Hall burning and the failure of civil society…

There’s a piece in to today’s Irish News about the police investigation into comments left on Slugger on one of the more recent threads on what increasingly looks like a campaign against property owned by the Orange Order. A spokesman for the Order said: “We are surprised that a website with such a good reputation allowed its space to be used by people supporting and encouraging the attacks and actually singling out a property to be targeted”. It seems to me there are two questions raised by this issue.Slugger has a good reputation because we actively encourage people from all sides of the debate to engage in full muscular political debate. Our bloggers (right across the political piste) tend towards the factual rather than the gossipy. And generally the standard of debate is high compared to similarly popular sites in Britain and the States. Such pluralism has to allow for a considerable discomfort zone.

The only way that kind of freedom can be practically sustained is by not pre-moderating comments. This is a priniciple adopted by individual blogs and large media groups alike. The priniciple is that a comment stays unless there is a specific reason for it to be removed. Commenters are asked to ‘play the ball, and not the man’, which generally helps focus minds on content, and away from personal badinage.

The comment concerned was removed once it had been brought to our attention. The police investigation will no doubt decide what the best way to proceed. It may have been serious, or a badly failed attempt at dark online humour. Either way, it flags up something that seems to have gone unnoticed by some on the wilder shore of the Internet Commentariat. The law is closing in on the licence to say ‘whatever you damned well please’.

As a recent ruling on a Sheffield Wednesday fan site suggests, if some commenters think egregious remarks only put the site owner in jeopardy, they may have to think again.

This is all difficult territory. One of the great things about the net is that it gives a voice to people who otherwise might remain voiceless in the mainstream media. Indeed have no problem with the thought of going to court to defend someone a point of priniciple. But anyone using their annonymity to make scurillous attacks on others should beware that such anonymity is a severely limited commodity in the face of the law.

That said, there is also the issue we were trying to cover under ‘hostile fire’: this campaign against property belonging to the Orange Order and other Loyal Institutions. What’s most disturbing is that is more and more indicative of a low level persecution of a minority population, every bit as disturbing as the targetting of GAA grounds in the 1990s.

At its best Northern Irish civil society (Catholic and Protestant) is impressive in action. Whether it be in the mutual support support mechanisms of Credit Unions, the youth and vigour of sports clubs, the care with which they see one another into and out of life, or the impressive levels of voluntary overseas aid.

But, in the background, there is something nasty going on. Orange Halls, particularly in rural areas, are also centres around which otherwise often isolated Protestant families congregate. In Protestant majority areas, their ecumenism often extends to inclusion of Catholics on the roster of those renting its space.

Certainly this campaign is mostly (with some spectacular exceptions like the near demolition of a hall in Pomeroy) low level, and unlikely to be being encouraged by local majority populations. Sinn Fein councillor Dessie Ward has rightly suggested it is being conducted by people who wish to drag us all back to the past.

But that this ‘campaign’ (that no one will own up to running it doesn’t mean doesn’t exist) has continued virtually unabated for three years now is an indictment, not of the Orange Order, but of the lack of solidarity with those minority Protestant populations.

Whatever the strong feelings many have about the Orange Order; that is nothing short of a disgrace.

  • Brownlow House

    I have placed my response to this on the other thread from Sunday:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/to-blog-or-not-to-blog/P175/

    If you want to talk the matter over some more with me in person I can make myself available at your seminar this evening, after taking the usual anti-surveillance procedures of course…

  • Dec

    What’s most disturbing is that is more and more indicative of a low level persecution of a minority population, every bit as disturbing as the targetting of GAA grounds in the 1990s.

    Mick

    The attacks on the GAA in the 90s were not limited to property.

  • me

    Well said mick fealty. I’m off to the shop now to buy Irish news. It’s definitely in it? I hope this isn’t a wind up to get me to exercise?

  • Shore Road Resident

    This just in: police are investigating reports of an explosion, believed to be the sound of Chris Donnelly exploding. Or possibly the SF blogging committee imploding. More as the IP logs are cross-referenced.

  • Briso

    But that this ‘campaign’ (that no one will own up to running it doesn’t mean doesn’t exist)

    Correct. The nature of this campaign if it exists makes it unlikely that the perpetrators would own up as they would likely be jailed.

    has continued virtually unabated for three years now is an indictment, not of the Orange Order, but of the lack of solidarity with those minority Protestant populations.

    Whose lack of solidarity? What do you mean here?

  • joeCanuck

    Whose lack of solidarity?

    I would suggest a “sin” of omission rather than a “sin” of commission, Briso.
    I haven’t seen any offer of help from minority representatives in repairing any damage caused, for example. It may happen, but if it does, it’s not well publicised.
    I have seen it reported that help is offered from both sides to the other in some cases of churches being attacked but not for Orange halls.

  • Garibaldy

    Is there also an element of the traditional newspapers enjoying the discomfort of slugger.
    I thought the OO spokesman was unfair to slugger too.

    As for the campaign against OO halls. In some parts yes. In other parts, just disorganised and naked sectarianism that finds expression this way sometimes. But of course people will still argue that sectarianism of this type does not exist.

  • Briso

    I would suggest a “sin” of omission rather than a “sin” of commission, Briso.

    Ooookayyyy….


    I haven’t seen any offer of help from minority representatives in repairing any damage caused, for example. It may happen, but if it does, it’s not well publicised.
    I have seen it reported that help is offered from both sides to the other in some cases of churches being attacked but not for Orange halls.

    Oh, but that’s not what Mick said. He said that the fact the campaign “has continued virtually unabated for three years now is an indictment, not of the Orange Order, but of the lack of solidarity with those minority Protestant populations.” He’s not talking about helping to clear up after. He’s talking about the fact they are happening. I just want to know what and who he means. He can’t mean the perpetrators as that would be a truism. “The fact that the perpetrators of this campaign are continuing to perpetrate this campaign is an indictment, not of the victim, but of the perpetrators.” That would be a bit of a silly, obvious statement.

  • oh yeah

    helloooo, arent you forgetting the many atrocities planned and carried out from these same halls which resulted in the murders of many innocent catholics. halls can be rebuilt, the lives taken by orangemen and their supporters cant
    the best thing to do is to tumble the lot of them and build inter-community youth clubs in their place, where children can be taught tolerance rather than the bigotry theyre taught in their current form

  • joeCanuck

    arent you forgetting the many atrocities planned and carried out from these same halls which resulted in the murders of many innocent catholics.

    I hope you have shared your information with the PSNI.

  • me

    Brownlow, if your family are to be subject to embarrassment, then they have you to blame for it…you ought to have thought about that before spilling forth what you did, and then leaving Mick fealty to take the rap? Is micks house to be searched to gain access to his computer.

    You opened your big fat gob and mick fell in to the hole. Now you don’t want to stand over what you say? They weren’t your views but everybody elses.

    Disgraceful!

  • Briso

    O yeah, you can best be described as a troll.

  • Nevin

    “I thought the OO spokesman was unfair to slugger too.”

    Garibaldy, I’ve raised the spokesman’s quote with an OO representative and suggested that it should be reconsidered.

    I also suggested that someone from the OO leadership could post a more appropriate response on this thread.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Slugger no more “allowed its space to be used” to promote sectarianism than the Council does when someone scrawls sectarian graffiti on its property, or the Post Office when someone sends a threat in the mail, or Talkback when a caller makes an unexpected comment.

    Yes, we could stop all this by knocking all council property down, ending the postal service and banning phone-in shows, but is that what people really want?

    Slugger is a medium, not the message. The difference between Slugger and the Order is that Slugger took action as soon as it became aware of the complaint, something the Irish News omits to mention.

  • Shore Road Resident

    So if I mentioned here that you were sacked from the Alliance Party for drunk driving, you wouldn’t want it taken down?

  • Mick Fealty

    Guys. I am not in the least criticising the Orange here, simply trying to put what we do on Slugger into the wider context of what happens in net discourse.

    We don’t have a legal defence if we don’t respond quickly. But we would not have a discussion space if we premoderate everything that goes up first.

    BH,

    I hope there will be some space to talk some of these issues through today, without getting too thoroughly bogged down in them.

  • Nevin

    Three years, Mick?

    “Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Secretary Drew Nelson said: “In the first 20 years of the Troubles, which were some of the worst, there were only four arson attacks on Orange Halls.

    “After the formation of residents’ groups across the Province in 1989, the figures just took off.

    “Our records show almost 250 arson attacks since then.” News Letter 19 July 2006

    Perhaps some folks think that the Athboy strategy and its related attacks should not have been discontinued.

    The isolated Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenshesk, Ballycastle, was attacked in 2006 a few days after an attack on a nearby Orange Hall.

    The sacristy window was broken and flammable liquid poured in and then set alight.

    The sacristy area of the Church of the Immaculate Conception was extensively damaged in the attack.

    SDLP assembly member Sean Farren described the attack as outrageous.

    “My first reaction is to condemn this in the strongest possible way,” he said.

    In many communities (of all persuasions and none), the PSNI appeared to maintain a low profile and the paramilitary godfathers ruled the roost.

    What are the odds on more police stations being sold off to developers and the PSNI ‘retreating’ to barracks in (a few) large towns?

    Everywhere that I have visited throughout Northern Ireland during the past several months, people have told me that they want the yoke of paramilitarism removed from their backs; they want deprivation and disadvantage addressed, and they want illegal weapons removed from society and decommissioned — they were very clear about that and they were also clear that they want criminality, violence and terrorism to be removed from society. There is a new political dispensation.

    These are fine words from Margaret Ritchie. I’m concerned that the Executive and the NIO won’t translate them into sustained action.

    Margaret Ritchie for the Ministry of Justice?

  • Peter Brown

    “arent you forgetting the many atrocities planned and carried out from these same halls”

    Is this GAA premises named after murderers where funds were raised to support Repulican terrorists you are referring to here?

    Log in your own eye on yeah!

  • DC

    “We are surprised that a website with such a good reputation allowed its space to be used by people supporting and encouraging the attacks and actually singling out a property to be targeted”.

    Mick, apologies for the initial doubt over the comments, as it seemed a bit of wind-up at one point.

    But, in all seriousness you, of all bloggers, have fought hard to bring this issue to the fore and after having read the Irish News column the ignorance of the concerned Cllr knows no bounds.

    Now it is understandable why you posted the links if it is true that a challenge to Slugger over its take on the OO is anyway deemed as lop-sided.

    At times you would just like to say would you ever get over yourself to such people but your comments in the paper pretty much sum up in no uncertain terms the current concern that you have with the attacks, which indeed have been well document on Slugger.

    The Cllr is just bizarre!

  • snakebrain

    “Slugger no more “allowed its space to be used” to promote sectarianism than the Council does when someone scrawls sectarian graffiti on its property, or the Post Office when someone sends a threat in the mail, or Talkback when a caller makes an unexpected comment.”

    Nail…Head…

    How can Slugger be responsible for the comments of an individual who in no way represents the views of Mick, Gonzo and the rest of them? As long as they responsibly maintain the site, making it clear that such comments are not tolerated and will be removed, and do so promptly in the case of such comments, they do their bit. It just remains for commenters to examine their own consciences. And possibly their IP addresses.

  • Quaysider

    There is a “live defence” for people blurting out libellous stuff on TV and radio (a defence for the broadcaster, that is). Does that apply to the net as well? It ought to.
    “Right to free speech” my arse. This country is a f***ing police state.

  • Frank Sinistra

    As noted above the comment is available via a google cache search under the site name and ‘Brownlow House’. While it clearly breaks Slugger rules there is nothing in the slightest illegal about it.

    I know Mick is trying to turn this into a larger why don’t the Taigs feel more sorry for the poor OO debate but we need to understand this is kicking off from load of nonsense around one stupid comment before we start trying to extract massive levels of angst from the fenians for that fine up-standing body of men who certainly didn’t cause us any grief at all ever.

    It’s not a lack of solidarity for isolated Protestants, Mick. It’s not really caring one jot about anything bad that happens to the OO after that whole Drumcree thing that had nothing to do with them and lots more.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Mick,

    Just to expand on my point. If you look this blog from Pete

    “Sinn Fein assembly member Martina Anderson said “an anti-community element” was most likely to blame for the attack.” [not an anti-Sinn Féin element? – Ed]

    You try and extrapolate attacks and indifference of them on minority Protestant communities. Maybe they are just attacks on the Orders? Not ike they haven’t been involved in things that might make some hostile to them.

  • Token Dissent

    An almost note perfect example of smug, complacent, intolerance from Frank Sinistra.

    It is not the rights of “isolated Protestants” that Frankie et al dismiss – that after all would make them bigots. It is just the institutions and social networks that sustain many isolated Protestant communities that they hate. Do you understand?

    How far would you push the attitude of “not really caring one jot about anything bad that happens to the OO”? From this logic it appears that many on here treat attacks on the OO with an indifference that borders on implicit approval.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Token Dissent,

    Deal with the argument.

    Only Orange Halls have been being attacked, not churches, not political offices, not shops, not homes, not people.

    Only the Orange Order.

    As Pete noted when there was an attempt to expand an attack on a SF office into something broader, maybe it just some people despise the Orange Order.

    Now if that’s the truth, that’s the problem that has to be dealt with. How do you alter the attackers attitudes to the Orange Order. If you are identifying the wrong issue, which I believe Mick is, you can’t deal with it.

    That needs sorted first, the attacks may be being perceived as an attack on a broader community but as the attacks aren’t broadly based it is just as likely there is a more specific issue – perceptions of the OO in society and how a small minority may react to them.

    Perceptions of the reasoning aren’t necessarily true.

  • Garibaldy

    Frank,

    I can think of several attacks on protestant churches in the recent past. And there was a report in the North Belfast News about attacks on homes and kids going to the shops in the Whitewell. One might say that’s in Belfast. I also know of attacks on protestant homes in exactly the type of rural area Mick is talking about.

    I’m extremely sure others could provide many more examples than me.

    I think you might be being blinded by your own zeal here. And this type of denial and minimisation of the events, the numbers involved, and the attitude of people towards them is greatly exacerbating the problem.

  • Only Orange Halls have been being attacked, not churches, not political offices, not shops, not homes, not people

    And are happening (by and large) only in those communities were protestants are an isolated minority. For those small rural communities, the local Orange and church hall is quite often their only focal point. Attack their Orange hall (as opposed to their church halls/schools)-main objective achieved, with very little comeback in the terms of negative publicity or criticism from people like yourself.

  • heck

    Quaysider makes a good point. What are the police doing investigating comments made on a blog-it’s not like anyone is alleging a conspiracy by Mick or his collegues?

    I did’nt see the comment that sparked these threads but there is a big difference between saying the OO/(GFA) are a bunch of bigots/(fenians) and they should be driven out and “I have matches ,you have petrol-lets meet at bally-go-backwards orange hall at midnight and burn it down.

    The issue is where to draw the line and the British government -“f***ing police state” to quote quaysider- has drawn it to tightly.

    Look at the issue with the royal family sex and drugs scandal. I am outside the UK and if I read who the pervert is and post it on sluggerotoole will I make Mick liable?

    Free speech should be protected to the utmost. The only exception I can defend is child pornography.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    I think the issue here is that police are carrying out a presumably criminal investigation based on a comment made by a poster on Slugger. This means that any of us who post here might find ourselves criminally culpable for opinions posted here. Think about the implications of that.

    It’s also pretty clear that Mick is seriously spooked by this, and who can blame him? He has done more for intra-community understanding in Northern Ireland than anyone else I can think of in the last thirty years, and he’s being assailed by anonymous figures who, I guess, think this blog provides too much freedom for people to exchange views and actually learn about each other.

    So I can understand why Mick has been spooked (which perhaps explains the rather bizarre assertions, which could have come straight from the more paranoid wing of the Orange Order) about a “campaign” against Orange Halls. The word “campaign” implies a level of organisation, of communication between the various arsonists and a unity of purpose – something that simply doesn’t exist.

    What DOES exist, it has to be said, is a complacent feeling of schadenfreude within nationalism when it comes to the woes of the Orange Order, indeed a sense that it deserves everything it gets. And this does percolate down, in an amorphous, intangible way, to impressionable youngsters. It only takes one in a village or townland to then decide to attack an Orange Hall. There seem to be plenty of villages in which one or two such people exist. This IS something that nationalism must face up to. It’s very hard not to hate the OO, for it is indeed a deeply hateful organisation, but to commit crimes against it is even more hateful.

    But to talk about a “campaign” is incorrect. More worryingly though, the fact that Mick is falling into this trap suggests two things:

    1) a desire to curry favour with the OO
    2) that he’s terrified by the OO’s assault on Slugger.

    I think it might be a good idea for as many of the posters here to declare their support for the good ship Slugger and to defend its reputation. Inclusion of political affiliation might also demonstrate a sense of a broad spectrum of support.

    I’m a constitutional republican and I defend Slugger.

    Who’ll join me in defending this great site?

  • oh yeah

    ill join you in defending free speech on the internet.,not just here but anywhere on the internet or elsewhere, and that means in the areas controlled by constitutional republicans too where its often foolish to be free with ones speech

  • The Dubliner

    “Free speech should be protected to the utmost.” – Heck

    Why start now? Free speech is a myth. It always conflicted with other rights which take precedence over it, e.g. the right of an individual to protect his character from defamation, the right to privacy, the right of a state to keep information secret, the right of individuals to own intellectual property, and the right of a society to legislate against incitement to hatred, etc.

    A statement isn’t deemed to be libellous if it is true, so you can say what you like about someone or something as long as you can back it up. For example, when Adam Ingram, the UK’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces, sued George Galloway for saying that he “played the flute in a sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist Orange Order band,” the Judge, Lord Kingarth, said that the description “sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist” was fair comment on the Orange Order and dismissed Adam Ingram’s action, ordering him to pay all of the court costs associated with it.

    So, while Lord Kingarth holds that you can’t be sued for claiming that the Orange Order is “sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist” because it is a fair comment on that organisation, you can still be perused for incitement to hatred if you fall foul of that particular law. It wouldn’t be smart for the OO to attempt to have someone prosecuted under that law, however, as their own cupboards are packed full of such skeletons.

    Burning halls is one thing; but Orange Order thugs burning the three young Quinn boys Richard, Jason and mark to death in their beds when a march is banned is another – just is the decision of the Orange Order in Drumcree to invite UDA mass-murderer, Johnny Adair, to be a guest of honour at their protest there (and, no doubt, as a warning the Taigs of what will happen to them if they don’t behave themselves). Likewise, the reaction of the then grand master of the Orange Order, Martin Smyth, to an Orange Order mob beating an RUC officer, Greg Taylor, to death while doing his lawful duty by stopping a march through Dunloy, may be interpreted as, in not an incitement to murderous hate crimes, then an excusing of it: “men on the ground receiving consequences of a wrong decision by a senior police officer”.

    It is also revisionist nonsense to pretend that the Orange Order is a benign cultural organisation. It is a private organisation that is specifically sectarian and supremacist, and a private organisation that is very powerful politically. It was the voting bloc on the UUP council that opposed the civil and political reforms in the late 60s and early 70s – and that led to Paisley’s party gaining the ascendency after the OO broke away from the UUP in 2005 and its members voted for the DUP. Now OO members are in Paisley’s party – that wasn’t the old order. Shame, of course, that they only joined his party because it, like them, were anti-GFA and the UUP were pro-GFA. But Paisley DUPed them, along with everyone else.

    The problem with the ‘civil society’ angle is that it isn’t possible to be civil to those who lack civility, specifically in failing to recognise the rights of their catholic neighbours to equality of social esteem. I doubt even the catholic unionists in the north would want to celebrate military victories of one religion over another in such sectarian battles of a hunchbacked Dutchman over an English king at the Battle of the Boyne, but even if they did, they are excluded from that private organisation, the Orange Order, because of their religion – the same private organisation that used its political power to deny them equal civil and political rights. The reform needs to come from the OO: it needs to expel all members who have links to other private organisations that are dedicated to the murder of Catholics. It needs to apologise for such links. It needs to recognise and engage with the Parade’s Commission.

    Even then, I don’t see how society will enforce ‘civility’ upon those who feel inclined to burn private property. I would have thought they were already lot to such social graces. And if they weren’t, I don’t think too many citizens will feel inclined to put manners on them in a society where the thugs can beat the citizens who confront them to death with iron bars and no-one will do a damn thing about it – especially not the state. The culture you are creating is one of “a wise man never saw a dead man” which does not lend itself to a culture where everyone looks out for each other. Try arresting the 15 members of PIRA and their boss, Thomas Murphy, before trying to do anything else.

  • snakebrain

    Billy

    You’re absolutely right to point out the hypocrisy inherent in the position that, on one hand, criticises the OO for its actions and policies, and on the other, lowers its own standards to arson and indiscriminate damage. You simply can’t, in the same breath, claim the moral high ground and advocate committing serious crimes.

    I enjoy using Slugger, not least because it’s one of the few arenas in which issues that can’t be easily discussed in the workplace or other social situations, but which nonetheless concern all of us in this society, can be openly and candidly teased out. The element of anonymity undoubtedly contributes to that candid and free exchange of views.

    I’ve exchanged views with people who I hold diametrically opposed opinions to, and have been impressed by their arguments and had my preconceptions, which I may not have realised I held, challenged.

    I’m a bit concerned by this development, as it threatens to curtail the freedom and frankness of exchanges on this site. How can people say what they think if there’s a possibility they’ll find themselves under arrest for doing so? The law does not always get it right, and people are convicted for offences that should not be considered such.

    Supposing an individual had information of public interest on a political development which in some way implicated them personally, and wished to release the information into the public domain without identifying themselves? Would they feel able to do so if there was a possibility that information that could identify them would be passed on to police?

    Slugger has a tricky line to tread between integrity and public responsibility, especially in a society where full confidence in the legal and judicial process has yet to be established.

    But, having said all that, I’ll happily declare my support for Slugger O’Toole, and my hope that this little storm passes as quickly as possible.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Snakebrain

    “You simply can’t, in the same breath, claim the moral high ground and advocate committing serious crimes.”

    I don’t think there’s anyone “advocating” the burning of Orange Halls. I was talking more about a lack of reaction to it from mainstream nationalism. I think most nationalists would tut-tut when they read about the local Orange Hall being attacked, but it’s not exactly a major issue within nationalism at the moment. And I think there IS a sense that it’s damned hard to feel sorry for the Orange Order.

    I understand this position, but I also recognise that it brings nationalism into line with the same hypocrisy nationalists have (rightly) accused mainstream unionism of for decades.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    “I don’t think there’s anyone “advocating” the burning of Orange Halls.”

    Well, apart, it seems, from the infamous post that has caused all the furore in the first place, and raised the Orwellian spectre of criminal charges being brought against a blogger/poster.

  • snakebrain

    Unfortunately Billy there are people advocating burning Orange halls. That’s how all this got started.

    I wasn’t for an instant suggesting you were advocating anything of the sort. Just pointing out the idiocy of a position that says “these guys are so awful – we’d better do something awful too”

    Whatever your view of the OO, and mine isn’t particularly friendly, though I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the actions of members on several occasions, nobody should be burning anybody’s buildings down. Not rocket science really.

    I’m thinking about working in a Catholic owned pub many years ago, when a march was going on outside. Things were getting pretty heated on the street and missiles were being thrown at the pub by a gang of hangers-on, who were showing signs of being tempted to try to kick the door in and get in. They were beaten off in no uncertain terms at great personal risk by a great big bear of a marshall wielding a mace and wearing a sash.

    Which just goes to show, you can’t judge people by what they wear or the company they keep.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Snakebrain

    “I wasn’t for an instant suggesting you were advocating anything of the sort.”

    I didn’t think you were, though I’m uncomfortable at even the remotest suggestion that my opposition to and revulsion of such attacks, and the bigotry from which they spring, is anything other than absolute.

    “Which just goes to show, you can’t judge people by what they wear or the company they keep.”

    Indeed. I’ve known a handful of active Orangemen in my life, and I would have to say there weren’t any of them that I wasn’t very fond of, on a personal level. (One in particular, an Orangeman of fifty years standing with whom I bonded over a shared love of Gaelic football. His knowledge of the game was vast and he told great stories about heading down to Croker in the 60s to watch the great Down team of O’Neill, Doherty and the McCartans revolutionise the sport with “total football” a decade and a half before the Dutch team of ’74.)

    There’s an element of “does not compute” in all of this, but then life is like that. Suffice to say, if I thought someone was giving this guy a hard time I’d be quick to intervene on his behalf. So it shouldn’t be a huge leap to then say, if somebody’s going to burn down his community centre, I’d be equally quick to intervene on his behalf.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Billy,

    That’s were my point kicks in, Mick and others see these as an attacks on isolated Protestant communities that are not being seriously addressed. Others here see it as more likely attacks on the OO.

    Now, Garibably also makes a good point on exasperating problems by not being forceful and focused in condemnation but unless you deal with the separate elements – the difficulty some find in feeling much emotion over a lot of mostly minor attacks on an organisation they perceive as hostile to them, with the feelings of others that these are actually attacks on a broader community not receiving adequate attention the debate will go nowhere fast.

    The bit I think would be best expanded on is the role beyond the Orders these halls also serve.

    I’m not for attacking them in any way but I’ve only got so much energy and the OO haven’t done much to ensure I’d devote any of it to them.

    This might be an inevitable outworking of the conflict that has arisen between the Orders and many others in society, it is still wrong but it won’t be addressed by treating it as some sort of anti-isolated Protestants campaign endorsed through relative silence.

    Mick’s pretty much accusing a huge group of people of complicity in attacking communities by silence, when I’d see a lot of people who have a seriously low view of the Orders and little time or inclination to give a damn about them.

    Now how do you square that circle? How can you make the disinterest and hostile give a damn about something?

  • Sean

    Snakebrain
    I’m a bit concerned by this development, as it threatens to curtail the freedom and frankness of exchanges on this site. How can people say what they think if there’s a possibility they’ll find themselves under arrest for doing so? The law does not always get it right, and people are convicted for offences that should not be considered such.

    If you willingly self edit your post out of fear of authority then the authority wins with out the need of arrest

    Thats why I will Gladly provide my name and contact details to anyone who wants to sue me, because I refuse to be cowed by a bunch of limpets

    same goes for the police

  • Chris Donnelly

    Shore Road Resident

    Still here, no implosion. Just out of a meeting of the SF Blogging Committee for your information, which I chaired….

    Glad you bring up IP addresses as I’ve a hunch moving Slugger towards a registration only site would flush out anonymous commenters like yourself, who spew their sectarian bile behind that cloak of anonymity- all the more reason for moving in that direction….

  • Frank Sinistra

    Calm down. Nobody is getting lifted over the entry and it only becomes an issue if that silly comment that broke the site rules but no laws forces fundamental changes in site policy based on a spurious allegation, amateur dramatics and a Cllr’s attention seeking rush to the papers and PSNI over pretty much nothing.

    One positive is a real issue is being discussed in more depth. Lets stick to that and beat the internet-monitor through upping the game.

  • Mick Fealty

    Don’t weaken Chris! 😉

    I’ve had my spake up above, so I don’t really want to add much to the second point.

    On the first: Just to repeat something I said on the subject of the law and the internet this afternoon at Queens. I think people should be mindful that law is going to seek to regulate what it practically can, and maybe in some cases perhaps it should. But neither should people be fearful of it.

    One legal firm in London that appears to have acted precipitously in case of Craig Murray (and Boris Johnson, and Tim Ireland) may be paying at their leisure for having done so.

  • jone

    If some hapless plod in Musgrave Street is investigating an allegation of incitement to hatred then we can all rest easy.

    Because the Incitement to Hatred Act of 1970 is what’s known in legal terms as ‘a parcel of bollocks.’

    Since the Act was passed there has been precisely one prosecution. It ended in an acquittal.

    Now given that since 1970 one or two nasty things have been spoken and written I doubt very much whether the PPS will be arsed to attempt the resurrection of this statute on the basis of a comment some interspazz made on a blog.

    Fact fiends can read Eamon Phoenix on the law here

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2003/oct3_tackling_sectarianism__EPhoenix.php

    Or read the primary source here

    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/hmso/piha1970.htm

  • Frank Sinistra

    Mick,

    I think you should add to your 2nd and much expanded point over the last weeks, especially now it has been addressed by several, including myself, on the substantives. Nobody else is dealing with the rebuttals of your punting a communal blindness to a pogrom type campaign claim.

    Big allegations. You’ve been called.

    You’ve been told the reasons some don’t have the energy to feel sympathy for mostly minor attacks on their property. How do you change a decades long attitude often Order provoked against them as an organisation beyond their Protestantism?

    I didn’t do anything that made me change from not caring about the OO to not giving a fuck about them. They changed me over a period of years after years of fucking up my life.

    It’s you making this into an anti-isolated Prod thing over the OO living with the generation they created by ruining many summers.

    That’s the problem, you see anti-community. I see a minority treating the OO how they treated society for decades.

    And you blaming everyone but them for the situation they find themselves in.

  • Outsider

    Nobody on this blog has actually came out a said they support attacks on Orange halls, many posters have in rather thinly veiled posts indicated that the Order deserves these attacks. In other words in accordance with many within this blog the perception is that whilst I wouldnt carry out an attack on an Orange hall the fact that others do is completely justified due to the fact that its the Orange Order they are attacking.

    Dubliners post being a prime example of this he has simply taken an outside look into the Orange Order and displayed his own warped views on the institution an institution he clearly does not understand or want to understand.

    The problem with blogs like this is with the exception of fair_deal we never get to hear the views of members of the institution and that is one problem this site as a whole has.

  • Outsider

    I didn’t do anything that made me change from not caring about the OO to not giving a fuck about them. They changed me over a period of years after years of fucking up my life.

    Frank

    Just how did they do this?

  • Frank Sinistra

    Nobody on this blog has actually came out a said they support attacks on Orange halls, many posters have in rather thinly veiled posts indicated that the Order deserves these attacks.

    Outsider,

    I’m on the edge of that veil. If it was churches, schools, homes or people I’d be aghast. The Orange Order, couldn’t care much less.

    In my case it was the threats that caused me to be unable to work, my wife being removed from her car and punched and the attack on the pub I was drinking in that moved me to fuck you status.

    I think it was about rights.

  • Outsider

    Frank

    I’m not too concerned about your views you clearly have personal issues with the Order that really have little/nothing to do with the order.

    I don’t get Nationalist criticisms anyway some claim that its declining severely and will be out of business soon while others claim that it holds massive power with huge membership…..which is it then?

  • Frank Sinistra

    Sorry?

    This is the denial of supporters and people that lived in Devon during recent years – Mick.

    The OO is despised by many because of that closing the place down, preventing us working, going on holiday, getting to our relations, ……….

    We are meant to forget that? Why?

    You didn’t say sorry.

    I’m meant to get all angry about paint damage on a door?

  • Outsider

    The OO is despised by many because of that closing the place down, preventing us working, going on holiday, getting to our relations, ……….

    Thats utter garbage and besides the twelfth is one day in the year.

  • snakebrain

    It pisses me off to the fucking eyeballs, if you’ll pardon my French, that every year the whole bloody country closes down for a fortnight so a ridiculous anachronistic ritual can be enacted.

    I still don’t think anyone should burn anyone’s property down, but I do think in that respect the OO is a serious pain in the arse. And no, Outsider, it’s not just one day, as you well know. Try doing business in that fortnight. Everybody’s either on holiday or pissed at a bonfire. It’s ludicrous.

  • tweedledee

    Token Dissent,

    It is not the rights of “isolated Protestants” that Frankie et al dismiss – that after all would make them bigots. It is just the institutions and social networks that sustain many isolated Protestant communities that they hate. Do you understand?

    Interesting comment, as the OO claim to detest Catholicism while never being uncharitable to Catholics.

    Do you understand?

  • The relevant article in the irish News is now up on Nuzhound:

    http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/irish_news/arts2007/oct30_Slugger_OToole_hate_content.php.

    The number of attacks (which in an number of cases have been slightly more serious than a bit of paint thrown at the door)are up dramatically this year, a year in which (excuse the image) Paisley has jumped into bed with McGuinness, a year in which, generally the “Marching Season” has passed off more peacefully than in the previous decades.

    So, why suddenly the upturn in attacks?
    Why the specific location of attacks (usually not in contentious or “evenly-mixed” areas, but in areas where protestants form a small minority)?

    The brutal truth is that if 50 attacks had been made against protestant church property, instead of the orange halls,in July, we would have had a lot more media involvement from outside the province and probably more concentration on the situation of these vulnerable communities.

    Yet the psychological effect on the minority involved is exactly the same, they are being given a direct message/threat which is passing under the radar of the wider society.

  • Token Dissent

    tweedledee – you make a fair comparison. The attitude of the OO towards the Catholic Church has undoubtedly contributed to sectarianism. But does this in anyway excuse the mirror image bigotry that is evident in the attacks on Orange Halls, Churches and other property? Surely both mindsets have to be tackled? Furthermore the hatred that many on Slugger direct towards the entire institution of the Order is in itself an act of intolerance that displays an ignorance of the Order and the Protestant community more generally.

    I am not a supporter of the OO, and would view its historical role as being often of negative influence. However I would say that in my experience the Order is dominated by decent people who have a positive influence within their community. They may be socially conservative, but that terrible cliché “law-abiding citizens” has an intrinsic truth to it, and ensured that at vital times, such as the early 70s, the OO helped the greater public good. For example the OO worked very hard and were successful in isolating and condemning loyalist paramilitaries during the troubles. Look at the low levels of loyalist activity in Fermanagh where the Orange Order has its’ most influence.

    This is not to deny that there are many problems around the OO. They have certainly been far too close to paramilitaries at other times, especially later around Drumcree. Individual members have done terrible things, and the leadership has often been weak, politically short-sighted, and intolerant. All this is true, but the picture is a lot less black and white than many on here present. Is it responsible to call the OO essentially the KKK with sashs, and then stand back and wring your hands when property is attacked and lives endangered?

    On all of this I would highly recommend Brian Kennaway’s book ‘The Orange Order – a Tradition Betrayed’. It is a critical account of the Order by an insider.

  • In respect to Chris Donnelly for the first time ever I actually agree with him completely. When and if registration comes into effect on slugger there will be a dramatic reduction in the number of trolls on this board and sock puppets will vanish. php bbs software has a wide range of handy tools for blocking them, from the simple act of requiring a valid email address to register all to way up to a flat IP ban if drastic measures are required. I doubt the tolls we have here are technosavy enough to get round such measures. The Alliance Youth site uses a php bbs forum and so far it’s been pretty good at keeping out the spam bots and helping me remove a few trolls.

  • member

    There is an Alliance Party youth site? First I heard

  • Well then you haven’t been listening too hard then.

  • Nevin

    Alli Yoof: “I have to admit that the DUP girl was very pretty … Fayre girl you are.

  • member

    Out of interest, how many years has Ian Parsley been chair of the Alliance Youth? Is there an election for the post and what on earth is youth, younger than 50?

  • Briso

    Posted by oneill on Oct 31, 2007 @ 10:23 AM
    So, why suddenly the upturn in attacks?
    Why the specific location of attacks (usually not in contentious or “evenly-mixed” areas, but in areas where protestants form a small minority)?

    The dissidents are starting with young, disaffected troublemakers and shaping them to form part of a much longer term strategy. That’s my rather depressed guess. The people they have are on the lowest rung and are basically causing problems to the whole community. The advantage for the dissidents is that puts them at odds with SF (sell-outs, “constitutional republicans”, SF=PSNI who they hate etc) as well as the OO. Phase one slowly but surely being accomplished.

    Yet the psychological effect on the minority involved is exactly the same, they are being given a direct message/threat which is passing under the radar of the wider society.

    That’s a real pity. I don’t like the OO, but I can see how the attacks can be seen as a way of scaring Protestants in general.

  • Briso

    Posted by Mick Fealty on Oct 30, 2007 @ 11:51 PM
    I’ve had my spake up above, so I don’t really want to add much to the second point.

    I’m both extremely frustrated and unsurprised by your refusal to answer my direct question, “Whose lack of solidarity? What do you mean here?”. I also refuse to translate and then answer it as JoeCanuck and Frank Sinistra have done. Frank has even gone so far as to answer an imaginary accusation on behalf of us taigs. I presume he has done a poll or something. Perhaps you have.

    Mick, spit it out or take it back. Perhaps it’s that I don’t believe Catholics can be sectarian? Perhaps it’s my quiet disgrace? Whatever it is, it seems it’s ” nothing short of a disgrace”. Again.

    In the immortal words of Travis Bickle, “Who’re you talkin’ to? Are you talkin’ to me?”

  • Briso,

    It’s less that I’ve been refusing to answer you, more that I have just put in 2 x 18 hour days on the trot and had no time to write anything on Slugger never mind read all the comments.

    The LSE defines civil society thus:

    …the arena of uncoerced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, family and market, though in practice, the boundaries between state, civil society, family and market are often complex, blurred and negotiated. Civil society commonly embraces a diversity of spaces, actors and institutional forms, varying in their degree of formality, autonomy and power. Civil societies are often populated by organisations such as registered charities, development non-governmental organisations, community groups, women’s organisations, faith-based organisations, professional associations, trades unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions and advocacy group.

    It is related to notions of social capital. In short it is not a problem that can be neatly dumped at the door of a single actor (barring the guys who are behind it).

    The ‘smart’ nature of this campaign may be one reason why there’s not been an outcry in the communities in which the attacks have taken place at such treatment of a local minority. It’s hard to get a sense that it’s a local problem if the local hall only gets hit once in a three year campaign. That’s another reason why putting it down to local yobs is so plausible at first sight. As you draw outwards it becomes obvious there is something much more systematic involved here.

    To clip to an obvious comparitor, the Harryville residents who turned out in support of vigil Mass goers and against the Drumcree protesters did so because there was an obvious challenge to the social bonds of the local community, not because they are more virtuous than civil society in the Catholic majority West.

    There is, it seems, a confusion in this discussion between the acts themselves and their victims. I suspect there are many people who could cite reasons why certain parties and institutions were somehow beyond the Pale and therefore not deserving of our collective sympathy when targetted in this way. However, it is the act that is the thing, not the identity of the victim.

    Considering the diversifying pressures that the Republic and Britain are under, you don’t need to enter a First they came… defence to understand that some form of pluralism will have to be struggled for if Northern Ireland is to prosper in a world in which change and diversity is the natural condition. If that is to happen, we need to start caring now (rather than later) about the individual fates of people who live outside our own tribal zones.

    Louis Feldman on Radio Four last year: “the informal connections we have between us actually have a dollar value to them. You get along better in life depending on the people who know and how much you trust them and they trust you”.

  • Briso

    Mick, first of all, sorry for complaining about you not answering and then pissing off for two days!!!

    There is really nothing in your answer I disagree with. My problem is that you don’t make it crystal clear who and what you are talking about. Given the amount of time and thought you have put into the original post and the extended answer, it’s obvious you’re not going to answer me the way I want answered, which is only right and proper. If I want to put words in your mouth, I need to spit them out myself.

    First of all, please look again at the implication of your final paragraph.

    “But that this ‘campaign’ (that no one will own up to running it doesn’t mean doesn’t exist) has continued virtually unabated for three years now is an indictment, not of the Orange Order, but of the lack of solidarity with those minority Protestant populations.

    Whatever the strong feelings many have about the Orange Order; that is nothing short of a disgrace.”

    I read, “The taigs are a disgrace because they could stop this campaign and they haven’t.” Do you mean this or not? And if so, what do you want, kneecapping? Isn’t it up to the police to find and prosecute these people? Which involves them actually getting off their arses and turning up to these events?

    Your extended answer seems to be saying something different, something along the lines that JoeCanuck was postulating. We’re all guilty of a sin of omission for not showing sympathy after the event. In addition, the reference to ‘first they came’ implies we need to do something before they get ‘wiped out’. But what are you expecting? Every time a hall is burned, someone explains how it was used by Catholic groups as well as the order and related groups. Are these people part of civic society? Do they count in any way? After the Bohs fans attacked the bar in the Fountain, various Derry City fans accompanied the Bohs fans to the (self-proclaimed ‘loyalist’) bar who presented the landlord with a cheque and their best wishes. I guess this would fit your idea of ‘civic society’? But what will it change regarding the ongoing campaign? Nothing.

    There is some reaching out going on behind the scenes. Some cynical men are reaching out to angry boys with long term plans in mind. And you’re right, the campaign is clever. SF offices and OO halls. No-ones going on protest marches for them…

  • tweedledee

    Token Dissent,

    On all of this I would highly recommend Brian Kennaway’s book ‘The Orange Order – a Tradition Betrayed’. It is a critical account of the Order by an insider.

    Thanks for the reference. I haven’t read it, but I’ll have a look for it.