A game of negative consequences…

Libby Purves writing in The Times, ask what principle is worth the destruction that was visited upon some parts of Belfast.

Shootings, bombings and murders are crimes. They are also, in this context, blasphemy. If the Orange Order parades were really Christian, their organisers would meekly route them to avoid offending neighbours; if the “Catholic” side were Christians, they would refuse such chivalry and welcome their Protestant brothers, drums and all. So if we are having all these “tough” new laws against inciting religious hatred and backing terrorism, we may as well deploy them evenhandedly. A plague on all their wicked houses: militant mullahs and self-righteous Orangemen, video braggarts on al-Jazeera and Gerry Adams flattering mass-murderers.

  • The Watchman


  • mwk

    Howso vile?

  • Alan McDonald

    The Purves piece is the best “Plague on Both Your Houses” I’ve seen in a long time. Stiff-necked, doctrinaire, atavistic and unforgiving kind of accurately describes both sides, doesn’t it?

  • WestSideHK

    [Try reading the article next time, WestSideHK. Yellow card! – ed mod]

  • Alan McDonald


    Did you anticipate WestSideHK when you said vile?


    I anticipate that your post will be deleted or at least amended by the Moderator, but, in the meantime, and as a fellow American, let me say WTF?

  • middle-class taig

    Standard fare from occasional British commentators on the North. Trot out a “plague on both your houses” piece on catholics and potestants.

    Pity she can’t find it within herself to criticise unionists when they are manifestly in the wrong without having to have a go at republicans at the same time when they are manifestly in the right.

    Spectacular disiniterest in the misdeeds of government. Not even a mention of governmental complicity in murder and terrorism.

  • Mick

    MCT, I thought you were going to email me?

  • Alan McDonald


    I was thinking about how this thread neatly dovetailed with yesterday’s Riots point to dangers of identity politics, when I noticed that the lead article (Riots for ‘recognition’ The clashes in Northern Ireland expose the dangerous side to the politics of identity. by Brendan O’Neill) cites this opinion piece (Orangemen: why they suck) and comments about the Times columnist Libby Purves – not previously known for taking a stand against ‘Orange politics’.

    It is very difficult to find any written opinions by writers external to Northern Ireland that don’t blame both “sides” regardless of who is at fault at any given moment.

  • Veritas

    A few realities need to be considered.

    The British role in the conflict in these islands is neither that of impartiality or of non-violence. (Two episodes should suffice to demonstrate. Bloody Sunday, Loyalist/Security collaborations as per Brian Nelson type agents).

    As for suggesting that there really should be no problem with OO marches going through Catholic areas, then I counter, why not encourage the National Front and other racist groups in England to parade with banners praising murders of black people, through the more ethnic parts of England. Of course not; For reasons which are self-evident both in terms of societal peace and good order, and of good taste.

    For American readers, imagine the outcry if KKK members tried to march into a black neighbourhood in Detroit, or for Canadians, just imagine demonstrating your “cultural history” and “glorious battles” against the natives, whilst marching through a Mohawk reserve in Quebec. I think not.

    It would never happen because civilized folks don’t perpetually commemorate the bloody and ethnic cleansing activities of their fore-fathers.

  • middle-class taig


    But that obscures the reality of the situation and feeds into the British false narrative of two warring tribes neither of which has stepped out of former entrenched positions. The nationalist community (and particularly the republican community) deserves better than this [edited Mod]


    short of time, long on angst

    will do so now

    If you like your political comment in terms of goodies and baddies (or rather, baddies and baddies) that’s your lookout. I prefer insight and analysis.

  • The Watchman

    Ah yes, “Veritas”, the Klu Klux Klan comparison. I can tell you one group of people who sided with the Nazis and Fascism in the 20th century: the first initial of their 3 letter acronym is “I” and the last is “A”. See if you can work that one out.

    Alan McDonald,

    I didn’t anticipate anyone. And I will reply to Purves’s literary crud but not just now for 1 of 2 reasons: (a) I’m en route to Scotland this weekend, or (b) I’m too busy being a self-righteous Orange bigot who really should be removed to Belmarsh/Guantanomo Bay forthwith for my soon to be illegal thought crimes. Maybe one day the police will demand my IP address from Mick on account of what I post here. Well, it’s a long way from Wapping to Whiterock. Purves thinks she knows what caused the trouble but several parades get rerouted every and they don’t cause the trouble of last week.

    I’m amazed by the fact that however poorly the Orange Order has handled the aftermath and however badly individual members have behaved, it is the Institution being scapegoated for the violence not the loyalist paramilitaries and their foul hoodies who actually were doing the shooting, burning the buses, etc. Purves’s piece amounts to a vicious group slander.

  • Veritas


    I was writing for American readers too. I simply can think of no better analogy to give an American context of how an OO march into Catholic areas is perceived by local residents. The KKK is a valid context. They too are driven by fundamentalist ballyhoo, possess a hatred of people born into another societal group, display intolerance, bigotry, have a history of causing vilence and mayhem etc. The analogy seems apt to me.

    Your slur on the IFA is unwarranted ;>)

  • Alan2

    “really Christian, their organisers would meekly route them to avoid offending neighbours”

    No the organisers would take a stand for God. Jesus was not meek and was often castigated and persecuted. He also turned over tables of merchadisers in the temple and chased them out.

    “the Institution being scapegoated for the violence not the loyalist paramilitaries and their foul hoodies”

    The institution has to bear some of the responsibility but at the same time riots and protests are STILL going on even tonight…Hugh Orde was heckled at the policng board meeting and there are road bloack by women and children tonight……the government has to take heed as the riots were just a symptom of deeper problems.

    Also the leadership of the Orange Order are totally out of their depth. Put the white haired guy who “starred” in the Behind Orange Lines documentary in charge and take the institution in a positive direction, away from paramilitary associations and back to family oriented events as ALOT indeed the majority of people have been attempting to do and which has been totally undermined by recent events.

  • David Vance

    Interesting that anyone would take Libby Purves seriously. Who next will be analysing our toubles, her brother Peter?

  • Cynic

    It’s all a con. Sometimes you have to be really naughty so that when you’re nice later, it appears that you’re being really nice and has an even bigger effect. We’re still dancing the peace process tango – but the last waltz may take some time to come. Hope the dance-hall owners don’t stop the band and put us all out! It’s a pity for those injured and we should commiserate about the economic problems caused to those who have had more than their own interests invested here.

    When the OO have the Drumcree problem solved as part of an overall marching deal it may all be worthwhile…..

  • Antrim Springfarm

    Republicans never seem to see the irony in their comments. The statement regarding Holy Cross “..It’s like the blacks in Alabama all over again” was yet another ironic moment. Failing to remember that the blacks where actually struggling to have an INTEGRATED schooling – Holy Cross perpetuating the sectarian school paradygm that excludes Protestants.

    Comparing the OO to the KKK and Nazis (and in the case of the irish president – just plain old prods were like the nazi’s) is so ironic considering the IRA helped the nazi’s during the war.

  • cladycowboy


    ‘No the organisers would take a stand for God. Jesus was not meek and was often castigated and persecuted. He also turned over tables of merchadisers in the temple and chased them out.’

    I hadn’t realised that Jehovah would have backed the parade, must have been revealed in one of the many verses of the Good book that i haven’t read. Does it reveal owt about Republican parades on the Shankill?
    I always derive great satisfaction as a socialist that the only time Jesus lost his temper and was actually violent was in throwing the money-lenders out of the temple. World Bank/IMF has it coming! However, he also castigated Judas for suggesting that luxurious goods offered to Jesus would be better spent on helping the poor to which Jesus replied to the effect that the poor would always be with us and he would not. I’ll just ignore the latter!
    cladycowboy, officer of State-controlled cherry-picking committee

  • don

    The irony of the loyalist situation was best represented by the trendy banners which adorned the roads of unionist areas during the marching season.

    One such banner was sponsored by the Hamburg loyalists (a grouping which is strongly pro-nazi)

  • Antrim Springfarm

    I must say, it was funny seeing a young child (prompted by his parents) waving a tricolour on the roof of one of the S’field rd homes. The irony of the ‘orange’ element of the flag was obviously lost on them.