Loyalists against race hate

Yesterday, members of the Loyalist Commission and members of the Anti-Racist Network joined forces to launch a new campaign designed to tackle racism in Northern Ireland, particularly in Loyalist areas. The ‘war on racism’ campaign will begin with the circulation of a leaflet carrying the message ‘Loyalist or Racist? You can’t be both’.

Tommy Kirkham of the UPRG later clarified on UTV that the “war on racism” was a non-violent war seeking a change of hearts and minds. Tommy Kirkham has recently been targetted by far right groups.

  • mickhall

    This cannot but be good news, only time will tell if anything comes of it. But at least someone is making an effort. English based Nazis/racists have been trying to leech onto Loyalism for years. It is high time Loyalism gave them the cab fare to the ferry terminal.

  • Mick Fealty

    Comhar, the Irish language mag, had a eridite article on this subject a few years ago. Sadly it’s not available on the net. Nor is the magasine.

  • Biffo

    Tommy Kirkham conducting a war on racism – that’s a nonsense, he’s a sectarian bigot.

    He started the trouble at Carnmoney cemetary a couple of years ago. The annual “cemetary Sunday” event when catholics turn out to intimidate protestant mourners and sprinkle holy water on protestant graves.

    What was the jist if the Comhar article?

  • toronto

    Northern Ireland’s top export is irony.

  • aquifer

    This and the Orange Order disentangling from the Ulster Unionists in one week. If any of this sticks things are moving on.

    What next. Talks between the UUP and the Progressive Democrats and British Conservative party on joint economic and social policies. Invitations from the UUP for Catholics to join and for anyone who does not like it to leave the party.

    It all depends. Can the Unionists imagine no PIRA?

  • Jacko

    So the loyalists have come over all anti-racist, must be money to be had.

  • fair_deal

    The Orange Order also had an outreach event to a minority ethnic group as their contribution to community relations week – something they wish to repeat appparently.

  • Biffo

    Tommy Kirkham conducting a war on Racism is about as relevant as Nick Griffin conducting a war on Sectarianism

    Are they getting grants?

  • beano

    I have to say I’m surprised but very glad. It’s about time loyalists weeded out the racist f**ks the likes of whom spread the racist leaflets round sandy row in recent weeks.

    It’s just a pity they can’t weed out he blind sectarianism too, but who would be left? In the article linked above, the author seems unhappy at the portrayal of loyalists as the “bad unionists” but I think it’s a useful destinction to make. To me, loyalist has always meant those who would use crime and/or violence to promote their ends.

  • barney

    “Northern Ireland’s top export is irony.”

    Norn Irony! LOL Toronto.

  • barney

    Good point Beano. Leagalised sectarianism is still accpetable in Norn Irony.

  • barney

    Good point Beano. Legalised sectarianism is still acceptable in Norn Irony, and Britain for that matter.

  • Alan2

    Beano – the author is Billy Mitchell a one time convicted UVF murderer / terrorist who has repented his past life and is a partner in a scheme with ex Republican prisoners to build integrated housing.

  • Alan2

    “Invitations from the UUP for Catholics to join and for anyone who does not like it to leave the party.”

    The UUP already has Catholics in the party.

  • Alan2

    Also this is not just about Tommy Kirkham this is about the Loyalist community….church leaders, politicians, community workers and for paramilitary representatives.

    “The new commission leaflet, which will be distributed in Protestant areas, calls on loyalists to say no to racism and affirm their heritage of belonging to the British Commonwealth of nations.”

  • beano

    Like I said, I completely agree with the sentiment of this report/campaign. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever heard of loyalism as a movement doing something that can be described as positive.

    “Beano – the author is Billy Mitchell a one time convicted UVF murderer / terrorist who has repented his past life and is a partner in a scheme with ex Republican prisoners to build integrated housing.

    Again, a great idea but can’t see this sense of tolerance of “the other side” catching on with a large number of “loyalists” (or republicans for that matter – and I hope I’m wrong on both counts).
    One step at a time eh?

  • Alan2

    You can contribute to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on this subject here:-
    Billy Mitchell is involved in the ongoing discussions.
    http://www.tellparliament.net/hatecrime/node/view/12?from=0&comments_per_page=10

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I’m curious about views on this…

    Is it right that loyalists opposed to racism do so through a kind of colonial ideology? Some believe that racism is a consequence of colonisation, so is combating racism by stressing the multicultural elements of the Commonwealth the proper way to go?

    I’ve argued with people about this before, and get widely differing answers.

  • fair_deal

    A campaign is more likely to succeed if it is constucted with strong reference to the cultural framework of the community it is geared at.

    Are we to wait until we all agree about the role of the British Empire before we try to tackle racism? I think not.

    Also the Commonwealth has developed beyond its colonial roots.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Yeah, I guess it’s similar to the change that appears to be happening within republicanism… may it has to come from within to have a real impact.

  • Biffo

    A sectarian organisation taking a stand against racism. It kind of misses the whole point about taking a stand against racism.

    Racism isn’t a consequence of colonisation, racism is a justification for colonisation.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    The Loyalist Commission is an organization which exists solely to clean up the public image of loyalist paramilitarism by shoving thugs onto the same stage as priests and politicians. It isn’t even vaguely interested in cleaning up racism; we’re talking about people who put up “taigs at your own risk” signs on the Cregagh Road.

  • Alan2

    Is that in anyway similar to Gerry Adams standing beside Republican marchers dressed in paramilitary uniforms recently?

    The Loyalist Commission and indeed the PUP and UPRG may not be entirely wholesome with respects to some of their makeup but like SF they are necessary and also contain the more progressive and “thinking” elements of said community who are prepared to discuss, contemplate and indeed challenge their beliefs.

    “Racism isn’t a consequence of colonisation”

    Hogwash. Racism is a consequence of Darwinism and evolution theory…as well as fear of things that are different. Darwinism effectively promotes natural selection. The “White Power” theory however falls down when you actually look at the statistics. Recent GCSE results in England reflect prior studies on racial IQ`s which effectivley shows that ON AVERAGE Asians and Indians out perform everyone by a substantial margin with Caucasians slightly above average and others well below average.

  • Alan2

    “A sectarian organisation taking a stand against racism. It kind of misses the whole point about taking a stand against racism.”

    Have you asked them if they are a sectarian organisation? Or what their stand on sectarianism is? What is your definition of sectariansism?
    Surely Republicanism is sectarian in that you need to be a Republican to be part of Republicanism? Surely the Labour party is sectarian in that there are no Tory party member in the Labour party……

  • Alan2
  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    “The Loyalist Commission and indeed the PUP and UPRG may not be entirely wholesome with respects to some of their makeup but like SF they are necessary and also contain the more progressive and “thinking” elements of said community who are prepared to discuss, contemplate and indeed challenge their beliefs.”

    That’s complete rubbish, Johnny Adair sat on the Loyalist Commission prior to subsequent events that led to his fleeing NI. Are you seriously trying to tell me that Adair is a progressive or thinking element of the community ? It’s complete and total rubbish to say that anything connected with the LC is anything to do with discussing or challenging loyalist beliefs. The last organization which tried to do that was the UDP and it was promptly wound up by the UDA.

    The difference between the LC and SF is that the LC are unelected. Because loyalists can’t seem to get any votes, they are trying to get themselves political power by other means. It exists to allow paramilitaries to parlay with the Secretary of State and the unionist leadership, it serves no other purpose whatsoever. The fact is that they represent nobody and it is the unionist politicians who should be standing up to racism and providing leadership to their electorate. The fact that they don’t is, to me, the issue that is at the centre of the matter.

  • Biffo

    Alan2

    Have I asked the UDA if they are a sectarian organisation? I don’t need to, I know they are

    My definition of sectarianism is a dislike of people you think are not like you, they might worship a different way, they might wave a different flag, support a different football team, whatever. But you think the way you do things and the way you live your life is the right way because it’s the way your people do it and anything that’s different can’t be right, and you’re not going to tolerate it in your street (see Roger’s bit above)

    I think it’s bizarre to credit the UDA for saying they are combating racism while ignoring sectarianism. Families of Filipino nurses were attacked in North Belfast recently for racist reasons (Chinks Out). Is it still acceptable for the UDA to attack them because they are catholics.

    The Labour party isn’t sectarian, they don’t petrol bomb houses belonging to Tory politicians. Likewise Tory politicians can and do join the Labour party.

    The question posed by Gonzo was “..Some believe that racism is a consequence of colonisation, so is combating racism by stressing the multicultural elements of the Commonwealth the proper way to go?..”

    I’m saying that racism isn’t a consequence of colonisation. It exists before it, it’s a justification for it. For example, the plantation of Ulster, the English and lowland Scots believed the Irish were “savages” and as such deserved to lose their land and possesions

    Likewise the Nazi’s pushed east for “lebenstraum” because they considered Slavs to be an inferior race. They didn’t become convinced of this after invading Poland.

  • Biffo

    The other point about the particular attack on Filipinos is that it made the news.

    But take a walk along Deerpark Road, sectarian attacks happen there regularly, but have’t made the news in a couple of years.

    What would be newsworthy is if it stopped happening and people were left to live in peace.

    The “war on racism”? So what?

  • Alan2

    “The fact is that they represent nobody and it is the unionist politicians who should be standing up to racism and providing leadership to their electorate. The fact that they don’t is, to me, the issue that is at the centre of the matter.”

    The same therefore could be said about the Anti-Racist Network or any other organisation. The Loyalist Commission is not a political party. The PUP and UPRG are which form part of the Loyalist commission along with Unionist politicians and church leaders all of whom have various forms of mandates.

  • Biffo

    The LC have a credibilty deficit.

  • Alan2

    “The Labour party isn’t sectarian, they don’t petrol bomb houses belonging to Tory politicians. Likewise Tory politicians can and do join the Labour party.”

    Of course it is. The Church Of Ireland is sectarian as it only has Church of Ireland members. The Labour party only has Labour party members all of whom subscribe to a certain set of beliefs.

    “Have I asked the UDA if they are a sectarian organisation? I don’t need to, I know they are”
    Is the Rev Mervyn Gibson in the UDA? Last time I looked we were talking about the Loyalist commission

  • Biffo

    Well you should read a bit more closely, you quoted part of my comment, I was talking about Tommy Kirkham and the UDA.

  • Alan2

    I would also query why are you attacking positive initiatives? By all means attack ALL the paramilitaries for their brutality and crime and very existence but when groups bring along positive intitiatives like this then that should be welcomed as a step forward ont he way to a tolerant and plural multi-cultural society where people of different cultures and heritages can worship, celebrate and live in peace together in a shared space.

  • Alan2

    Tommy Kirkham was speaking for the UPRG as part of the Loyalist Commission. Like the UDP and PUP I would class them as “Loyalist Labour” and not entirely representative of the paramilitary organisations they have influence over, which I would say contain many right wingers.

  • Biffo

    Nice theory, but take a walk along Deerpark Road, and tell me why that goes on what is the LC doing about it?

    Striking only one set of people of your hate list is not a big deal.

    Would it be progress if Combat 18 said, the chinks can stay but the niggers have to go?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Alan2, come on, don’t be apologising for this stuff. The point of view of loyalist paramilitaries has been consistently rejected at the polls. So what do they do ? Set up little commissions and bodies here and there, and get slavering church types desperate for a say together with more shady elements within unionism to put forward their point of view by the back door.

    The anti-racism network is a group of related bodies whom anyone can join. None of those related bodies are proscribed organizations. The loyalist commission on the other hand consists among other things of members of proscribed organizations and it meets in secret, it’s membership is exclusive. It’s silly to make a comparison between a paramilitary front body and an anti-racism group.

    “I would also query why are you attacking positive initiatives?”

    I’m attacking efforts by unelected paramilitary figures to try to gain public prominence through fake “initiatives”. Loyalist paramilitaries are still putting people out of their houses, drug dealing, racketeering and all the rest – how can you sit there and say that they have any kind of interest in a tolerant and multi-cultural society ? The entire essence of their being is intolerance expressed through force.

    Can’t understand why unionists think that loyalists who aren’t elected need to be included in political life in NI.

  • Alan2

    “Would it be progress if Combat 18 said, the chinks can stay but the niggers have to go?”

    Erm yes.

  • Biffo

    “Erm yes.”

    Well please explain it to me.

    Why is it acceptable to hate one set of people and not another.

    What is the criteria?

  • Biffo

    I genuinely don’t understand where you are coming from.

  • Alan2

    That is my point Roger….any move away from those things is a good move in my book and the people involved in the Loyalist Commission should be encouraged. It is exactly the same as SF / IRA. There is some pretty dispicable stuff there too but excluding any of them will solve nothing and perhaps make it worse. Getting people to move away from paramilitarism and take a stake in society, starting from the ground up at community level needs to be encouraged. Any initiative like this needs to be welcomed and clearly the Anti-Racist Network seem to think it worth while and they are the people that matter since it consists mainly of ethnic minority members who are directly affected by racism.

  • Alan2

    I did not say it was acceptable to hate one set of people and not another. I said it was progress….one step at a time.

  • Alan2

    “Set up little commissions and bodies here and there, and get slavering church types desperate for a say together”

    Jesus was more often than not found amongst thieves, murderers, prostitutes and other vagabonds and misfits.

    The question to answer is how else would you seek to combat racism within the Loyalist community and indeed within Loyalist paramilitaries if not by involving that particular community and those particular organisations?