Sectarian attacks in Garvagh

I drove through Garvagh this morning on the way home and saw boarded up windows in the Imperial Hotel. This seems to have been another example of a sectarian crime; this time one perpetrated against Catholic owned businesses in the town. Yet again we are left condemning yet another example of criminality: this time loyalist criminality. Bill Leonard stated “Garvagh has had this negative sectarian image down through the years.” In actual fact most of the small towns and villages in the area have had significant problems with sectarianism for a long time and community relations in the area around Garvagh / Kilrea / Rasharkin have never been particularly good. However, the situation seems to have become worse recently and a spiral of attacks seems to be in danger of occurring with the criminals on each side trying to explain their actions as some sort of retaliation for preceding attacks on members of “their own” community.

  • exile

    Andrew Charles,

    Can we now safely say that Catholics in Garvagh “are facing something comparable to ethnic cleansing. No ifs no buts”?

    Turgon,

    Obviously I don’t have any statistics at hand, but it’s my perception that the level of sectarian criminality has increased, maybe even dramatically increased, over the past four or five months across the north. In fact, there may be even be some form of elective affinity with the Masserrene/Craigavon murders.

  • wannabe exile

    Fair play to you Turgon for the fact that you have blogged this and for the measured way in which you have done so.

    A Rasharkin connection is likely. A number of loyalist bands from the Garvagh area – Movennis, Bovedy, Moneydig – are due to take part in the controversial Ballymaconnelly parade next weekend.

    Let’s see what local DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan has to say.

  • Dave

    “…a spiral of attacks seems to be in danger of occurring with the criminals on each side trying to explain their actions as some sort of retaliation for preceding attacks on members of “their own” community.”

    Well, the State has legitimised the repugnant concept of collective responsibility (and with it, collective punishment) in the Eames/Bradley agenda, so I don’t see how the State can now reverse its position and claim that it is morally repugnant for one group to hold another collectively responsibility for crimes committed by members of that group and to inflict punishment upon them. All it can do now is point out that ‘retaliation’ is legally wrong but – according to the State – morally right.

  • LURIG

    We are sitting on a time bomb of volatile sectarian hatred that will eventually blow up in our faces one of these days. OK the Assembly & Executive are up and running but the bitterness between the 2 communities is as deep and raw as it has ever been, especially in places like North Belfast, North Antrim, Derry etc. The eminent North of Ireland historian Dr A.T.Q. Stewart has always said that there cannot be peace in a place of inter-communal strife UNLESS one community comes out on top and subdues the opposing community. I firmly believe he is correct and would appeal to Unionism to cement a political agreement in a unified Ireland before the numerical laws of nature impose themselves and Unionism becomes even more irrelevant than it is now. Decent law abiding long suffering Irish Nationalists might just not have the same tolerance & understanding in future years that they do now.

  • exile

    [i]We are sitting on a time bomb of volatile sectarian hatred that will eventually blow up in our faces one of these days. OK the Assembly & Executive are up and running but the bitterness between the 2 communities is as deep and raw as it has ever been, especially in places like North Belfast, North Antrim, Derry etc.[/i]

    Correct.

    [i]The eminent North of Ireland historian Dr A.T.Q. Stewart has always said that there cannot be peace in a place of inter-communal strife UNLESS one community comes out on top and subdues the opposing community.[/i]

    I believe that this is also an accurate interpretation of the situtation we have here.

    [i]I firmly believe he is correct and would appeal to Unionism to cement a political agreement in a unified Ireland before the numerical laws of nature impose themselves and Unionism becomes even more irrelevant than it is now. Decent law abiding long suffering Irish Nationalists might just not have the same tolerance & understanding in future years that they do now. [/i]

    As misguided a comment as that made by Andrew Charles just yesterday afternoon in which he claimed that Catholics were responsible for a process of ethnic cleansing currently taking place in north Antrim (allegedly six Protestants have taken the decision to move out of the area because of sectarian attacks).

    It will take a lot, lot more than ‘us’ simply outbreeding ‘them’ before a united Ireland, if there ever is to be one, will become a political reality. There are too many reasons why this is true to explicate further here within a short message, but you probably know what I’m on about or else have your head firmly lodged in the sand.

    There will be no realisation of Andrew Charles'(or, apparently, your) wet dream. Rather, the status quo qill prevail, with, relatively speaking, continued small-scale sectarian warfare on our streets, invariably peaking during the summer months, but managed by the state with the assistance of a heavily subsidised local pretend/pseudo-government.

    And, LURIG, I have to say that as a proud Irish republican, I find your “Decent law abiding long suffering Irish Nationalists might just not have the same tolerance & understanding in future years that they do now” comment abhorrent.

  • Coll Ciotach

    ATQ Stewart is correct. Historically the most significant clashes have been in areas were the two sides are closely matched numerically. When one side is in the clear majority trouble is sporadic or non existent.

    Couple that historical reality to the present upsurge generally in nationalist expectation as to cultural and social equality of expression you will get trouble.

    No longer will nationalists abide by the old realities, they are making a new reality which divisionists find hard to accept. The croppies are not going to lie down.

    The reason why general North Antrim area, which for this purpose we includes Kilrea, Garvagh and so on, is that divisionists, so long the vast majority and cocks of the walk, cannot accept this equality and insist on maintaining their old habits of treating nationalists as the untermensch. It is not going to pass muster any more.

    Lurig is correct. If divisionists cannot adjust to the new reality by accomodating nationalist culture and cultural aspirations they will lose even more in the long run. The choice is theirs

  • United Irishman

    I fear we are progressing to an “acceptable” level of violence.

    Newtons 3rd law .. action/reaction etc

    The “band competition” (read “anti-social competition”) is a recent “Loyalist” phenomenon – a reaction to events beyond their control.

    The reaction to them is also true for “disaffected” Republicans – events beyond their control – recognition and acceptance of the status of NI by the vast majority in Ireland etc.

    All good cannon fodder for DUPed –Alistair.

    I dare say that the vast majority of the pro-union population would have nothing to do with “that mob”.

    That is why Alistair, disaffected Republicans et al – like “that mob” can achieve nothing but prolong the agony.

    Sadly “bad thing happen when good men do nothing”.

    Is this the society we want our children?

    Can we build a shared society for all?

  • “Catholic owned businesses”

    Does this indicate a ratcheting up of the intercommunal strife?

  • GGN

    Turgon must be commended for taking the time to acknowledge that sectarian attacks happen againist ‘catholics’.

  • Andrew Charles’ ethnic cleansing wet dream

    Nevin,

    apparently there are unconfirmed reports that the Rathlin ferry was caught on CCTV committing at least one of the attacks.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Coll Ciotach wrote: ‘Historically the most significant clashes have been in areas were the two sides are closely matched numerically. When one side is in the clear majority trouble is sporadic or non existent.’

    Try telling that to Nationalists in Coleraine who have been on the receiving end of hundreds of petrol bombs and the occasional murderous beating during the Peace Process. And Protestants living in enclaves on the west bank of Derry have a tale or two to tell.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Nordie

    Have the clashes in Coleraine spiralled to the point that nationalists retaliation has affected divisionists in any significant manner? – why they had to lie down and thole divisionist supremacy marches – so not highly significant in the grand scheme of things however significant it may be to the people who suffered the loss.

    As for the Fountain area this is significant as it is the tail end of centuries of strife in that area – pre-plantation if I recall my history correctly. The fountain is the last outpost on that side of the Foyle. So to all intents the nationalists have taken the city of Derry and the siege in that sense is all but over and the descendants politically of the Apprentice Boys are driven out

  • John

    How different the reaction to Turgon’s post about sectarian attacks against Catholics compared to that which followed the post of a day or so ago concerning sectarian attacks against Protestants in the same area.

    No flood of bile against the poster, no ‘whataboutery’, hmmm seems everybody is back on safe ground with Catholics the only victims of sectarianism.

    I live in Kirea which is bedecked with Irish tricolours. Should I as a Protestant feel intimidated? Course not; but should the flag be the Union flag and I a Catholic I’d have had to run to the hills screaming blue murder.

  • exile

    John, you need to calm down. Andrew Charles’ post was intentionally provocative and offensive given that it accused Catholics of being involved in a process of ethnic cleansing and used language to the effect of “we were here first and now we’re supposed to bend over backwards for themmuns.”

    There is, however, a serious problem with regard to sectarian attacks on Protestants in the Rasharkin area. That issue needs to be debated and then addressed directly. However, if you think that Catholics are going to engage in a debate that starts with the premise that the attacks can be described as a form of ‘ethnic cleansing’ then you are very much mistaken. Furthermore, there were two attacks in north Antrim on Friday night, one on an Orange Hall, one on an AOH Hall. Guess which one Charles’ post failed to mention?

    Also, note how Turgon correctly chose to use measured, balanced language in describing the attacks in Garvagh. Had he accused Protestants of being involved in ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the village then I don’t think too many of them would be happy, do you?

    [i]I live in Kirea which is bedecked with Irish tricolours. Should I as a Protestant feel intimidated?[/i]

    Again, you miss the point. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. As a Catholic, if I lived in a predominantly Protestant area that was similarly “bedecked with” flags close to the hearts of militant loyalists then I too would feel intimidated. The vast majority of people here would feel the same way. We’ve had enough of flags. Time to take them all down.

  • Fred Flintsone

    Should an Post also ce,ebrate this with a stamp or two? Stamp out sectarianism.

  • wannabe exile

    Has there been any acknowledgement of these attacks to date from unionist political representatives? I’m thinking of Adrian McQuillan, the local MLA in Garvagh or Gregory Campbell the MP for East Derry?

    All attacks that took place in Rasharkin have been unequivocably condemned by nationalist elected representatives. Which is more than can be said for the local unionist representatives after nationalist property was attacked in Rasharkin at the weekend. Mervyn Storey MLA accused republicans of attacking two AOH halls and the Catholic parochial hall! Neither did Andrew Charles see fit to mention these attacks in his inflammatory post.

    It does not bode well for the future to see unionists cry ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘cultural intolerance’ with the object of forcing a massive band parade with a sizeable paramilitary component through a predominantly nationalist village of some 900 souls. What they think they will achieve for local Protestants is beyond me.

  • A little bit of history: Coll Ciotach Mac Domhnaill – born in Loughlinch, parish of Billy – surrendered the “Castle of Dunnyveg and the Ile of Lochgorme to the Erle of Ergyle and apprehended McPhe who had followed Sir James MacDonald and deliverd him to the Erle of Ergyle”.

    Is McPhe still looking for you, Lefty? 🙂

  • Coll Ciotach

    Nevin

    every dog has his day – he had his – hope he liked the dulse

  • PaddyReilly

    As I recall the situation Garvagh used to be overwhelmingly Prod and Swatragh predominantly Pape. My friend from G, a Presbyterian lady, complained that the ‘glensmen’ attacked with bombs occasionally. This apparently referred to folk from the fairly mountainous region to the West of Garvagh village. Both communities are, I understand, so small they make Rasharkin look like the Big Smoke.

    I suppose people try the experiment of mixing a bit more but it has proved unsuccessful.

  • PR, Garvagh is about 50% bigger than Rasharkin; Swatragh doesn’t get a listing on NINIS.

  • Turgon

    PaddyReilly,
    Close but not quite exact. Rasharkin may have grown but was very small as is Swatragh: both nationalist but with a lot of unionists in the country areas around.

    Kilrea and Garvagh are both a bit bigger. Kilrea has become more nationalist over the years until now it must be 70% plus nationalist: again with unionist areas outside.

    Garvagh is about 85% unionist with a small nationalist population but with a mixed hinterland: north and east unionist, south and west mainly nationalist.

    One problem is the perpetual fear in Garvagh amongst some that a nationalist takeover is imminent: this in contrast to the reality that there has been no significant change in the demography. It has not been helped by the likes of John Dallat at one stage claiming that Garvagh was in “a state of transition” – it is not.

    I think part of the problem is that the whole area has always had fairly poor community relations (at least in my experience) and a dreadful tit for tat is occurring within and between the towns.

    The problems have not been helped by various politicians appearing to try to point score off one another. Hence, we have Dallat and Leonard locked in combat over who can be more green. For example, I think neither commented on the attack on Kilrea Baptist Church which I believe occurred over the 12th but did not make the mainstream media.

    On the unionist side we have also seen a shift from UUP to DUP in Garvagh and its environs and judging by the people whom I know up there I think that McQuillan should be worried about a significant transfer of DUP (and hence, his) support to the TUV.

    Of course none of that excuses or even begins to explain the criminality of the weekend: indeed I am anxious even giving a background (I avoided it in the blog proper) lest it be seen as justification for something / anything that has happened.

  • exile

    [i]I think that McQuillan should be worried about a significant transfer of DUP (and hence, his) support to the TUV[/i]

    Maybe that possibility goes some way to explaining his reaction post Kevin McDaid’s murder. Or maybe not.

    Turgon, you are wasted in the TUV.

  • wannabe exile

    Turgon,

    I could find no record of an attack on a church in Kirea this summer but did find this for the Coleraine based Northern Constitution for May 2008.

    Church vandalised

    Kilrea based John Dallat MLA unequivocally condemned the vandalism and visited the church. There is no record of a comment from Billy Leonard who is based twenty miles away in Portstewart and could not credibily be accused of sectarianism in any case.

    Still no word from either McQuillan or Campbell on the Garvagh incident. It seems that they have learnt nothing from the McDaid murder – and after all they’re not there to look after Catholics so why shold they. If I recall rightly McQuillan helped to rationalise the behaviour of the killers at the time while Campbell’s condemanation was highly equivocal.

    Do you think that they won’t speak out about the Garvagh attacks for fear of losing votes to the TUV? Of course this would say alot about the appetite for sectarianism among their support base? Or is it more the case that Campbell and McQuillan are sectarian extremists themselves? Or perhaps even both of the above?

  • Turgon

    wannabe exile,
    Check the date on your article: May 2008. The attack on Kilrea Baptist church was this year and as far as I have seen was not covered in the media: it is well known about in the local area, however.

    I am loathe to get into any debate on any of this as it might be seen as detracting from the wrongness and immorality of the Garvagh attacks.

  • PaddyReilly

    On looking into the link I now see that the actual damage consists solely in the breaking of windows. Similarly, in reports of damage to Orange Halls elsewhere on Slugger, it transpires that in most cases it consists merely in the painting of graffitti, but somehow this has got elevated to ‘ethnic cleansing’. It’s all a bit tinpot, isn’t it? Kristallnacht it ain’t.

    Do you know in the Big Smoke people get their windows broken and graffittis for no reason at all. The late Leopold Kohr loved the sound of breaking glass when a child, and broke all the windows in his parents’ substantial dwelling in the hope it would be blamed on the hail.

    Catholics are vulnerable in that they open businesses, mostly licensed premises, in Protestant dominated towns. I recall in Portrush there was a Catholic owned pub, and the local UDA attempted to get them out by shooting something like a bazooka from the beach. Unfortunately they couldn’t shoot straight, and instead hit a Protestant owned café next door, on the wall of which was a huge lovely mural of King Billy crossing the Boyne. The owner concluded he was under attack from the IRA, and had it whitewashed over the next day.