What sparked the fire…

DAVID Gordon goes back to his old stomping ground to find out what sparked the recent loyalist rioting in Newtownabbey. Excuses or reasons..?

Part one of this series is here.

  • Aaron D

    If these people are so under-represented, then why the allegiance to Unionism? By definition, the status quo has nothing new to offer them, so why are their “appeals-for-representation-disguised-as-anger-over-percieved-British-cave-ins-to-Republican-demands” so in line with the goals of Unionism? If nationalists are getting a better deal then what is to prevent them from voting Sinn Fein en masse?

    I do not think there is a parallel between what is going on with these people and the Republican movement. And I certainly don’t think that the Provisionals are to blame for opening some kind of Pandora’s box of using violence as a political tool. For one thing, the whole statelet was set up for for the benefit of their community, and for another, its the first and foremost the failure of their elected representatives that they would choose to use violence to voice their grievances.

    The nationalists, being a minority in a statelet nearly completely dominated by the majority community, sought actual equality, not ‘percieved equality’. Their movements forward have been the result of the parity being restored. Of course, out of context, it will appear that they are getting extra breaks, but in the larger scope of things, its just the implementation of a more equitable society. After all, if we are to the same view of concessions as some have recently regarding the decommissioning, apparently, conceding anything proves that the previous position was illegitimate and immoral. If this is the case, then certainly, the violence called attention to underrepresentation, poverty, and a lack of means to achieve political goals; but since all these concessions were granted, they must have been legitimate, right?

    But as for the Protestant counterparts, the use of violence to call attention to your grievances is less compelling. They represent the status quo, their political goal is a current reality. The only way to satisfy those kind of grievances would be to tip the scales grossly in their favor and to deprive the other community of their equality. But again, if this is the status quo, why bother even defending it? If they’ve got nothing to lose, why not rethink your political position in the first place?

  • Dualta

    I once had a committed and active Republican concede that a large amount of the supporters of the Republican Movement probably couldn`t spell out how a united Ireland would work out for them, in real terms, how it would effect their daily lives. He agreed that their adherance to the Republican ideology was more about a form of ethnic determinism than a position arrived at through cold reasoning.

    Concurrently, I would argue that many ordinary Protestants and Unionists couldn`t give you a congent account of how they think a united Ireland would effect them detrimentally. Indeed, their fears of a united Ireland are, for the most part, inherited, and then have been reinforced by the recent conflict here, particulary by the IRA`s violence and Paisley`s scaremongering.

    David Gordon`s article shows well the deep disenchantment of the Protestant, Unionist working class community. They have good reason to be disenchanted. Northern Ireland has not delivered for them.

    They`ve been shafted, by the IRA, who claim that they`re fellow Irish people, by the British government, who treats them with utter distain and by their own leaders, who have used and abused them for decades as they tried to protect their own interests.

    They are homeless. They have been cast adrift with nowhere to go. They know Britain doesn`t want them and they fear a united Ireland terribly.

    It is now for Republicans to live up to the true meaning of their political creed and present Protestants with an alternative to the Union which has a chance of winning their support.

    Help them to believe that they can build a home on this island which is safe and secure and in which their interests are properly represented and protected.

  • red kangaroo

    Well said dualta but it won’t be easy and will take guts and determination, with no guarantee of success but somebody has to do it. Perhaps Labour is better placed than republicans

  • JD

    Well said Dualta,

    Republicans are up for that task. It is now time for discussion on what an Ireland of equals could look for everyone. Republicans do not claim to have all the answers and would be content for third parties to facilitate the debate, as RK suggests, however peace and rconciliation, conflict resolution and nation building is a task for everyone.

  • aquifer

    The governments are culpable. They have to be.
    They reward riotous behaviour, and their policies on drugs and customs duties pay for the presence of paramilitaries on the streets. Political parties barely get pennies out of the cash tin by comparison, hardly have a street presence, don’t reach the young, and end up following the lead of the louts and armed councils. It would be pathetic if it were not predictable.

    And in these celebrity fevered times, how else does a spotty ingrate get recognition and TV exposure except by acting the ethnic lig.

  • JD

    Another SDLP mope.

  • Dualta

    Maybe you’re right about the mope JD, but you can’t deny the insightfulness of this surely?

    “And in these celebrity fevered times, how else does a spotty ingrate get recognition and TV exposure except by acting the ethnic lig.”

    Nice one aquifier ;o)

  • DaysLikeThis

    A good post Dualta. But you know the last couple of paragraphs would apply not only to Protestants and/or Unionists but to all non Republicans. I am neither Protestant nor Unionist and I do aspire to a united Ireland – a united Ireland of equals, something which I believe has never existed.
    However, I am wary of Republicanism and its ability to “allow” an Ireland of equals. I freely admit that the Rebublican movement is now more democratic than of old but there is still a lingering doubt in my mind that with Republicanism there will always be an element of “my way or the highway”. I cannot help this. It is how I feel. I am willing to be persuaded otherwise but this may well only be possible with the passage of time. I hope that day will come “soon” but in the meantime I too need to feel that my “interests are properly represented and protected.”

    DLT
    (No not the hairy Cornflake)

  • Brian Boru

    I have no problem understand what started this violence. The same reason that whites in the Deep South rioted in the 1960’s when the US government decided to tackle the lack of civil-rights for the Blacks. It is a similar supremacist attitude that wishes to see Catholics “put in their place”. That is how I see it.

    The history books back me up on this. There was similar Orange Order violence after the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, the granting of the vote to Catholics in 1795, and the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1832.