“aesthetically unappealing, but it is a triumph for London and Dublin”

And if you find Peter Shirlow’s viewpoint too pessimistic, there is an alternative. From his academic colleague at Queen’s, Paul Bew – soon to be in another place but, for now, writing in the Sunday Independent [free reg req]

The British government insists that all will be well. British officials acknowledge that neither the DUP nor Sinn Fein is exactly focused on reconciliation, but they believe that the power-sharing structures of the Good Friday Agreement are so strong that they will have no alternative but to compromise, in a dictatorship of political correctness presided over by the province’s leading ethnic warriors.

Adds for the benefit of those ideologically opposed to the free registration.. I thought I’d add more of the substance from the article

The Northern Ireland Office even believes that the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP failed to co-operate effectively because they were always being undermined by Paisley and Adams respectively. This time, at least, that problem has gone away.

There is some intergovernmental concern as to whether Dr Paisley realises that he is not going to be the prime minister of Northern Ireland in the way that Craigavon or Brookeborough were, but rather locked into a political co-habitation with Mr McGuinness, who has an equal status.

Does he know the truth, officials worry. But in the main the governments believe – not without reason – that Dr Paisley and Mr McGuinness have mellowed and the new arrangements will work satisfactorily.

They will have taken encouragement from Mr McGuinness’s tone on Thursday when he moved away from the talk of both Mr Adams and Dr Paisley, who have in recent days been projecting a battle a day. Mr McGuinness talked instead of mutual back-scratching. The outcome may be a little unsavoury for some sensitive souls, but it is, after all, what the people of Northern Ireland voted for.

This is, of course, true, but they voted in a particular context determined by intergovernmental policy which prioritised the survival of the Adams leadership over everything else.

As late as 2005, the IRA was publicly threatening a return to war, proof that it perceived that such a threat – long after 9/11, long after Omagh – was taken seriously by both governments. The result was the marginalisation of the SDLP in the 2001 Westminster general election and of the Ulster Unionists in the 2003 Assembly elections.

The insurance policy for the governments lay in the belief that the DUP’s opposition to the Belfast Agreement wasalways more rhetorical than substantive. The outcome may be aesthetically unappealing, but it is a triumph for London and Dublin. Will the deal be done by March 26? The DUP lieutenants are giving the impression that there will be a delay and that there is tough negotiating ahead. In fact, their leverage with the Treasury has already gone. Now that Paisley has overcome his dissidents, what need of further bribes?

Their leverage on policing is also reduced. The US State Department, which took a tougher line on this than the British or Irish Governments, is now likely to say that in the light of Mr Adams’s decisive move, it is time for the DUP to reciprocate. Any St Patrick’s Day events in Washington will be dominated by talk of the need for completion.

If the DUP is serious, as its election manifesto suggests, about disbanding IRA paramilitary structures, this cannot be achieved in any short period of time. It is, however, more likely that further moves by the Provisionals on the policing issue will be taken as proof of the said dismantling.

It may take some time for all this to play out, and both Mr Adams (with the Irish election in mind) and Mr Blair (with his legacy in mind) can afford to wait a few weeks.

, , ,

  • Spinster

    Lets cut to the chase.

    If some irish separatist fraction perpetrate an atrocity, can SFDUP weather this?

  • BeardyBoy

    If some loyalist separatist faction causes an atrocity, forces its supremacist marches were they are not welcome, bludgeon Irish people of the streets can SFDUP survive this

  • observer

    If some catholic bigots causes an atrocity, or refuse to let protestants walk down “their road” (replace blacks for protestants and you get the picture) can SFDUP survive this

  • Ondine

    If some bureaucratic bigots cause an atrocity, or tries to impose water charges despite the near unanimous will of ordinary people in Belfast, can SFDUP survive this

  • willis

    Of course they can. Given that they have been stirring it up for the past 30 – 50 years they should know where the off button is.

  • Spinster

    Interesting Piece in the Sunday Times my Malachy ODoherty about Paisley and Adams in the mid sixties. Republicans display tricolour in falls road window, Paisley and friends threaten to remove it, police do, riot ensues. This double act goes way back.

  • hotdogx

    observer,
    so you wouldn’t mind then if we organise a st paddys day paraide through your town infront of your doorstep with irish tricolours flying. Im an irish protestant from ROI and orangeism is nothing to do with true protestants it is a mere religious sect. Protestantisim is about the reformation not about worshiping some biggot who put down a nation, anyway this is not what the thread is about.

  • Gilbert-Paul Jeannon

    Observer

    “Replace protestants with Blacks..” ?

    What nonesense, imagine some Black supramacist organisation marching through a village in Britain, with bands playing F~~k the Queen and supporters singing up to our necks in whitey blood.

  • Billy

    Observer

    What a pathetic “point”.

    The Orange Order attitude to Catholics is similar to the Ku Klux Klan attitude to blacks.

    It is not about preventing ordinary Protestants walking anywhere. It is about preventing a triumphalist march by a sectarian organisation with bands and banners etc celebrating “loyalist” terrorists marching through a Catholic area with the sole intention of upsetting and provoking people.

    Here in London, the Met would (quite rightly) never let a BNP march through a black or asian neighbourhood. So why should the parades commission let an organisation representing anti-Catholic bigotry march through a Catholic area?

    I suppose you would be happy to let a march by an organisation set up to be specifically anti-Protestant with bands, banners and members from terrorist groups march through your area singing songs about being “up to their necks in Unionist blood”.

    I can’t imagine that you would. It’s time that people like you woke up – the days when the OO could march where it liked and provoke Catholics are gone.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less if the OO (which is a complete anachronism in the 21st Century) wants to march through “loyalist” areas 3 times a day.

    However, they will either have to meet with Residents groups in places like Drumcree and meet guaranteed standards of behaviour, or they won’t be marching through them again.

    It’s as simple as that.

  • Rory

    Some childishly atrocious ding-donging above on the ‘atrocity’ issue but I recognise that, like popping bubble-wrap, once you get started it’s hard to stop

  • Nevin

    “Their leverage on policing is also reduced.”

    I expect there will be further bad news on the policing front soon. Police resources are to be further depleted so lots of small stations will probably be closed (and the sites sold off to developers). ‘Control’ of local communities will be left, more or less, to the tender mercies of the local paramilitary godfather. The governments will attempt to regulate this control through the offer of financial bribes.

  • Rubicon

    Dr. Shirlow’s pessimism seems to emerge from his focus on interface areas where sectarianism is an everyday experience. Simply linking the growth of the “big 2” to reflect a larger interface type polarisation falls far short of a complete political analysis.

    Interpreting the polarisation as a negative expression (rather than a negative outcome) does not incorporate the negotiation prerogative.

    For many unionists the GFA was less a political failure than UUP’s failure to negotiate within it. Most understand that entry in to the last chance saloon is approaching and have more faith in the DUP than the UUP in being able to play poker with SF. While this concept appears real to unionists many still couldn’t be moved to vote DUP and unionist representation fell.

    It would be difficult to classify the nationalist drift from the SDLP to SF in the same terms. The SF marketing machine may have something to do with it, its ability to get its vote out and the work they do in appearing active within constituencies is also likely to have helped. Paul Bew’s point of the 2 governments’ focus on SF has also helped.

    Bew’s analysis seems nearer the mark. The growth of the “big 2” can be rationally interpreted without referring to it as insecurity or a vote against compromise. The negotiation prerogative would suggest the opposite is as much a rational explanation.

    Paul Bew is correct that the pressure is now on. Unionists have put the DUP up to play the final game and nationalists have put in SF. It’s a bit early yet to conclude these parties and the electorate are against a compromise being worked out.

  • observer

    However, they will either have to meet with Residents groups in places like Drumcree and meet guaranteed standards of behaviour, or they won’t be marching through them again.

    It’s as simple as that.
    Posted by Billy on Mar 12, 2007 @ 10:03 AM

    Or, if those uppity niggers dont come beggin to us we wont let them in our town.

    Typical hill billie racist mentality.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If some bureaucratic bigots cause an atrocity, or tries to impose water charges despite the near unanimous will of ordinary people in Belfast, can SFDUP survive this

    Yes, they can. They were part of the executive which brought in the water charging and rates reform to begin with.

    I’m actually a little worried about what is going to happen with water charges. I think SF/DUP probably believe that lifting the charges will be their first move, to show people from day one how good it is to have devolution. However, it may be economic folly. The only way that matter can be fixed is to get a u-turn secured from the Treasury, and get them to reverse their policy of providing capital grants in exchange for having a separately funded water service. Even then, there’s £100-ish coming from every household that is no longer there and not available in the budget. The DUP approach to achieving these concessions from the Treasury seems to be the “Blazing saddles” approach :

    ================
    Bart: [the townfolk aren’t happy to find out that their new sheriff is black. They begin to load their guns and point them at him. Bart then points his own pistol at his head] Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!
    Olson Johnson: Hold it, men. He’s not bluffing.
    Dr. Sam Johnson: Listen to him, men, he’s just crazy enough to do it!
    Bart: Drop it! Or I swear I’ll blow this nigger’s head all over this town!
    Bart: Oh, lo’dy, lo’d, he’s despit! Do what he sayyyy, do what he sayyyy…
    [the townfolk drop their guns. Bart jams the gun into his neck and drags himself through the crowd and towards the station]
    Harriett Van Johnson: Isn’t anybody going to help that poor man?
    Dr. Sam Johnson: Hush, Harriet, that’s a sure way to get him killed!
    Bart: Oooh! He’p me, he’p me! Somebody he’p me! He’p me! He’p me! He’p me!
    Bart: Shut up!
    [places his hand over his mouth, drags himself through the door into his office]
    Bart: Ooh, baby, you are so talented! And they are so DUMB!

    ================

    If the DUP fail to get the concession from the treasury but decide not to bust the deal, the only way they can then get rid of water charges is to absorb the loss of capital grants from the Treasury. That means either significant cutbacks in public spending or a massive hike in the regional rate. The money has to come from somewhere.

    Billy:

    Here in London, the Met would (quite rightly) never let a BNP march through a black or asian neighbourhood. So why should the parades commission let an organisation representing anti-Catholic bigotry march through a Catholic area?

    It’s a slippery slope, Billy. I am no apologist for the Orange Order, but believe me, a world within which people are allowed to cancel the right of free assembly and free speech because other people claim to be offended by their presence is a world that you don’t want to live in. Look at what Robert Mugabe is doing in Zimbabwe for an example of what happens when this kind of thing is taken to it’s logical conclusion.

    In any case, the argument isn’t that much different from the moral question over whether an organization that has murdered several thousand people should be allowed to govern the entire state. The (mostly correct) answer that Sinn Fein give is that people need to respect their mandate and work along with them. Likewise, people need to respect the right of Orangemen to march whereever they want and sing their bigoted songs, since free speech and assembly are supposed to be guaranteed by our democracy. A dignified counter-protest against an undisturbed display of outright bigotry is the best way, long term, to get it stopped.

  • kensei

    “It’s a slippery slope, Billy. I am no apologist for the Orange Order, but believe me, a world within which people are allowed to cancel the right of free assembly and free speech because other people claim to be offended by their presence is a world that you don’t want to live in.”

    The idea that anyone is suspending the right to assembly is A BIG FAT LIE. Stop repeating it. No one is suggesting that the OO don’t have the right to assembly or free expression.

    Restrictions are being imposed on exactly where and when they can match – for public order reasons, and to respect the wishes of people that live in the places they want to assemble in. Particularly when they view it as an aggressive and intimidating act. Happens all the time, all over the place, for much less than that. Things like Concerts in Botanic will consider the impact in the surrounding area. Very often, these are minor restrictions of a few streets or so.

  • George

    Comrade,
    “Likewise, people need to respect the right of Orangemen to march whereever they want and sing their bigoted songs, since free speech and assembly are supposed to be guaranteed by our democracy.”

    No right is absolute, even (and I would say especially) in a democracy.

    The Orange Order and their supporters tried to usurp the rule of law at Drumcree through violence and intimdation. It was imperative for democracy that they did not succeed.

    Once the rule of law has won out and is clearly seen to have won out and the Orange Order accept the rule of law unreservedly, then perhaps we can move on as democrats with total freedom to march and dignified counter-protests.

    Total freedom is for total democrats – if such a creature exists.

    The Orange Order have been taking an a la carte attitude towards democracy and the rule of law.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The idea that anyone is suspending the right to assembly is A BIG FAT LIE. Stop repeating it. No one is suggesting that the OO don’t have the right to assembly or free expression.

    Great. But then you say :

    Restrictions are being imposed on exactly where and when they can match – for public order reasons, and to respect the wishes of people that live in the places they want to assemble in.

    It’s not about restricting free assembly – but then you outline what you say are necessary restrictions to free assembly. You can have any colour, so long as it’s black.

    Does this mean that the Harryville church should be demolished and congregations made to stop attending it ? The masses clearly create a public order problem, and take place in defiance of the wishes of the people who live there ?

    This shit cuts both ways.

    Particularly when they view it as an aggressive and intimidating act.

    Sure. The celebration of a Catholic mass is an aggressive and intimidating act given the history of the Spanish Inquisition. Under your rules, Catholic mass celebration should be stopped whenever someone sticks their hand up and says that they are offended.

    George:

    The Orange Order and their supporters tried to usurp the rule of law at Drumcree through violence and intimdation. It was imperative for democracy that they did not succeed.

    Not disputed. I am constantly highlighting here on Slugger that unionists are not sufficiently held to account for the fact that they do not uphold the rule of law. If it had been me, I’d have dealt with the loyalist demonstrations at Drumcree with a baton charge, tear gas and plastic bullets.

    The right of free speech and assembly would require, for example, the tolerance of hunger strike marches down the Shankill Road. I do not expect that unionists would be in there supporting this. My overall point is that people here have a dimished sense of what rights and democracy actually mean, and they need to start dealing with that.

    The Orange Order have been taking an a la carte attitude towards democracy and the rule of law.

    Name me a group in Northern Ireland which doesn’t.

  • Mayoman

    “Catholic mass celebration should be stopped whenever someone sticks their hand up and says that they are offended.”

    Have I missed something?? Are prostestants being forced to attend/listen to/watch/hear catholic masses? OOhh. Never knew that went on!

  • George

    Comrade,

    “My overall point is that people here have a dimished sense of what rights and democracy actually mean, and they need to start dealing with that.”

    They know what it means alright but they just don’t want to pay the price.

    Both sides in Northern Ireland want to maintain their own right to self determination going forward regardless of what the ruling British government says or does.

    “Name me a group in Northern Ireland which doesn’t.”

    Not relevant when discussing a point of principle.

  • manichaeism

    Observer and other supporters of marching,

    You have a unique country up there where lots of people seem to think it is somehow a good idea to march around annoying the neighbours.

    Grow up!

  • John Farrell

    Amazing how the perspective on display of Irish flags can change over 40 plus years.
    Time was when the Big Fella would object to its display in a disused shop in Divis Street. And in a few months it will be on display in the Deputy First Ministers office.
    Will Paisley object?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mayoman:

    Have I missed something?? Are prostestants being forced to attend/listen to/watch/hear catholic masses? OOhh. Never knew that went on!

    You did miss something. People in the neighbourhoods where Orange marches occur are not forced to attend or watch Orange marches. They usually choose to do so, in some cases taking bricks and bottles along with them, indeed preparing ahead of the event by collecting milk bottles and filling them with petrol.

    And actually, at Carnmoney ceremony, an open air grave blessing is held on an annual basis. Some people riot about because they think it’s offensive and an insult to their dead. Unionist politicians come along and refuse to blame the rioters, citing the Catholic priest for “inflaming tensions”. My personal opinion is that those protesting should go home and wise the f**k up, and those who riot should be baton-charged off the road and prosecuted to the extent of the law. That is at odds with the opinion being expressed on this thread, which is that when someone puts their hand up and says that they are offended, other people should be denied their rights.

    George:

    They know what it means alright but they just don’t want to pay the price.

    I think we have an understanding. But I don’t think there is a price associated with civilized people upholding freedom of speech and assembly – not people demanding that marches not proceed because they are offensive or belligerent. It seems to work out fine in Derry where the Apprentice Boys manage to have a civilized parade, even though it celebrates an event when (from the point of view of some people) the Prods beat the Taigs.

    You have a unique country up there where lots of people seem to think it is somehow a good idea to march around annoying the neighbours.

    Grow up!

    No, I want to live in a country where people uphold the right of other people to express themselves however they wish provided they do not materially impact on the livelihoods of others. The attitude expressed during this discussion is that marches deemed offensive should not proceed. This justification was used in an attempt to stop a gay pride parade in Belfast. It could conceivably be used to stop marches by Jews, blacks, disabled people, or anyone else if someone says they are offended.

    In no way does that justify the outrageous behaviour of the Orange Order and other marchers, for example when they held up fingers while marching past the bookie’s shop on the Ormeau Road where several people where murdered by loyalists. The other side of the coin is that with rights come responsibilities, and the OO have a responsibility to maintain an orderly and dignified procession. My fervent hope is that organizations like the OO will die out as people perceive them as silly and old fashioned. I have always believed that bigoted nut-job organizations grow in strength when the authorities try to curb them, and I think the efforts to stop Orange marches have slowed the decline of that movement.

  • manichaeism

    I am no expert on the subject Comrade Stalin but it seems to me that usually the marches are not actually banned. A change of route is requested. That is very different than banning.

    Plus the Protestant community is not a minority community that has traditinally been discriminated against so your comparison with blacks or Jews is totally incorrect.

  • Billy

    Kensei

    Fair point. I think I could have phrased my comments better. I stupidly let myself get annoyed by Observers ridiculous analogy comparing the restrictions placed on the OO to anti-black discrimination.

    I mean someone who defends the OO acting as if they are concerned about the rights of blacks or any other ethnic minority – what a laugh.

    Interesting that Observer uses the word n**gers – I wouldn’t use that offensive term – speaks volumes about him/her.

    Your point about free assembly is correct. However, there is nowhwere in this country that Free Assembly is a absolute guaranteed right – restrictions can be put in place by the authorities if the assembly is deliberately targetting a certain area or group of people and is likely to result in a breach of the peace.

    Hence, my point about BNP marches being banned from black or asian areas. As much as I despise them, if they do not “openly” incite racial hatred, then they have the right to free assembly. They are not denied this right, it is merely restricted by the police/law from areas where their provocative presence is unwelcome would obviously cause trouble (as is their intent).

    Why should any citizen have to put up with an organisation (which is specifically created out of hatred for their colour/creed), marching outside their houses with banners, bands etc celebrating terrorist attrocities against them and drunken hooligans singing crude songs about being up to their necks in their blood?

    I wouldn’t expect Unionists to tolerate pro-IRA marches in their areas so why should Catholics tolerate these pro-“loyalist” bigots marching provocatively through their areas.

    It is identical to letting an anti-semitic group parade through Golder’s Green or the KKK parade through Brixton. This would never happen. As Unionists proudly proclaim, NI is part of the UK. So why, in this case, do they think that they should be treated any differently than others in the UK?

    The vast majority of OO parades in NI are unopposed. Let’s be honest, the “tradition” of the small number of contentious routes comes from the fact that they were originally chosen to specifically go through certain Catholic areas to show that “we are the people”. Their sole intention is (and always was) to show the Catholic people who the “masters” of NI were. Nowadays, they are simply designed to provoke Catholic residents and try and incite unrest.

    I am not denying the OO free assembly. I am saying that there are a small number of parades in areas where their bigottry is totally unwelcome. Even then, the residents didn’t say that they can’t march – they simply want the courtesy of a face to face meeting and guarantees that the appalling behaviour of many previous years won’t be repeated.

    It is ironic that the OO rant on about “the Queen’s Highway” and how British they are. These standards and restrictions on public marches/demonstrations are common in the UK and organisations have no problem complying with them.

    It is typical of the OO that they want a different set of standards than the country to which they profess to be so loyal.

    As I said, I am not opposed to free assembly for the OO or anyone else. I am in favour of restricting this right in the case of any group who clearly choose an area for the specific purpose of flaunting their bigottry/hatred and antagonising the residents.

    Unless the OO have the courtesy to meet the residents in these areas and undertake to ensure that (unlike previous years) certain standards of inoffensive behaviour are met, then their right to assembly in these areas should, quite rightly, be restricted by the law.

    The choice is theirs. If they choose not to comply with the same rules/guidelines as the rest of the UK, they can hardly complain about the consequences.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I am no expert on the subject Comrade Stalin but it seems to me that usually the marches are not actually banned. A change of route is requested. That is very different than banning.

    They are banned from following a certain route. What’s the difference ? There’s no point in being nitpicky about it.

    Billy, you say :

    I wouldn’t expect Unionists to tolerate pro-IRA marches in their areas so why should Catholics tolerate these pro-“loyalist” bigots marching provocatively through their areas.

    Then you say :

    Unless the OO have the courtesy to meet the residents in these areas and undertake to ensure that (unlike previous years) certain standards of inoffensive behaviour are met, then their right to assembly in these areas should, quite rightly, be restricted by the law.

    It’s not clear to me exactly where you stand. Your first statement suggests that you should not be expected to tolerate people you don’t like marching down your road. Your second statement implies that you would not have a problem provided certain standards were met and that they agreed to discuss matters.

    There is a vast wealth of difference between saying “they’re bigots and therefore cannot march” and saying “they cannot march until they talk”. What difference does the willingness to talk make to your opinion of how bigoted and wrong their organization is ?

    Why should any citizen have to put up with an organisation (which is specifically created out of hatred for their colour/creed), marching outside their houses with banners, bands etc celebrating terrorist attrocities against them and drunken hooligans singing crude songs about being up to their necks in their blood?

    Billy, drunken singing is a breach of public order and is a criminal offence. Nobody is defending that, and anyone who does has lost the plot.

  • Billy

    Comrade Stalin

    To clarify my position:

    As much as the OO is an anti-Catholic organisation, it still has rights. As far as I’m concerned, it can have free assembly and march through areas where it will NOT offend the majority of the population or cause a breach of the peace as much as it likes. If people in these areas aren’t bothered about the bands + banners celebrating “loyalist” terrorism (or the drunken yobs that frequently accompany these parades) that’s up to them.

    In the case of Drumcree and a few other parades, these are obviously offensive to the vast majority of residents of areas that they pass through.

    As I understand it, the residents would accept a parade if the OO would have the courtesy to meet them and guarantee no provocative flute bands, music, and only the actual members of the Portadown Lodge to participate i.e. no drunken hangers on looking for trouble.

    This seems reasonable to me – in fact more so -there is no way that a BNP or anti-semetic organisation would be allowed through a Jewish/Black/Asian neighbourhood under any circumstances. The OO position is directly analogous to these organisations as it’s whole raison d’etre is anti-Catholicism.

    However, the OO won’t meet any residents.Ostensibly, this is because the Residents groups have convicted Republican terrorists in them. This is despite the fact that the OO freely admit to having convicted “loyalist” terrorists in their ranks.

    This is blatent hypocrisy and anyone who denies that is clearly prejudiced.

    As far as I’m concerned (and I believe the residents) the OO could have a Drumcree parade this year if they were willing to be reasonable.

    However, it seems that they are sticking to their blatently hypocritical stance and refusing to speak to residents groups.

    If they also won’t guarantee that there will be no provocative behaviour, the only way to guarantee no breach of the peace would be to pen the residents in for the duration of the parade.

    This is not acceptable (at least no longer acceptable). Why should innocent people be restricted to their homes to allow a blatently sectarian organisation to march through their area complete with provocative banners, bands etc?

    It wouldn’t happen elsewhere in the UK so why should it be allowed here?

    I am not dogmatic about OO parades going ahead. If compromise is reached with local residents and all sides are happy that’s great.
    We have seen compromises with the Apprentice Boys in Derry and certain OO parades in Belfast.

    I hope one day that there will be a peaceful OO parade down Garvaghy Road. However, for that to happen, the Portadown OO need to move into the 21st Century – which I doubt will happen anytime soon.

    They need to realise that the days of them marching wherever they want in NI are gone for good. If they want to march through areas where their attitudes are offensive to the majority of people, they will have to be prepared to reach a compromise or else, quite rightly, they should not be allowed to parade through.

  • Rory

    Billy, drunken singing is a breach of public order and is a criminal offence

    If that is the case, Comrade Stalin, how did Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Dorothy Squires, Connie Francis and Dean Martin (all deceased) and Shane McGowan and Ozzy Osborne (both happily still alive despite all outward appearances to the contrary) get away with it for years?

    Is this “one law for the rich and another for the poor” or is it simply because the above’s drunken public singing gave pleasure to so many?

  • Stork

    Billy

    “Here in London, the Met would (quite rightly) never let a BNP march through a black or asian neighbourhood.”

    While I don’t accept the analogy, and you fail to see that “Catholic area” or indeed if I think about it “black area” is like the question of how long is a piece of string, and ground conceded would just lead to fresh new battlegrounds somewhere else, what evidence do you have of your statement? Can you name any such marches organised by the BNP that have been banned? Or perhaps a senior Metropolitan police officer supporting your statement in reference to hypothetical BNP marches?

  • Billy

    Stork

    The National Front used to apply to march every year in Lambeth and pass through part of Brixton. Every year, this was turned down. They eventually got the message (unlike the OO) and stopped applying even when they “evolved” into the BNP.

    More to the point, can you provide any examples of NF/BNP parades that have been allowed through Black, Asian or Jewish areas? I lived in London for many, many years. My wife,all her family and the vast majority of my friends/colleagues are born and bred Londoners. None of them ever remember a NF/BNP march being allowed through any of these areas. Public order concerns and common sense would ensure that the Met would impose severe restrictions on the routing of any such parades.

    Whether or not, you accept the analogy is irrelevant. The BNP claim not to be racist or anti-semitic. However, does anyone really believe that? – I think one only has to look at the media coverage and talk to any random group of English/British people to see how they are perceived by the vast majority of people.

    Ditto with the OO. The OO was largely unknown outside NI and parts of Scotland pre Drumcree. I had lived in London for many years at that point.
    Most English people are very fair minded. When they saw the coverage of Drumcree, they understood that the OO is an organisation dedicated to anti-Catholicism. The unapologetic attitude to their clear links with “loyalist” terrorism were big PR winners as were the attacks on the police and the disgusting murder of the Quinn brothers.

    In fact, prior to the murder, the OO were cruelly mocked and parodied on several UK comedy shows.

    So, you can ignore the analogy as much as you wish. The fact is that the OO is an anachronism in the 21st century.

    It’s PR “image”, if it has one, is simply awful. Even a few years ago when the tactics shifted from beating up journalists to trying to woo them, it failed miserably. People are not stupid, as with the NF/BNP, they can see what the OO really represents – centuries of religious bigottry.

    In the end the true nature of the OO and it’s “leadership” comes out. As soon as it doesn’t get it’s own way – we get riots i.e. Whiterock. And what do we get from the intelligent ” leadership” of the OO ( who are dedicated to civil and religious liberty)? We get one of the most senior OO members in Belfast coming on TV to openly condone the rioting and attacks on police.

    I think the analogy is exact and I think that the majority of the public (with no links or ties to the OO) would agree.

  • kensei

    “It’s not about restricting free assembly – but then you outline what you say are necessary restrictions to free assembly. You can have any colour, so long as it’s black.”

    No, I said the right to free assembly is not suspended. It isn’t. It is restricted. Because the right to free assembly is not absolute, and governments always and everywhere stick restrictions on it. So, protests for the G8 in support of Live 8 get nowhere near anyone of importance, but people still express themselves. Etc etc etc.

    “Does this mean that the Harryville church should be demolished and congregations made to stop attending it ? The masses clearly create a public order problem, and take place in defiance of the wishes of the people who live there ?

    This shit cuts both ways. ”

    It does, but not when you pull ridiculous examples like the one above.

  • BelfastCouple

    Rubicon,

    We went back and re-read the Shirlow article and are puzzled were you get the idea about pessimism. He seesm to simply say that you win if you are movement and do less well if you are a political party. That seems factual to us.

    One of us was taught by him and I think he has done a lot more than simply done work on interfaces. Maybe you should check out what he has done and then you might find that he is one of the few people who is writing about meaningful conflict transformation.

    He also is a very positive and warm person and not at all pessimistic about life. Frustrated maybe but full of energy.

    He is a good lad.

    Couple