On ‘Moving on…’

David Adams, formerly of the Ulster Democratic Party, let out a rant on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback today that would have done the seasoned MOPErs of Slugger proud (irrespective of background.) David’s gripe was essentially that ‘catholics’ were angering ‘protestants’ by having their own narrative about the past and raking over the wounds of the conflict to the irritation of unionists. It would appear that Davy’s own glasses need cleaned, for he clearly missed the foot-long shadow from the beam stretching out of his own eye!

A couple of weeks ago, unionists/ ‘protestants’ held parades across the state commemorating a war victory some three hundred-odd years ago, a victory which led to the introduction of the Penal Laws and the continued subjugation of the Irish catholic population on the island. But the parades did not mark the end of the ‘marching season’- oh no, the season will last all summer with flags erected to mark territory and remind people of the battle victory of yester-century. But raking over the past is a ‘catholic’ thing, David, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, in Davy’s own city and other council areas across the north, ratepayers money continue to be used to commemorate the role of the British army and their local militias more recently- with David’s Lisburn facilitating the erection of a memorial to the UDR commemorating their role in the war here- what was that about ‘catholics’ having an exclusive ‘narrative’ about the past, David?

The simple truth, of course, is that nationalists and unionists are extremely unlikely to view the events of the past 35/80/400 years in the same light, and those views are likely to remain different for some time to come, particularly as we are only now collectively emerging from the latest violent phase of conflict in Ireland, with wounds still very fresh. If David still doesn’t know that unionists still ‘rake’ over the past, then perhaps he should meet with Willie Frazer, the families of Billy Wright and/or Raymond McCord.

That David Adams would somehow believe that even his former associates in the UDA- aligned UDP would have a similar narrative to ‘catholics’ is either naïve or, as I suspect, a product of his own frustration at the fact that nationalists don’t consent to the apparently enlightened narrative articulated by David Adams and to which he clearly believes unionists are most comfortable with.

It is particularly ironic that David’s rant featured on Talkback, to which he is a weekly contributor. I remember reading an interview several years ago with Talkback presenter, David Dunseith, in which the veteran host remarked that the programme was a particularly useful sounding board of unionist opinion here (of course nationalists ring the programme as well, but unionist ‘punters’ make up the considerable majority of contributors.)

Indeed, David had only finished his angry rant when a caller rang up to provide the classic unionist narrative of the ‘Troubles’ and the pre-Troubles unionist nirvana that suggests all was rosy in the garden ‘til those pesky republicans were at their lark.

David Adams would be better employed spending his time engaging with nationalists to find out more about ‘their’ experiences and concerns, even using the occasion to articulate similar experiences and concerns from his own community. One thing’s for sure: If he thinks living up to the crudest Ulster Prod caricature of boorishly ‘telling it like it is’ to the uppity Taigs is gonna get him anywhere, then he’s in for a big letdown.

  • Garibaldy

    The point as I understand it that Ervine was trying to make was the importance of class – he was saying that the idea that all Protestants were privileged while all Catholics were discriminated against was plain wrong. It ignorned the fact that poverty existed across the board. This was not to deny that discrimination against Catholics happened in both the state sector and civil society but to point out that the state was run primarily in the interests of the unionist middle classes. So as I understand it, Ervine was saying that Catholics who had suffered discrimination should put the blame where it belonged – on the unionist elite, not on all Protestants.

  • Cromwell

    Well put Garibaldy, I bow to your succinctness( if thats even a word!)
    But there was a lack of equality in societies all over the world.
    Thats why the Stickies claimed they got out, because it was turning into a squalid little sectarian war, in which the working classes paid the price.

  • Garibaldy

    Cromwell (glad to see you’ve named yourself after one of the most important republicans in history),

    The analysis delivered by Tomas Mac Giolla in Carrickmore in 1972 of the consequences of violence was totally correct. Any violence of any sort added to sectarian division, frustrating any moves towards the unity of the people of Ireland, as we can see today, when it seems we are as divided as ever if not more, especially west of the ban. This is why any genuine socialists could not offer support to the violence or the communal politics of any of the main players here.

  • Cromwell

    Well he was a fairly reluctant republican after all.

    Socialisms probably dead now, especially in ROI.

    Cheers anyway Garibaldy, have a good weekend, I should’ve gone home ages ago.

  • lib2016

    The problem is that the theory didn’t match reality. In fact of course the reunification of Ireland is happening anyway, though it would have been better if it had been allowed to come peacefully.

    The unionist dependence on violent repression has destroyed large parts of their own community while leading to a more unified nationalist community than ever before.

    Unionists don’t want Irish unity, that’s why they are unionists. They had to be defeated physically or politically and they have in fact been politically defeated west of the Bann and in ever larger parts of the East. Of course that has led to community unrest and even community erosion. How could it not?

    And socialist fundamentalists are even more wrongheaded than religious fundies though as a life long socialist it pains me to say it.

  • willowfield

    JUAN CORR

    I suggest you go back and read my posts again. I never claimed that paramilitary actions were ‘justified’, either by the IRA or any other paramilitary group.

    You challenged the notion that “the ugliest years of paramilitary violence of the troubles were somehow an unjustified ‘overreaction’ to being treated like shit for 50 years under British rule.” If you do not believe the violence was unjustified, then logically you must believe it was justified. Shame on you.

  • willowfield

    Unionists don’t want Irish unity, that’s why they are unionists. They had to be defeated physically or politically and they have in fact been politically defeated west of the Bann and in ever larger parts of the East.

    Such “defeats” are entirely a result of demographic change.

  • Garibaldy

    Cromwell,

    Have a good weekend yourself.

    Lib,

    Some of the structural conditions for Irish unity are emerging, especially in economic terms, I agree. But I think a lot of nationalists are kidding themselves. Take the absence of army bases or watchtowers or whatever in places like Armagh. This is being portrayed as the liberation of these areas from British dominance. In reality, the areas have been pacified to the extent that the police can handle things on their own.

    As for defeating unionists politically, it depends what you mean. If you mean defeating the arguments for unionism then fair enough. But others would mean isolating, cutting off and achieving dominance over unionists. And that is a recipe for disaster. And a confrontational attitude will not bring about the conversions from unionism necessary to produce a majority in NI for reunification.

    As for the socialist fundamentalist thing, I guess from my point of view it depends who you’re thinking about. I guess I’m hard left but certainly not ultra-left, who you might be thinking of. Sectarianism has proven to be far too strong for the class identity promoted by socialism. That doesn’t mean I surrender to communal politics based on dividing the people of Ireland by religion. Instead, it means trying to change it, tiny bit by tiny bit until the floodgates open.

  • lib2016

    Garibaldy,

    People, especially older people don’t change their minds easily. Who noticed that Margaret Thatcher’s success in attracting the older more affluent voter was consigning
    the Conservatives to a future as a minority player. The yoof voted Labour, and still do.

    The unionists are in even worse state. Their whole community is aging and in decline with their best and brightest going abroad for education and staying there. As trends now stand they will form only 5% of the Irish population in a few years.

    Their more progressive young are realising that national reunification is on the way – though federation is on the cards as the least-worst option for both sides. People know that we are talking about Bertie’s Republic and they don’t fear it.

    The 60’s class analysis is simply out-of-date. In the South Labour has become so middleclass that they can’t even get into the Corporation estates where Sinn Fein is still respected. The scourge of drugs is destroying life for the underclass and the working class have mortages and think of themselves as upwardly mobile.

    The only hope for a strong leftwing voice in government is a broadleft policy with both Labour & Sinn Fein and hopefully support from the Greens. In a few years as the demographics are now the NI unionist will form 5% of the Irish population. The Raj is dead – all it needs to do now is lie down.

  • Garibaldy

    Lib,

    I can’t see the unionist population falling to that extent. On top of which, the brain drain is not what it was, and people are returning as well now that the violence is finished, to raise kids etc. So I think your estimates are far too optimistic.

    As for class, the gap between rich and poor is bigger now in the south than it ever has been, though clearly living standards have risen massively. As I’ve said, I’m not expecting any great shakes anytime soon (say the next two decades) but who knows what will happen beyond that?

    The recent fall in the shares are a reminder that an economy based on easy and massive credit is weakest at the level of consumer confidence. So all may not be lost forever.

  • Juan Corr

    Whatever, I’m drunk & tired…

    Peace Y’all

    Night X

    Juan

  • Here is a link to a Protestant who agrees with the Catholic nationalists about The Troubles, and doesn’t think Operation Banner was anything to be proud of:

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=12688

  • Prince Eoghan

    Ach sure Trow, as many have pointed out, an enquiry into the murderous activities of the British army would be an expensive and pointless waste of time.

    I am gradually coming round to the argument that these fuckers don’t deserve democracy.

  • Cromwell

    Trow,

    My goodness one of them prods who wont give his name agrees with you!!!

    I just read that article & linked on to another one about sectarianism in the workplace, which those liberal minded types at the Socialist Worker would have us all believe is always caused by pradistants.

    Socialist Worker in “full of one sided sh*te shocker”!