minority ethnic groups who have made Northern Ireland their home since the onset of the peace process (and particularly post-EU enlargement in 2004). Hart and McGlynn explored the party discourses on multiculturalism, and also how minority ethnic groups are occasionally used as proxies in on-going disputes between nationalists and unionists over issues such as language rights in contemporary Northern Ireland.

Gavin Hart is a PhD researcher at the University of Huddersfield. His research examines party discourses about multiculturalism in Northern Ireland. Catherine McGlynn is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Huddersfield. She has published extensively on politics and identity in Northern Ireland.

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Comments (37)

  1. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Thank you Alan for all your work.

    I do not see any Culture War coming from Nationalists/republicanism towards Unionism. It was interesting in the big evidence of it towards the Orange order was a speech by Gerry Adams and the attacks on Orange halls.

    The issue of attacks on Orange halls is interesting in that the Orange do not put up any fences? They could take a leaf out of the Education authorities who put up fences around schools.

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  2. Alan N/Ards (profile) says:

    Do you believe the OO are a bit “laissez faire” regarding the security of their halls?

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  3. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    As I travel about it appears that a sizeable number of Orange Halls that appear to have been recently rebuilt/repaired, possibly after having been attacked, have all the architectural embellishments of a bunker. Steel shuttered doors, high narrow slot-like windows etc.

    The hall on Dungiven Main Street is a good example. No fence just a blank face of masonry and steel, with the seemingly obligatory paint-bomb colour splashes that indicate it is located in a ‘contentious’ area.

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  4. Nevin (profile) says:

    “I do not see any Culture War coming from Nationalists/republicanism”

    Mc Slaggart, in reference to the Athboy conspiracy – which had some support from the then Dublin government – I think the term ‘controlled attrition’ is a more apt term. Of course, two can play at that game and minorities of all sorts in different places have been the victims. As one young friend put it recently, “I couldn’t go there, I’m a Catholic”. Her fear of assault was much greater that that of her contemporaries in Coleraine in the 70s when the Troubles were at their peak.

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  5. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Alan N/Ards

    “Do you believe the OO are a bit “laissez faire””

    No, I don’t think they have the money.

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  6. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    Dungiven has a protestant population of around 100 people. I would expect the hall is not used that often.

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  7. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    McS,

    Are you suggesting that the fortifications are in place because of too few local Orangemen? Would that not make it an irrelevance to the majority in the town and not a target?

    Clifton Street Orange Hall is cheek-by-jowl with the Lower Shankill, where I suspect a few Orangemen may reside, yet it too is hardened (and paint bombed).

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  8. Seamuscamp (profile) says:

    I’m not confused; I’m ignorant. So perhaps someone can help me. What are the essentials of Orange Culture? Why are attacks on Orange Halls seen to be “cultural” rather than “sectarian” or “political”? Should “cultural” prejudices be sacrosanct? Is it wrong to expect “culture” to change – or to demand that it change when it is made the excuse for illegality? Just asking!

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  9. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    The hall in Dungiven Main Street suffers the same fate as any building that hardly gets any use.

    You raise the issue of Clifton Street Orange Hall and i have seen primary schools in Belfast which had even better protection,

    Dungiven orange hall

    http://www.geolocation.ws/v/W/File:Dungiven%20Orange%20Hall(unused).JPG/-/en

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  10. Nevin (profile) says:

    A brief note on Dungiven Orange Hall:

    The Lodge enjoyed many years using the Orange Hall [built 1968] despite continued intimidation by local republicans throughout the years, however in May 1996 the Orange Hall was severely damaged in a massive fire in which it was destroyed, and regrettably it was never restored to its original glory, the Lodge now meets in Boveva Orange Hall”.

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  11. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    http://www.limavadyorange.com/site/news-events/dungiven-faith-crown-defenders-lol-golden-anniversary/

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  12. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    Tonge used the term cultural contestation, which I think would be more accurate–two separate cultures contesting for dominance within a particular territory. This is very different from what the term culture war or kulturkampf means in a historical context whether referring to Protestants and Catholics in Germany in the 1870s and 1880s or liberals and conservatives in the United States since the 1980s. In the latter two cases it is two separate subcultures who see themselves as part of the same culture, the same nation who are just fighting for dominance. As long as unionists and nationalists regard themselves as belonging to separate nations they are engaged in cultural contestation not a culture war.

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  13. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Seamuscamp (profile)

    12 December 2013 at 6:50 pm

    “I’m not confused; I’m ignorant. So perhaps someone can help me. What are the essentials of Orange Culture?”

    Understandable, it’s a culture difficult to explain to the outside world.

    You have the official side of it: Royalist, Christian etc

    So, in theory it upholds Protestant Christian principles and in the meantime Lundys like myself (I married a Catholic born in Yugoslavia) have no place, neither does anti-social behaviour and hatred.

    Once you pay lip service to the ‘official’ stance it then pretty much becomes dependent on the locality of each lodge.

    e.g. I’m sure I could march in my family’s lodge (they’re all getting old and need some one to hold a banner).

    The anti-social behaviour then varies accordingly; some on the more God fearing temperance lodges won’t tolerate a drop of alcohol, some of the Belfast ones seemingly are fuelled by it.

    Some lodges can’t wait to get home to milk the cows, others can’t wait to get back to home to annoy the fenians.

    What they have in common is that they’re (mainly) unionist and were all christened (or had parents who were christened) in Protestant churches.

    I’m a bit out of touch to see how much of a cohesive unit they still are as I suspect a lot of the rural lodges are getting sick of the Belfast lodges.

    Compare Drumcree to Twaddell….

    In addition to the above, the social function of Orange halls has changed over the decades.

    At one point you were possibly more likely to find a ceili dance in an Orange hall up North than a pub down South (they had those weird laws down there) alas folk music is no longer the done thing in Orange halls.

    However, if my sozzled mind recalls correctly, did they not teach Irish dancing in Eden Orange hall whenever Riverdance was the big thing?

    Any, Orange culture; what is it? I don’t really know any more and I was reared amongst it.

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  14. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht

    ” the social function of Orange halls has changed”

    They have not move with times…. as Son of Strongbow the keep some of them in particularly poor standard “No fence just a blank face of masonry and steel”.

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  15. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    McS,

    I very much doubt that halls in areas where they are subject to attack are kept in a fortified state through the preferred choice of the local lodge as you appear to imply. They are hardened in an effort to protect them.

    Attacks are nevertheless all too frequent; didn’t the BBC report the hall in Crumlin attacked a couple of days ago?

    As for moving with the times I passed the Orange Hall on the Greenisland Road at Newtownabbey a couple of weeks ago and there were advertisements outside for, amongst other social events, Zumba classes (oh and in case your not in the know Zumba is an exercise thing and not some Proddy occult invocation to hex themuns).

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  16. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    “The hall on Dungiven Main Street is a good example.”

    If you own something in the main shopping area of a town you have a duty to do something with it. As the building is 2 stories the OO could put a shop/hairdressers/coffee shop/ Zumba center down stairs and use upstairs for their business.

    People do attack OO halls because they its the OO. Most attacks occur because its easy. If you leave an empty house in the countryside eventually someone will come along and attack it. Even in “It’s A Wonderful Life” some one attacks an empty house…..

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  17. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    A commercial space downstairs and the OO above? Perhaps a fish shop or something?

    You should pitch it to the Order I bet they’d be fighting off offers from potential partners.

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  18. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    You could be taken for comparing the OO to loyalist paramilitary leaders?

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  19. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Mc Slaggart

    On one hand, having a business or something lively down stairs could be seen to brighten the place up a bit and meld it into the townscape better.

    On the other hand with all the worries that come with a business I imagine that the worry of “I hope it hasn’t been fire-bombed/defaced/paint bombed again” is one that many prospective business orders could do without.

    You’re being a bit too optimistic (yes, rich coming from me), in all likelihood the only halls that could pull off such an enterprise are ones in Protestant areas.

    I don’t know the people of Dungiven very well but I’d be surprised if they would be the stalwart patrons of ‘the Bowler Hat Cafe’ or ‘For Cod and Ulster’ or ‘Orange Lillies Flower Shop’ or whatever business might be set up in the DMZ that would be the lower part of the building.

    I would be DELIGHTED to be wrong on this front, truly.

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  20. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Also, meant to add, that the ones that could pull off such enterprises in Protestant areas are in theory less likely to be attacked in the first place (Clifton st notwithstanding).

    Zumba though? I’m impressed.

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  21. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht

    “‘the Bowler Hat Cafe’ or ‘For Cod and Ulster’ or ‘Orange Lillies Flower Shop’ ”

    Yes you are correct such names would not be effective in Dungiven . The way town centers are going it more than likely to be a fitness center.

    It is interesting that you automatically assume the shop would have to reflect the people who own the building. An O Neill outlet selling Ulster made product my be a fine client.

    http://www.oneills.com/

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  22. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    McS,

    No I’m not, but thanks for illustrating the mental leaps some people are prepared to make to ‘justify’ such attacks.

    The truth is I guess more prosaic. Much as attacks on GAA property are sometimes accompanied with a nod and a wink to the ‘IRA at play’ mantra the reasoning behind attacking Orange Halls is on occasion also sexed-up.

    In both cases the facilities are seen as merely a physical manifestation of ‘themuns’ and for some that is reason enough.

    As AG observes there’ll be few takers for commercial space in the “DMZ”. Rather than offering any protection to the Orange part of the building any business thought to be paying rent to those ‘Jaffa bas…..s’ would become a target in their own right.

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  23. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Mc Slaggart

    “It is interesting that you automatically assume the shop would have to reflect the people who own the building”

    No it’s not, I was in part being a smart ass, ( I just couldn’t resist a good pun) and also I was alluding to the mentality of some rural parts.

    I know of a pub in a overwhelmingly Protestant village that was referred to as ‘a fenian pub’ because the Protestant/unionist owners adorned it with ‘Oirish’ décor.

    It’s not a stretch of the imagination that a similar thinking could be applied to any business that lined the pockets of their Orange ‘landlords’.

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  24. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    ‘Jaffa bas…..s’

    I have never heard anyone in the real world use that term.

    “paying rent to those ‘Jaffa bas…..s’ ”

    The royal British legion does have property in “Nationalist areas” and no one attacks them.

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  25. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    “a physical manifestation of ‘themuns’”

    I would expect most attacks on Orange order halls occur when either there has been a parade and/or the order starts flying the union flag.

    What you have to accept is that the “republican movement” in Tyrone is actually supportive of Orange culture. I know you will find that hard to accept. Now the average Nationalist is totally pissed off with the lot of it. Hell I even heard unionists complain to a sf elected representative about the flag protests in Omagh.

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  26. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Mc Slaggart

    Really?

    You’re going to ridicule SoS’s lack of being ‘down’ with the sectarian banter of the day?

    Wether he meant Jaffa b******s or ‘Lutheran scallywags’ is irrelevant, his point is clear.

    Are we to assume then that these RBL halls are thriving enterprises or ring fenced (as per your suggestion) or have a hair dressers down stairs?

    And where are they? I know of one in Antrim and that’s it, can’t think of any others. Where are you thinking of?

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  27. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht

    ” SoS’s lack of being ‘down’ with the sectarian banter of the day?”

    I do not hear any sectarian banter in Tyrone, people are more worked up over the number of people from other parts of Europe coming to Tyrone.

    Issues that I have heard are:

    Castlederg is a majority nationalist town. never knew that.

    sf should not march in castlederg…they are acting like unionists.

    The flag protests an stopping people getting to omagh hospital (real anger).

    This year flag protests and not going to Belfast…. going to derry…(its been a very very good year for derry)

    Omagh st Patrick day parade……silence….real deep anger/hurt.

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  28. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht

    ” SoS’s lack of being ‘down’ with the sectarian banter of the day?”

    I do not hear any sectarian banter (between nationalists) in Tyrone , people are more worked up over the number of people from other parts of Europe coming to Tyrone.

    Issues that I have heard are:

    Castlederg is a majority nationalist town. never knew that.

    sf should not march in castlederg…they are acting like unionists.

    The flag protests an stopping people getting to omagh hospital (real anger).

    This year flag protests and not going to Belfast…. going to derry…(its been a very very good year for derry)

    Omagh st Patrick day parade……silence….real deep anger/hurt.

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  29. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Mc slaggart

    So nationalists do not indulge in sectarian banter in tyrone.

    Great.

    Either:

    a/ They’ve stopped altogether

    b/ save it for when confronted with a Prod, such as myself when darting for a taxi after a night out in Cookstown…

    c/ Things have changed immeasurably since I used to loiter around Clubland…

    d/ If there’s no such thing as derogatory commentating between nationalists in Tyrone then you’re unlikely to up to speed with the latest labels of choice and therefore are in no position to criticise SoS for his choice of words.

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  30. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    McS,

    I’m glad that you do not hear “sectarian banter” in Tyrone. Heaven forfend that it is down to you singing ‘la, la, la’ loudly to yourself ?

    Your comment that attacks occur only at parade times and when the OO fly the Union Flag I find a little strange. I’d almost think you mean that nationalists in Tyrone are ok with Orangeism as long as they don’t start behaving like, well, Orange folks.

    And just to broaden your understanding of County Tyrone, a short dander through the interweb showed reports of attacks on OO halls in 2013 at Plumbridge, Timpany outside Fivemiletown and Cookstown.

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  31. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    If you go back though the posts on this blog you will see that myself did post up a list of attacks on OO halls in Tyrone.

    I have never said that their is no attacks but that most occur in OO halls which are either empty of virtually empty. For the most part its the twits who attack bus shelters.

    “Orangeism as long as they don’t start behaving like, well, Orange folks”

    Of course you are correct. I am of the view that often the OO behavior is totally unacceptable. A few examples the organisation totally disrespects the flag of the UK. It makes a point of marching in areas that it knows it is not wanted.

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  32. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht

    ” confronted with a Prod, such as myself when darting for a taxi after a night out in Cookstown”

    How did they know you was a Prod?

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  33. Charles_Gould (profile) says:

    Mick

    The troubles ended when people realized outright victory was not possible, and a fair framework possible. It just took a long time for the penny to drop.

    Same for culture wars?

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  34. Son of Strongbow (profile) says:

    McS,

    I note you appear to comfortably make the pejorative jump from my “behaving like, well, Orange folks” to your “often the OO behaviour is totally unacceptable “.

    I saw what you did there. Nice.

    Slugger cards being what they are best I leave it there methinks.

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  35. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Son of Strongbow

    The behavior of “Orange men” has not been acceptable by anyone standards.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2011/07/15/orange-corner-boys-tricks/

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  36. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Mc Slaggart (profile)

    15 December 2013 at 5:49 pm

    “Am Ghobsmacht

    ” confronted with a Prod, such as myself when darting for a taxi after a night out in Cookstown”

    How did they know you was a Prod?”

    Wow.

    Are you really that innocent?

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  37. Mc Slaggart (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht

    “Are you really that innocent?”

    yes

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