About ‘that’ crossroads: Moderate Unionism at Twaddell, April 2014

4 views

The illegal loyalist protest camp at Twaddell (hitherto rebranded ‘A Camp Called Malice‘) has been the site for regular parades, rallies and political speeches from the full range of loyalist and unionist representatives since last summer.

Last Saturday, it was the turn of the Ulster Unionist Party’s Belfast councillor, Chris McGimpsey.

His speech is worth watching and listening to in its entirety, for it effectively encapsulates all that is wrong with the political leadership of mainstream unionism- never mind the purportedly moderate wing.

“The Ardoyne brethren…have not had a dignified return to their homes yet.”

Chris begins with the guff about the ‘Brethren’ not having yet completed their walk home past the catholics since last summer. This is a lie. I should imagine that every one of the loyalists who took part in last 12th July parade that descended into vicious rioting actually made his way home that night, and have managed to sleep in their beds quite peaceably at a time of their choosing. Alas, the good people- catholic and protestant- who reside close to Twaddell have unfortunately not been provided that opportunity as the noise from the bands parading into late evening has denied many children of school age the opportunity to get an early night’s sleep.

The second falsehood in this assertion is that it ignores the fact that numerous loyalist parades have continued along the stretch of Crumlin Road in the interim period of time, including last Monday.

“We have an administration that is afraid to stand up to lawbreakers.”

In the irony-free world of political unionism, this statement hardly stands apart. But, given that Chris McGimpsey was speaking in support of an illegal (erm, ‘lawbreaking’) protest camp this takes some beating. And that’s before we even consider how the PSNI have been rightly criticised for failing to consistently stand up to the lawbreaking loyalist protesters since the flag and parade protests were launched in December 2012.

“Our leadership betrayed us.”

A blood and thunder speech to the beat of the Orange drum is never complete without a reference to a Lundy figure, and in the Belfast leadership of the Apprentice Boys, Chris found a handy Lundy. Poor Chris and the other 24 Apprentice Boys of Clifton Street are being betrayed, and Chris felt able to draw parallels between their plight and that of the 13 Apprentice Boys in Derry all those years ago to drive the point home. And what was this betrayal, you ask? The Lundy leadership decided to talk to catholics.

“We have a situation now where major criminals get bail and walk out of court but members of the protestant, unionist and loyalist community are going through those courts like a conveyor belt.”

This one deserves to be highlighted and follow up questions from the media brought to the UUP leadership. It suggests that the Ulster Unionist Party is objecting to protestants, unionists and loyalists being brought to court for criminal offences, and also appears to suggest that members of said PUL ‘tribe’ are somehow facing harsher court treatment than others. Again, a baseless assertion without the slightest trace of evidence.

“We’re losing everything in this city. We are now in a society where the protestant, unionist and loyalist community is suffering, they are being treated like 2nd class citizens not only by the police, and the courts but by the whole government.”

Again, this one warrants further probing by the mainstream media as it very clearly involves a senior Ulster Unionist Party politician alleging that the police, courts and indeed government are anti-PUL ‘tribe’. Furthermore, McGimpsey invokes a sense of being oppressed (‘suffering’) and facing defeat (‘losing everything.’)

It is a speech which mixes fear, loathing and downright lies with the clear objective of cultivating a heightened sense of communal/tribal awareness and antipathy towards The Other. It is what Twaddell is all about- hence the banners positioned to face The Other and the regular marches to the point of interface.

Loss and fightback are the major themes. The speech can essentially be summarised accordingly:

We are losing. The Taigs are getting everything. The police, courts and government are against us. They’ve gerrymandered to take our city from us. We must stand together to win- like the 13 Apprentice Boys in Derry & the 25 in Clifton Street.Vote protestant, vote unionist, vote loyalist. No other criteria should be applied to voting preference. Nothing else matters, now or ever!

Indulging the fraudulent assertions perpetuating the loyalist grievance narrative (here and here)has brought unionism to the low ebb that Camp Twaddell has become a metaphor for, whilst allowing a public profile to be developed for absurdly incoherent and vacuous individuals like Willie Frazer and Jamie Bryson.

Nothing that has been said or done by the mainstream political leadership of unionism suggests that the right lessons have or are in the process of being learned.

Moderate Unionism was once said to be at a crossroads. If that is so, it is clearly travelling in a different vehicle now.

  • Morpheus

    When it comes to the UUP I don’t think anyone is surprised about the depths they will go to anymore Chris

    They have made their bed by trying to out-DUP the DUP, it’s time to lie in it.

  • socaire

    Chris, is that ‘camp’ illegal or would you just like it to be? I can’t see the ‘authorities’ standing back and not taking any action if it is. Am I naif?

  • http://ansionnachfionn.com/ An Sionnach Fionn

    Did the masked guys in military uniforms driving military-style jeeps turn up while their supporters screamed “Bring out the guns!” before confronting lines of paramilitary police officers? Or do politicians from the Unionist minority orchestrate their attendance to avoid their terrorist brethren? Taking turns at playing the Crimea of Western Europe? Oh well, at least Chris McGimpsey had that nice big flag flapping away behind him with the grinning death mask of the Trooper staring down at the gathered masses. Kill ‘em all an’ let god sort ‘em out! Get the message oh pestilent Papists?

    Any chance of Johnny Adair standing for the UUP? Mad Dog and Lame Dog together at last.

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly: Again, this one warrants further probing by the mainstream media as it very clearly involves a senior Ulster Unionist Party politician alleging that the police, courts and indeed government are anti-PUL ‘tribe’. Furthermore, McGimpsey invokes a sense of being oppressed (‘suffering’) and facing defeat (‘losing everything.’)
    But Mopery is surely ‘protected speech’ now, as the Americans would say? The new social contract (post GFA) involves the moper not going to court to lodge his complaints; and the rest of us not paying any attention to them.

  • cynic2

    Yeah How dare they hold different views and express them.

  • Granni Trixie

    I am extremely disappointed with CMCG I thought better of him.

    Point of information: is he infact a current UUP councillor? I thought he lost his role representing the Shankill some years ago.

    Could be that with the depleated UUP ranks he fancies his chances in the future?

  • Morpheus
  • Comrade Stalin

    socaire,

    The camp is illegal on several levels :
    - it’s sited on publicly owned land, without permission of the owner (the Housing Executive)
    - unlawful assemblies blocking the road
    - illegal parades marching up to the camp
    - regular attempts to put pressure on the police lines
    - noise nuisance
    - closely linked with the UVF

    The authorities are afraid to do anything in case it makes it worse. Unionist politicians making speeches of this kind undermine the capacity of the authorities to put a stop to it. The people who live in the homes along the road dare not say anything otherwise they will be subject to intimidation. At least one of the homes has a young family living in it.

    Chris McGimpsey is actually right, ordinary loyalist working class neighbourhoods get a shitty deal from the politicians they elect – the DUP and UUP – who are to be seen making speeches and being true blue at election time yet do nothing to solve problems in between polling days. Moreover, they need political leaders who will tell them that the protest cannot work and that it’s time to give it up.

  • tedmaul101

    The shame of it! – my first comments on Slugger prompted by the paranoid and frankly bonkers outpourings of Cllr. McGimpsey.

    Where to start?? … perhaps by wondering how on earth the likes of John McAllister, Basil McCrea and the late David McClarty ever lasted as long in the UUP as they did, with such apparently bitter and twisted crackpots like this among its ranks…

    Is it any wonder Sinn Fein’s leadership looks so pleased with themselves these days, when all they need do to ensure a United Ireland is to let people like McGimpsey spew out this sort of noxious nonsense? I mean, why would any self respecting person from the nationalist side of the argument seriously consider voting against reunification when the most vocal proponents of the continuation of the status quo are the custodians of Camp Twat?

    That is not to say that I do not wish NI21 well in their endeavours to move the pro-Union argument away from the fetid, rotting, sectarianised carcass of what passes for mainstream Unionist politics in Northern Ireland at present. I do, and will probably give them a vote when the opportunity arises. But it really depresses me that, so many years after the Good Friday agreement effectively settled the status of Northern Ireland for as long as the majority of its citizens wish it to remain as it is currently constituted, the best that Unionist politicians from the supposedly ‘moderate’ UUP [LMAO at that one] can come up with is McGimpsey’s 9.31 minutes of deluded, bitter and twisted claptrap.

    God help the people who allow themselves to be suckered in like this because one day they are going to get the shock of their lives when they wake up and find themselves in a United Ireland. Because that is exactly where their ‘leaders’ are taking them.

    McGimpsey’s ‘speech’ was nothing short of a Party Political Broadcast for Sinn Fein.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “The authorities are afraid to do anything in case it makes it worse. ”

    The Alliance party stance on the sf Castlederg parade has had an impact in making things worse.

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart,

    No it hasn’t.

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks for that Morpheus,that change passed me by. Be interesting to see how he squares up to the shenanigans on C’Reagh Council.

    If memory serves me well he (or was it his brother?) would not sign up to UUP links with Conservatives because he claims to be basically Labour. In the 90s he soundly campaigned against punishment beatings notably in the case of the Newry Two (as I did myself).
    Hence the reason for my disappointment in him.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “No it hasn’t.”

    Pat Doherty, got 48.42% of the vote in west Tyrone and Alliance complain that republicans should not march though a “nationalist” town in his electoral area???????????

    Is their any evidence that Alliance say that “Unionists” should not march in the same town?

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    CS

    Excellent post – pretty much nails it.

    Cynic2/Reader

    Chris didn’t complain about anyone expressing their views. He simply challenged their views. It’s now common for so called “Loyalists” to complain about “their” community losing out to the Taigs. Every report that I have seen shows that the list of poorest areas has a higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant. Likewise for unemployment statistics. If you can actually back up any of your claims – you’d have a point. If you can’t – you’re just indulging in – wait for it – mopery!

    As the months and years go by – there are more and more “Loyalists” who come on here and accuse Nationalists of mopery while never missing the opportunity to have a good old mope themselves (usually with no evidence to back it up).

    You couldn’t make it up.

  • tacapall

    “The camp is illegal on several levels :
    - it’s sited on publicly owned land, without permission of the owner (the Housing Executive)
    - unlawful assemblies blocking the road
    - illegal parades marching up to the camp
    - regular attempts to put pressure on the police lines
    - noise nuisance
    - closely linked with the UVF

    The authorities are afraid to do anything in case it makes it worse”

    So if its an illegal protest how can three young people be charged with damaging a banner and flags erected illegally by and belonging to those who are illegally protesting.

    How much money has the protestors caused the state so far £millions and millions I believe and the PSNI have made no effort to arrest or evict those acting illegally. Young adolescents cause a few pounds worth of damage to an illegal banner erected illegally by people protesting illegally and they are arrested and hauled off to court in a blaze of publicity and charged with causing criminal damage. WTF

    And people try to convince you this place has changed.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Chris

    Absolutely spot on.

    As mentioned by others this is basically the pathetic and cringe-worthy new trend among some unionist quarters: MOPEry.

    (I hate MOPEry in Ireland, it gains no sympathy from me whatsoever).

    All these politicans are doing is raising the stakes in a game that they’re ultimately going to lose.

    Garvaghy Road anyone?

    They’ve had decades of warning regarding a demographic shift.

    They’ve been lampooned by the media of every country that’s bothered to cover Orange parades (they’ve even made their way into a French school textbook!) but still can’t work out that sometimes their behaviour is wrong.

    They continue to brand anyone who may have a fresh way of thinking as a ‘Lundy’.

    I have very little sympathy with the troubles of the Belfast OO, they are the masters of their own demise.

  • babyface finlayson

    There is a long list of late submissions on the parades commission website from the ‘Ligoniel Collective’
    Restrictions generally appear to have been imposed,including no music and the end time of 8.30pm.
    Have these been observed at all?

  • David Crookes

    A fine dissection, Chris.

    Is CMcG articulating official UUP policy?

    Whatever the case, the courts should be dealing with any breaches of the law that take place in A Camp Called Malice.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Setting to one side for a moment the whole Twaddell nonsense, I have no interest in the OO in Belfast or elsewhere, I don’t think that the camp yahoos, or their political support, is really the issue.

    For some nationalists the very fact that some loyalists and unionists have stepped onto the MOPE bandwagon is the real cause for their annoyance.

    Witness the brouhaha when educational underachievement amongst Protestant boys was brought up. Almost immediately statistics were mined to ‘expose’ the facts that Catholic children were a few percentage points ahead of Protestant kids in the ‘Poor Performance Race’. (As if more children experiencing educational challenges made everything ok)

    Phew! Normal service had been resumed.

    The same attitude exists about Twaddell; the ‘victim card’ can only be played by the nationalist team, Prod whinging is just not allowed in ‘de Nort’ etc.

    All this could have been avoided if nationalists had gone to the bother to copyright MOPERY back in the day. Is it too late now to right this, yet another, historical wrong done to Croppiedom?

  • Mick Fealty

    Politicians use of the most elastic definitions of legality to suit their own needs (f/e DUP MLAs talking about ‘fraud’ and then not taking the matter to the PSNI) is endemic.

    I think Socaire has a point. If it is actually illegal we should require a higher standard for lack of evidence than ‘it would just make things worse’.

    As for Chris McG, nice guy but he was with Farset when Margaret Ritchie withdrew the CTI funding (reinstated by OFMdFM after Farset took her to court)… His council seat these days is a co-option in Castlereagh, which he may not even hold.

    And if the case against McG is so strong why the paraphrasing as quote? [I know there's an election on and people get excited, but come on guys??]

  • Reader

    MonkDeWallyDeHonk: If you can actually back up any of your claims – you’d have a point. If you can’t – you’re just indulging in – wait for it – mopery!
    If you are claiming that CMcG is guilty of mopery; I got there first.
    If you are suggesting I am guilty of Mopery; would you care to provide an example?

  • Morpheus

    That speech to me typifies what the UUP are about these days. A man approaching retirement, reminiscing about the ‘good old days’, clad in regalia, surrounded by equally old fully-clad cronies telling a crowd what they want to hear so they can be used if a good old-fashioned riot is needed and then ignored after the election – all so they can keep their seats/salaries/pensions/expenses/power.

    Not a word about education, the health service, the economy…now that’s leadership

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “Chris McG, nice guy ”

    Why do you say that? What did he do that made you give him the tag line of nice guy?

    Did I pick him up correct when he said “25 of us” is that all the number who wanted to go on his local march?

  • Neil

    And right on cue Strongbow chimes in with his single transferable post using Unionist mopery as an opportunity to call Nationalists mopes.

  • Mick Fealty

    Erm, cause I’ve met him two or three times and I, er, thought he was a nice guy, if that’s okay with the ‘Tyrone Thought Police’, er, Constable?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mick

    “thought he was a nice guy”

    What you mean he was pleasant to talk with.

    At has come to something when an Orange man thinks attacking his own organisation will get him some more votes.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Is Robert Johnson the only one who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads?

  • David Crookes

    “Not a word about education, the health service, the economy…now that’s leadership.”

    Well said, Morpheus.

  • cd7

    The camp is getting to the point of ridiculousness, far beyond a humorous little joke. And the way the majority of the camp treat the police who are forced to be there to, well, police them is ridiculous. This isn’t REALLY about unionism, or a loss of identity. It’s about bored people with no jobs having nothing better to do.

  • cynic2

    Comrade

    “it’s sited on publicly owned land, without permission of the owner (the Housing Executive)”

    Not a crime. Civil issue of trespass

    “- unlawful assemblies blocking the road”

    May be associated with the camp but isn’t part of camp. May or may not be a crime as ECHR provides right to protest

    “- illegal parades marching up to the camp”

    if they are illegal its the marchers not the campers issue

    “- regular attempts to put pressure on the police lines”

    Not a crime

    “- noise nuisance”

    Possible crime. Has there been a complaint?

    “- closely linked with the UVF”

    That sounds a bit like the Monty Python joke of arresting him in possession of thick lips and black curly hair

    I have said before that I think they are all mad but this sort of mindless allegations desperate to smear in any way simply dont help

  • cynic2

    “It’s about bored people with no jobs having nothing better to do.”

    Thats the definition of many places but they dont do this nonsense. There is also a basic utter hatred between the two sides. Its rooted in BOTH communities

  • cynic2

    “cause I’ve met him two or three times”

    Mick

    What’s the world come to. Talking with Prods!!! Next you will listen and that a slippery slope. Then you may even allow them to post comments here.

    Soon they will be sleeping with our daughters and corrupting the true Irish Bloodline

  • mac tire

    Enjoy that drink cynic2. Seems like you are anyway.

  • Comrade Stalin

    cynic2

    “it’s sited on publicly owned land, without permission of the owner (the Housing Executive)”

    Not a crime. Civil issue of trespass

    I said it was illegal. I did not say it was criminal.

    “- unlawful assemblies blocking the road”

    May be associated with the camp but isn’t part of camp. May or may not be a crime as ECHR provides right to protest

    The ECHR does not provide the right to block roads or create public nuisance/disturbances. You are now making excuses for unlawful behaviour.

    “- illegal parades marching up to the camp”

    if they are illegal its the marchers not the campers issue

    They’re the same people.

    “- regular attempts to put pressure on the police lines”

    Not a crime

    Wasting police time and endangering police officers most certainly is a crime.

    “- noise nuisance”

    Possible crime. Has there been a complaint?

    It doesn’t matter whether there is a complaint or not.

    “- closely linked with the UVF”

    That sounds a bit like the Monty Python joke of arresting him in possession of thick lips and black curly hair

    I have said before that I think they are all mad but this sort of mindless allegations desperate to smear in any way simply dont help

    Twaddell is a paramilitary show of strength, with anti-social and criminal aspects. And you’re the guy making excuses for it. I thought unionism was supposed to be law-abiding.