Protestant civil society and the need for cultural heroes

In the midst of the (sometimes paranoid) gloom, Glenn Patterson focuses on the new tranche of government money aimed at specifically protestant communities across Northern Ireland, and argues that the government must do more than simply gift the money or even manage it effectively. It must seek to mussle the most self destructive tendencies of Loyalist paramilitaries. Not least in allowing the return of one of NI’s most talented playwrights:

Gary Mitchell should be an example to young working class Protestants of what they can achieve. While he remains in hiding he is a symbol of why so many of those young people still see no point in trying.

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  • Stephen Copeland

    An aspect of northern Protestant culture that receives too little attention is its choice of ‘cultural hero’. Certainly there is widespread disapproval amongst the middle and chattering classes (here too) that the loyalist godfathers are a bad role model, but there is little attempt to propose an alternative, and still less to propose a modern or positive alternative.

    Too often unionists try to raise militaristic figures from the past as ‘unionist icons’ – from King Billy through to Churchill – or more recent, but divisive, political figures – while largely ignoring the potentially positive fields of music, art or literature.

    Hence few people can name a ‘northern Protestant’ writer, still less one well-known outside very narrow NI circles, apart from CS Lewis. Music has come a little closer to the young and lesser-educated consciousness, but without ever producing icons like U2, Boyzone or Westlife.

    Northern Protestantism has not, for several generations now, had an economic icon of the nature of Ryanair, Guinness or even Independent Newspapers. So young working class northern Protestants do not feel such a closeness to economic success as their southern cousins, who may work in Intel, Hewlett Packard or Microsoft, but know that native success is also part of the mix.

    Until unionism can wean itself off the exclusively militaristic (and largely negative) icons that they have been glorifying for generations, it is hard to see how young working class northern Protestants are going to turn themselves towards non-political, or non-paramilitary role models. I know that it is a chicken and egg situation, and that the way out of the dilema is hard, but if the ‘community leaders’ really are community leaders, then they should start to discourage the adoration of the false idols of the past, even to the extent of rejecting them. In a sense, what is needed is a strong dose of unionist revisionism.

  • Shore Road Resident

    ‘Westlife’???
    Christ Copeland, you are really are reaching to be condescending here.
    Ever heard of Van Morrison? Or Ash, for that matter?
    I can also presume that if there was a ‘protestant economic icon’ the Shinners would go bleating to the states with lies about discriminatory employment practices until it went bust.

    Westlife.
    Just had to type that again to believe it.
    Westlife. Jesus.

  • doug

    Ash ??

    they could hardly sell the Mandela hall these days.

    Agree with the Westlife thing, srr.

    Neil Lennon captioned the hoops to another championship win this evening.

    Oops sorry, forgot he is the wrong type of hero.

    Catholic, wrong team, wrong religion, wrong area.

    Maybe best to stick with Jackie McDonald or Billy Wright.

  • lol

    Stephen mate, where did you get this load of cobblers from mate. top off my head George best, alex higgins, joey dunlop, as for music, go to the twelth sometime mate, here you will see world championship grade pipe bands, flute bands accordian bands etc etc. And ryanair an “economic icon” lol lol lol, thats seriously funny mate, i think well let you keep your mickey mouse airline. As for you , what is needed is a strong dose of prozac.

  • doug

    “George best, alex higgins, joey dunlop”

    Well at least Joey wasn’t a woman beating alcoholic.

    John ‘Grugg’ Gregg played a mean base drum at apod parades in Derry.

  • willis

    Doug

    Funny enough, I read Neil Hannon instead of Neil Lennon.

    Which I suppose just goes to show how many and various our cultural heroes and heroines are.

    Surely though, the very process of naming a hero requires a level of thought, comparison and reflection which is anathema to many on both sides.

    Who is the Archetypal Greek Hero?

    Ulysses?

    Hector?

    Achilles?

    You see the problem.

    There is something of the heroic about Paisley, Adams, McGuinness, Hume and Trimble.

    The whole idea of heroism is rather suspect!

    Better to ask

    “Who by their work points us to a better future?”

    Let’s look for visionaries and prophets instead of heroes.

  • Shuggie McSporran

    S. Copeland

    “So young working class northern Protestants do not feel such a closeness to economic success as their southern cousins”

    Is that what the Undertones meant when they were singing about “My perfect cousins”.

  • English

    Stephen,

    You say:

    Too often unionists try to raise militaristic figures from the past as ‘unionist icons’ – from King Billy through to Churchill – or more recent, but divisive, political figures – while largely ignoring the potentially positive fields of music, art or literature.

    I find this strange, as Churchill is English not Northern Irish, and King William is from Holland who just happened to win a rather insignificant battle in ‘British History’ on Irish soil. Your heroes can only truely come from here – like George Best. It is just common sense, because English, Scots and Welsh icons certainly do not come from Northern Ireland. It makes me wonder if Loyalists have any heroes at all, apart from violent thugs?

  • Shore Road Resident

    This makes me wonder if ‘English’ is a troll.

  • missfitz

    well, its still the thread srr, right? I thought a troll went right off topic?

  • David Michael

    To touch lightly on the topic: causing gentle little Gary Mitchell to fold his tent was such a spectacular own goal it’s obscene.

    Let a loyalist “brigadier” or “general” or “bugler” or whatever do the decent thing and invite him back. And have the tossers who threatened him apologize publicly.

    Unionism ought to be proud of Gary. He’s a good ‘un.

  • Fraggle

    Regarding Westlife. They may be shite but they sell lots of records and tickets to gigs (every few months in Belfast too) and the way i look at it, I’d rather it was an Irish band doing it than some other crowd.

    The same applied to Ryanair. They might not be able to find the right airport and when they do, it’s miles from the city it’s named after but they carry millions of passengers and make tons of money and I’d rather an irish company was making that money.

    Neil Hannon is an excellent example of a northern icon to look up to. Is he still living in Dublin where he got married?

  • David Michael

    Forgot to mention this one:

    ” It must seek to mussle the most self destructive tendencies of Loyalist paramilitaries.”

    Mussle! LOL. Freud is never far away from these threads 🙂

  • John McIlveen

    Surely working class loyalists can have a Damien Kelly (world champion boxer), Colin Farell (world famous actor) and a Robbie Keane (world class ‘british-based’ footballer), to look up to alongside a George Best, Alex Higgins, Jimmy Nesbitt or Gary Mitchell as working class human being made big!?! ….I wonder what group Wayne McCullough would fit into……… Answers on a postcard??

    Surely it’s not in working class loyalists interest or favour to limit their ‘aspiratinal’ scope within the confines of a ‘working class northern ireland, protestant, british’ lens!!

    A people who are getting ‘special assistance’ from the government they aspire allegiance to in the form of some ££tens-of-millions must have (and are) been shafted by their leaders if they limit their ‘success’ boundaries to such a small pot!!

    Yes, the Grugg Gregg’s, Johnny Adair’s and (even) the Winston Churchill’s of this world may be badly advised as ‘icons’ but lets stop feeding the idea to some people that it’s ONLY great to come out of a slum and achieve genuine greatness if that slum was a loyalist, british or protestant slum!!

    Surely ‘working class’ is a GREAT class to build dreams from regardless of the street names, surnames or allegiances!!

  • TAFKABO

    Don’t know about heroes, but it would seem that working class prods are everyones favourite villains.
    Sure say what you like, no one will mind.
    Ach, if it wasn’t for us scummy prods, you’d have to feel ashamed about your hate.

  • pen and paper refuse nothing

    An aspect of northern Catholic culture that receives too little attention is its choice of
    ‘cultural hero’. Certainly there is widespread disapproval amongst the middle and chattering
    classes that the republican godfathers are a bad role model, but there is little attempt to
    propose an alternative, and still less to propose a modern or positive alternative.

    Too often nationalists try to raise catholic figures from the past as ‘catholic saints’ –
    from Mother Theresa (Sandals in the Wind) through to Fr Buckley – or more recent, while
    largely ignoring the potentially positive fields of loyalist marching music.

    Hence few people can name a ‘northern catholic priest’ who has not abused young boys,or is
    filled with biggoted hate such as Fr Alex Reid, or been involved in terrorism such as the
    claudy bombing.

    Northern Catholicism has not, for several generations now, had an economic icon of the
    nature of Shorts,Norbrook, Galen etc. So young working class northern nationalists cry
    discrimination, southerers who may work in Intel, Hewlett Packard or Microsoft, know that at
    the slightest whiff of powergel, they will be off to the continent.

    Until natioanalism can wean itself off the exclusively militaristic (and largely negative)
    icons that they have been glorifying for generations, like the mystical P Oneill it is hard
    to see how young working class northern catholicss are going to sign off the dole, or at
    best stop doing the double. I know that it is a chicken and egg situation, and that the way
    out of the dilema is hard, but if the ‘community leaders’ really are community leaders, then
    they should start to discourage the adoration of the false hopes , even to the extent of
    rejecting them. In a sense, what is needed is a strong dose of nationalist realism that
    there will never be a united ireland.

  • funny

    slugger

    “Gary Mitchell should be an example to young working class Protestants of what they can achieve.”

    OMG !!!, if the shoe was on the other foot, can you image a young catholics rosy future if he lived in the falls road and wrote anti-ira plays !!!!

    Gary Michell got what he deserved, stirring up trouble

  • Donnie

    Someone fetch TAFKABO another box of Kleenex to wipe away those tears. Sounds like a bad case of MOPEry…

  • Yokel

    Aye Funny..freedom of speech, you got it on here but Mitchell, nah screw him.

    Stephen Copeland, I think you’ll find all those are Irish owned and operated businesses, they are Icons of Ireland, a country not a religion, unless of course you are saying that Ireland is religion dominated state?

    That has to be about the weakest association and linkage I have seen in some time since one of my spidey friends bought a necklace from discount jewellery. I know you had a your wee dig while trying disguising it as a point but I can see the weld from there. Here let me dress up a duck and its now a..duck. Not saying it wasn’t worth a go but i wouldn’t emloy ye to do metal fabrication at my firm.

    You look at Michael O’Leary do you think his business icons were Irish, bollocks they were, they were global and its the same for anyone. If unionist working class, terribly deprived blah blah, people can only look as far as their own little corner for icons the they deserve to stay right in the mess they put themselves in. Patterson is typical of where it is going wrong, icons can can be anyone or anything that people associate with. The fact that they are next door is irrelevant.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Shore Road Resident,

    Ever heard of Van Morrison? Or Ash, for that matter?

    Van the man lives in Dublin, IIRC. Hardly the sort of icon many loyalists want their kids looking up to, is he? He proves that much of their anti-Dublin nonsense is, well … nonsense.

    Ash? Mediocre. How many CDs do they sell these days? Or ever?

    Westlife may not be your cup of tea (it sure as hell isn’t mine) but they are unnaturally popular with little girls. And they have the right to icons too, you know.

    lol,

    i think well let you keep your mickey mouse airline. …

    If you mean Ryanair, I suggest you check your facts. Not only are they Europe’s second largest airline (in terms of passengers), but also one of the world’s most profitable. A whole generation of young Europeans owes much of their mobility to Ryanair. The northern equivalent would be …. well, actually, there isn’t one! And that is part of the problem.

    Shuggie McSporran

    Is that what the Undertones meant when they were singing about “My perfect cousins”.

    Could have been. I bet they all had cousins in Donegal.

    John McIlveen,

    Surely working class loyalists can have a Damien Kelly (world champion boxer), Colin Farell (world famous actor) and a Robbie Keane (world class ‘british-based’ footballer) …

    Of course, but none of them come from ‘their’ community, so their usefulness as role models is limited.

    Surely it’s not in working class loyalists interest or favour to limit their ‘aspiratinal’ scope within the confines of a ‘working class northern ireland, protestant, british’ lens!!

    I agree. However, the closer something is to you the more influence it probably has on you.

    TAFKABO,

    Don’t be such a whinger. People don’t “hate” northern working class Prods. If they’ve painted themselves into a corner, they can equally get back out. But they have to do it themselves, and not wait for the hand-outs. Hence my call for ‘community leaders’ to do some actual leading.

  • Yokel

    God my post above couldnt have been more timely..out come Stephen’s digs and put downs…you’ve been rightly caught on ya chancer.

    Anyway I’m sure SIR Tony O’Reilly will be chuffed that you raise his Newspaper group up as something to be proud of. I’m sure theres no problem him taking his SIR title with you is there?

  • Stephen Copeland

    Yokel,

    Sorry, our posts crossed.

    Stephen Copeland, I think you’ll find all those are Irish owned and operated businesses, they are Icons of Ireland, a country not a religion, unless of course you are saying that Ireland is religion dominated state?

    Yes, the icons are of Ireland, not of any religion. The thing is, the south doesn’t base its identity on religion. Guinness was always a Protestant company (and now is no longer an Irish company), yet is still seen in Ireland, and elsewhere, as the archetypal ‘Irish’ icon (and uses this fact to good marketing effect).

    Northern nationalists mostly feel themselves to be part of Ireland, and share the icons.

    Northern loyalists are largely Protestant (as the thread intro points out – it was not me who brought religion into this), and by the nature of their ‘loyalism’ do not share the Irish cultural icons that the other three sub-tribes share (southern Catholics, southern Protestants, and northern Catholics). Hence their need for icons of their own. I would prefer them to join with the rest of us, but so far that has not happened. In the interim, it would help them, and all of us, if they had positive role models or icons, not just drug dealers, paramilitaries or dead British generals and kings. I am deliberately leaving George Best out because while he may have been a good soccer role model, he was a shite life role model.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Yokel

    “Patterson is typical of where it is going wrong, icons can can be anyone or anything that people associate with. The fact that they are next door is irrelevant.”

    What do you mean when you say “Patterson is typical of where it is going wrong”? I’ve got to say, I’m astonished by that statement.

    One of the things that makes me most proud to be an Irishman is the richness of my country’s literary tradition. I honestly don’t think there’s another country in the world to match Ireland’s contribution to world literature – and I don’t mean per capita, I mean period. Of course I’d be terribly biased in that view, but I happen to believe it, and that geniune belief makes my heart sing with pride.

    So I’m astonished to see this swipe at Patterson, a terrific Irish writer from the Ulster Protestant tradition. In fact I’d say that Patterson is one of only two writers of his generation who is producing important material that deals with the experiences of the Ulster Protestant community over the last few decades. Mitchell is the other one. As an Irishman I treasure Patterson and Mitchell for their talents and the sheer excellence and significance of their work. (Though I would strongly disagree, particularly re Mitchell, with their politics.) They continue to contribute substantially to our country’s monumental literary heritage.

    Yet Mitchell is forced into hiding despite his work being generally sympathetic to loyalists, while Patterson must endure swipes such as the above. I say again, I’m astonished.

    Ninety-nine years ago JM Synge’s Playboy of the Western World opened at the Abbey Theatre and provoked riots among the audience who regarded it as an affront to the Irish nation. (Even today, you can kinda see where they were coming from!) The audience was so consumed with the perceived slight that they were blinded to the sheer magnificence of the play itself – a play which, I believe, contains dramatic poetry of a level not seen since Shakespeare. Padraig Pearse wrote a castigating review of the play, accusing Synge of being a traitor to his country. However, six years later when Synge died, Pearse wrote an obituary in which he retracted his earlier statements. He made the point that sometimes where great artists are concerned, an audience needs time to fully grasp the meaning and significance of what they are saying. Pearse said that though he still disagreed with the politics of the play, he had come to recognise that one great dramatist like Synge, or a great poet like Yeats, was of more value to the nation than a thousand politicians. He said that Synge was “one of a very few men in the last century that has made our country considerable in the eyes of the world”.

    And he didn’t do it by telling the audience what it wanted to hear. He told the truth about his country, not because he hated it but because he loved it.

    Ditto Patterson and Mitchell.

  • Yokel

    Bottom line is this, I understand that people have fed ya with a series of balls that you couldnt resist hitting but seriously, your selectivity is astounding.

    If St Patrick can be an Irish icon (i’m surprised some people don’t see him as a British invader..St Patrick the first securocrat?.um I see a controversial book here..) then in that case someone can pick Proddy vet and occasional player with rubber, Dunlop who was a Scot. Neither are Irish but who cares? JFK versus George Best…both philanderers, one up to his neck in booze, one up to his neck in dodgy dealings. Both not adverse to hitting the wives and girlfriends either. There is barely a icon who can’t be criticised. Warmongers? I believe it was JFK who realy started US military intervention in Vietnam beyond advisers. Yet he’s still revered. Leaders of the Easter Rising, a failed military expedition (Pearse never forsaw the British reaction in terms of executions and Irish populous horror at it..he would have had to been psychic) some of whom where catcalled on the streets as they were led away? Icons? Would you want people who did a hopeless job at the time as Icons?

    Taken in the round you were looking to get a dig in and they left you an open goal but its still a dig. As for Westlife, well you new the pain it would cause and its cruel of you to use it.

    Woerking class loyalist scum, want yer icons..US presidents…

  • TAFKABO

    So anyone who lives in Dublin can’t be a hero or role model to protestants?

    This isn’t protestants talking, it’s the usual suspects telling protestants what they think.
    When was the last time , if ever, you heard someone being dismissed or criticised for choosing to live in Dublin?

    Sure it wasn’t that many weeks ago protestants went to Dublin,and we all know how that turned out.
    Don’t give me crap about how protestants have painted themselves into a corner when the truth is that nationalist have pigeonholed protestants, especially working class protestants and don’t want to give up their easy target.
    Just count how many threads on slugger in the last six months have been nationalists ranting on about how bigoted protestants are?
    Look at what happens when people try to bring some positive culture in the form of a website about Ulster Scots is treated?
    How often do we hear drug dealing associated with protestants in a way that would be completely unnaceptable to associate with any other ethnic community?
    ( ask yourself this, if you would bristle at the thoughts of all black youths being stereotyped by a few black drug dealers, then why is it OK to do the same with protestants?)

    But sure, I’m only a protestant, how would I know what I am thinking when I have so many of you here to tell me?

  • David Michael

    * Chortle *

    I’m typing this while listening to the press conference. What a funny place this is.

    But I still believe we’re making some progress.

  • Stephen Copeland

    TAFKABO,

    But sure, I’m only a protestant, how would I know what I am thinking when I have so many of you here to tell me?

    I am a Protestant too. I am not trying to pigeonhole my cousins – on the contrary, I am trying to explore how they could extricate themselves from their self-dug hole with some honour.

    Sure it wasn’t that many weeks ago protestants went to Dublin …

    Protestants live in Dublin, you know. Over 60,000 of them I think. The riot was not anti-Protestant, it was a mixture of anti-loyalist bigotry (as represented by Frazer) and opportunistic anti-Gardai violence. The large number of Irish Protestants who live, study and work in Dublin were entirely unaffected. Dublin is full of Protestant Churches and schools, all untouched and unhindered. Why? Because they are an integral paart of Dublin, and contribute to the tolerant and multi-cultural city that it is.

    Yout post appears to be a general rant against those who post anti-Protestant, or anti-Ulster Scots comments. But I am not one of those, so perhaps you could aim your comments a little better.

  • TAFKABO

    Stephen.

    I bow to your greater knowledge.

    I mistakenly assumed that when I saw and heard people hurl missiles and scream go home you “Orange and Hun bastards” it was in some way connected to the religion of the people they were talking about.

    It aint just a river in Egypt you know?

  • DK

    Stephen Copeland: “Northern nationalists mostly feel themselves to be part of Ireland, and share the icons.”

    Well don’t Northern Protestants feel themselves part of Britain and can share their icons. That increases the number of icons exponentially….

    Face it, it’s a small place and the population is too small (especially if only the working class proddies are counted) to produce many icons. Most would look up to David Holmes and Fergie in any case, while praising the paramilitaries for providing the dope in their spliffs and the e’s on their tongues.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    TAFKABO

    “Don’t give me crap about how protestants have painted themselves into a corner when the truth is that nationalist have pigeonholed protestants, especially working class protestants and don’t want to give up their easy target.”

    Do you seriously think that the biggest problem facing loyalist communities is that nationalists “pigeon-hole” them?

    If you take a look at somewhere like the Shankill, it’s population has dropped from 70,000 to just over 20,000 in the last forty years. Has this been caused by what nationalists have been saying about the Shankill, or are the causes rooted in more fundamental problems? If you look at the Shankill, it was once a working-class powerhouse of a neighbourhood, the backbone of west Belfast’s industrial base. (I’m setting aside all the sectarian issues here.) Today it’s a landscape of crumbling buildings, in thrall to the paramilitaries, who in turn control the drug rackets as well as gambling, prostitution, protection rackets and so on. The academic under-performance of Shankill children is a cause celebre, literacy levels are low, buildings are crumbling and it’s economy is teetering towards underclass levels. In terms of political representation, the people of the Shankill have ditched Chris McGimpsey – a progressive voice who recognised his area’s problems and did his best to tackle them – and elected Diane Dodds, a nice-looking nonentity who peddles the same, tired sectarian rhetoric.

    Now, are you trying to attribute this decades-long decline to “nationalist pigeon-holing”? How powerful do you think nationalists are, that their jibes can have such an effect?

    I think that probably the biggest problem facing unionism generally is a chronic lack of responsibility, manifested in a willingness to see tit-for-tat or blaming as a meaningful engagement with a problem.

  • Yokel

    TAKFABO

    When we take out the ping pong approach (Stephen, Westlife isn’t there a international convetion against use of such cruel weaponary to knock the other side? Geneva Protocol on Landmines and Westlife, thats the one) Glenn Patterson has shown us what the problem is, he just didnt realise it. The problem is that we in this glorious little corner of the world, a mere hour away from the most globally diverse financial trading market in the world and the single most wide ranging hub for international travel, we associate icons, inspirations with our little hole, our corner.

    Yes you are right, a person chooses their inspiration for them sometimes millions of people choose the same inspiration sometimes they don’t.

    What needs addressing is not someone suggesting yer icons are crap and ours are better (don’t take the bait though it is a laugh) its that working class deprived blah blah loyalists CAN’T THINK out of their own litte corner. When they do, they will find lots of icons and inspirations.

  • David Michael

    “In terms of political representation, the people of the Shankill have ditched Chris McGimpsey – a progressive voice who recognised his area’s problems and did his best to tackle them – and elected Diane Dodds, a nice-looking nonentity who peddles the same, tired sectarian rhetoric.”

    Well, Yokel, no accounting for taste. “Diane Dodds, a nice-looking …” Yikes, I’ll take Ann Widdecombe, thanks. 🙂

    But you’re so right. Why oh why did they ditch Chris McGimpsey? Bad move.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Yokel,

    I can’t figure out if your last paragraph is sarcastic or not ….

    Working class Prods do have icons. The problem, I think, is that they are often extremely negative. Murals of loyalist paramilitaries are icons similar to the religious frescos of the middle-ages. The problem is that most of these icons are (deliberately?) divisive. They divide loyalists from the rest of society, without providing any point of mutual contact. Some of the bands and their music does the same. A particular culture does not have to exclude those who were not part of its creation and transfer – we all enjoy music and literature from all over the world, even from cultures far removed from our own.

    To give an example, Yeats can be enjoyed by anyone who understands English, and is loved and read all over the world. Ireland (the country and people) can feel proud of having had such a person as one of their own, and for having inspired such work. Nobody need feel excluded, and he adds to the collective sense of pride that we (most Irish people) feel about our country. He did not write as a Protestant (though was one), nor as a nationalist (I think he was a loose one), but simply as a writer of beautiful poetry, and it is as such that he is enjoyed.

    While some loyalists or unionists may chose not to feel any affinity for him, and prefer to feel pride in writers from, say, Scotland, is their own issue. But the reality is that most northern Protestants feel themselvees to be from a specific place, i.e. Northern Ireland, and would probably feel a greater affinity for one of ‘their own’, but there don’t appear to be many. And that should be the key task for loyalists/unionists – to try to grow and encourage local talent to give their young people something to look up to. Without it, they may continue to look up to the ‘wrong’ role models, including the brigadiers of bling.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Yokel,

    Re: Westlife.

    Yes, they are ‘cruel and unusual treatment, for sure. To add to the sound pollution they have created, you should see the visual pollution created by the house one of them built for his mammy near Sligo town ….

  • Mick Fealty

    Billy,

    “Do you seriously think that the biggest problem facing loyalist communities is that nationalists “pigeon-hole” them?”

    I’m sure it gives them little cause for lost sleep. But it is a concern that so many nationalist commenters on Slugger feel no compunction (or indeed embarassment) about speaking so freely of a society of which they apparently know so little.

    The invariable markers are lack of specific detail and profound triviality. That is not to say that Nationalists cannot speak knowledgeably. Just that on Slugger too many choose to forgo the courtesy of bringing real knowledge to bear.

    An old writers adage is worth repeating: “only write about that which you know”. And have the decency to let others speak about what they know.

  • 9countyprovence

    TAKFABO
    I bow to your greater knowledge.

    I mistakenly assumed that when I saw and heard people hurl missiles and scream go home you “Orange and Hun bastards” it was in some way connected to the religion of the people they were talking about.

    It aint just a river in Egypt you know?

    Those same celtic top wearing idiots were heard yelling ‘go home you fenian bastards’too! To assume that this was how Protestants are treated in the ROI in general is very ‘Eygptian’ of you yourself.
    Why do southern Protestants think negatively of the Loyalist community also? It can’t be for sectarian reasons, so there must be something else to it….

  • kensei

    “An old writers adage is worth repeating: “only write about that which you know”. And have the decency to let others speak about what they know.”

    Perhaps. But things can look somewhat dfferent from the outside looking in.

  • Stephen Copeland

    An old writers adage is worth repeating: “only write about that which you know”.

    Hey Mick, are you trying to kill the comments section?

  • Yokel

    Stephen, you mean the working class deprived loyalists, blah blah, people can’t think their way out of their own corner, paragraph?

    Nah thats not sarcastic, thats fact.

    Somebody posted suggesting that i may have mean’t Glen Patterson himself is an indication fo whats wrong. To clarify, personally he’s not an example of what is wrong, but what he says hits the issue right in the eye but I’m not sure he realised it. He points out that loyalists don’t maybe have the icons or inspirations to relate to within their immediate world and environment. Solution? Widen your world…

  • TAFKABO

    Do you seriously think that the biggest problem facing loyalist communities is that nationalists “pigeon-hole” them?

    Christ no, but that’s not the issue I was getting at.What I was saying is that it ill behoves those who pigeonhole and stereotype a group of people to lecture those selfsame people on how to better themselves.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Yokel,

    Solution? Widen your world…

    I think I agree with you, but could you expand a little on how and in what way they could widen their worlds?

  • Mick Fealty

    Stephen and Kensai,

    Clearly I’m keen to have people comment. I wouldn’t put up with often nocturnal hassle it gives me.

    But I am happy enough if no one comments on a thread. If people genuinely have an inside track on the ‘personal life’ working class society well and good. And there is certainly nothing wrong with an outsider’s view.

    But if you have no particular insight to offer other than telling us in the broadest and most general terms what you feel about another group of people, is it really worth reading or writing?

  • Stephen Copeland

    Mick,

    Any particular reason for selecting me (and Kensei) for your ‘caution’?

    You know nothing very much about most of us, so why do you let certain people spout complete rubbish, yet try to shut up people who engage in civil debate?

  • sorry

    Stephen: “there is little attempt to propose an alternative, and still less to propose a modern or positive alternative”

    Stephen Can you please advise how I, a working class protestant can select a suitable icon

    Secondly how can you please advise how i would propose the said icon as an alternative in my working class areas, poster campaign, door to door, etc.

    Hopefully with your insight and obvious intelligence i can help my community see the error of their ways, which has so clearly affected you.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Mick
    “I’m sure it gives them little cause for lost sleep. But it is a concern that so many nationalist commenters on Slugger feel no compunction (or indeed embarassment) about speaking so freely of a society of which they apparently know so little. The invariable markers are lack of specific detail and profound triviality. That is not to say that Nationalists cannot speak knowledgeably. Just that on Slugger too many choose to forgo the courtesy of bringing real knowledge to bear. An old writers adage is worth repeating: “only write about that which you know”. And have the decency to let others speak about what they know.”

    Not sure if that post was directed specifically to me or was intended more generally?

    But I think your point dovetails somewhat with my own. As someone looking in to the Ulster Protestant community from the outside, I can only know that community to the extent that it can articulate itself, so if that community can’t articulate itself as well as it might, it affects all of us. Therefore people like Patterson and Mitchell are invaluable assets to us all. What I DO know about, say, loyalists in Rathcoole, comes mainly from news reports of murders and John Gregg and Carnmoney cemetery and Danny McColgan. Stuff that makes me sick. How can one make sense of it all? Well, Mitchell’s While the Beast Sleeps is a good place to start.

    So while it might be valid to point out that nationalism’s understanding of unionism mightn’t be great, the reasons for that state of affairs might not necessarily be for lack of trying. Frankly, we don’t have a lot to go on, and as long as unionism continues to be, apparently, artist-unfriendly, then it will continue to have serious problems in making itself coherent.

  • Paul

    Stop knocking Ash, Free All Angels is awesome, better than anything U2 have ever done. If they had an attention seeking blowhard frontman they would be the biggest band in the world.

  • Stephen Copeland

    sorry,

    Stephen Can you please advise how I, a working class protestant can select a suitable icon

    You would have to actually want to, and I feel that you don’t (from the evident sarcasm of your post). If you don’t want things to improve, so be it.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    Pen and paper refuse nothing, I have to say your comment was clever.

    Mick, I’m troubled by your, “only write about what you know,” comment. As an Irish American who supports unification of Ireland…and who assisted Sinn Fein in various ways…I was on the receiving end of the campaing Donaldson (now we know was an british informer-spit spit on his memory). Donaldson’s approach was very simliliar…if an American said something or was pursing something that he didn’t like ( now we know it was england that didn’t like the approach) he would say…that person doesn’t know enough because that person isn’t Irish and doesn’t live in the north….that person should be silent until she learns and studies…that person has no right to comment on the north.

    What we all know now…Donaldson was an informer who followed and used the mantra you stated above to label Americans who were effectively helping to bring about unification.

    Some of the comments on this board are childish and people see them for what they are. Other comments are racsist…sectarian and rude but again…people see them for what they are. The flip side…some comments are creative, smart and insightful….and are seen for what they are.
    Unless someone is personally attacked or the speach is illegal…let people say what they want and be seen for what they truley are.

  • Roger

    “Happy the country that has a hero.
    No. Unhappy the country that needs a hero.”
    I’m surprised in the context of literature that no-one has mentioned Stewart Parker, Louis MacNeice, John Hewitt, Michael Longley or Hubert Butler as examples of possible Northern or Protestant “heroes”. They identified themselves very differently in their attitudes to Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK, but all of them had indubitably protestant qualities in their writings.
    One of the problems for Northern protestants is perhaps the fact that many of their potential leaders follow the logic of identifying themselves as British and move to Great Britain. Quite a few Labour and Conservative MPs came from Northren ireland but chose to stand for English constituencies for “national” parties. So too with businessmen- emphasing Britishness means abandoning irishness.

  • TAFKABO

    I think the problem is in assuming that protestants see themselves as in need of protestant icons to begin with.
    Is it not the case that nationalist icons, and indeed nationalist iconography springs from a desire to replace a vacuum caused by disenfranchisement from the British State?

    You can scoff, but my cultural heroes are to be found as much in the writers of Coronation street and the comic book genius of Alan Moore as they are in the poetry of John Hewitt, Robert Burns or the paintings of John Luke.

    I know that many here assume that growing up in a Loyalist estate means I am some knuckle dragging neanderthal, but that’s their problem, not mine.

  • David Michael

    Roger
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for recalling the great Hubert Butler. An extraordinary man, a genuine humanist. If his like is writing in the Ireland of today then I don’t know him/her yet.

    He was the conscience of narrow Catholicism when no one dared speak out against it in the 1950s. He took no prisoners.

    At the same time he was such a fair-minded and gentle man, who saw not two sides but every side of most arguments. I returned to this country a year too late to meet him personally but did have the pleasure of meeting his widow Peggy, now also deceased. A lovely woman, full of fire and razor intelligence even in old age.

    Somebody asked earlier on this thread how loyalists can expand their horizons. Follow Butler’s lead as much as you can. He went to Russia and Eastern Europe, made himself at home with those cultures. He foresaw what would happen in Croatia and to a certain extent Kosovo. His was the broadest of minds.

    I don’t wish to sound patronizing, but I too travelled widely and those travels helped me see beyond the narrow confines of my own place and upbringing.

    Travel abroad is more than a chartered flight that takes you to a warm destination, because if your flight departs from Belfast then you’ll be taking your situation with you, meeting the same people when abroad, and perhaps eating the same food and drinking what you drink at home. The only thing you’ll be widening is your waistline.

    Better a weekend *gasp, shudder* down south in the “Free State”. Don’t knock it till you try it.

  • Roger

    Butler was an astonishing man by any standards and should be a cultural hero to anyone. He came from a very different protestant tradition to that of Belfast, but if someone’s core identity is protestant, a protestant who protested politely but unceasingly is a fine example.
    The problem remains though that the people who leave Belfast, leave Northren ireland, cease to be identified and to identify as Irish protestants of any kind so they aren’t recognised as “role models” or cultural heros to imitate. The ones who go to Great Britain follow the logic of identity and become British without qualification.

  • Yokel

    Kathy

    I just love your little posts they really do make my day. They are fantastic thing, beyond some of is hard bitten people from this side of the Atlantic. Their innocence & idealism is beautiful. When someone holds up your family, straps you a in a car with a bomb in it and tells you to drive to a security post, such innocence tends to get lost sadly but thank you for reminding us that it can still exist. But sure thats all in the past and thank you for your helpful contribution to the day to day improvement of life of myself and everyone else in this troubled land and explaining to people over there how things are here. I’m particularly pleased by people in the USA who don’t actually know that most people in Northern Ireland actually support the Union with the UK, thats my favorite. The programs to help Catholic children escape oppression & poverty by spending some with American families, Catholic children only mind, those were great too. That work to improve understanding and a shared future, may god bless you.

    Stephen

    Sorry, have been trying to earn me living so have missed recent posts. Widening their world…flippantly..move the hell out of where they live. More realistically its a thought process. I have to say I’ve no hard and fast program for this one because I’m nto sure oine exists. The problem within loyalist working class, poor oh my god its not my fault I didnt bother at school and I like breaking windows blah blah areas, is that their entire thought process is negative, narrow and lazy. It’s about whats wrong, someone elses fault,its all about the bogey man and everything being hopeless. Promoting a wider view is often seen in terms of travel, literature or meeting the other side but its really attitude. All of those may help but they are not the answer alone. That essentially comes from inside the head and requires flexible thinking to be there. How you get that flexible thinking, no single answer, its a real chip away process. Perhaps inspirations can help but inspirations are everywhere, they just need to look. It certainly doesn’t need 30 odd million quid for a new community centre that a paramilitary mural will get painted on the outside wall.

  • truthseeker

    – “while largely ignoring the potentially positive fields of music, ”

    James Galway, and Van Morrison no doubt

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Is it not the case that nationalist icons, and indeed nationalist iconography springs from a desire to replace a vacuum caused by disenfranchisement from the British State?

    Ah. Right. Irish culture only exists because we rejected our proper place as Happy English Children. And in order to fill the gaping Queen-shaped void in our souls we invented nationalist iconography off the top of our heads. The whole notion of Irish culture being one of the oldest in Europe is just a scam dreamt up by Pearse. We’ve been rumbled. How did you figure it out?

  • Brian Boru

    Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken, Henry Monroe, Ernest Blythe, Bulmer Hobson, and Joseph Biggar are far better role-models for Protestants than Carson, Craig, Paisley and Brookeborough imho.

  • Brian Boru

    And Parnell. Meant to say him too.

  • Ciaran Irvine

    You forgot….Erskine Childers, Douglas Hyde, the Yeats brothers, Constance Markiewicz (nee Gore-Booth), Bono, David Norris and Trevor Sargent 🙂

  • Brian Boru

    Sry.

  • David Michael

    What about Julius Caesar? Why does EVERYBODY sideline Julius Caesar? 🙁

    Sheesh!

  • Ciaran Irvine

    Caesar was an Irish Prod? You learn something new every day on Slugger…

  • David Michael

    Ciaran Irvine

    “Caesar was an Irish Prod? You learn something new every day on Slugger…”

    LOL. But I only learned today that Bono was an Irish Prod!

    Now, what am I going to do with this info? Does it change my opinion of Bono? Nope, he remains for me a self-serving loudmouth.

    I threw in that Caesar bit because I’m querying the wisdom of all this this pigeon-holing. Is this not one of the mindsets that NI needs to move on from? I believe it’s dangerous and foolish to identify a person with the religion they may or may not practise.

    Do I know or care whether JK Rowling is Protestant, Catholic, Jewish or none of the above? Of course not. But I’m not an Ulsterman. Maybe that’s why such things are of no importance to me.

  • TAFKABO

    Ah. Right. Irish culture only exists because we rejected our proper place as Happy English Children. And in order to fill the gaping Queen-shaped void in our souls we invented nationalist iconography off the top of our heads. The whole notion of Irish culture being one of the oldest in Europe is just a scam dreamt up by Pearse. We’ve been rumbled. How did you figure it out?

    Ciaran Irvine

    I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say.
    I would never wish to belittle Irelands fantastic cultural legacy.The point I was making was the relationship between one group of Irish people to that legacy, after all, as has been pointed out, pretty much all of Irish culture belongs as much to Unionists and Protestants, if they only chose to claim it.
    The very reasons for some people turning their backs on the culture, and others embracing it wholeheartedly is what I was getting at.

  • David Michael

    No signs of moving on then? 😉

  • Doctor Who

    Copeland

    You are really missing the point. Northern Irish icons from a Protestant background have always questioned things as opposed to simply wanting to celebrate the side of the fence they sit on.

    In literature Gary Mitchell and Marie Jones are good examples of this. A Catholic contemporary on other hand like Martin Lynch celebrates his so called Nationalist identity without question.

    This has been part of Protestant culture in Ireland for 400 years. The dissenting voice.

    In the arts Stephen Rea, in music Van Morrison, in Politics Henry Joy McCracken who is far removed from todays Republican movement as he ever was from Unionism. In sport the contoversy continues, George Best favoured an all Ireland football side (for purely football reasons), it didn´t make him any less of an icon or hero to the Protestant community.

    You also forget to mention that Northern Ireland Protestants will celebrate any icon that represents Northern Ireland, Barry McGuigan the Clones cyclone a prime example.

    Of course detractors of my argument will site Neill Lennon as showing this to be the contary, but the actions of a very small number of football fans do not speak for us all. Those Irish Republic fans who witnessed the shocking anti Jewish chants at the match against Israel will appreciate this.

    And yes English is a troll.

  • Doctor Who

    Boru

    As you well know the list you offer are far removed from todays ideas of the Republican movement.

    There is an awful stench of pigeons on this thread, if we don´t watch we will get down to whose claiming who.

    A few years ago I remember two blokes arguing in a pub on wether Derek Davis was one or the other. They obviously came from opposite poles, but i mean Derek Davis that is scrapping.

    Who wants Ralph McClean?

  • David Michael

    Dr Who, I’ll swap you 3 Stephen Rays for your Ralph McClean!

    Or would you take 5 Adrian Dunbars? 🙂

  • Doctor Who

    A very generous offer David.

    I tell you what i´ll even throw in my Gloria Hunniford.

  • David Michael

    Thanks, Doctor, but I already have a Hunniford. I traded her for 9 James Nesbitts. Guess who got the better deal 🙂