Irish and Loyalist

In my first post in this series – looking at what it is to be Irish (as an adjoint to my blog ‘The New Irishman’) – I sought to show that Ian Paisley was 100% Irish. Ian Paisley’s Irishness was stated unequivocally by the man himself; and third party observers have testified to his quintessential Irishness. In my second post I sought to show that the protestant in Ireland has historically, and in Northern Ireland presently, been considered as illegitimate and as an inauthentic outsider – “imperialistic … Read more

My Ireland, the Union, and the Ervine test

NATIONALIST DEAD END: I recently had a robust exchange with a gentleman who had become quite impressed by the Scottish Nationalist Party. He argued that the onus was on unionism to now tender a counter attack.
I was, I must confess, quite annoyed at this proposed challenge. My gut instinct was that holding the incumbent position meant that one’s opponent had the work to do. But soon after this discussion an image entered my head. It was the image of the late David Ervine the Loyalist paramilitary prisoner and one time leader of the Progressive Unionist Party. Ervine is stood flanked by fellow unionists at an outdoor press gathering. It was in the 1990’s as the peace process was first finding its unsteady feet. Ervine coolly leaned forward toward the microphone and said, “Let the debate begin. We’re ready.” It was an inspiring statement despite its simplicity. It was succinct and strong. It was a challenge issued by a man who could not possibly have been more confident. This was a man thoroughly at peace with who he was, and what he wanted to say.

Belfast Project (Boston College tapes): “an invitation to people to engage in deep moral reflection on the consequences of war and political violence”

The topic of the Belfast Project – an oral history of republican and loyalist paramilitaries that is archived in the Burns Library at Boston College – is one that Slugger O’Toole posters have been tracking for some time. Taking a step back from the latest developments to look at the project as a whole, and exploring beyond the normal 2-3 minute media soundbite, I spoke to Anthony McIntyre (who conducted many of the republican interviews) about the original purpose of … Read more

On the lack of unionist leadership – what would Paisley in his prime made of it?

As Paul Bew has pointed out in the Times(£),  with the NIO a rump and now lacking historic memory in depth, there’s not much Theresa Villiers can do to affect the flags disturbances directly, with day to-day responsibility for law and order devolved to Stormont.  Unless that is, the protests gain wider political traction as a result of Willie Frazer’s exercise in protest tourism and other spasms.  This seems unlikely as the “People’s Forum “ seems as rickety as the unionist … Read more

Catching up with Brian Ervine

headshot of Brian Ervine

Brian Ervine emerged as the Progressive Unionist Party’s leader last year after Dawn Purvis quit in the aftermath of UVF members’ involvement in the murder of Bobby Moffett. I caught up with Brian in the PUP’s Newtownards Road office on Thursday afternoon. Serving in the shadow of his brother – and physically, sitting under a photo of David Ervine – he talked about his political beliefs, party policy, election hopes, and was happy to discuss the PUP’s relationship with the … Read more

Danny Morrison interviews David Ervine

This is a conversation between two men who both share a very direct style of communication. It’s interesting too because it represents countless other conversations that have abounded since the Belfast Agreement. He talks about the proposed exclusion of Sinn Fein from the Executive “When I view the potential for January I’’m saying to myself, ‘”what is it Trimble wants”? How many hoops have people to jump through?’ What I am clear on is what the Republican Movement and loyalists need … Read more