Ballymena in the news…

REPUBLICANS are to stage their first ever parade in the staunchly unionist town of Ballymena, to commemorate the introduction of internment. Unionists are not amused, and the Parades Commission could yet re-route the march. The town was a topic of discussion on Talkback today, after its Wikipedia description noted that it “is also believed to have the worst per capita heroin problem in Europe. This is largely due to the pervasive influence in the town of unionist paramilitary groups who raise most of their funds through the heroin trade. It is famous for having two of Europe’s best kept housing estates. Overseas visitors are urged to visit the green and gentile pastures of the Doury Road and Ballykeel.”

The description goes on to say:

Recently the actor Liam Neeson, a native of Ballymena, refused to accept the freedom of the borough, as the Democratic Unionist Party which controls the council has a long history of discriminating against Irish nationalists.

Wikipedia can, of course, be edited…!

  • irishman

    Gonzo
    More interesting than even this thread, I’d imagine, would be a discussion on the DUP’s North Antrim PRO, Gary Barr.

    A convicted loyalist killer of a SF Cllr, released under the terms of the GFA- which his new party opposed- now the PRO for a party refusing to talk to terrorists???

  • middle-class jew

    Gonzo

    “Overseas visitors are urged to visit the green and gentile pastures of the Doury Road and Ballykeel.”

    As a member of Ballymena’s ever-dwindling Jewish population, I resent your implication that the twon is entirely free of hassidic influence. What kind of message do you think that sends to our thriving “lost tribes of Israel” tourist industry?

    Perhaps “genteel” might be a more appropriate description.

  • Young Fogey

    Europe’s best this, Europe’s worst that, another example of our navel gazing mentality.

  • sean h

    REPUBLICANS will hold their first ever parade in Ballymena

    Anything you can do, I can do better ‘cos i can do anything better than you!

    This is a joke and so are the people who voted for the two extremes – I’m sure you know who I mean.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    irishman

    I think the DUP guy’s name is ‘Blair’, but yes, it is an obvious contradiction. One can only presume that Mr Blair was suitably penitant in his repentance for the DUP to speak to him.

  • HappyGoLucky

    The heroine issue:

    It’s not really a problem, more a cultural issue. If you had a town of extremes u’d do heroine too.

    PS – from personal experience it is definately a cross community cultural issue. With both loyalist and republian paramilitries offering a selection of top quality drugs. Just ask the 8yr olds from the doury road/ballykeel districts. They’ll be able to advise you which best suits ur personality…and mood…

  • Fraggle

    I suspect that the heroin problem is a lot worse than official figures show since Ballymena doctors seem to prescribe large amounts of ‘weak opoid’ painkillers to addicts rather than putting them on methadone replacement programs.

  • qubol

    HappyGoLucky are you implying that republicans in ballymena are behind the heroin trade?
    if so thats nonsense – if you want to take the example of the doury rd and ballykeel both are loyalist estates and the drugs trade in each are undoubtably controlled by loyalists. other areas of the town with drugs problems like dunclug may not be loyalist in make up but again its all controlled by loyalists – its just the pushers are maybe catholic – doesnt make them republican.

    I agree that its a cross community issue – it terribly affects both communities but loyalism is responsible.

  • stevie ‘wonder’

    this paradeis a disgrace … and i sincerly hope if it gets the go ahead it will be met with massive counter marches … and violence will undoutaly occur …. so wat??? after all its not decent catholic marching in the AOH! Its not a galic parade for a victorious team! its a murderous army marching ….gloryifying in there past and inciting the victims of there crime!
    i urge the PC this must be banned….and also it stil is a n illegue organision!

  • stevie ‘wonder’

    this paradeis a disgrace … and i sincerly hope if it gets the go ahead it will be met with massive counter marches … and violence will undoutaly occur …. so wat??? after all its not decent catholic marching in the AOH! Its not a galic parade for a victorious team! its a murderous army marching ….gloryifying in there past and inciting the victims of there crime!
    i urge the PC this must be banned….and also it stil is a n illegue organision!

  • Jo

    stick with the other keyboard Stevie… 🙂

  • Donnie

    I think this says it all about the mindset of the majority population in Ballymena.

  • Wichser

    It’s often forgotten that Ballymena was, in the 1970s and 1980s, considered the swinging capital of NI.

  • Gonzo

    UPDATE: From today’s Tele:

    Prankster to blame for derisive satire

    26 July 2005
    As an editor at Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia maintained by its readers, I was disappointed to learn of the errors in the Ballymena entry pointed out in a Belfast Telegraph report (July 23). The non-encyclopedic sarcasm consisted of a few lines in the entry, which currently stands at 1,000 words.

    From viewing the edit page history, I found those incendiary lines were only recently added by a prankster looking to upset readers. The prankster’s work has distracted attention away from the main body of the article, which is a richly detailed and well-linked history of the town and area.

    I have permanently removed the derisive satire and moved the controversial claims to a workplace, where the content will be discussed, refined, and referenced, and reincorporated if it is considered verifiable. Wikipedia is an open process that manages to attract many excellent editors but our same open quality absorbs random mischief.

    The tireless efforts of many good contributors overwhelm the childishness of a few.

    To highlight the imperfection of any information delivery process, the article noting our errors under-reported Wikipedia’s entry count, which stands at 650,000 in the English version alone and nearly 2,000,000 in more than 100 other languages, not the 50,000 that was reported.

    Not surprisingly Wikipedia is the most used reference website because millions of users have found the information trustworthy, comprehensive, and well presented.

    KAI XUE, Wikipedia editor, Fremont, California.

  • Paul

    “I think this says it all about the mindset of the majority population in Ballymena.”

    Donnie,
    Pretty sweeping statement, are you implying the complete Unionist population of Ballymena are involved or in favour of these kind of attacks?

  • reality check

    it looks that way as unionist politicans rarely speak out

  • Paul

    Politicians of all hues rarely speak out when elements of their own community are involved in this kind of crap.

    Demonisation of an entire community because of the actions of a minority within that community is dead easy,(eg “every Ardoyne resident is a sectarian thug”),but in the end is pointless and is more of a reflection on the attitudes of the person spouting it than on the people they’re trying to smear.

  • Ginfizz

    Reality

    Wrong. Mervyn Storey has condemned the attacks.

  • nmc

    As a catholic growing up in Ballymena I can agree that the drugs were controlled entirely by loyalists. I had a few friends that were dealing, and they were catholics, but the people who sold them the gear were not. Not that that necessarily means anything, the drugs were largely enjoyed by everyone that was buying them, and in my opinion it’s no-one’s business but the user. As for the parade, welcome to the wake up call. Ballymena is a sectarian little dump, and has been touted as an almost 100% loyalist town. Uh uh, there are plenty of catholics in Ballymena, and they are as entitled to mark the anniversary of internment as anyone else in this lovely province. And in response to stevie wonder, internment affected many many innocent catholics, and people who want to mark the anniversary are for the most part ordinary people who wouldn’t be allowed in an illegal organisation if it was their one heart’s desire. People who argue that this parade should not happen are still trying to live in the society of years ago when there was no debate, and Loyalists ruled. Your days are over my friend, we’re on an equal footing now, and you don’t like it one little bit.

    Respectfully,
    nmc.

  • Paul

    nmc

    If the parade takes place,it will be interesting to see the answer to 2 questions

    1. How many people marching will be “ordinary people” as opposed to Sinn fein or Republican activists?

    “there are plenty of catholics in Ballymena, and they are as entitled to mark the anniversary of internment”

    2. How many will actually come from Ballymena(ie not bussed in from other more “radical” locations)

  • davie

    all this fuss about a walk in fisherwick. let the provo supporters walk in their poxy little estate.we still walk ALL Ballymena.Our town is being slowly brought to the same standard as other local town’s and villages.you only have to look at Antrim,Rasharkin,Dunloy etc…WHERE is there ANY sign of unification in these now REPUBLICAN strongholds.

  • davie

    all this fuss about a walk in fisherwick. let the provo supporters walk in their poxy little estate.we still walk ALL Ballymena.Our town is being slowly brought to the same standard as other local town’s and villages.you only have to look at Antrim,Rasharkin,Dunloy etc…WHERE is there ANY sign of unification in these now REPUBLICAN strongholds.

  • NMC

    I would say there are a very large number of people from Ballymena that will attend the march. Places where people are marginalised tend to produce radicalised views, and the majority of catholics are behind the SF mmovement. And Davie’s on the money, let us march in our own poxy estate, it has no relevance to you. Harks back to the flag/fisherwick problems of years gone by, when loyalists were up in arms due to flags erected in an estate where no loyalist should go. I don’t mean that to be sectarian – protestant or catholic means nothing to me, but there are people out there who don’t see things that way.

  • marty

    I have lived in the north of ballymena all my life and lived i dunclug for about 20 years of it, i still have family there. I can assure everyone that dunclug is no where near as sectarian as harryville. dunclug is probably 60% catholic to 40% prod. The reason i know that this is that i have a lot of family who live in harryville, all prods, and the bitterness in harryville is like nothing i have ever seen. I know of very few catholics who live in harryville any that are there are married to prods but there are people in dunclug who fly a union jack over the marching season. how many tri colours would be flown in ballymena south? the trouble in dunclug comes from about twenty little knobs who know no better. i heard recently some dup prick say that the people who organised the paradein fisherwick have no political leadership. i agree because most of them have no political sense whatsoever. the vast majority of the residents in fisherwick didnt ask for nor wanted the parade, i know of one guy who reckons that it cost him £20,000 in devaluing his house.

    the drugs trade is ran by the loyalists mostly but there are a few catholics not affiliated to any paramilitary organisation who have a hand in it aswell.

  • Seven Towers

    As a Catholic living all my life in Ballymena. Let me tell the viewers of this site (which I recently found) that Ballymena is no worse than ony other town, city, village or what have you in either Northern Ireland or the Republic.
    Of course all places (no matter what population) have their junkies etc. their Republicans and their Unionists. It is only the certain elements in this town get more publicity because it is known as the Bible Belt.
    Leave Ballymena alone, concentrate on say Limerick (of ANGELA’S ASHES FAME) commonly known as STAB SITY. Lets look at Dublin where there are more drug addicts in some of the estates than there is in the whole population of Ballymena. As for the Republicain parade in Fisherwick (very near where I live) IT WAS ORGANISED BY SOEONE FROM OUT OF bALLYMENA, aNTRIM IN FACT.

    lEAVE US ALONE WE cATHOLICS GET ON WELL HERE WITH OTHERS. it is only a very small minority wh cauyse trouble.

  • Confused

    Well, damn the lot o ye, I’d almost succeeded in forgetting all about the existance of Ballymena.

    This march smacks of rubbing new-found equality in the faces of Protestants in much the same way as for fifty odd years they rubbed the “Protestant State for a Protestant” in the faces of Catholics. Just go to your nearest school yard and hear some child shout it at soem point about something: “Now it’s OUR turn!!!”

    Auschwitz, Troubles, whatever, rubbed in all our faces. Matters not; we learn nothing.

  • Seven Towers

    Here we go again. As a Caothlic I would be the first to recognise that the statement ‘a Protestant parliament for a Protestant prople’ was only a reply to De Valers’ statement which any good historian will tell you he atated first ‘a Catholic country for a Catholic people’