A ‘warm-up’ for the marching season

SDLP MLA John Dallat’s description of the on-going loyalist campaign in Garvagh against catholics; The Daily Ireland has more details of the Ballymena attack and catalogues similar incidents in Ballymena in the past year, which occurred during the height of the marching season.
With both nationalist parties identifying the loyalist marching season as the spark for sectarian tensions and attacks across the north, are there unionists/ loyalists who accept this line, or have they a counter-thesis to explain the pattern of sectarian behaviour?

  • Joe Bloggs

    Unfortunately, given some of the vitriol we have seen here recently at Slugger’s, the typical counter-thesis, coming shortly, will be that themmuns started it.

  • fair_deal

    Sectarianism exists all year round, it isn’t a seasonal state. People who conduct these crimes don’t love their neighbour in December and then hate them in April.

    Crimes of a violent nature rise in the summer months e.g racist crimes rise in the summer months too and there are no racist parades in NI. Criminal damage cases rise in summer months with the school holidays especially.

    This pattern is basically common in the Western World e.g the car brunings that plague the French suburbs always rise at the weekends.

    Basically there is greater opportunity for violent attacks and criminal damage in the summer months so they rise.

    Didn’t say them’muns once even if the DI is trying to blame us’uns.

  • missfitz

    Fair deal
    I always respect your opinion, although I often disagree.

    We are having this discussion on the night a young catholic child had his head kicked in like a melon in the middle of a prosperous town after an Orange parade.

    There is no room for humour or excuses. Are you so desensitised that you cannot accept the unacceptable?

    Everyone on both sides is wrong in some way. Thats where the future lies, in accepting that.

    And also, we can work on international figures tomorrow, but I strongly suspect you are wrong about our levels of violence. Please do not try to minimise the enormity of this tragedy

  • Joe Bloggs

    Fair Deal
    Good points.
    The warmer weather brings them out of hibernation I guess.

  • pacman

    Of course sectarianism exists all year round. The problem is that the marching season appears to raise the level of it for some unionists/loyalists as they seem to believe that they can put us’uns back into our pre-1969 box.

    I see unfortunately that the young lad in Ballymena has lost his life so that must be the union secured for another year at least for the neanderthals that reside in Ballymena.

  • English

    What worries me is that this might not be the last murder of the summer. My opinion of Northern Ireland has changed dramatically over the last two years, the first summer was fine, last summer was dreadful, what of this summer?

    I am fortunate enough never to have experienced the troubles, but I am wondering if reducing the military presence is a good idea now – and not because of the IRA. I do not feel that the IRA are a threat at present, but they could be if Loyalist thugs continue to provoke and murder. I can now in a way see why IRA membership spiraled in order to protect Catholic communities. The present behaviour of Loyalists must stop, they are not doing Northern Ireland any favours, some Loyalists they are!

  • fair_deal


    “after an Orange parade”

    There WASN’T an Orange parade in Ballymena. the parade in the town on the day of the murder was the Ballymena’s Lord Mayors Show!


    “Please do not try to minimise the enormity of this tragedy”

    I didn’t hence my comment on the other thread.

  • David Michael

    Denial, denial, denial. Northern Ireland is forever in denial. It seems that few here have the courage to face up to realities. Only then will there be an end to this madness, of a young boy’s life being brutally snuffed out as if he were an insect or rodent. And the marching season has barely begun.

    Only today on Talkback I heard yet another example of denial. The presenter spoke of “marches”. Oh no, sretorted an Orangeman, they’re “parades” not marches.

    For crying out loud, if men walk in step they are marching! If, as in Rio, people cavort down the street (where they’re wanted) and everybody has a jolly time, it’s a parade.

    But no, we’re in denial that the “parade” is a very thinly disguised military march, complete with kettledrum and fife, and banners to put the fear of God into the enemy.

    Do get a life, people, before your endless denial costs more lives.

  • missfitz

    Is the mayor of Ballymena a nationalist?

    Or would he an ….um….Orange man?

    You know what I mean, it was not an inclusive event, and unless we start to control the militaristic themes of these parades, this is not the last murder we will see.

  • David Michael

    See, there you go too, Missy: “parades”.

    No, they ain’t. They are MARCHES. Why the euphemism?

  • Joe Bloggs

    From one look dictionary:

    Parade; noun: a ceremonial procession including people marching

    March; noun: the act of marching; walking with regular steps (especially in a procession of some kind)

    Sort of the same.

    But there are parades and there are parades.

  • fair_deal


    It wasn’t an OO parade end of story. The attempt to twist it into something else is pointless.

    In Ballymena, there have been a series of sectarian incidents predating the Lord Mayor’s show, they predate the first Loyal order parade in the town and they predate this year.

    Unfortunately the positive signs of the cross-community deal have not flourished. Hopefully these contacts can prevent any further escalation sadly too late for this poor child and his family.

  • missfitz

    I admit to being quite emotional about this. I have stood up for the right of people to march in their parades for the past 6 years here, and have engaged, studied and worked with all sorts of people to bring light into the corners of darkness. I have never posted a bad word about the OO, indeed I have good relations at many levels there.

    It just makes me so sad and angry and frsutrated to see this utter useless waste of life. And to read those Bebo sites where half literate children are spewing venom and slogans that they cannot understand.

    I think it may be time to vote with my feet, and I dont mean a march

  • David Michael

    Here’s an idea. Why not put all marches on hold for a year or two. If less violence ensues then the marches are clearly to blame. Then consider doing away with the wretched things altogether.

    On second thoughts, that’s probably too sensible a suggestion for Northern Ireland.

  • Joe Bloggs

    I think there was a period during the 70’s when all marches were banned for a year or too.
    Didn’t take obviously.
    Shouting from a certain reverend that people should not be denied their god given rights (or something like that)

  • missfitz

    I posted on this recently…. that was tried in 1836 and was a disaster. People were finding any excuse to come together and process, and funerals were gargantuan affairs! The ban was lifted after several years as it was unworkable.

    Anyway, the parades arent the problem, they really arent. Look at the Bebo sites and you will see that the depth of hatred goes way beyond that.

  • Joe Bloggs

    I’m acronymically challenged.
    What’s a Bebo site and do I really want to go there?

  • tourismireland

    This years Mayors Parade is set to be quite a sight, be prepared – on Saturday 6th May you’d be advised to get a great vantage point to watch the Parade go by.
    Starting off from Ballee Playing fields at 11.00am the Parade will make its way down the Antrim Road, Queen Street, North Road, Linenhall Street, Bridge Street, Mill Street, Wellington Street, Ballymoney Street, Thomas Street, past the Fairhill Centre, Broughshane Road and finishes off with a party at the Ecos Centre.
    Floats of all shapes and sizes will be taking part including a host of vintage cars, and basically anything that moves !
    A few special guests will also appear throughout the Parade including of course the Mayor himself with the visiting Mayor of Gibraltar.
    There will be a few surprises you wont be expecting so get yourself a seat and a picnic and come along for a great spectacle – Floats of all shapes, sizes and sounds, Vintage and Classic Cars, Tractors, Bikes, Music, Princesses, Dancers, Pirates and a whole lot more !
    You’d be mad to miss the Mayors Parade.


  • Rubicon

    The parades/marches (to me it’s the latter) sustain a sectarian view of the world. It is a visible expression of “them and us”, peopled by sectarian organisations and used as soap-boxes for partisan political speaches.

    Is the the cause of the murder of a young Catholic? Directly, probably not but the sectarianism that motivated these thugs was probably ingrained early – by family, friends, neighbours, churches, other oganisations, ‘parades’ and indeed the sectarian murders of the ‘other side’.

    Making ‘parades’ “family friendly” is a very high risk endeavour. What is the point? To improve the political socialisation of sectarianism?

  • UnionistWarmUpOver

    Michael McIlveen is now dead.

  • elfinto

    A bit off topic but is there any word on wtf happened on Cave Hill last night? I can’t find out anything about it. Another tragic waste of life and possibly two lives. I only hope there are no sectarian / political overtones. Body found on Hightown Road is a gruesome reminder of very dark days and even darker nights.

  • tony

    When organisations like the apprentice boys organise a march, as they did on Easter Monday this year in Ballymena, they have a responsibility not to add to the sectarian tensions within the community.

    The parade was noted for the number of paramilitary affiliated bands and paramilitary flags and emblems displayed within the parade.

    Young people are clearly influenced by these displays and if the loyal orders portray paramilitaries as being acceptable by allowing bands and banners in their parades who glorify killers, this is a very dangerous mix.

    One only has to go back to the march on Easter Monday when it was claimed by locals that those responsible for the stabbing of another Catholic teenager in the town, danced past locals as they participated in the parade.

  • David Michael

    Anyway, the parades arent the problem, they really arent. Look at the Bebo sites and you will see that the depth of hatred goes way beyond that.

    The marches are A problem, and a big one at that. They focus the poison each year. That’s the purpose, always was. Why d’you think people describe martial music as “stirring”?

    Are will those in denial tell us that it’s actually “soothing”?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    David Michael: “The marches are A problem, and a big one at that. They focus the poison each year. That’s the purpose, always was. Why d’you think people describe martial music as “stirring”?

    Are will those in denial tell us that it’s actually “soothing”?”

    Nah… we’ll get Fair_Deal’s vaudville act saying that the season’s are to blame, followed by some bureaucratic double-speak on how these annual “cross-community contacts” just aren’t having the desired effect.

  • David Michael


    You left out “more education” and “a need for more funding”.

    (No doubt I’ve overlooked a couple as well.)

  • missfitz

    Joe Bloggs

    Bebo is a site where people, normally 25 and younger, I believe, set up home pages, link to each other and have a virtual community. Thats really as much as I know.

    I visited the site and was chilled. There is more about it on another thread here on the site, that describes the sub culture that you can identify by going there. SHould you? Yes, I think its good to know what goes on around us!

  • Joe Bloggs

    Thank you missfitz

  • fair_deal

    On the seasonal pattern on crimes

    “Seasonality in crime…Each crime type follows a different pattern, and some show no significant seasonal effects at all…Violent crime is typically above the trend in the summer months and falls again in the winter.”


    Something I should have added to my first post. I think it would be safe to say that a society with organised paramilitaries will also see more violent attacks. The deparamilitarisation of Loyalist communities is an issue Unionist body politic can’t get a grip on and it needs to.


    Emotion is undertandable after such a tragedy but do not depart.


    It seems pretty certain the Cavehill stuff is not sectarian or political. The word on the seriously ill victim guy seems positive too.

  • GrassyNoel

    I hate to say this, and other nationalist posters may be shocked (or not as the case may be, considering it’s coming from a southerner who doesn’t have to live in the midst of all the sectarian tension in NI), but I would seriously suggest to northern Nationalists to just let ALL marches through for a couple of years.

    I know it’s impossible to convince people who live in flashpoint areas of the wisdom of this, but really I think it would/might take the ‘sting’ out of the so-called symbolic triumphalism of these marches, whether intentional or unintentional. If the IRA can agree to give up their weaponry and order all volunteers to cease and desist permanently in a show of good faith, who knows what a gesture like this would do for the relations between the communities.

    Like I said, it’s probably just pie in the sky even to suggest this, but it may be worth considering. At the end of the day, some battle was won about 350 years ago. So f*cking what? A show of blatant defiance may be better than protests which only serve to up the ante and create the kind of circumstances in which that poor lad was kicked to death the other night.

    It’s just not worth it anymore…not for the right to brag about some completely pointless, hollow victory over ‘themmuns’ from down the street.

  • darth rumsfeld

    so there we have it- with the exception of missfitz’s nuanced comment and controlled emotion the usual stampede to put the boot into the Orange Order.

    I really didn’t want to have to post on this thread, as I was perhaps naive in thinking that people could realise the enormity of this tragedy and show the family some respect by posting with due recognition.

    Fat chance.

    Some people on this thread should hang their heads in shame- what they’re doing is little short of taking this poor young man’s coffin and exhibiting it through the streets because they just can’t resist a chance to make cheap political points. If only they had a fraction of the grace of the family, as exhibited by the uncle on the radio this morning.

    We don’t need to be lectured on the evils of sectarianism by such people as David Michael or Dread Chtulhu-another excruciatingly painful lesson has been taught us all, for the second time in a year,( and the three thousandth in thirty years) of what depths hatred can drag us down to. How they must have groaned when they heard that Ian Paisley had ministered to the family- another chance to bash the DUP had been snatched from them.

    Let’s be clear- only a monster would commit such a crime or seek to excuse or deny it.
    The people who committed it are not acting for any true Protestant. Anyone not revolted by this appalling crime is beneath contempt, and anyone jumping on a bandwagon of knee-jerk Prod-bashing isn’t much better.

    I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been shocked and deeply saddened by this foul crime,and I’m sure 99.999999% of Protestants feel the same.The remainder aren’t worthy of the name.

    The best we can do is pray for the family, and support the police in apprehending the guilty- oh, and reflect that snide posts like those mentioned contribute to demonising whole communities and producing the next generation of sectarian killers

  • David Michael

    “We don’t need to be lectured on the evils of sectarianism by such people as David Michael”

    That’s correct, Darth; nor did I lecture. You need to be lectured by religious and political leaders, most of whom are neglecting the lecturing.

    I cringed today to hear Sean Farran dodging the question put to him concerning naked bigotry on the Ballymena council. Was he afraid of siding with the Shinners? Jesus wept. At any other time I might have forgiven his silence and lack of forthrightness. Not now.

    Let the politicians lecture us, please!

  • John McDougall

    The death of Michael McIlveen is an absolute tragedy and I am sure we all hope that the police bring the murders to justice.
    Nothing will bring the boy back but as mark of respect to his memory, can we have all future parades and marches in the Ballymena banned by the government forthwith.

  • mark

    Some Slugger’s needs to catch themselves on.

    The site is littered with links naming minors over murder. People giving advice on how this can be used to circumvent legal practice of anonymity for minors unless a court order is issued.

    The bebo site is not a source. Children use it, they don’t know better.

    Most Slugger contributors are adults. Most know the law regarding juveniles, anonyimity and court cases.

    Many seem happy to engage in a titillating voyeuristic witch hunt based on nothing but the ramblings of children on a bulletin board.

    Yes its an emotional case but that doesn’t excuse anyone from the norms expected when dealing with alleged crime from minors.

    The kids on bebo don’t know better. People here should. Calm down please.

  • Dec


    While not attempting to detract from the substance ofyour remarks, the links I saw were alleging adult not minor involvement in this murder.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi All,

    Orange order parades are expressions of hatred and anti-Catholic bigotry. They should be banned and the orange order outlawedas a hate group.

  • ncm

    I grew up as a catholic in Ballymena, and I know – cast iron fact – that you do not dare go into the town when the marches are going. Any attempt to say that marches don’t encourage sectarianism is pure bull, and I’m surprised that EVERYONE doesn’t realise that.

  • David Michael


    “Any attempt to say that marches don’t encourage sectarianism is pure bull, and I’m surprised that EVERYONE doesn’t realise that.”

    Perhaps everyone suspects they do, but not everyone will admit it.

  • mark


    One of the repeated links goes directly to the homepage of a 15 year old boy. It gives his name, school, picture, age and has numerous threatening comments alleging he is one of the killers.

    Outing a 15 year old boy on the basis of children’s comments on bebo….that is just a little dodgy and something all other sections of the media are avoiding.

  • Vivaldian

    Darth Rumsfeld: “I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been shocked and deeply saddened by this foul crime,and I’m sure 99.999999% of Protestants feel the same.”

    Assuming a population of 800,000 Protestants, that leaves 0.8 Protestants who aren’t ‘shocked and deeply saddened’. I think it’s probably rather more than that.

    Having grown up in a working class Protestant community I have first hand knowledge of the levels of bigotry and hatred that can and do exist. The kind of bigotry that causes horrific incidents like this to happen.

    There is a sizable minority in the Protestant community who, quite frankly, despise Catholics. Despise them so much that they think it is acceptable to batter them to death.

    It is time the leadership of the Protestant community made a serious attempt to address this problem. Hell, it would help if they even acknowledged that it exists.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    posted by Kathy C

    I looked to see if there was another thread on this board for Michael McIlveen and didn’t see one. I would like to say here,
    ” God help the family of Michael McIlveen.God promises to turn evil into good for those that believe and I pray that God will turn the evil that happened to Michael into good. Cain killed his brother Abel out of hatred…just as Michael was killed out of hatred. God help us. Amen.”

  • lib2016

    Does anyone know if there is precedence elsewhere for what seems to be happening? There seems to be an emerging antisectarian vigilanteeism emerging using the internet. Wasn’t there a similar phenonemon purporting to out paedopiles and sex offenders a few years ago?

    The sectarian fights are bad enough but if we add vigilanteeism to the mix we have a really dangerous situation building up here. I’ve seen references elsewhere to who was responsible for the attacks in Ahoghill last year.

  • GrassyNoel


    I don’t want to falsely accuse you of reacting to my comment just because it came immediately after mine, as I was accused of so doing on another thread this morning, but really,this whole knee-jerk leaping to the defence of the OO is somewhat pointless..I don’t think anyone is suggesting that there is a direct link between the OO and that poor kid getting killed, but everyone is aware that tensions have been rising dangerously in the last couple of weeks, as they ALWAYS do in Northern Ireland around this time of year.

    Sometimes I feel unqualified to contribute to these discussions as I have no first-hand experience of the kind of hatred that pervades up in the North, although friends of mine have and have told me some pretty terrifying stories. On other occasions I think it must be impossible for people on both sides of the conflict in NI to try to remain in any way rational or objective about the situation, no matter how hard they try, hence my comment above.

    The fact remains that Marching is probably THE biggest issue in Northern Ireland for almost half the year, every year, and anyone who thinks that rising sectarian tensions in and around Ballymena, with the Marching season approaching, had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Michael McIlveen’s death is in complete denial about the reality of the situation.

    Having said all that, I would still recommend a change in the approach to Orange marches by the Nationalist community. Events like what happened on Sunday night last are just so horrific that things just need to be brought down several notches very quickly before all hell breaks loose.

    Both sides have to finally realise that even if all the ifs and buts that they have on their wishlist were to be granted, there will still be nothing like what can be termed a ‘victory’ for either side when young boys can’t even walk home on a summer’s evening without being kicked and beaten to death because he’s on the ‘wrong’ side of town, or because he’s one of ‘Them’uns’.

    The other side of the community isn’t going to just magically disappear for some reason.

    Just consider this for a moment: Even if we all woke up tomorrow morning in a 32-county Republic, and let’s just imagine that the Dublin government had been installed as the sole sovereign authority on the whole island overnight, does anybody REALLY think daily life in NI would be ANY different from what it is like today?

    Me BOLLOCKS it would. It would be the exact same sectarian shite, with kids getting kicked to death in the same cities, towns, villages and estates, and churches getting firebombed etc. for no good reason other than to carry on some stupid sectarian feud that has never served, and never will serve, any useful purpose.

    I’ve said it before on this site & I say again: until each and every person on this island can walk every street and every field without fear of attack because of so-called ‘tribal differences’, then NONE of us will ever be truly free.

  • sickened

    Sick sectarian scumbags kick a young boy to death – and yet people decide that this is a bandwagon which they decide to hitch the issue of parades and everything else onto.

    If there is a case to be made of marches heightening tensions – then there is also one they are not heightened from one side alone. There are people out there who are actively increasing perceived tensions around marches for their own ends. Those ends are increased sectarian tensions and all which flow from them.

    There are people, despite the fact that there is no objective evidence that this murder was in any way related to a parade, use it to call for parades to be banned. That sort of comment also raises tensions – people sometimes seek to deny that.

    What exactly does tolerance and mutual respect mean? The demonisation of huge swathes of the Protestant community surely isn’t the best way of dealing with sectarianism. Although some people seem to like it as some kind of sport.

  • David Michael

    I agree with everything you say, sickened.

    Next step: impress on your political leaders, e.g. council members, the importance of respecting fellow-councillors of another faith.

  • terry tadpole

    So in effect what you are saying Grassy Noel is that if the Fenians have a problem with orange marches they might get themselves killed and its just not worth it. I mean they should just accept that this is the way things are like good uncle toms.

    With respect your life in the South does seem to have blinded you to the depth of feeling amongst Northern Nationalists on this subject.

    And dont for a moment believe that the only people with a problem are the Shinners. I live in a 76% nationalist town and every summer for a week our small town is bedecked from top to bottom with flags and emblems that we feel alien and feel insulted by.

    We dont want it. And yet in my town no one raises a word – and yet every Nationalist you meet HATES it.

    Maybe we have been too accepting far too long. I am surprised that there are only a few contentious parades, because the fact of the matter is ALL of these parades are contentious.

    Northern Ireland will NEVER move on until this parading nonsense is stopped. You cannot in a divided society march THOUSANDS of times every years to celebrate ancient and more recent domination of one community by another.

    Imagine if I as a Nationalist demanded to go to a 76% Unionist town, take it over a couple of times each summer and plaster it with tricolours and starry ploughs – youd say i was a fecking nutjob, and youd be right.

    Wasnt there a period in the 19th century when the Brits banned all such parades?.

    What a bloody great idea. Alas i’d never wash here – the good law abiding unionist people would have another coup like the one over Drumcree and then theyd be back on here lecturing about the threat of force……

    God help us.

  • John McDougall

    The reason I suggested that all marches and parades be banned was as a mark of respect for this tragedy. I was not suggesting this as means of joining a bandwagon.
    My view is simple-
    Nationalist/Orange parades and marches serve no useful purpose. They are simply oulets for sectarianism and as such should be banned.
    I am absolutley sure that this represents the majority view in the UK.

  • BogExile

    So, in a brave new Ireland, all sectarian marches are banned. With the exception of Sinn Fein orchestrated and approved cultural events, no doubt. So far, so Brownshirt.

    But, does anybody here really believe that removing the outward manifestations of our great hate will somehow tame the perverted mindset which resulted in the cruel murder of this child? It’s a bit like believing that hiding the matches will stop an arsonist.

    The ‘people’ who murdered this boy are so twisted and bent by their own inner demons that it may be that they are actually beyond redemption. Perhaps we have to accept as we move haltingly toward a ‘normal’ level of civilised and non-political barbarity that there will always be such abberations and the way to treat them is to identify them early and quite ruthlessly control their freedoms.

    I would just like to say that any Unionist who isn’t completely repulsed by this lynching and does not stand with the parents of Michael McIlveen and say clearly, ‘not in our name,’ should be treated with the same contempt we are rightly quick to show for republican apologists for terrorism. This is community terrorism. It is wholly wrong and it has to be beaten.

  • David Michael


    “But, does anybody here really believe that removing the outward manifestations of our great hate will somehow tame the perverted mindset which resulted in the cruel murder of this child?”

    Yes, I for one do. It will tame it to some degree. I’ll repeat what I said earlier. It concerns focus. Military-style marches, complete with kettledrums, fifes, provocative banners and battlecries are designed to focus the minds of friend and foe alike.

    They’re unhealthy and have no place in peacetime. Get rid of them all.

  • GrassyNoel

    TT, I don’t know how to fix the situation up North any more than Blair, Paisley, Adams or Ahern or anyone else, but this merry-go-round that continues to take place every year around these stupid marches only serves to highlight their significance. I agree with you that it is unfair that OO marches are forced through nationalist areas, I have argued on this site before that it is akin to letting Rangers fans march through a Celtic area of Glasgow after an old firm game taunting the locals with a police cordon protecting them. It is absolutely crazy, illogical and should NOT be allowed to happen.

    And yet it does. What can nationalists, North or South, do about it? It seems there will be riots every year, no matter what happens. The Unionists will riots if the marches don’t get forced down the road, Nationalists will riot if they do. Meanwhile, outside of a few major flashpoints in NI, nobody gives a shit and occasionally when they come across the odd headline asks, “what the f*ck’s going on in NI now”?. That’s just life, unfortunately.

    It’s blindingly obvious to everyone looking in on this situation with an objective point of view that the reason the OO are so determined to assert their ‘Britishness’ with these ridiculous ‘cultural’ events is because they feel their grip on the Union is slipping and the more concessions Nationalism makes, or appears willing to make, the more nervous they get, and the greater injustice they perceive has been committed against them, because they are so suspicious about being sold down the river by the British government as part of a long strategy to appease both sides wean Unionism off the tit of Westminster.

    And let’s be honest about it – they’re probably right. And no it doesn’t justify demanding to be allowed parade through nationalist areas just so they can jeer and scream at nationalists that some battle was won on some muddy field over 3 centuries ago. But it seems to me that that’s almost all they have left, and as I’ve stated in previous posts, if it’s really so important to them, then maybe they should be accommodated for th foreseeable future, rather than risk the alternative – i.e. young lads being killed for no reason like Michael McIlveen. I know there’s no real reason to feel optimistic about how community relations would be improved by such a gesture, but you never know.

    WHo really cares about flags flying outside the entrence to some shitty sink estate? Or whether the local kerbways are painted in teh tricolour or union colours? Who f*cking cares about whether Celtic wins the 2-horse race that is the Scottish League, or whether Rangers reach the group stages of the Champions league? Especially if the price people have to pay for such small-minded, petty, trivial little ‘victories’ is that they constantly have to look over their shoulders for their entire lives?

    It’s just not worth the effort anymore, for either side. It really isn’t. In truth, it never was.

  • GrassyNoel

    Hey Slugger nuts…there’s an ‘&’ missing from the above post.

    Try to find where!

    Text your answers to 01691 or 01916.

  • Rubicon

    On seeing the front page picture in the Irish News this morning I became as upset as ever I remember from ‘the troubles’. I have a son of the same age and know nothing anyone says will give the McIlvean family much comfort.

    It’s easy to be appalled and gratify yourself that your sense of wrong is enough. It is not enough!

    There is a mindset in NI that first allows this to happen and second allows it to be ‘explained’ in to history as another atrocity done by “them-uns”.

    It is time those who oppose sectarianism did more than try and excuse it using bogus historical arguments – or worse – by giving voice to making sectarian hate fests (”parades/marches”) appear to be family friendly.

    Banning marches won’t work and making them “family friendly” is an endeavour Goebels would be jealous of.

    This boy was murdered for no more than a faith he was born with. All organisations and individuals who express opposition to the RC faith need to make greater effort to distinguish doctrine from people. Marches work on the negative – whether orange or green.

    Perhaps a focus on the value of what Protestants DO believe rather than what they don’t might be a start to developing a sense of self worth within their own community – without needing a hate figure. But – this is this not enough. Every ‘republican’ excusing sectarian murders is just as responsible.

    This boy is dead because of hate and no side owns hate more than the other.

    Nationalists in the north despise “Free-State” attitudes that frown and distance themselves from NI. Unionists have long since lost any sympathy from the “mainland” – a people who can’t even describe themselves as Irish as Carson did.

    NI is stuck in hatred, it eats children and then seeks to justify it by bogus arguments. Is it any wonder nobody wants the place?

    Is the murder of this child an excuse for nationalists not to share power? Is it criminal?

    Do I need to labour this point?

  • English

    Lots of interesting points and solutions here – but none of them will work. People are completely indoctrinated to hate other religions here, Ian Paisley is a past master at it. the majority of Protestants apparently cannot even admit that people from their community deliberately incite trouble during the marching season, let alone that the Orange Order is a problem.

    The answer is there is no solution in my opinion, unless you can change people’s attitudes. I have lived here two years, but won’t be living here for three. I will be moving myself and my family over the border – at least people are normal there.

  • Greg McGrath

    I made a list of every protestant I know, 25% of them are blatant bigots.

    I made a list of every catholic I know, turns out 25% of them are blatant bigots.

    That means 25% of the population of Northern Ireland are blatant bigots. I think that’s probably conservative, but it hardly matters I have realized a good 50% of the remainder are just your bog standard non-blatant bigots.

    When an atrocity is committed, I hear comments like “99% of protestant people are not like that” or “99% of catholic people are not like that” and I largely agree.

    While 99% are unlikely to directly take part in kicking some child’s head, at least 25% are prepared to stand by and watch, do nothing, or just argue that a parade inst a march or make some other mind numbing moronic statement.

    Bigotry is endemic in Northern Ireland and I think the intensity of it is increasing.

  • elfinto

    The deparamilitarisation of Loyalist communities is an issue Unionist body politic can’t get a grip on and it needs to.

    Good comment fair deal.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Darth Rumsfeld: “We don’t need to be lectured on the evils of sectarianism by such people as David Michael or Dread Chtulhu-another excruciatingly painful lesson has been taught us all”

    you forgot a word, Darth… *AGAIN*

    another excruciatingly painful lesson has been taught us all *AGAIN*

    as for lecturing, I wasn’t. At most, I was reacting to the detached bureaucratese of F_D’s post. The whole “the parades don’t contribute to the sectarian violence” shtick gets a little old after you’ve watched your first riot, let alone your second or third.

  • Snuff Box

    Posted this on another thread by mistake, apologies fo trying the patientce of Pete Baker. It’s a Bebo profile for the young lad who died which was set up by his friend. The comment section is worth reading.


  • missfitz

    Oh dear, that has me in tears, nice one snuff thanks for bringing it to attention

  • David Michael

    Snuff Box, that is so heart-rending! It’s all so very wrong. I cannot imagine what his family must be feeling. Poor child. He never had a chance, didn’t have the opportunity of doing a minute fraction of the things I’ve done. Tragic.

    RIP, kid

  • Pete Baker

    No apology necessary, Snuff Box.

  • Pattila the Hun

    “I have lived here two years, but won’t be living here for three. I will be moving myself and my family over the border – at least people are normal there”

    Have a read of this:

    Now, I’m not trying to undermine your argument about the level of hatred which exist in N.Ireland, just trying to gently point out that unfortunately it’s not unique to here. As you probably know yourself, go out of the wrong pub in any English market town on a Saturday night and meet the wrong people and you will quite possibly end up the innocent victim of a similar attack.

    OK, different “motives”, but same end result. You can stop the provocative parades and have politicians issuing regular condemnations, have church leaders meeting together. We should work on removing the cancer of sectarianism because it’s the moral and Christian thing to do. But I fear even with all this, we would still be left with thugs in our (as in the ROI, as in the rest of the UK) society, who really don’t need any excuse to carry out this kind of brutality.

  • missfitz

    Dont go if you think that things are better all over the south.

    I was called a twisted bigot here recently for pointing out that my home town in the midlands is too dangerous to venture out in at night. When my relatives come here, they are amazed at the freedoms we enjoy and the relative safety.

    There are drawbacks in every society, and there is little worse than what we saw in Ballymena and the raw naked hatred of sectarianism.

    I’ve been watching that Bebo site though, and it does hearten you to see the swell of support across all divides in this case, so perhaps there is hope.

    Much progress has been made, and we can all be forgiven for wanting to pull out, but I still think this can be a great place if we make it that way. At least I hope so

  • John McDougall

    The Orange Order comdemns the murder and violence in ballymena. Yet that same body will merrily take part in paramilitary parades throughout the summer. What puzzles me is how they cannot see a connection between their activities and sectarianism.

  • BogExile

    ‘..What puzzles me is how they cannot see a connection between their activities and sectarianism.’

    Of course they can but did it ever strike you that people who cleave to marches and demonstrations of their identity do so not fundamentally because they want to murder and kill but just by doing so they reinforce their diminishing sense of their own identity which they perceive to be under threat.

    This is most apparent in the Protestant community who perceive themselves to be unloved and see their Britishness as at best an embarrasing anachronism.

    I am not seeking to excuse the appalling murder of Michael for a second. But just as the ritual of sectariarian marches is a factor in the toxic mix which led to his death, so too is the emerging identity crisis in unionism.

    But, what to do? Some of you have said that for Protestants it isn’t enough to simply condemn this cruel killing. I’d be interested to hear what else we can do from a practical standpoint to express our solidarity with Michael’s family and totally repudiate this sort of barbarity.

    How do you decomission hate?

  • GrassyNoel

    Missfitz, no offence but you’re talking a complete load of bollocks if you think there is any valid comparison between the Republic of Ireland and the Sick North. And I say that without ever having lived in the North.

    A group of kids from my local school were chased from a disco hall by a gang wielding baseball bats and iron bars about 16 years ago in Ballycastle They were on a ‘CO-OPERATION NORTH’ school exchange trip – remember those? My sister and her fiance were intimidated in a ‘safe’ pub when my brother in law’s Kerry accent was overheard while ordering drinks in the middle of Belfast city centre 11 years ago, having been naive enough to believe all the post-ceasefire stories about what a ‘relatively safe’ place the North was. A friend of mine and his workmates were chased out of a pub in Belfast 6 years ago becasue one of them was chatting up the wrong girl. One of them was lucky to get away without serious injuries.

    I live in what is considered to be a ‘rough’ area of inner city Dublin and I have walked home literally hundreds of times completely unmolested. I have yet to meet someone who has been in a fight or been mugged in Dublin, and I’ve live here for over five years. I see news footage of the aftermaths of drunken brawls and various incidents in Dublin city centre all the time, and yet if these incidents are as common as the media keep on telling everyone, how come I have never even witnessed as much as a punch thrown in anger in Dublin in 5 years of living here?

    I don’t know what town in the midlands you’re referring to, and I’m not trying to ‘stick up for the South’, but you are definitely exaggerating…I’ve been out in loads of towns in the republic and I’ve yet to experience a town that’s ‘unsafe’ to go out in at night. I know people can be unlucky and all it takes is a few seemingly random anecdotal accounts and all of a sudden hysteria takes hold. But even to suggest that crime or violence levels between North & South are remotely comparable beyond a basic superfically statistical analysis is just nonsense, and trivialises the type of incident which led to that young man’s death the other night.

  • ncm

    In fairness, the last time I was in Dublin three homeless types tried to rob me and a friend in Temple Bar. But we won, however it is concievable that tourists everywhere, be they from the North visiting the South, or even an American in London for example, is going to be a more likely target than a local, simply because they’re tourists.

  • Patilla the Hun

    The original comment about moving came from “english”, I was trying to say that thuggery is not unique to NI. I don’t actually live in NI at the minute and at the minute I wouldn’t consider moving back. Not because it’s probably any more or less violent than where I presently live, but simply because I feel freer to express my opinion, mix with whom I want and travel to any part of the country that takes my fancy.

    In fairness to missfitz, her original comment probably came from a misunderstanding of my post. If you check the link I provided it does give details about a similar attack( albeit racially motivated) that happened in ROI. It has to be read in the context of “english’s” previous post. I certainly didn’t post it to get into some meaningless debate about which is the more violent society and I’m sorry if you’ve taken it that way, it wasn’t my intention.

  • GrassyNoel

    No, I’m not trying to have a go at Missfitz or anyone but I just can’t sit here and read posts that suggest that the risk of being beaten to death in the type of incident that happened in Ballymena on Sunday night is the same down here as it is up North. It’s just not true. Like I said, if you compare crime statistics the overall pictures may seem comparable but it’s not the same thing at all. I know the PC response is to nod and agree that life outside of NI isn’t perfect either, blah, blah blah etc.

    I read in one newspaper account of what happened this poor kid that the guys who did it chased him for a mile before they managed to catch up with him. A MILE, for f*ck’s sake. What kind of sick, demented determination does that take? If you robbed an 80-yr-old woman on the streets down here, not even the cops would chase you for a MILE. And remember how much energy you had when you were 15? I reckon that when I was 15 years of age – and I was never the best or fittest athlete in my school or town – I could have outrun almost any adult over I knew over a mile, especially if I was running for my life. To chase a kid who was running for his life over a mile, while carrying baseball bats etc., catch up with him and then beat him to death, takes some twisted motivation.

    I just cannot concede that a similar type of crime could happen here in the south. I know there have been similar types of incidents that have been reported, the odd racially motivated attack etc, the killing of Brian Murphy outside Annabel’s – and I certainly don’t want to downplay those – but the sheer viciousness, the sheer determination involved in the killing of Michael McIlveen in my opinion could only have come from the type of frenzied hatred that ilies at the very heart of sectarianism in NI.

  • English

    I think that the dufference between Ireland/England compared to Northern Ireland is that people are very narrow minded in the North. They often gossip and want to know other people’s business and often judge a person entirely on religion. People often form groupings or choose where they live based on religion, which I find alien. It’s a bit like an open Prison!

    Society is also still very corrupt here because people are still discriminated against because of their religion. I do not wish to bring my children up in such a backwards looking society. If you are different and don’t fit in a box, you will not be accepted here.

    For me, the Republic is more like England, because you are judged on what you are, rather than what religion you are in the countries.

  • missfitz


    While I would be happy to continue A debate, I am not sure which one we are having.

    We could continue our anectodes, and I could give you a beating outside Annabels for a muder in Belfast, and we could swap a knifing in Ballymun for one in Bellaghy.

    I was amused that you said your comments about the seeming safety of Northern Ireland were fully based on perception and anectode and you dont live here.

    We’ve had these debates before on slugger, and the bottom line is that there is no room for anectodes in terms of where is safe or not safe to live.

    Really, the essential truth of NI is what Duncan Morrow said this morning on the radio. We are being choked by the rot of sectarianism. I cant get away from that, and it is the truth.

    But you cant pretend that the South is some kind of Nirvana. We could look at the Love Ulster march and see it as intolerance. Better though would be to look at the last scheduled Orange parade in Dublin . That was 2000 and was cancelled on advice that it was going to be attacked. Prior to that, the Orangemen marched in 1937 and were attacked on the way to the train.

    You cant say you have a tolerant society if it is a homogenous society with a single identity and an agreed societal norm. If the South was more religiously mixed, I have no doubt that it would have been problematic. As it is, Protestants were made feel that they were just unwanted. I could give you a history lesson on southern intolerance.

    Patilla, I had no quibble with what you said, I was referring back to another sensitive southerner who believes nothing bad happens in that wee place.

    I had been referring much earlier to Portlaoise, where I spent much of my childhood. When I visit there, I like to walk late at night, but have been warned in no uncertain terms that it is not safe. On the other hand, I can walk my dogs in Rostrevor all night long if I choose.

    To finish, this is not a hate competition to see who is worse. All I say is that there are undertones in our society north and south, better hidden in the south than the north perhaps, but there nonetheless. I will stay here, because in spite of it all, the people have great hearts and are genuine, and I couldnt see myself anywhere else.

  • Rubicon

    English – I can hardly remain articulate in responding to your attack on the very integrity of the people in Northern Ireland.

    I’d thank you not to patronise me by your superficial high minded ignorance. Do you really think we’re the scum you describe? Do you think we are without the capacity for thought that you are blessed with?

    Your post is an attempt to stereotype people here by focussing on the worst aspects of this society. I’ll not even try and describe what “English” would mean if defined by football hooliganism – or the very many other aspects of failing “English” society.

    I hope you might be offended if I tried – but then, would you take a Paddy’s criticism seriously?

    What you posted was a pathetic attempt to intellectualise “no blacks, no dogs and no paddies”.

    Call yourself “English” if you must – but your post is a disgrace to the tolerance and freedoms the vast majority of English people demonstrate today and have fought for in the past.

    Your post is an eloquent expression of narrow-mindedness – an illness that infects more than just the Irish.

    There! I responded without threatening violence or using expletives. The latter was a challenge!

  • jim

    The orange order and the other loyalist marching organisations released a statement today.

    “As leaders of the Loyal Orders, we unequivocally condemn the murder in Ballymena of Michael McIlveen and we extend our deepest sympathy to his grieving parents and family at this time.

    “No claim to political loyalty or religious affiliation can possibly justify such a reprehensible and wicked crime.

    They talk about ‘affiliation’, the only affiliation celebrated at loyal order parades is that off commemorating those who kill Catholics like Michael McIlveen.

    So why do they facilitate and commemorate loyalist murderers at their marches ?

    Those who murdered teenager Michael McIlveen may well have been influenced by the orange marching organisations who influence young people through their marches, to attack and try to cause harm to those from the opposite religion.

    Easter Monday – the start of the marching season in Ballymena 2006 is a prime example.

    Why did the apprentice boys hire paramilitary bands to lead them in Ballymena ?

    Shankill Road Defenders – uvf

    Soputh East Antrim Defenders -uff

    Ballymena Protestant Boys – uff

    Sons Of Ulster Flute Band – uvf

    Crumlin Young Loyalists – orange volunteers

    Mount Vernon Volunteers !!

    The marching orders are facilitating and encouraging those from within loyalism to murder Catholics.

    Empty words from the leaders of orangeism.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    Are the orange marching organisations prepared to cut the terrorists adrift ?

  • GrassyNoel

    Missfitz, Rubicon…it amazes me that you can post such seemingly heartfelt sentiments on this site about the murder of a 15 year old boy because of his religion, yet still feel the need to turn around to people who would denounce the society it happened in as depraved, and say “ah well, hold on now…it’s not too bad here really”. And as for not having lived in the North, I’ve never lived in Baghdad, Kabul, or the Gaza strip either, and I can tell you I certainly won’t be buying holiday homes in those places anytime soon. Northern Ireland is nowhere near a normal society and begrudging comparisons with the Republic are pointless and ridiculous. But go ahead and try and convince yourself otherwise if it makes you feel better.

  • DK

    Shouldn’t there be crime statistics that could demonstrate if NI was safer than ROI or England or both.

    All I can find on a brief trawl on the internet is this:


    Which seems to suggest that Scotland is the worst, then England, Ireland somewhere else and Northern Ireland is the best.

    In terms of homicides. The rates per 100,000 for 1997-9 are:

    England/Wales – 1.45
    Northern Ireland – 3.13
    Scotland – 2.10
    Republic of Ireland – 1.35

    Whic would suggest that you are safer in Egland or the Republic than Scotland, and worst of all in Northern Ireland. European countries with higher rates than Nothern Ireland include Estonia and Russia.

    Source: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/hosb601.pdf

  • GrassyNoel


    “You cant say you have a tolerant society if it is a homogenous society with a single identity and an agreed societal norm. If the South was more religiously mixed, I have no doubt that it would have been problematic. As it is, Protestants were made feel that they were just unwanted. I could give you a history lesson on southern intolerance”.

    You have difinitely been living in the North way too long, Missfitz! That is the same type of nonsense about a “pathetic, monocultural, homogenous” state that David Trimble came out with a few years ago. It wasn’t true then, it’s not true now.

    There are over 400,000 immigrants living in the republic now and more coming every week. I know it’s not a paradise for all of them and of course racial incidents get highlighted in the media just like they do everywhere else, because that kind of news is sensationalist and helps to sell newspapers etc. However I also recall reading a story in the newspapers about 18 months ago about some National Front-type organisation, which has an office in Belfast, and tried to garner support in Dublin. They rented an office space, set up a contact number, and stuck up leaflets all over the place in an effort to publicise their aims.

    After 3 months they closed up shop and left. They hadn’t had one enquiry, not one.

    I’m from a town in Munster where the level of co-operation in a joint community effort to raise funds for a brand spanking new church for the Protestant community in our town a few years back was such that Ronin Eames, when he came down to officially open it, remarked that there were an awful lot of places in the North that could learn from our efforts(remarks that were subsequently reported in the national media). And don’t mind these, “Oh, but…if…” arguments. The fact is that the Protestant community in Ireland, while small, is thriving,is under no threat whatsoever, and it has been thus for a very long time now. We simply don’t have the kind of problems down here that NI has. That is a simple fact.

    “I had been referring much earlier to Portlaoise, where I spent much of my childhood. When I visit there, I like to walk late at night, but have been warned in no uncertain terms that it is not safe. On the other hand, I can walk my dogs in Rostrevor all night long if I choose”.

    Good for you, Rostrevor’s obviously a safe community to live in. But tell me, would it be as safe for you to walk around in any other area/town in NI where sectarian tensions are rife (of which there are obviously many)?

    I seriously doubt whether you would have been in as much danger in Portlaoise as you have been warned about, but I can also tell you that I & most people I know would consider it a tad unwise for any woman to go out walking on her own late at night, whether it is in Portlaoise, Rostrevor, Belfast, Paris, London, wherever.

    That’s just called common sense.

  • ncm

    Noel, to be honest with you people on the outside looking in may see Northern Ireland as you do, however I have lived in Belfast for 10 years, Ballymena for about 15 and London/Edinburgh for the rest. Northern Ireland is not the way outsiders imagine it, and it never was. Even when the “troubles” were still rocking our world, life was very normal here. I honestly imagine Dublin, (which has had much negative press on the race issue, and a couple of recent drug related murders) to be much more dangerous than Belfast. I know London and Edinburgh are. I suppose what I’m trying to say is, my opinion on Dublin may be wrong, and I accept that, however your opinion of Northern Ireland is skewed, and you should accept that too.

  • missfitz

    This thread was not just about Michael McIlveen, and I have been at pains to be sensitive about the dicussion. I’m quite annoyed that you would it as otherwise.

    As to your prefernece of abode, good on ya. I hope you remain happy in your idyll. Just dont complain about what you are not familiar with, you will not have the correct view.

    I have posted here before on this thread, with the open admission that there is sectarianism within this society. That is not restricted to Northern Ireland by any means.

    However, we do have the genesis of a good society. I drove to Derry today and was really pleased to see all the towns looking so pretty with signs for festivals and fairs and celebrations. We are tetering on normality, one wee push and we might make it all the way

  • English


    I didn’t mean to generalise, I really like Irish people. It’s just this has been my experience of, all be it, the worst aspects of Northern Ireland. Perhaps I was too honest in my appraisal of some people here, but these people have put me off living here.


  • GrassyNoel

    The trouble with a trying to discuss this with a lot of people from NI in my opinion is that while it is somewhat understandable that everyone will get a bit defensive when they hear outsiders criticising their homeland, people who live in a society like NI eventually become desensitized and institutionalised to the commonplace everyday reality of sectarian life. It is beyond my comprehension how people on this site continue to debate about whether NI is a better or worse place to live in and bring up children than The Republic, Scotland, England etc. even in the aftermath of that horrific murder of Michael McIlveen and for your information Missfitz I think you’ll find it wasn’t me who introduced this to the discussion.

    People can come on here and quote all the crime statistics and quality of life surveys at me that they want: there are none so blind who do not wish to see. Trying to have this kind of discussion with someone from Northern Ireland is like walking into someone’s kitchen and seeing a guy with his face in a huge pot of boiling water and holding both his hands over a naked flame while simultaneously grinding his testicles off a cheese grater and asking him, “why are you doing this to yourself?” And being told to fuck away off and mind your own business.

    In a sense it’s not the INtolerance of NI attitudes that’s the problem; it’s the tolerance of killings like the one we’ve all been discussing here all week…people cry crocodile tears for a couple of days but will then argue with you that their hometown is better than your hometown because you don’t live up here, you’re down south you don’t understand, you don’t know what it’s like blah blah blah. Bottom line is although McIlveen’s murder and events like it are not as common as they used to be, people in NI accept it as part of their everyday lives with a shrug of the shoulders, say their little pieces to camera, get their few seconds on Newsnight, and then go back to their entrenched positions as if nothing happened. It’s fucking warped and sick, but some people in NI just can’t accept that it’s not normal to wake up in the morning and know that if you walk home from work or the cinema or the pub via the wrong route, that the chances are you’ll be abducted and killed, beaten to death, stabbed or shot. And NOT in some random crime like a mugging or a rape or even by some deranged serial killer; THAT is at least someway normal. Life is full of risks. But there aren’t people who stalk the streets or hang around on corners waiting for their chance to attack and kill one of ‘themmuns’ as soon as it presents itself, or chase a 15 year old boy for a MILE before beating him to death with baseball bats and iron bars, at least not in any normal society that I’ve ever come across.

  • DK

    I dunno GrassyNoel, the sectarianism/”for the cause” thing is a bit of an excuse. The same serial killer in another society is a sectarian killer here. In the same way that a yardie smuggling in tons of cheap booze is a simple criminal elsewhere, but a smuggler in S Armagh is doing it “for the cause”.

    I remember reading a book (might have been “bandit country”) that pointed out that a lot of the paramilitaries when there were ceasefires on simply reverted to being ordinary criminals.

    Simply put, the sectarian makeup of NI means that the people who would be the criminals/thugs/physhopaths of other societies here have a vaguely legitimate outlet for their behaviour. I don’t think that sectarianism increases the level of these people – it just pidgeonholes them, so we can all use them as excuses to say “You lot are involved in criminality” etc.

  • ncm

    Noel, again, I say your vision of life here is skewed.

    “eventually become desensitized and institutionalised to the commonplace everyday reality of sectarian life”

    What are you talking about? I have no experience of the commonplace reality of sectarian life. I don’t have a sectarian life, and like most people here, I have friends on both sides of the fence. I don’t live a sectarian existence, along with the majority here.

    You said earlier that you have little experience of NI life, so why persist on pushing the opinion that you have developed that somehow we are all impervious to the facts of our own existence, and that in fact, we’re wrong about our own lives, you have a better understanding of daily life here than we do?

  • GrassyNoel

    You’ve certainly hit on a point there DK but the thing about Northern Ireland is that those Psycopaths are and have been in the past tolerated and even encouraged by those around them to go and do what they do, as long as it’s to one of ‘themmuns’. A lot of the crimes in NI are enabled and facilitated by the passive acceptance of those around them that ‘Ach, sure these things happen, what else would you expect in this place’.

    Can you picture the Yorkshire Ripper turning around the some guy sitting next to him in his local pub 30 years ago and saying, “hey I fancy raping and butchering a young attractive female on my way home from the pub tonight – do you fancy it”? And the bloke beside him shrugging his shoulders and going “yeah, sure why not, it’ll be a good bit of craic”.

    I don’t think so. But I can easily picture a bunch if sectarian thugs suggesting something similar in their local to the lackies and hangers-on, and even rounding up a posse to go and kill a taig/prod, and finding willing participants, especially at a time of year when the temperatures & tensions are rising in the run-up to the marching season. That is something which would not be tolerated to the extent that it is (or even half-expected, hence the accusations from Nationalists that certain firebrand speeches at certain times from Ian Paisley are almost like coded signals for loyalists to go out and attack nationalists) anywhere else but in a place like Northern Ireland.

  • Sam

    Being psychotic is a functional identity in the six counties.

    ‘Norn Iron’ – it’s a pathological state of mind.

  • GrassyNoel


    I don’t have a skewered vision of anything, that’s my point. It is the insular view of too many people in NI that is warped and skewered. I never used the word ‘all’.

    Too often people in NI think they have a god-given right to pontificate about things that go on up there and they don’t seem to mind other people discussing it with them as long as their views aren’t challenged by some brit or southerner or whatever and when they are, the response is something along the lines of ‘ah sure what the fuck would you know about it’.

    What we know about is that we know what it’s like to live in a non-sectarian world and what I am trying to tell you and others like you is that it is far, far from normal in this part of the world to have a society divided along sectarian lines and it’s about time you all wound your necks in and copped on a small bit.It’s 2006, for fuck’s sake, and there are still 15 yearold lads being chased around the street by grown men wielding baseball bats and iron bars. Do YOU consider that normal? ‘Cos I certainly don’t.

    I already suggested to on this thread a few days ago that maybe it was time for nationalists to adopt a concilliatory approach to unionist marches for a couple of years, instead of the usual protests & rioting, pointless and all as I knew a suggestion like that would be, just to see if things would improve the situation. Anything is preferable to these kind of attacks and the uncertainty that follows.

    You say you don’t have a sectarian life/existence, that you’ve got friends on both sides of the fence. Yes I’m sure you’re a wonderfully well balanced person who sits around in cafes with a group of mixed friends from across the wire tut-tutting about how terrible the situation is and why can’t we all just get along etc.

    Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, I don’t know. But if it’s so true that that’s how “99.999999999999999%” of the population feel about life in NI, as so many people are constantly willing to swear by on this blog, then why in the f*ck haven’t your politicians managed to get it together and started governing the place yourselves yet, like you say you want to, and everyone else wants you to?

  • Stephen Copeland

    A Modest Proposal:

    If all young people (all, Protestant, Catholic, miscellaneous, male, female, … ) in Northern Ireland were subjected to one year compulsory residency in another part of the world – not the south, not Britain – then they would be forced, by the evidence of their own eyes, to see that their hatreds were foolish and wrong. They would return to NI with a slightly wiser and more tolerant viewpoint, and a knowledge that things really could be better.

    I agree almost entirely with GrassyNoel, and for much the same reasons. The north is so self-absorbed that many people fail to see just how messed up it is. Those who have lived there, and elsewhere, can see it, and tear their hair out with frustration. It is those who have never lived elsewhere who probably propagate the problems. Hence my Modest Proposal.

  • ncm

    I understand what you’re saying Noel, and to a certain point I can agree with you, but the point I’m trying to drive home is that: I’m not saying we don’t have problems, we clearly do. What I am saying is that the majority of people do have a completely normal existence here.

    Life is exactly the same, for almost everyone, as it would be anywhere else on earth. Get up, go to work, get drunk etc.

    In the south, there has been quite a bit of press on the race issue, and as previously mentioned, there have been a few drug related murders recently.

    To an American reading any of this in the paper, they may think that Dublin is full of racists, dealers and immigrants, but they would be wrong. For most people in Dublin, the race issue wouldn’t come up for 364+ days out of the year.

    It is wrong for anyone to assume that they know more about a province or country than the inhabitants. You’ve met a certain amount of resistance to the entirely negative view that you have portrayed for us. This is because (IMHO) we feel that there are negatives and positives, and these days, with very few murders, very few riots, and very little trouble the positives are much greater than most outsiders/foriegners/tourists etc. realise.

    I understand that recent events belittle what good there is here, but let’s not get carried away. When I was growing up, a murder would have been the third news item after the weather and what colour gloves the Queen wore today. Now a murder is front page news, because it doesn’t happen anywhere near as much as it used to.

    As I’ve said, I can understand your point of view, but do me a favour, and try to see mine. The progress has been fantastic, at conservative estimate, had the killing continued as was pre GFA, hundreds of people, who are now alive, would otherwise be dead. Life in NI is not entirely negative, there are many good points.

    Why aren’t we in government yet? As a SF voter, I really can’t help with that one, some politicians want to get in there, some don’t, but at the end of the day they’re still getting well paid so there’s not a lot of incentive for them.

    So, while you and your balanced friends, from all corners of the globe, sit around in cafes tut tutting about the racism in Dublin, or the drug related gangland murders, try to apply the logic that comes to mind about the affect it has on your life, to us N Irish. Not a whole lot, for the most part.

  • English


    I am resident here, and therefore have a right to comment on society even though I am a foreigner. This society is based on sectarianim, it is at it’s very core! Sectarianism is endemic here, it affects every single person in Northern Ireland (including myself) whether they are aware of this or not – and it is very unpleasant. The public and politicians need to get their act together, otherwise there will be trouble again.



  • Concerned Loyalist

    I know the person from Garvagh who was charged with the damage done to the Imperial Hotel and the threats made against the RC/Republican owners. The aforementioned person spent 4 nights in Maghaberry last week but protests his innocence and I have to believe him. The prelude to this attack was a Protestant in Garvagh getting his arm broken by hurley-stick wielding republicans, so it seems like a simple case of tit-for-tat, which is unfortunate, but hardly surprising…