How Canada sees NI

Northern Ireland Protestant and Roman Catholic gangs attack immigrants

Depressing.

  • willowfield

    The fact that the racist attacks are happening is more depressing than the fact that it is being reported in Canada.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Just about enough in the headline to be able to put the blame on everyone. A dishonest piece of work.

  • Davros

    Why dishonest Pat ? There’s racism in both communities.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    There is Davros, but the overwhelming majority of racist attacks are emanating from within unionism.
    The writer uses an incident in Dungannon to implicate Roman Catholic gangs when a reading of the article merely refers to Dungannon as a mainly Catholic town. Anyone who knows Dungannon knows there is a sizeable unionist population in the area.
    Lets honestly identify the problem then we can get a solution.
    After the recent isolated attack on a Filipino household in W Belfast the local community held a vigil asking the people to stay. Haven’t heard too many instances of that happening anywhere else.

  • Davros

    Pat, from speaking to someone on the phone this AM it sounds as if the latest attack – in Lurgan one man stabbed and two men badly beaten – came from the non-unionist community, and there have been other attacks than the one in Violet st from within the nationalist community.

  • cphay

    Regardless of what is happening on the ground, it’s a long-standing Canadian tradition to report in an ‘unbiased’ way – i.e. either offend none and all.
    But i’m sure they’re sorry 😉

  • cphay

    oops – that should read: “either offend none OR all”

  • Davros

    None and all works just as well 🙂 A neutral article will cause offence as at least one side and probably both sides will be offended because the “Others” weren’t vilified.

  • John McIlveen

    Pat & Willowfeild

    I think the most important question to ask here is ‘where is the most organised aggression coming from?’ Yes, there have been disgusting instances of racist attacks coming from within both communities here, but the most organised, systematic and frequent aggression is obviously coming from the unionist/loyalist community.

    One only has to look at the graffiti painted on the houses in skegoneill promoting Combat 18 to realise that the most dangerous and frightnening aspect of this problem in our society is coming from loyalists. The UDA has well-known links to this organisation and it seems is promoting it’s influence widely in this ugly campaign.

    I think that is where the real difference lies, and in that respect the Canadian report misses the mark completely.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros,
    i’m unsure about the Lurgan case and will await further details. But as I stated the Dungannon incident was called as an attack by Roman Catholic gangs when there was no evidence at all that this was the case. Dungannon does indeed have a sizeable unionist population. The reporter made an assumption and should be called to account on it. A person called Gary Ashley Smyth has been charged with the Dungannon attack and as of yet no one has ascribed the attack to any particular group.
    Violet St was an example of how the community should respond to such attacks. The community rallied around, rather than making mealy mouthed statements or in some political cases live in denial.
    What cannot be denied is the involvement of loyalist paramilitary gangs in these attacks. An involvement that adds a more distinctly threatening edge.

  • Rebecca Black

    Northern Ireland is actually quite well reported in Canada in the two big papers.

    I lived in Toronto for a year and had no problem whatsoever keeping up with the latest happenings. There is also quite a substantial Northern Irish population living in Canada, they even have an orange lodge in Toronto, so there is a market for Northern Irish news over there.

    Great country by the way, I loved it.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Pat

    To be fair, the vigil tonight in Fortwilliam seems to have the strong support of locals (from what I can gather), and yesterday people did call round to the houses that were attacked to offer practical support. One man called round with a bucket of paint to cover the swastikas that had been painted, for example.

    The response after Violet Street seems to have been a worthwhile effort by the community there.

    The Greater Village Regeneration Trust held a summer festival as a response to the attacks there, although there were accusations of tokenism. I’m not sure that the Chinese community would have too much interest in a day trip to the Boyne, but hey, if we’re going to be respectful of other people’s cultures, I guess it works both ways.

    While the vast majority of physical attacks have occurred in areas where unionists predominate, it would be unfair to say that others in these same communities have not responded to those attacks in a positive way. I just wished that unionist politicians would DO rather than just SAY something. Their words are sometimes undermined by what their colleagues say, although the SDLP had a recent indiscretion in Newtownabbey over a councillor’s remark. However, I find it difficult to understand why the DUP’s Ruth Patterson is chair of the South Belfast Partnership’s round table on racism after some of the crap she has come out with recently.

    It’s not the kind of thing I would want to engage in a bout of community oneupmanship on though. Tarring entire communities with the same broad brush is as much a form of prejudice as racism… though I know you wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

    As someone who takes an all-Ireland approach, I’m sure you’re also aware of organised groups in the Republic who use their Irish nationalism/republicanism as a pathetic excuse to attack foreigners (although I always thought that republicanism and racism would be pretty much mutually exclusive).

    What do you think?

  • The Devil

    Two things i hate in this world Racists and Niggers

  • Alan2

    And again perhaps the main reason for racist attacks occuring in Protestant areas is because MOST of the minorities live in Protestant areas and send there kids to non-denominational state schools and not because of less racism within the Nationalist community. Effigies have been hung from bridges in the South with some rather distasteful grafitti before now. It is not the problem of any one community it is going to become an increasingly common problem as Ireland catches up with the rest of the English speaking world and becomes a melting pot of multi-culturalism aka England and USA. Therefore we should be looking at ways in which different communities and cultural groups can live together in a shred space and live with out differences in religion, language and cultures.

  • Alan2

    that should read live together in a shared space and live with our differences

  • Davros

    Have to say it – those responsible for these attacks
    cannot be “Protestant” or “Roman Catholic” as no Christian would be involved.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “As someone who takes an all-Ireland approach, I’m sure you’re also aware of organised groups in the Republic who use their Irish nationalism/republicanism as a pathetic excuse to attack foreigners (although I always thought that republicanism and racism would be pretty much mutually exclusive).

    What do you think?”

    You’re are going to have to be more specific Gonzo so that I can be as specific as possible. Nationalism can be used by any charlatan for whatever reason so identification of groups or individuals would be welcome.

  • toronto

    Don’t worry what we think. Canadians are almost as poorly informed as our southern cousins.

  • maca

    Why didn’t they just say “Northern Irish gangs attack immigrants” or are they trying to see who’s the badest muthafuckas?

  • ulsterman

    So racism does not exist in Canada?. Must be some country then.Shame about the way their eskimo population is treated.

    God Save The Queen.

  • Davros

    I suspect they were stressing that both sides are guilty of racism Maca.

  • ulsterman

    Why did they just not say that for hundreds of years the Papists have been attacking and killing the Protestant immigrant population.

    God Save The Queen.

  • maca

    “Shame about the way their eskimo population is treated” sayz the man who uses the derogatory term as opposed to the correct term Inuit. Unless of course you are actually referring to those who don’t mind being called Eskimo which are the Yupik (Russian not Canadian).

  • maca

    Davros, my post was sort of tongue in cheek. 😉

    Coinincidentially the figures for attacks in the south look bad, 70 attacks in the last 6 months. A disgusting problem which needs more attention from everyone, it’s certainly not limited to one religion, one culture or one country.

  • queens_unionist

    The fact is that both sides of the community are involved.
    A harder line must be taken on racism. It is on the increase and has to be stopped. Why not have a massive crackdown and ‘nip it in the bud’ as im sure it will only get worse.
    Both dies of politicians have to tackle this head on.

  • George

    Maca,
    those figures you cite are for racist incidents not attacks.
    They include acts of discrimination and other non-violent incidents.

    When you consider for the whole Irish Republic with a population of 4 million people there were 70 incidents in the last six months, while in the Lurgan area alone (pop. 25,000) there were 38 in the same period, I think you can see the scale of the problem in Northern Ireland.

    Add to that the organised groups present such as Combat 18 and the minute size of the immigrant population and it’s quite frightening.

  • Davros

    Lurgan area or Craigavon ? There’s quite a difference. Where did you get the figure George ?

  • maca

    George, correct, they were “incidents” but they did include assault, bullying, and damage to property.

    According to the ITimes
    “The complaints relate to three main areas – assaults, abuse and harassment; delivery of public and private services; and misinformation and circulation of offensive material.”

    Anyway my only point is that 70 incidents is 70 indicents too many. Even if it is worse or not in the North.

  • Keith M

    Pat McL : “the overwhelming majority of racist attacks are emanating from within unionism.” Can I point you towards page 20 of (the tabloid edition) of today’s Irish Independent. It looks like there’s been a “unionist” invasion of the Republic, or could it be you are in denial?

  • George

    Yes Davros, it includes Craigavon area so that should be 80,000.

    Doesn’t make a huge difference. If you took the Craigavon rate and put it on an Irish Republic level, we’d have 1,900 racist incidents.
    Instead there were 70 incidents with a much larger immigrant population (30,000 new Eastern European immigrants since May alone).

    That is one hell of a difference in racism rates and to try and compare the two regions is ridiculous.

    Per capita, there is a 50 times greater likelyhood of a racist incident happening in Craigavon borough than there is in the Irish Republic.

    To make it even more frightening: How many immigrants live in Craigavon compared to the Irish Republic?

  • Davros

    Where did you get the figure for Craigavon George ?

  • maca

    “It looks like there’s been a “unionist” invasion of the Republic, or could it be you are in denial?”

    Well, isn’t he talking about NI? So…

  • George

    BBC quoting the PSNI yesterday Davros.
    I assume the police wouldn’t be making it up.

  • George

    dodgy link maybe this time

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davros.

    Re. Lurgan/Craigavon.

    Yes there is a difference but George’s point still stands, and we all need to accept that. Picking at specific details won’t change the reality, even if it might work in the short term as a soothing balm over the sores.

    I think we are seeing the logical post-war effect of having two communities who have long since dispensed with civilised value and instead decided to give full vent to their fears and hatreds. We don’t tend to hold anything back. Giving in to hate has been our thing for some time now.

    I think the point has to be made though that while it is undoubtedly correct to say that neither community has a monopoly on racism, this is ultimately a meaningless platitude. Racist attacks are manifestly emanating from within the unionist community at an exponentially greater rate than is the case across the fence.

    Why is this? Because there are larger numbers of ethnic minorities living in unionist areas? Maybe. Though there are large numbers of Chinese, Filipino and others living on the Falls, where problems have not arisen to anything like the same extent as elsewhere.

    This explanation also falls short for the fundamental reason that to some extent it mitigates a phenomenon that ought not to be mitigated under any circumstances. It’s the classic “yes I condemn this unequivocally but…” strategy that unionism’s political class has honed down the years.

    Could it be that for historical and political reasons, nationalists are more likely to be to the left? Perhaps less likely to have the kind of intellectual framework that would see racism as somehow understandable? And more likely to see racism as a disease?

    (And make no mistake, it is a disease. One might mitigate it by explaining its origins but to do so is academic. Of course racism comes from somewhere. Of course it happens for a reason. Cancer happens for a reason. But why people choose to give in to their pathologies is a less pressing matter than intervening on behalf of their victims. Attacking minorities is NEVER a reasonable response to socio-economic conditions. It is the response of the thick, the ignorant, the lazy and the useless. In fact, let’s keep the Filipinos and banish the people of Donegall Pass. And Burnley too.)

    Could it be that unionism is by nature more resistant to new faces, new realities and new ideas?

    If you look at unionism’s political class, I don’t think it can seriously be disputed that it has covered itself in disgrace over this issue. The approach has been to pander to the worst prejudices of the kind of scum that attack immigrants, and the residual scum that mitigates such attacks. I can’t think of a single unionist representative who has done a damn thing about this issue, or made a statement that didn’t have a mitigating caveat in it.

    (This is not intended as an attack on unionist people generally, by the way. I hope some of the unionist posters here will either show me I am wrong about their representatives or join with me in condemning them. This isn’t a unionist v nationalist issue. If I perceived an endemic racism within the nationalist community I would not shrink from naming it. Were nationalist leaders so forgiving of such evil, I would not shrink from condemning such leaders. Were nationalism gripped by the same denial about the issue I would shout the reality from the rooftops. Were nationalism so obviously unable to deal with its more atavistic tendencies, I would not adopt a strategy of pretending there was no problem.)

    Whatever you think about them, Sinn Fein have been the strongest anti-racist activists and deserve credit as such. Let’s set aside for a moment everything else we know about that party and honestly look at their record on this issue alone.

    I was at a meeting recently in the Culturlann on the Falls, where the Springfield Road residents association had organised a special seminar/ceremony. They wanted to give a very conspicuous welcome to the ethnic minorities of west Belfast. I thought it was a very important gesture and one with genuine intentions from that community – though of course as with all “community association’’ stuff in west Belfast, it was probably in fact organised by Sinn Fein.

    Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison addressed the meeting. Again, whatever else about them, these guys are big hitters in west Belfast, and they gave very powerful – and widely reported – speeches denouncing the very concept of racism. They spoke about how the area was enriched by the many Filipino nurses, for example, who work at the Royal. Adams talked about the experiences of Irish emigrants in the past and drew parallels with the new arrivals here. He said west Belfast was the most welcoming place in the city for new arrivals, and that people in the west should be proud of that. In short, he was saying to the people of west Belfast that if you have neighbours from China or Lithuania, you are blessed. It’s not something to be tolerated – it’s something to be celebrated.

    Though in fairness I’d say he was pushing at an open door. It has been my experience that anti-racism is not a tough sell in west Belfast.

    Compare and contrast with anything said by any unionist in the Village, Donegall Pass, Sandy Row, Craigavon etc, and the natural tendencies of the population in those areas.

    (This post is not a tribute to Sinn Fein, by the way. Adams doesn’t deserve a medal for his sentiments. It’s the politicians who fail, day in day out to do likewise who deserve to be scorned.)

  • Davros

    Thanks George .. Reason I asked is because, NI having been falsely labelled last year as more racist than England , statistics are worth examining closely.

    I don’t think it’s a valid comparison unless we know if there is some parity between the stats for the states.

    eg you are running with this figure of 70 from the media.

    What are the Garda figures as opposed to figures “reported to” the NCCRI ?

    I know there have been hotbeds of racial problems in the ROI – have we comparable figures so that we can compare racist incidences between like and like ?

    Nobody can deny thatv there’s a big problem with racism and racist violence here , But from what I can see the figures here although roughly doubled
    still aren’t a lot different from the figures for racist attacks and incidents in England.

    Another factor relevent if trying to compare NI and ROI- “However, it is believed that the real figure is much higher because of under-reporting.”
    From Today’s Irish Independent. NI we are aware of our racism problem and encourage reporting. That’s not the impression I get from the ROI who seem to some extent to be in denial that they have a problem.

  • Davros

    Davros.

    Re. Lurgan/Craigavon.

    Yes there is a difference but George’s point still stands, and we all need to accept that. Picking at specific details won’t change the reality, even if it might work in the short term as a soothing balm over the sores.

    That’s an unfair accusation Billy P.
    In ANY statistical comparison there MUST be careful scrutiny of the details …remember the pigs ear made last year when it was claime that NI was more Racist than England ?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    KeithM.

    Please read the story that introduces you to thread that you are contributing to. It is always best to get a basis for what you are opinionating on.
    Northern Ireland is the area covered by the story. In the area covered by the story the overwhelming majority of racist attacks are emanating from within the unionist community, that is a fact.
    It is also a fact that loyalist paramilitaries are involved in the atttacks.
    It is also a fact that the response of unionist politicians has been pathetic and in some cases they have even made excuses for the attacks.

    Your feeble and ham fisted attempt to get off thread is a bit sad really.

    However, if you want to debate racism in the 26 counties i’m more than willing to do so. Please don’t deny the original line of the story it makes you appear like someone in denial.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Davros.

    My point was that you might have accepted George’s point, which was perfectly clear and perfectly valid, if a little bit out.

    You didn’t accept the point, which was, if you’ll forgive me, unnecessarily churlish.

    But let’s not fall out over this mate.

  • Davros

    Hmmmm Pat … That’s a bit harsh considering YOU have ALSO veered off on a tangent from the article.
    No mention of Unionism or unionism. It was portrayed in religious context.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros,
    i’m surprised you take issue with the inter changing of unionist for protestant in the context of areas. Most people accept it as an unfortunate fact of life here. I’ve often heard of nationalist area in relation to where the majority population is catholic. Likewise unionist and protestant. So it is hardly veering off on a tangent.
    In order to ease unionist feelings let me rephrase.
    The overwhelming majority of attacks are emanating from areas where protestants reside. Although these protestants sometimes refer to themselves as catholic, plain catholics though, not of the Roman variety.
    Nonetheless these areas are represented in the main by unionist politicians and the people who reside there would consider themselves to be unionists. Thus the phrase unionist area.

    Is that better.

    KeithM tried to be a smart arse without understanding the geographical context of the original piece.

  • Davros

    Billy, I won’t fall out with you 🙂
    I don’t accept what you say however. I wasn’t being Churlish, I was using a specific to illustrate just how easy it is to manipulate statistics and to quite innocently make mistakes.
    The Craigavon/Lurgan thing was merely an example.

    We went through all this last year.
    if people are going to draw conclusions from statistics , they need to be careful over which statistics they choose to use.

  • George

    Davros,
    the figure of 70 incidents comes from the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturism (NCCRI) not the media.

    The Gardai reported 42 crimes with a racist motive in the Irish Republic so far this year (up to November 8), compared with 69 for 2003 and 102 for 2002.

    In other words, comparing like with like makes the Northern Ireland figures even worse.

    Does NI have an equivalent of the government funded NCCRI, which helps set up initiatives and advises on how to combat racism?

    In the Irish Times, Karima Zahi who works with the Northern Ireland Council for Ethic Minorities said racist incidents there were now almost a daily occurrence with 90% of nurses from India and the Phillippines living in Belfast experiencing a racist incident.

    Apart from Billy Pilgrim’s points and the figures, which speak for themselves, I’ll give you another example of what I see is the difference between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

    Last week was anti racism in the workplace week here and one of the groups who really pushed it was one that you would least expect, the IFA (Irish Farmer’s Association). Why?

    IFA’s Deputy President, Ruaidhri Deasy, said, “Migrant workers are employed on farms around the country on a full time and seasonal basis. They have played a key role in helping farmers to maintain productivity in a context of labour shortages.”

    “By becoming involved in this initiative, IFA is highlighting the good examples of cultural integration that exist in the agri-sector and encouraging best practice in all farm businesses.”

    Even your average conservative farmer sitting away from it all is being made aware of the unacceptability of racism, the benefits of immigration and the responsibility we have towards our new people.

    A country has to make it unacceptable to condone racism in any way. I don’t see this happening yet in Northern Ireland.

    I don’t see a policy of trying to get new immigrants to move there, I don’t see the Northern Irish equivalent of FAS in Lithuania recruiting people etc.

    I don’t see enough NI politicians making the link between immigrants and our own torrid history, of the economic benefits of having a diverse people etc.

  • Davros

    Pat- I was pointing out that even the best of us can allow our own interpretations and prejudices to manifest themselves 😉

    I’ll put this to you – I would agree with Brian Lennon, S.J when he specifically states that
    ” racism is an issue the Loyalist Community needs to address urgently”.
    Would you agree that that is a fairer comment than focussing on the entire protestant/unionist population of Northern Ireland ?

  • Davros

    Indeed George – and what would you guess is the true figure for racists attacks as both the Gardai and NCCRI say that the reported crimes in the ROI are only the tip of the iceberg ?

  • George

    Davros,
    I am comparing like with like. If you want me to compare speculation with speculation, I can but I don’t know where this will bring us.

    Further away from the problem of racism in Northern Ireland, that’s for sure.

    Look at the issue north of the border and what is happening there rather than trying to drag the Irish Republic into it.

    All countries have varying problems with racisme but one thing is for sure, if the number of racist incidents in Northern Ireland was the same as in the Irish Republic then it wouldn’ be in the news every day.

  • Davros

    But you are not comparing like with like George.
    NI is nothing like the ROI.

  • slackjaw

    Rant:

    It is striking how a lot of the discourse on racism in NI focuses on the efforts, or lack thereof, that ‘the other side’ is making to tackle the issue.

    For many, I sense that the knowledge that ‘the other side’ is just as bad or worse on the issue of racism acts as a salve to their troubled conscience.

    There is an ugly political point-scoring game being played by some. Racist violence in the unionist community should not be used to attempt to portray unionism, or unionists, as somehow ‘more racist’ than nationalism. The same applies vice-versa. Violent loyalism may be a function of unionism, but it is also, though some may be reluctant to admit it, a function of republicanism.

    We tacitly accept the notion of conceptual green or orange boundaries around communities, and that there are some spaces where a proper welcome only extends to individuals of a prescribed creed or colour. We do little to bring this to an end. As long as this is the norm, racist attacks are always likely.

    Racism is flourishing in Northern Ireland because of circumstances created by Nationalist and Unionist alike. The ‘who is more responsible?’ debate will continue indefinitely, and is intensely unproductive for addressing the immediate problem.

    The people who are perpetrating these acts are scum, and generally unrepresentative of the communities in which they live. If you are not prepared to offer a hand in good faith to any democratic politicians that may be genuinely attempting to address the issue of racism in their communities, I suggest you are a hindrance and you should shut the fuck up.

    We have to get over this crap of “We are not racist, because our political tradition is not racist, but lookit themmuns – aha!”, and get on to something that approximates collective responsibility. The victims of racist attacks are unlikely to give a fuck if their attacker was a loyalist or not. And, ideally, neither should we.

    Rant ends.

  • Davros

    Good post SJ.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    No problem Davros.

  • George

    Davros,
    The only conclusion that I can draw from what has been going on this year is that organised racism is a major problem in Northern Ireland.

    What new measures are being taken to combat it?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I’m guessing that post was at least partly aimed at me SJ?

    It seems to me that the nationalist community is far more collectively minded than the unionist community, and this has produced a mindset where nationalism is more likely to take responsibility for what happens within the tribe. The fact is you are far less likely to hear a nationalist responding to a racist attack in, say, the Bogside, by mouthing platitudes and caveats. There is no nationalist equivalent of the unspeakable Ruth Patterson. You won’t find a moderate (or even hardline) nationalist equivalent of the performance put on by moderate unionist Michael McGimpsey at Sandy Row.

    Another point of distinction between unionism and nationalism is that the latter does not disown its dregs. Unionism slaps a loyalist sticker over its embarrassments and moves on.

    Unionism does not take responsibility for its bottom end. Nationalism does. Which is why the Falls and the Shankill present such a striking contrast these days. Unionism is in the habit of tagging its more unpleasant extremes as `loyalist’, and thereafter abdicating all responsibility.

    Which is pathetic and cowardly in our society of two tribes.

    Now I can undestand Slackjaw’s frustration that this debate should have a tribal dimension to it, but that doesn’t answer the point. Why is one tribe home to so many more racists than the other. And why does that tribe continue so demonstrably to fail to get to grips with it?

    And the big question: are racism and anti-racism respectively in any way inevitable outworkings of our core political identities?

  • slackjaw

    Billy P

    It wouldn’t be fair to address any specific part of my previous post to you, as I was writing in response to other posts, although I have to say that nothing you posted served to alter my opinions.

    The reductive dualism of this debate is depressing. I reject any notion of core political identities, and am reluctant to see NI nationalist and unionist communities as battened-down, sealed off entities. To attempt to resolve the problem of racism in such a binary manner lacks vision.

    Regarding your big question, what does such a debate achieve? Does one side have to be proven right before racist attacks can be stopped?
    I think that the question is unnecessarily and inappropriately reductive.

    What do you consider to be a core political identity anyway? Do you wish to determine and assign a particular world view or mentality? If so, I think there’s a fine line between ‘core political identity’ and notions of race, and I think that the concept is best left to one side.

  • willowfield

    Which is why the Falls and the Shankill present such a striking contrast these days.

    Is this comment backed up by deprivation indices?

  • barnshee

    pat

    “The overwhelming majority of attacks are emanating from areas where protestants reside”
    really ??

    ALL of the thousands of attacks on protestants “emanated from areas where catholics reside”

    Catholics are thus far worse than any other group???

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Slackjaw.

    It is depressing, I agree. Northern Ireland is depressing. But I don’t think that `a shame on both your houses’ is particularly helpful.

    “What do you consider to be a core political identity anyway? Do you wish to determine and assign a particular world view or mentality? If so, I think there’s a fine line between ‘core political identity’ and notions of race, and I think that the concept is best left to one side.”

    Not so. I have argued long and hard on this site and a good few other places that the concept of politics being tied up with race/communal identity etc is an evil concept – albeit a very widespread one.

    Political views can and do change, all the time. DNA doesn’t.

    However I don’t believe that what I call the core political identities of NI have anything to do with DNA.

    Again, I acknowledge that the assumption is implicit in much of our discourse that this is in fact the case – ie that there is Celtic/Gaelic/Irish/catholic/nationalist etc crowd on one side and the teutonic/Scots/British/settler/protestant/unionist crowd on the other, and the breaking of this division is impossible.

    However I believe this assumption is an evil one, the product of an nth-rate mind. And as I keep saying, it’s nothing more than an Alamo for those who have run out of arguments.

    By core political identities I refer specifically to the question of the north’s constitutional status. Should we be part of an Irish state, a British one or whatever else? Surely it’s not controversial to make this observation?

    This has led to the point where the evil assumption I refer to above becomes more or less the defining festure of our political discourse. I mean, for all the quixotic skirmishes and pseudo issues that crop up periodically, couldn’t NI discourse be summed up by the following:

    “I’m an X, so this is what I think, and I’m not changing my mind so shut up and go away.”

    My point is that racism in our society is perhaps driven by our age-old conflict, which has forced the different sides of the dispute either to the left or right. And it’s out there on the right that you’ll find troglodytes scrawling `Chinks out’ on people’s doors.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Barnshee,
    we are discussing racism on this thread so please do try and keep up. However if you want to talk about sectarian attacks then just say so.
    Can you provide figures for the number of attacks emanating from catholic areas towards protestants compared to the number of attacks emanting from protestant areas towards catholics? It would be a good starting point for the discussion.

  • Davros

    I must go and do some work, but this is worth considering.
    pp. 120-121 “Peace comes dropping Slow ”
    Brian Lennon S.J. Community Dialogue.
    (Strongly recommended Book)

    There are some other reasons why there might be more sectarianism in loyalist than in nationalist areas:

    …Sectarianism tends to break out in loyalist areas in which the population is dwindling and which are near expanding nationalist areas. It can therefore be seen as a community response to what is seen as a threatening situation. It happens more in loyalist than in nationalist areas because the loyalist areas are declining in numbers.

    …Racism is a separate but related issue and it may also have been a factor in the increased number of racist attacks in loyalist areas in 2004: because their numbers were declining more people from ethnic minorities may have moved into loyalist areas and then been faced with the deep insecurities of the community.

    These comments suggest that social insecurity lies at the root of both sectarianism and racism.

    In 2004 there were a series of racist attacks on ethnic minorities in the Donegal Road area of Belfast. A survey showed that Northern Ireland was the most racist region of the UK. Racism is not new in Northern Ireland. For decades Travellers have been subjected to discrimination, as were Boat People from Vietnam from the 1980s. Dealing with racism means helping people to come to terms with diversity and to see it not as a threat but as a gift. It means recognising that human beings of all colours, class, creed and background need to respect one another. It would be sad if we ended a conflict based on British and Irish nationalisms and religion, and replaced it with one based on race. An agreed Northern Ireland would not simply be a place for Unionists and Nationalists, but for the many ethnic groups already settled here, and the thousands of Northern Ireland-born people who see themselves as neither unionist nor nationalist.
    At the same time in 2004 as the attacks in loyalist areas, Féile an Phobail, the West Belfast Festival, organised by Republicans, Nationalists and others celebrated the diverse groups living in the area. It was easier for Republicans to do this than Loyalists because they were an expanding and more confident community and were not facing the same decline in numbers as Loyalists. Nor is racism absent from nationalist or republican areas. Nonetheless racism is an issue the loyalist community needs to address urgently.

    pp 120-121, Peace Comes Dropping Slow.