Belfast Lord Mayor to avoid official Somme commemoration

Six years after the first Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, refused to attend the official ceremony commemorating those killed at the Battle of the Somme and, instead, laid a wreath separately at 9am on the same morning – at the time Mick suggested his attendance “may be too soon for both his own and Unionist supporters in the City” – this year’s new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Hartley, has announced he will not be attending the official ceremony and will instead lay a wreath seperately at 9am on the same morning, before chairing a Special Council meeting scheduled to begin at the same time as the official ceremony. Tom Hartley claims that this “consolidates and builds upon the initiatives taken by Alex Maskey during his term as Mayor and by Joe O’Donnell as Deputy Mayor to reach out to the unionist and protestant people of Belfast.” In 2004 a Sinn Féin Ard Fheis passed a resolution barring Sinn Fein representatives from attending “British military commemorations”.

  • talksomesense

    i find this very funny, i wonder if Fraincie Mollys event marking lasts year 11/11 commemoration will become the norm for SF this year,

    didnt realise that IRA members served in the world wars was interesting to see tho! wonder what SF line on that event was!

    than again this is the same MLA who said SF never endorsed violence and that the Shankill bomber was murdered!

  • I’m sorry: I simply do not understand this.

    Hartley would not attend the official ceremony; but is quite happy to have a 9 a.m. personal ceremony. Surely both are “British military commemorations”.

    The practice of mayorality outside the benighted six counties involves many commitments which the Civic Leader performs because of the office, irrespective of personal views and prejudices, and as totemic leader of all the burgesses. If you can’t play the game, don’t lend your name.

    By the same token, a Unionist who also holds a position on behalf of the whole community should be equally prepared to be impartial.

  • I think Tom’s position here is perfectly reasonable, he must speak for himself, but many people who believe WW1 was a totally unnecessary slaughter, find the official commemorations as being unacceptable as they glorify the war in a deceitful and dishonest manner. Indeed the same type of lying words are used that Gordon Brown used about Afghanistan only this week.

    It is possible to commemorate the dead of WW1, by for example laying a wreath quietly, or saying a pray if you are that way inclined,

    To do otherwise is to ignore the fact that millions of service personnel, of all nationalities, had their lives stolen by incompetent and wicked politicians.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick Hall,

    although a lot of what you say may well be true about WW1 – the justness or otherwise of the war does not determine the Mayor’s or SF’s position – its the fact that it is seen as a British war that creates the problem for them.

  • Mick Hall @ 08:21 PM:

    Of course the First World War was a pointless blood-bath. That’s fair currency in a historical debate. It’s got damn all to do with acknowledging the deaths of thousands of good Belfast working men. Across the UK, every year on Armistice Day Sunday, decent socialists and pacifists don the mayoral chain and attend the war memorial ceremony — not to join a “military commemoration” but to acknowledge the truth of Mick Hall‘s final paragraph.

    If the SF line is so anti-military, I expect repeated protests whenever Oirish pub singers steal Dominic Behan’s The Patriot Game, and invert its meaning.

  • Dewi

    Not good – it’s not commemerating the event just recognising the slaughter of thousands of Irish people for no purpose – he must attend surely.

  • earnan

    What’s the big deal either way? Provisional Sinn Fein gave up any theoretical high ground they thought they had when they decided to enter into a Stormont government with Unionists, thus abandoning any real claim to being a Republican party.

    Anyway, many Catholics who thought they were helping Ireland’s cause for Home Rule or doing their duty for the Empire also died at the Somme.

  • joeCanuck

    The ceremony has nothing to do with celebrating the British Army or establishment.
    It is simply remembering the young men (Catholic and Protestant and Athiest who were needlessly sacrificed for the interests of the world ruling class.
    Can’t see why anyone cannot attend.

  • joeCanuck

    Forgot to mention that when I attend such events I also think about the German and other boys who were also sent to their untimely slaughter.

  • Garibaldy

    I have to say that I think there should be no commemorations of an imperialist war over who got to oppress and ruthlessly exploit not only the people of Europe, but Africa and Asia especially. No person from Ireland – regardless of politics – who died in that war died a heroic or a useful death. They threw away their lives on an imperialist adventure. An imperialism we should remember that had the full support of the Irish Parliamentary Party. I’m sure many joined for economic reasons and all the rest of it, but the same conditions were faced by socialists who remained loyal to internationalism, such as the men of the Irish Citizen Army. Those are the Irish heroes of the world war, not the victims on the western front.

  • joeCanuck

    Harsh verdict, Garibaldy. You seem to confuse commemoration with celebration. Of course the deaths were needless. Not a reason not to pause and think about it. If we don’t remember, it could happen again.
    There has been a lot of discussion of the EU this past week. The original intent, so that we couldn’t go to war again seems to have been forgotten. That intent has certainly been successful. Would the Balkan atrocities of recent times have happened if Yugoslavia had been a member? Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not.

  • doctor

    “The practice of mayorality outside the benighted six counties involves many commitments which the Civic Leader performs because of the office, irrespective of personal views and prejudices, and as totemic leader of all the burgesses. If you can’t play the game, don’t lend your name.”

    The key phrase here is “outside the benighted six counties.” Considering how the vast majority of public representatives here choose to creatively interpret who represents the “community”, this private ceremony practice is light-years ahead of the norm.

  • Garibaldy

    Joe,

    Of course let’s not forget the role in the EU – driven by Germany in this case – played (and continues to play regarding Kosovo) in hastening the breakup of Yugoslavia, and encouraging the intransigent nationalists to rush the process and inaugurate civil war.

    And what you need to remember Joe is that increasingly the commemorations of WWI are explicitly linked to ongoing campaigns around the world, and towards the veterans of numerous campaigns against liberation movements from the 1940s onwards. That’s where the money for the red poppies goes. White ones are commemoration. Red ones are celebration.

    And yes, it is a harsh verdict. But surely if we are to avoid this happening again, we need to ruthless expose the reality of what went on, rather than sugar-coat it?

  • joeCanuck

    we need to ruthless expose the reality of what went on, rather than sugar-coat it?

    Totally agree with the first part, Garibaldy. As for the second part, I would never knowingly sugar coat it.

  • Garibaldy

    Fair enough Joe, but I think a lot of what is driving the new interest in Ireland in commemorating WWI is exactly about sugarcoating it, partly in a ridiculous attempt to foster community relations through celebrating the fact that Irish people of all types shed their blood in the most ignoble of causes. Never do we hear the point I made above about imperialism mentioned. The reality is that the IPP regularly in Parliament spoke about how great the Empire was, and that its supporters who went did so not only because they thought Home Rule would follow, but also because Ireland within the Empire had been a central plank of the majority of nationalism from O’Connell’s time. I don’t accept that what these people were fighting for should be ignored. It should be stressed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    A bit off topic, but could we have a blog about this, probably the most ridiculous waste of money for a tourist trap yet conceived ? Note how the American backers are expecting the majority of the cash to build this monstrous white elephant to come from the state.

  • joeCanuck

    Not totally off-topic, Comrade. Celebrating a disaster.

  • picador

    Of course let’s not forget the role in the EU – driven by Germany in this case – played (and continues to play regarding Kosovo) in hastening the breakup of Yugoslavia, and encouraging the intransigent nationalists to rush the process and inaugurate civil war.

    I haven’t heard that tired old line for a while.
    Slobbo was a good socialist and the Kosovars, Croats and Bosnians were fascist dupes, eh?

    Yugoslav patriots – i.e. Serb nationalists – made the Provos look like the Legion of Mary.

    As for the centotaph – unionists have been ramming the World Wars down our necks for eons. No one who fought at the Somme is alive today – let those who died as cannon fodder in an imperialst war rest in peace.

  • LURIG

    Maybe Tom Hartley is avoiding this just on the off chance that Unionists & Loyalists have hijacked and politicised the entire event. Just like the Poppy and other local Remembrance events Protestant bigots and extremists take over these things to the total exclusion of anyone else. Is it any wonder Republicans & Nationalists want nothing to do with it. I know of a Catholic ex-serviceman who posts a contribution to the British Legion direct EVERY year but who has NO time for those here who wear MASSIVE poppys on their lapels & hats weeks in advance of Remembrance Sunday SOLELY as a political statement. I went with him one year to observe the ‘cultural’ Orangefest at Belfast City Hall and he was disgusted as known Loyalist paramilitaries mingled with mainstream Unionists & senior Orange Order members as they laid wreaths at the City Hall. That is why Tom Hartley and Catholics who served in the British forces want NO part of local ‘commemorations’. The hypocrisy and double standards of Unionism, especially towards Loyalist death squads, is nauseating.

  • joeCanuck

    Garibaldy,

    how great the Empire was

    Those were different times, of course, and the hoi-polloi were exposed only to the propaganda of their “all-knowing” leaders.
    I wonder how embarrassed the present generation are about the misdeeds of their money grabbing predecessors.

  • The Raven

    From Tuesday’s news…

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7458315.stm

    A quick quote from Wiki…

    “In July 2007, marking the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele, in which he fought, Harry Patch revisited the site of the battle in Flanders to pay his respects to the fallen on both sides of the conflict; he was accompanied by historian Richard van Emden. On this occasion, Patch described war as the “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings” and said that “war isn’t worth one life.””

    But really, I’m beginning to think that while there are still 11 servicemen who were there, and are still with us, it might be time just for once, to set aside the why’s and wherefore’s and just remember. Who am I to second guess – but I would say if the usual bunch on here were to sit with Harry Patch, and hit him with the “we don’t do poppies and we don’t do WW commemorations cos it doesn’t sit well with our electorate” line, and then listen to what he told them, they might be treated to a lesson in humility?

    It’s just a thought.

  • picador

    Well said LURIG

    Not to mention their insistence on glorifying / commemorating the UDR at every possible opportunity

  • Turgon

    As others have said the commemoration of the Somme is just that: a commemoration, it is not a celebration. For Hartley to claim his actions are reaching out to unionists and then do this shows that he is as committed to “Unionist engagement” as all the other SF members.

    Of course the most likely explanation for all this is that Hartley is doing what “unionist Engagement” / outreach etc. was always about. That is to make pseudo gestures designed to annoy unionists and then allow SF to play the wounded innocents; the people who tried to reach out and were spurned. In their own minds simultaneously pretending to gain the high moral ground and yet in reality antagonise unionists. That Hartley should try such with the Somme commemoration should surprise no one: not that that makes it any the less revolting.

    Garibaldy,
    I hear what you are saying about the red poppies but in all honesty I have never worn one in anything other than a spirit of remembrance. My late father in law always wore one and as a man who spent three and a half years in a Japanese POW camp if it was good enough for him to wear it is good enough for me to wear.

  • percy

    good one LURIG, if they reigned in the bigots, there’s be more give and take all round.

  • Garibaldy

    Joe,

    They were different times. But equally people from the same backgrounds made different decisions, so there are limits to how far that logic applies.

    I think it’s worth noting that at the Somme commemoration there will be a distinct absence of remembrance for the people who died in other countries under the boot of the imperialist powers. Note also the lack of concern in some of the comments here about them too. Too fixated on the dreary steeples.

    Picador,

    The Croat leadership certainly weren’t fascist dupres. Mostly just plain old fascists.

  • Garibaldy

    Turgon,

    I appreciate that there are people who wear them for the right reasons. But the money still goes to those causes. As for the prisoners in Japanese war camps, they suffered horribly, and my heart goes out to them. But I can’t stop myself from asking why were they there. But there is a distinction between the second world war, and the first, and subsequent actions.

  • Jen Erik

    “No one who fought at the Somme is alive today – let those who died as cannon fodder in an imperialst war rest in peace.”

    My mum’s alive. Her dad was at the Somme, and her uncles. Why would it be wrong for her to remember that? Why is it wrong for me to remember that?

    I wear a red poppy. I find it crass that someone would tell me I do it in a spirit of celebration, or in support of some Imperialist agenda.

  • Garibaldy

    Jen,

    You may well find it crass. But did the British legion last year or did it not base its campaign around the need to buy poppies to support veterans of other campaigns – like Malaya – who needed help now, never mind photos of the families of people killed in current campaigns?

    As I said, we must ruthlessly expose the reality of WWI, and the political motivations about the shift in the commemorations and other coverage of them, which are being used in pursuit of other agendas.

  • ersehole

    The Somme.

    Named by the Celts c.f. modern Irish suaimhneas (peace, calm)

  • Dewi

    I agree absolutely with Turgon – commemoration it is. There is nothing for anyone to celebrate about. I doubt whether there is a family in these islands or indeed in most of Europe who didn’t lose people in these last stupid wars.
    If people try and hijack any events for sectarianist purposes try and address that – but remembrance is what it is about – would be a fitting gesture by Mr Hartley to attend.

  • The Raven

    “As I said, we must ruthlessly expose the reality of WWI, and the political motivations about the shift in the commemorations and other coverage of them, which are being used in pursuit of other agendas.”

    Why? What agendas? Why should no support be given by an organisation like the British Legion to those whom the MOD conveniently forgets once they’re off the payroll? What ulterior motive does the British Legion have?

    I ask, merely because I don’t know.

  • picador

    Just watching the 10 o’clock news.

    The British media sicken me with their mawkish faux-grief stricken coverage of the death of their ‘angel of the north’ in Afghanistan.

    What kind of angel needs a gun?

    The British have been exporting war to the world for many centuries. And yet they have the cheek to expect us to be grateful for it!

    Their jingoistic media seldom deigns to mention the many victims of the British army. And that’s why you won’t catch me wearing a poppy.

  • picador

    Picador,

    The Croat leadership certainly weren’t fascist dupes. Mostly just plain old fascists.

    There were fascists on all sides in those wars but the most bloody of them all were ‘Yugoslav’.

    To blame the Germans for the break up of Yugoslavia is patently ridiculous. It was the various peoples of Yugoslavia who called time on the arrangement. In the case of the Croats the HVO were a means to an end. Milosevic even sent the army against the Slovenes ffs – and you could hardly accuse them of fascism.

  • Dec

    That Hartley should try such with the Somme commemoration should surprise no one: not that that makes it any the less revolting.

    A clear indication into Unionism’s apparent ownership of everything that is good and decent. Hartley, laying a wreath an hour before another ceremony, is ‘revolting’. (I’ll resist the temptation to yet again ask for just one example of Unionist outreach to Nationalism). Considering more Irish Catholics died in both wars than Ulster Protestants, I fancy we can commerate the dead however we want.

    Genuine question for you Turgon: how can anyone so obviously bitte as yourself claim to be a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ?

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    The legitimation of imperialist acts against countries seeking to free themselves?

  • picador

    A clear indication into Unionism’s apparent ownership of everything that is good and decent. Hartley, laying a wreath an hour before another ceremony, is ‘revolting’.

    Dec, check this out from the Newsletter.

    Fury over PM’s £6m for Irish language

    By Staff reporter
    ANGER erupted last night as it emerged that the Prime Minister has pledged £6 million to secure the future of Irish language broadcasting in Northern Ireland.

    Last night Ulster Unionist peer and former Ulster-Scots Agency chairman Lord Laird blasted news of the pledge as “disgusting and despicable”.

    Unionist ‘fury’ is so damn tedious.

  • Pancho’s Horse/ Capall Pancho

    This coat-trailing in November might be easier to tolerate if the RUC/UDR wasn’t included in the ‘war dead’ and if a slice of the Poppy money didn’t go to their widows.These people – hired guns for the British government – left behind dependants ……. so what! They murdered Irish people and left their dependants to fend for themselves. Commemorate all you want but don’t expect us to take any part in it.It is a British military affair full stop.

  • kensei

    Turgon

    As others have said the commemoration of the Somme is just that: a commemoration, it is not a celebration.

    No, it isn’t. That is a complete and utter lie, and you know it. The ceremonies are entirely tied up with the British establishment, and the implicit assumption that everything they fought and died for was right and good and proper. We’ll not even go into the significance of the Somme within Unionism.

    Sf are doing the right thing. They can’t attend and it would be inappropriate to do so. But they are acknowledging it in their own way as best they can. And the faux outrage Turgon? Please, your better than that.

  • The Raven

    “Raven,

    The legitimation of imperialist acts against countries seeking to free themselves?”

    Oh. My apologies. Not being from a military background myself, I thought the British Legion was a charitable organisation established in 1921 as “a voice for the ex-Service community”

    I read nowhere on their website about the legimisation of imperialist acts against countries seeking to free themselves. I note that the Legion fight nearly 36,000 ongoing War Disablement Pension cases for war veterans and make around 300,000 welfare and friendship visits every year.

    I note that ongoing Legion campaigns include calls for more research into Gulf Illness and compensation for its victims; upgrading of War Pensions; the extension of endowment mortgage compensation for personnel serving overseas; and better support for Service personnel resettling into civilian life.

    I’m still not finding anything in their mission statement or core values about how their work legitimises imperialist acts against people attempting to free themselves.

    While I am beginning to feel that your ire here is somewhat misdirected, I will read on and see if I have missed something.

    In the meantime, if anyone wants to get back to the issue of the topic at hand, feel free….

  • Garibaldy

    When the British legions starts calling for war pensions for Iraqi civilians and all the victims of war I might accept I’ve mischaracterised it.

  • picador

    Wasn’t the Orange Order march down the Garvaghy Road supposed to commemorate the Battle of the Somme?

  • Pete Baker

    “In the meantime, if anyone wants to get back to the issue of the topic at hand, feel free….”

    If only, Raven, if only..

  • anonymoose

    Can we have a thread about tonight’s ridiculous let’s talk and why there wasn’t a single question about Iris Robinson even though this was the biggest news story out of NI for weeks

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Would certain hardline Unionists be disgusted if Hartley attended the officail ceremony?
    I think they would and would probably even mount a protest.

    So either way they would be disgruntled!

    Sad that the substantial numbers of the Catholic community throughout Ireland who volunteered to join the British army and lost their lives at the Somme were ignored for years by their felllow countrymen, north and south. Sad too the overwhelming impression and myth developed that only loyal Ulster Protestants enlisted!

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    And I’m sure Turgon (and the TUV) would be there protesting at Hartley’s presence at the official ceremomy.

  • oscail do shuile

    My god, this one’s a no-brainer, but all you wee shinner-bashers are acting as if Mayor Hartley has been caught with his drawers down (no, that was another infamous city father). Mick Hall’s first post had it. Get your heads round it, fools. Ed., I know it’s not talkback, but are you going to start balancing slugger by having someone from the nationalist side as clearly partisan-at-the-expense-of-reason as Pete Baker ???

  • picador

    “In the meantime, if anyone wants to get back to the issue of the topic at hand, feel free….”

    Er Tom Hartley laid a wreath for those who died at the Somme. As outlined above many nationalists, including presumably, many of those who voted for Hartley and his SF colleagues, think the commemoration ceremony involving the armed services, the loyal orders, unionist politicians and paramilitaries is a lot of cant and have no wish to be associated with it. Unionists are predictably ‘outraged’. Nationalist don’t really give a toss as the unionists are a bunch of hypocrites who use and abuse a selection of the dead as they see fit. What more is there to say?

  • Pete Baker

    “Would certain hardline Unionists be disgusted if Hartley attended the officail [sic] ceremony?”

    A question which misses the point of noting the 2004 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis resolution.

    That resolution puts into context the suggestion that the events announced by Tom Hartley “consolidates and builds upon” previous events – Those newly announced events having already occurred by 2004.

    Unless that particular SF party policy has been changed?

  • Garibaldy

    So the validity of the entire culture of these commemorations is off topic, but the specific behaviour of one person relative to one commemoration is not? We should not contextualise by reference to relevant issues? How then are we to understand the world? And how is Pete to construct his posts, which are themselves masterful examples of contextualisation?

  • Turgon

    To analyse why this issue creates such a response from unionists is difficult. It is a matter I find difficulty being dispassionate and analytical about. I can assure you kensei that the anger is not false.

    There are several problems and issues unionists have over remembrance and I will merely describe some I have heard and thought about.

    Firstly one must remember the sheer scale of the loss of life was colossal; thousands lost in a day. Then there is the whole issue of this being a war which should never had happened. As someone interested in the subject I can explain how it happened but not really why. Garibaldy is probably correct that much of what happened was to do with imperialism but even that fails to explain the weird way in which Europe fell into war in 1914. The enthusiasm with which many greeted the war is probably also involved in making us feel bad about the whole thing.

    All these different forms of moral ambiguity regarding the First World War combined with the scale of death make it a particular issue to people throughout the UK and indeed Ireland and I am sure in Europe.

    Then there is a fact which I suspect many Roman Catholics may fail to see (and I use a religious term deliberately). Protestants are not allowed to pray for the dead: we cannot appeal to God for their souls. I have heard the services or remembrance described as essentially a prayer for the dead and that has a very considerable resonance for me. The cenotaph becomes the altar, the actions those of a religious service, the wreath layers etc. almost the priests of this service.

    As such dishonouring any part of it is seen as unforgivable.

    I am sorry if some of that is bizarre to people but I really think that this is a way to understand the outrage that criticism of remembrance causes.

  • Pancho’s Horse/ Capall Pancho

    I remember an elderly aunt of mine who used to buy a poppy every year when the hawkers came round and I used to query why she did it. Her answer – after hiding the poppy in a drawer – “She’s a neighbour and I didn’t want to offend her” Imagine the reverse situation if you tried to sell Easter lilies in a unionist household!!!!!!!!!!

  • Driftwood

    Wear a poppy in honour of my Uncle, who I am named after, who was killed in April 1945 fighting with the KOSB’s. Think it was right to fight the Nazis. WW1, I don’t know. But stopping the Nazis was just. Whether my Uncle fought for King, or anti Hitler I’ll never know.
    Commemoration? It should be for the relatives and a reminder of the folly of war. Not that I believe it will change much.


    So it goes…

  • Paul McMahon

    “There are several problems and issues unionists have over remembrance”

    That may be the case Turgon but there’s one which immediately springs to my mind:

    “For the benefit of those who never read my book, they need to understand the historical mythology of working class mindset of Protestant Belfast, were heroism is based on Orange military romanticism, from the 1690 Boyne, the 1798 rebellion to the 36th Ulster Division’s VC heroes of WW1 and the 1916 Battle of the Somme. That is one of the cliches of Ulster’s Protestant culture re-acted out annually by 3000 Orange parades during the marching season. *We are the heroes, we are the best and we always win, no surrender* Having a Catholic hero who won the only VC since the state was formed in 1922 did not fit that image. So Belfast’s only WW2 VC hero James Magennis a Catholic, born in West Belfast was politically airbrushed out of history and forgotten since the early 1950’s. I intended to change that myth, first by writing ‘Magennis VC’ and secondly campaigning for an official memorial to the VC navy hero”

    http://www.sluggerotoole.com/archives/2005/09/and_finally.php

    Perhaps SF still think this “Orange military romanticism” is still prevalent amongst some sections of our populace and our city fathers?

  • The Raven

    “What more is there to say?”

    Probably very little. So we can leave aside the legitimisation of empire building by the British Legion, Lord Laird, Kosovo, poppies, the Garvaghy Road, and everything else.

    So. “This year’s new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Hartley, has announced he will not be attending the….[SNIP]….reach out to the unionist and protestant people of Belfast.” ”

    Discuss.

    By the way, Garibaldy, I’ve no idea when the British Legion will be calling for war pensions for Iraqi people.

    I was kinda wondering there when the Irish Society for the Protection of Birds might mount a campaign against the destruction of wildlife habitat in Sussex? Oh, and when Environment & Heritage might want to take over management of Newgrange? Or indeed when Cancer Scotland might want to campaign for improved conditions of cancer sufferers in New Hampshire?

    But then, that’s all a bit ludicrous.

    Much like a welfare association getting into legitimisation of imperialist acts as opposed to looking after its target audience.

    On the issue of the topic, as someone from the P/U/L community, I think it’s a shame, but no way shameful, that we’re not quite at the point where Tom could lay that wreath with everyone else. Tom’s a good guy. I’ve enjoyed his tours. I think he’s a great Mayor, even allowing for the fact that Mayors in Northern Ireland are a bit of a joke.

    But then I think it’s a shame, but not shameful that I was probably the only Prod at Derry’s last game. But we’ll not go there.

    That would be a bit off-topic.

  • Pete Baker

    “Perhaps SF still think this “Orange military romanticism” is still prevalent amongst some sections of our populace and our city fathers?”

    Then they should say so, Paul.

    And not hide behind the false rhetoric of this repetition of events somehow “reach[ing] out to the unionist and protestant people of Belfast.”

    If it’s their own party’s policy which restricts their movement on this then they should at least be honest enough to say so.

    Rather than imply that it’s someone else’s problem.

  • Siphonophore

    My great uncle and great grandfather both fought for the British Army in WWI. Both survived the entire length of the war, although one lost a limb and the other had a massive scar spiraling the length of his left arm from the sabre of a German cavalry officer as well as surviving mustard gas attacks.

    Fuck. Them.

    The ones I commemorate are those who fought the British Army for Ireland’s freedom in 1916 and the War of Independence. Those are to whom Republicans and Irish men and women owe their respect to not to those who occupied our country, murdered our citizenry. Expecting Republicans and Irish people to honour British military dead is as ludicrous and insane as expecting the British to similarly honour and commemorate the IRA dead.

    Imagine Sinn Fein having some reservations about commemorating and honouring members of a group that murdered them and their communities.

  • Pancho’s Horse/ Capall Pancho

    Siphonophore, I think that sums the situation up pretty well. No more pussy footing, no more pretending, no more pretending to ‘reach out’. Both communities will respect each other more for it.

  • Paul McMahon

    It was a legitimate question Pete. I personally don’t know if SF’s attempts at what they term outreach are false rhetoric or genuine.

    On that topic, is there anyone in a position to verify the extent of usage of SF’s councilor / MLA offices by their unionist constituents?

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    I meant of course to say Iraqi civilians injured by foreign troops, and by munitions such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs. The absence of ANY reference to the foreign and civilian victims demonstrates that it may be a support group for troops injured in their country’s duty, but it is not a humanitarian organisation on a par with, say, medicins sans frontieres or even Oxfam or whatever. To pretend otherwise is ludicrous.

  • The Raven

    ….and I doubt that the British Legion does that. Because it would be ludicrous, Garibaldy.

    Almost as ludicrous as suggesting that they should.

    Anyway, getting back to Tom and his wreath…

  • Garibaldy

    Oh I see. Yap about how terrible it is for soldiers in war and afterwards, but ignore the civilian death toll and the motives behind it. So white poppies are absured because they take a holistic approach. Never question the causes or the conducts of wars, but blindly support them. Because that won’t lead to the waste of more young lives.

    There’s no reason not to think that they could raise those issues, any more than there is any reason to think that people like John Kerry who campaigned on behalf of their veterans should have ignored the plight of the civilians in Vietnam.

    If the Royal British Legion doesn’t want to raise those issues then fine. But don’t pretend that it is an apolitical organisation in that case. One of the things about war is that it forces you to make a choice about where you stand.

    And this is all directly relevant to Hartley and his wreath.

    What is also interesting is to see just how focused the supporters of the mayor’s stance are on the local issues to the exclusion of the broaders ones. Many of the same people will on other occasions be telling us about how Ireland was as oppressed as African and Asian colonies, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them as the wretched of the earth etc. No sign that they could give a fiddler’s about them on this thread. Turgon is just about the only person prepared to take the broader issues into account.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Only in Northern Ireland, only in Northern Ireland! In no other region of the UK would this type of story merit media attention. Hartley and his fellow Sinners aren’t overly comfortable with their Britishness…SHOCK, HORROR!

    If they did attend a Somme Commeration they would be acknowledging the fact that, but for the brave Ulstermen who perished at the Somme in their thousands, the UK would be run by a fascist dictatorship and that we would not be in possession of the civil and religious liberties we take for granted today. After all, the Sinners supported Germany and it’s Fascist Kaiser Wilhelm II in the World War I, fighting against subscription in Ireland. It is also common knowledge that Sean Russell, Commanding Officer of the IRA during World War II, was a Nazi who looked to Hitler for political and military support…I quote from The Guardian:

    ‘At the Wansee conference, the infamous Nazi gathering that planned the “Final Solution”, the Jewish community in Ireland was marked down for annihilation. Having freed Ireland from British rule, the Nazis expected their collaborators to help them round up Dublin’s Jews and ship them off to Auschwitz. That was the price Sean Russell was prepared to pay to end partition.’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jan/02/ireland

    Little wonder then that the Sinners feel it would be hypocritical for them to attend a Somme Ceremony, after they discreetly, and at times openly, supported germany during TWO World Wars.

    Regardless of the politics of it all, the fact of the matter is that these people, who took pleasure at the brutal murders of British servicemen at home and abroad during The Troubles, aren’t welcome. END OF…

  • Garibaldy

    CL,

    Fascism is a post-WWI phenomenon. And more people had the vote in Germany before WWI than in Britain. So a bit more complicated than that. Russell was completely in the wrong. But there were also socialists in the IRA who supported the USSR in its struggle against the Nazis. So again, not so simple.

  • picador

    Many of the same people will on other occasions be telling us about how Ireland was as oppressed as African and Asian colonies, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them as the wretched of the earth etc. No sign that they could give a fiddler’s about them on this thread.

    Or the Kosovars for that matter.

  • the Raven

    “Oh I see.”

    Actually, you don’t.

    “Yap about how terrible it is for soldiers in war and afterwards, but ignore the civilian death toll and the motives behind it.”

    Absolutely not, but to characterise what I wrote as saying so, is actually very wrong. To paraphrase – you reckon the British Legion should contribute to the victims of British military actions. I counter with the British Legion being a support mechanism for the armed forces after they’ve been de-mobbed or been injured or indeed both.

    White poppies aren’t absurd. I don’t blindly support military action that Government takes. The British Legion undertakes educational work through schools, and I doubt very much of it glorifies war, but ask them for one of their packs and see what it says.

    “If the Royal British Legion doesn’t want to raise those issues then fine. But don’t pretend that it is an apolitical organisation in that case.”

    I don’t have to. Here’s what they do: “The Royal British Legion provides financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces, and their dependants. Currently, nearly 10.5 million people are eligible for our support and we receive thousands of calls for help every year.”

    You said: “As I said, we must ruthlessly expose the reality of WWI, and the political motivations about the shift in the commemorations and other coverage of them, which are being used in pursuit of other agendas.”

    I said “[SNIP] What ulterior motive does the British Legion have?” And then I said “I ask, merely because I don’t know.”

    You then said “The legitimation of imperialist acts against countries seeking to free themselves?”

    Now, I note you asked it as a question, but I don’t have that answer, surveying as I did the RBL’s website, and finding only themes along the lines of: “provides financial, social and emotional support to millions who have served and are currently serving in the Armed Forces”

    So: what has any of that to do with Tom and his wreath? I personally have no problem with his stance. I’m furrowed-of-brow when I read on here people who do; people who should know better.

    I’m sorry I had to repeat all that, but you assumed you knew what my position on certain issues was, and boy, were you wrong.

    You want recompense for the atrocities committed by British soldiers in dubious acts of war? Don’t drag in the charity that assists soldiers when they come home. Go to the people that sent them in the first place.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Garibaldy,

    Kaiser Wilhelm II was the German Emperor/King Of Prussia from 1888-1918. He abdicated 21 years before the outbreak of World War II. I am fully aware that the term “fascimo” was made up by Mussolini and Gentile shortly after World War I. However, are you seriously saying that Wilhelm II was not a “fascist” as we understand the term today and that his system of government did not mirror that of the dictionary’s definition of fascism?

    “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

  • Harry Flashman

    @Garibaldy et al.

    “But there is a distinction between the second world war, and the first”

    No there isn’t. They were both to all intents and purposes the same war with a twenty year hiatus in between while the same German aggressors licked their wounds, rearmed and came back in the same uniforms fighting for the same Germany for another go, but this time with bigger hardware and a better Schleiffen Plan.

    You cannot in any historical way separate the two world wars and claim it was legitimate to resist German military expansionism in 1939 but not to do so in 1918. The Second World War was not fought by the Allies to protect the Jews, it was fought for exactly the same reasons that the First World War was fought; to resist German militarism in Europe. If the Nazis hadn’t persecuted the Jews the war would still have taken place.

    You can’t have it both ways, either both wars were legitimate or both were illegitimate, post rational justifications after the fact concerning Auschwitz don’t change the situation. WWI and WWII were part and parcel of the same war.

    I happen to believe that it was perfectly justifiable to resist German imperialism and militarism in Europe and seeing what those self same German imperialists and militarists did in 1939-45 (and were already doing in 19-14-18) when they had most of Europe prostrate under their jackboots I am satisfied that fighting them in 1914 was indeed morally justifiable.

    Having said all that Hartley is perfectly entitled not to take part in the “official” commemoration of the Somme. He is an Irish Republican, his gallant allies were the Germans, he regarded the British army in which thousands of his fellow Irishmen were serving as the enemy, he still does, he sees no reason to take part in what he sees as a British military ceremony and he is correct.

    The Unionists are perfectly justified in attending the official ceremony and Hartley is doing the decent thing by non-ostentatiously laying a wreath to remember the loss of so many young Belfast men’s lives in a dreadful slaughter.

  • 0b101010

    Do we really have to rehash the WWI/poppy arguments again and again here?

  • PJM

    The Heritage Lottery Fund funded a project in Derry last year which sought to research the names of those commemorated on the war memorial which sits at the centre of Derry’s walled city. The reseach showed that 48% of those commemorated were catholic. This has led to some very positive outcomes: the sense of this space as belonging to one part of the community has been reduced; the memorial has been opened up daily, without fear of attack, for the first time in decades; last Remebrance Sunday was a truly cross community event with tricolour and union flag flown side by side; and many nationalist families are rediscovering their past and connection with the first world war.
    Will Crawley blogged on this project in may and there is a website.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2008/05/shared_heritage_hidden_history.html
    http://www.diamondwarmemorial.com/
    Some steps such as Tom Hartley’s may be seen as very small by some, but by other’s standards those steps are very far indeed.

  • Garibaldy

    The Raven,

    I’m didn’t think I was talking about your position. I was talking about that of the Legion.

    Harry,

    Of course we can separate the first from the second world war. The reasons for them being different (the second having much less to do with extra-European imperialism, and much more to do with racist ideology), and the way in which they were fought, and the treatment of civilians also being different.

    CL,

    Absolutely the Kaiser was not in the same position as the leaders of fascist countries. For example, he did not control the parliament in anywhere near the same way as fascist regimes did, there was much more political freedom than under fascist regimes (competing parties not being banned), and nor did he exercise the same amount of control over industry and commerce that fascism aspired too with its ideas of corporatism.

  • Robbie

    ‘Kaiser Wilhelm II was the German Emperor/King Of Prussia from 1888-1918…are you seriously saying that Wilhelm II was not a “fascist” as we understand the term today and that his system of government did not mirror that of the dictionary’s definition of fascism?’

    Well if you were following that criteria or ‘system of government’ ABSOLUTELY every regime in the history of the world prior to about 1815 would be classified as ‘Fascist’. It used to be said of the old left that they attached the appellation fascist to whatever it was they could not understand…

    This would operate on a very low level. The Two World Wars were certainly interlinked conflicts, the Second fuelled by the resentment of the First and so-on, though hardly a ‘hiatus’ – for starters, from a German perspective, the Wars were prosecuted by distinctly different protagonists at the higher echelons of the society. One of fascism’s central tenets is directed at – and attacking – the society’s elites. In the First World War the elite prosecuted the war, in the Second it was those who had overthrown the elite, the white collar, the petit-bourgeois, the background of Hitler’s own upbringing.

    Finally there is a serious sense in which the First could have been avoided; for the Second there is none. For someone to argue about Sean Russell in the context of 1914 deliberatley, and quite stupidly, blurs the lines.

  • kensei

    Turgon

    What part of the remembrance ceremony have SF debased? They aren’t attending, and are laying a wreath in their own time. It has no affect on the ceremony at all.

    Pete

    If it’s their own party’s policy which restricts their movement on this then they should at least be honest enough to say so.

    Rather than imply that it’s someone else’s problem.

    I sincerely doubt this is a result of that resolution. I simply cannot see how SF can participate in that particular event resolution or not. Aside from contravening their own rules, they would be uproar within sections of their electorate and it requires not simply one ideological u-turn, but several.

    If it is really desired that there is a remembrance ceremony for the Somme that everyone can attend, then there would need to be changes to facilitate Republicans. That isn’t using it as a political football, it’s simply a fact based on the underlying ideology. Perhaps Unionists don’t want that, it is both perfectly understandable and acceptable. But they shouldn’t then be jeering when people try to do something in their own way. Outreach runs two ways.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Lurig,

    that’s a reasonable point but it is ANOTHER reason for SF not to take a full part – not the underlying reason. That is the British presence in Ireland – there will always be a problem with supporting British military commerorations while they still have a presence in Non Iron which many would argue was established by military force.

    Pete, any word on the new cross border body on tackling smuggling – no sign of it on the BBC website?

  • Rory

    My grandfather was killed at Mons shortly after the outbreak of war. More bloody fool he! In order to make any meaningful sense out of his waste of life I have always felt that it was important that neither my generation nor those who followed should be so duped or so driven by forced economic necessity to repeat his mistake.

    For that reason I have never worn nor would ever wear the poppy, nor march to any cenotaph behind a Union flag, nor lay any wreath to commemorate or honour that waste at the behest of profiteers which I find so abhorrent.

    Instead my way of commemorating him and the other poor souls used so ruthlessly by the merchants of death and greed was ever to resist their machinations and strive to foil their inhuman schemes. For these reasons I choose to wear the Easter Lily and to march only behind flags of resistance and international brotherhood and to hell with cant and crocodile tears.

  • Harry Flashman

    @Garibaldy

    “Of course we can separate the first from the second world war. The reasons for them being different (the second having much less to do with extra-European imperialism, and much more to do with racist ideology), and the way in which they were fought, and the treatment of civilians also being different.”

    Nonsense. The sons of the men who stormed across the Belgian and French borders in 1940 fought for the same Vaterland, wore the same feldgrau uniforms as their fathers, the same coal scuttle helmets and carried the same Mauser ’98 rifles in pursuit of exactly the same cause; the defeat of the western allies in order to allow the German Reich the opportunity to fight and destroy the Russian army.

    If you believe the German army which invaded France and Belgium in 1914 was pursuing some dispute about extra-European imperialism then you have been reading some seriously uninformed historians. The way the German army treated the civilians of Belgium in 1914 was a precise foretaste of what their sons would inflict on the nations captured by the Reich twenty five years later.

    Same army, same country, same objectives, no difference. If it was justifiable for the French and their British allies to defend France against German aggression in 1940 then it was justifiable in 1914.

  • Garibaldy

    Harry,

    There are lots of seriously uninformed historians on WWI. Most of them like Niall Ferguson supporters of imperialism. The roots of WWI lay in imperial rivalry, in the search for greatness and markets beyond Europe’s borders. As for the treatment of civilians in Belgium, brutal though it was (and mostly in misguided revenge for what the Germans saw as the cowardly murder of their men bu guerilla sharpshooters), it was not even close to what occurred in the eastern front during the second world war because of the absence of racial ideology. Were there some of the same factors? Of course. Was WWII round two of WWI? No.

  • I actually fail to understand why unionists would WANT a SF supporter of murder to attend a commemoration of war dead. These shameful people unfortunately have to be dealt with in day to day politics, their attendance at a ceremony like this would only cheapen it and turn it into a parody in any case.

  • Disgraceful. Hartley is failing in representing all the people of Belfast city.

  • picador

    I think the two comments from unionist posters below are very illuminating:

    I actually fail to understand why unionists would WANT a SF supporter of murder to attend a commemoration of war dead. These shameful people unfortunately have to be dealt with in day to day politics, their attendance at a ceremony like this would only cheapen it and turn it into a parody in any case.

    Chekov,

    It’s a pity that unionists don’t feel that way about loyalist parmailitaries.

    Disgraceful. Hartley is failing in representing all the people of Belfast city.

    ATW,

    And, as made abundandly clear in numerous posts above, nor is any unionist mayor who does attend the ceremony. But you don’t any see newspapers about ‘nationalist’ fury when they do.

  • “It’s a pity that unionists don’t feel that way about loyalist parmailitaries.”

    I can assure you I feel exactly the same way about loyalist paramilitaries.

  • Harry Flashman

    If you choose to believe that the reason the Germans invaded Belgium and France in 1914 was to secure “greatness and markets beyond” Europe then you are lamentably ignorant about twentieth century European history. The Germans couldn’t give a tinker’s curse about the rest of the world.

    It was hegemony in continental Europe and most specifically ‘mitteleropa’ that the Germans sought, they wanted it in 1914 they wanted it again in 1939 when they were in fact the only belligerent power that didn’t have an extra-European empire and when they were led by a popular, democratically elected leader unlike in 1914.

    The rape of Louvain was not some sort of ‘revenge for sharpshooters’ but a prototype of a style of war the Germans would later perfect on the eastern front. Did the racial ideology that thrust the Germans into the Second World War just spring up overnight in 1933? No, it was always there but the British and French successful defence of France held them in check in 1914-18. The Germans learned from their mistakes and almost pulled it off twenty years later.

    You still haven’t explained why it was less justifiable to defend France from German expansionist militarism in 1914 than it was in 1940.

  • Garibaldy

    So that whole place in the sun thing said by the Kaiser who was a driving force behind German foreign policy was something I just imagined then was it? That pretty navy they built, designed to sail up around the Danube was it? In addition, I was talking about the motives of all the participants of WWI, and not just Germany.

    As for the difference between 1914 and 1940. One was a war between two blocs of imperialist powers, with aims that mixed old regime European war aims with the determination to conquer outside Europe. The other was a war launched by a uniquely perverse, dangerous and inhuman ideology with goals that went far beyond that.

    Of course fascism did not spring up overnight. But to suggest that what happened in Louvain was akin to the extermination campaigns of the easter front in the second world war is plain silly, though it does say something about the brutal nature of nationalism at the time of WWI. Which could of course also be seen among the Belgians, French, British, Germans, Italians, Dutch outside Europe, and they way they treated populations there. But let’s concentrate on poor little Belgium alone.

  • picador

    I can assure you I feel exactly the same way about loyalist paramilitaries.

    It will be interesting to see how many are present at the centotaph and what wreaths are laid. Do the UVF still lay one every year? Does the unionist press still gloss over this?

  • I wasn’t aware that the UVF laid a wreath. If that’s true it is a disgrace. It is a permanent insult to the memory of the original UVF and the 36th (Ulster) division that the present day paramilitary organisation attempts to link itself to them.

  • picador

    Were you aware that Hugh Smyth of the PUP was elected Lord Mayor of Belfast in 1994?

    As first citizen he would have laid a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the people of Belfast a couple of weeks after the UVF gunned down several people in Loughinisland?

    Were you aware that as first citizen Sammy Wilson unveiled a UVF Arch ‘commemorating’ the Somme on the Shankill Road?

    There are a lot of things that unionists don’t seem to know and a lot of things about which unionist newspapers do not express their ‘fury’.

  • Did unionist newspapers express fury when Alex Maskey laid a wreath? That isn’t my recollection. Are you certain that the arch Wilson opened in any way celebrated the current UVF as opposed to the original version? If the vast majority of unionists who abhor paramilitary groups from all sides ‘do not know’ ‘lots of things’ about loyalist paramilitaries, it is because they are totally unconnected, unsympathetic and have never voted in substantial numbers for groups linked to them.

  • Dublin Exile

    One of the sad aspects of this is that Tom Hartley was one of those people in SF who first acknowledged the involvement of ‘his’ community in WW1.

    I wasn’t aware of the SF motion to no longer involve themselves in commemoration ceremonies, neither I suspect were Martina Anderson and Willie Clarke who both attended remembrance services in Messines and Ieper last June.

    On June 7th this year at the Menin Gate people from both traditions in Ireland marched up to the Last Post ceremony behind the Tricolour and the Union Jack. After the ceremony the flag bearers swapped their flags and each carried the emblem of the other tradition back down to the town square. A simple and generous gesture of mutual respect.

    In Derry for the past 4 years the International School for Peace Studies have held a remembrance service at the Cenotaph in November where both flags are also present, indeed last year so was the German one. Again, mutual respect for all the guys from this Island who died in the War.

    In Fort Dunree in Co Donegal a remembrance ceremony is also held every year for the past 4 years (this year its on June 29th at 2.30pm) and the Tricolour and Union Jack are flown side by side as the dead of the area are remembered. Again mutual respect for both traditions from which the dead were drawn.

    Whats the problem in Belfast?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Harry Flashman,

    “expansionist militarism” was/is part and parcel of getting an empire – if it was wrong for Germany to be grabbing territory in the early part of the 20th Century (WW1)what does that say about British land grabs in the 19th?

  • Harry Flashman

    Yeah sure, Germany invaded France in 1914 in order to secure their territories in Tanganyika and Samoa.

    Germany is now a peaceful and indeed almost a pacifist state, it is to their credit but let’s not whitewash history. It took two whopping great defeats in aggressive wars that they started to convince them to give up the expansionist war programme they began under Bismark.

    France and Britain were as justified in defending the national territory of France from horrific German assault in 1914 as they were in 1940 when the Germans came back for a rematch.

    The German Reich which invaded Belgium and France in 1940 was the same aggressive, expansionist, militaristic German Reich which invaded them a quarter of a century previously except in 1940 they had better tanks and a democratically elected Reichsfuhrer.

    Like I say, don’t airbrush history.

  • earnan

    Concerned Loyalist:
    You say you are quoting from the Gaurdian about Sean Russell:
    ‘At the Wansee conference, the infamous Nazi gathering that planned the “Final Solution”, the Jewish community in Ireland was marked down for annihilation. Having freed Ireland from British rule, the Nazis expected their collaborators to help them round up Dublin’s Jews and ship them off to Auschwitz. That was the price Sean Russell was prepared to pay to end partition.’

    However, you fail to mention the Gaurdian is simply publishing what a group of vandals wrote about Sean Russell. If you can find any piece of historical evidence where Sean ever agreed or was even approached about rounding up Dublin’s Jews you would be the first. That was never part of any dealings between his faction of the IRA and Nazi intelligence/officers. From the German standpoint, any fighting or disruption of Northern Ireland/UK from their War Effort would have been advantageous for them. There was never any talk or consideration about the IRA or other Irishmen rounding up Dublin’s Jews.

    Give it a rest with your bullshit.

  • Harry Flashman

    “if it was wrong for Germany to be grabbing territory in the early part of the 20th Century (WW1)what does that say about British land grabs in the 19th”

    Wrong also, what’s your point?

    I’m asking why the successful defence of France in 1914 by Britain and France should be looked upon as being immoral and pointless but the unsuccessful defence of France by those same two nations against the same enemy twenty odd years later is deemed moral and virtuous?

    What’s immoral about the French people and their allies defending France in 1914?

  • Harry Flashman

    Russell was a friend and ally of the Nazis at a time when they were bombing civilians in Belfast.

    In doing so he covered himself in enough shit that no amount of so-called bullshit thrown at him on this site will make much of a difference.

    He was a Nazi collaborator, that’s all you need to know about the man.

    Scum.

  • picador

    Chekov

    Here’s the relevant link to Sammy arch antics:

    DUP collaborate with paramilitaries again

    If the vast majority of unionists who abhor paramilitary groups from all sides ‘do not know’ ‘lots of things’ about loyalist paramilitaries, it is because they are totally unconnected, unsympathetic and have never voted in substantial numbers for groups linked to them.

    I’m not talking only of paramilitaries, I’m talking of politicians and paramilitaries. And the attitude of unionist voters is clearly HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL.

    Horseshit!

  • The Raven

    “And the attitude of unionist voters is clearly HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL.”

    Be very, *very* careful, picador.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    ‘arry Falshman,

    It is good that you can condemn both british and german military expansionism – unfortunately many British military commemorations appear to adopt a morally superior tone which can be a bit off putting to the neutral. We Irish, with our proud tradition on neutrality and non interfernece in others affairs occasionally need to remind our British neighbours that they need to be a little more contrite themselves when speaking of the military sins of others.

    Re. Sean Russell – why enemy’s enemy is my friend is what guided Repulbicanism. I dont think the British can get to uppety on this one given that their war ally was a greater mass murderer than Hitler – and they ‘collaborated’ in the handover of both prisoners and land to the Soviet Block – ironically even the bit of land (Poland) they went to war over in the first place. I wont use the perjorative term ‘scum’ here because
    like all actions they must be put in their historical presepective.

  • picador

    Cllr Hugh Smyth OBE

    Hugh Smyth got an OBE for his services to the UVF, I mean British state.

    1 June 1994 – Hugh Smyth PUP, elected mayor of Belfast

    18 June 1994 – a Ray Houghton goal beats Italy 1-0 in Giant’s Stadium, New York; six men gunned down in The Heights Bar, Loughanisland by UVF

    In 2000 unionists elected UDA linked Frank McCoubrey deputy mayor. Somehow his unionist colleagues failed to censure him for his presence on the platform (wearing chain) at this notorious event in spite of the vicious feud which erupted the same day:

    Mad Dog’ Show of Strength

    are you honestly claim that you didn’t know any of this Checkov?

  • Garibaldy

    Harry,

    As for German war aims in WWI. The investment in the navy, and in foreign expansion, the construction of railways designed to get gold and diamonds out of Boer territories, and the general thrust of German foreign policy for two decades, suggests that they were serious about it, and that they expected a successful war to result in massive gains in the empire, knocking Britain off its perch, and dominating world trade in the same way as the British had for the previous century or so.

    Nothing immoral about people defending their homes. Lots immoral about going to another country to fight in an imperialist war.

    You say you don’t airbrush history. Well on another thread (the city hall protest one) you linked the Vietnamese and Pol Pot. When of course it was the Vietnamese who removed his regime. Not so much airbrush as misrepresent then, no?

  • picador

    “And the attitude of unionist voters is clearly HEAR NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL.”

    Be very, *very* careful, picador.

    Are you threatening me or something Raven?

    I am making a fair point.

    A large number of unionists regularly claim to be ‘furious’ or ‘outraged’ at the actions of SF yet they seem to have no trouble electing politicians who play footsie with murderous paramilitaries.

    Nationalists are outraged by this stomach churning hypocrisy.

    Saying ‘I did not know’ does not cut it.

  • The Raven

    Saying it of all unionists, which your statement did, doesn’t cut it either, and puts you straight into that sin-bin with the Protestant brethern from which you purport to be so aloof.

    Sweeping generalisations, especially about unionism and unionists, I have noticed of late, seem to characterise this site.

    If you have specific examples, fine. But don’t tar us all with the same brush. Play the ball, and not all of the men, I think is the phrase best adapted from elsewhere.

  • “A large number of unionists regularly claim to be ‘furious’ or ‘outraged’ at the actions of SF yet they seem to have no trouble electing politicians who play footsie with murderous paramilitaries.”

    I don’t remember the Wilson incident, and I certainly wouldn’t defend him. The man’s a prize plank. I condemn all of the DUP’s ambivalent dealings with paramilitaries. It is still, however, a long way away from being direct political representatives of those murderous paramilitaries, being part of the same organisation and being part of the same movement. There link between those who unionists vote for in numbers and paramilitaries is tenuous at best. The same cannot be said for nationalists.