Brian Ervine: “The media are fixated with the paramilitary link…”

The new PUP leader, Brian Ervine, had just been telling the News Letter of the “tremendous work [they are doing] on the ground that hardly ever gets reported on.”

Prior to the annual conference earlier this month, a vote was taken on maintaining the party’s link with the paramilitary UVF and Red Hand Commando.

The vote was based on a clearly defined written defnition of the link issued to members prior to the meeting. There were six points listed in the document including a reminder that the link “bears its roots out of Long Kesh”.

Another one stated: “The PUP cannot and will not be used as an apologist for any kind of violence or criminal behaviour or by anyone who decides to call him or herself a loyalist under a flag of convenience.”

But following last night’s serious rioting in the Rathcoole Estate, Newtownabbey, which included an assault on a bus driver, a local PUP representative found himself in a familiar position.

Ken Wilkinson, a representative of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party, said he understood the trouble was linked to three searches in the area over the past two days by officers from the Historical Enquiries Team.

He said that “the way a lot of these searches were carried out leaves a lot to be desired”, adding that one of the houses raided belonged to a lady in bad health.

“I spoke to a district commander today and told him about the frustration that was on the ground.

“Obviously this has not been adhered to, and this is the result of it here tonight.”

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  • Johnkingii

    Yeah David/ken that was what your masters call real work on the ground in Rathcoole last night. Ken ‘obviously this was not adhered to’ could have got himself a job in occupied Poland seventy years ago coming off with statements like that.

  • Neil

    Heard them on Nolan this morning. Not really meaning to sneer but the quality of our politician’s English and grammar is really appallingly awful. ‘For till they done this’ etc. Really grim.

    The media are fixated with the paramilitary link, but I am interested in raising literacy standards

    Ironic really.

  • Alan Maskey

    Now Neil, charity pplease. David Irvine used to use big words, a working class boy trying to be something else.

    Politically, I don’t think these guys are relevant but they have to be drawn in as well. Kinda like little vandals: get them playing football or politics so they don’t break windows or knee caps.

  • Philthy Baste

    Funnily enough I was thinking exactly the same thing Neil

  • pippakin

    Early days and a baptism of fire for the new leader of the PUP. I wish him well and hope he has some actual clout within UVF circles.

    Not sure if my English gets a pass, but, look on the bright side, I’m positive I don’t give a good one.

  • Cynic

    So are they now not apologising for murder or not apologising for the rioting?

  • Neil

    Too busy participating according to the cops. Puts a bit of a twist on things that Ken had to set up a ‘checkpoint’ himself to stop people driving into the estate to be attacked by Ken’s party’s mates in the UVF.

  • Re-engaged

    It is simple – there is no reason why anyone in our community should react in such a fashion to a Police investigation and no need for anyone to even put the most general caveat or excuse out there for what happened last night.

    The only people interested in this are the gang masters and terrorists who still cling to what they believe were the good old days when they had a free run of our streets – we do not want you, do not need you and our society would (in it’s entirity) be better off without you.

    Those within the PUP may have good intentions but without clear and unequivocal responses to last night then they unfortunately can only be viewed as apologists for those who only have their self interest and preservation at heart in their own little fifedom.

  • Nordie Northsider

    I don’t think that Neil is being unreasonable or even that his criticism is overly personal (I’m aware of Mick’s rules on personal invective). But if these guys present themselves as being worthy to follow we’re entitled to make our own judgement about their intelligence and ability.

    I saw Ervine II on the BBC Politics Show and thought for a moment that it was a kind of set up – the meaningless verbiage, the forced grins, the tortured metaphors: ‘Our link to the UVF is a path, a door, a way through the jungle…’ Really? I thought it was a link to a paramilitary. And then he started going on about the Chindits. Deeply weird.

  • fp veritas

    Are they politicans or fronts for para millitarys?

  • Ulster Scot

    “‘For till they done this’ ”

    This is Ulster-Scots influenced English.

    For = because
    Till = until
    done and did are interchangable.

    Thems tha’ dinnae unnerstaun shud nae criticise.

  • Philthy Baste

    Could you please link to some reference to prove that grammatical / vocabulary rule US?

  • Stephen Ferguson

    I think some Loyalists might be frustrated by what they see as the one-sided approach of the HET –

    They – and the police and army – are being chased over incidents more than three decades ago whilst the PIRA murderers of Paul Quinn continue to strut around South Armagh without fear of prosecution –

    Still no reason to beat up bus drivers though…..

  • Dylan

    Strange how the media isn’t as vociferous in its condemnation of a riot involving 400 people instigated by what have effectively become narco-terrorists ( and sate sponsored ones at that!) as they were in their criticism of last summers riots surrounding the Orange Orders 12th July parades. Most casual observers of N.I and British media are aware that loyalist/Unionist violence is never deemed as serious as republican/ dissident republican violence but the contrast between the hysterical shrieking from sections of the media that followed last summers disorder and the general ambivalence and mealy mouthed condemnations following last nights violence is truly shocking. Will we see mass arrests? Almost certainly not. Will we see “photo-fits” of scores of suspected rioters (whether guilty or not) circulated throughout our local media? Unlikely. Why is the safety and well being of the unfortunate bus driver seriously injured last night of less importance to sections of N.I media/society than that of the P.S.N.I officer who suffered a head injury in Ardoyne in July?

  • Stephen Ferguson

    If the numbers of police officers injured, property damaged, rioters involved and the security bill from last night’s trouble matches that of Ardoyne 2010 then I’ll certainly agree with you that the media coverage should be exactly the same.

    Was last night’s riot on the same scale as Ardoyne 2010???

  • Dylan

    The point I’m making though is that in general there seems to be a greater degree of acceptance of what is -as I said in my previous comment loyalist narco-terrorism- than there is of republican violence. Remember, a few weeks ago we saw similar scenes in Carrickfergus and Ballyclare, as yet there have been no arrests and no images of rioters distributed. Various media outlets are today estimating the numbers involved in last nights events to be close to 400, armed men were reportedly at the scene and police claim known prominent loyalist paramilitaries were on the ground directing operations. Who today, be they newspaper editor, blog moderator or local politician is speaking out about the fear Catholics/ Nationalist would have felt in the wider Newtownabbey area? It seems mainstream unionists prefer to turn a blind eye to the actions of their less-affluent counterparts and loyalist political representatives are willfully condoning violence perpetrated by drug cartels and as such are complicit in drug dealing and the destruction it causes in areas like Rathcoole.

  • JOHN

    Im hoping your of the Prof Billy Mcwilliams variety of Ulster-Scot and not the Lord Laird

  • Neil

    Sorry, no dice. It’s one thing to claim to be speaking Ulster Scots, but quite another to use it as an excuse for using piss poor English and pretending it’s ‘Ulster Scots influenced’.

    Done and did are not interchangeable. I have done. I did. Note the use of the word have.

    If he wanted to speak Ulster scots he should have done. What he did do was use common in NI and incorrect English. It’s fair enough for the plebs, you and I, to talk whatever way we want; we don’t ask people to vote for us.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    But if last night’s violence wasn’t on the same scale as Ardoyne ’10 (policing costs/officers injured/property damaged/etc) then why would the media give it the same amount of coverage?

    If you remember 2005 you’ll recall the media and PSNI treating Loyalist violence in the same way as Ardoyne ’10 with video footage and images of rioters released to help identify them.

  • percy

    not really plausible,

    last month someone was arrested in Armagh for the killing of robert nairic.

    today The investigation by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) are digging up waterfoot beach.

    quinn investigation has stalled due to lack of evidence likely to lead to prosecutions

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “today The investigation by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains (ICLVR) are digging up waterfoot beach.”


    The only reason they have received the information leading to the dig is because the PIRA members involved have been given a guarantee they will NOT be prosecuted.

    Meanwhile, houses are being raided across south Antrim and north Belfast looking for evidence to send Loyalists to jail for murders carried out at the same time as the IRA were ‘disappearing’ people.

    Any wonder some Loyalists might be feeling frustrated???

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    The PUP ceased to be a relevant political party the minute Dawn Purvis walked away from them, leaving only the UVF rump in total control, its a pity that working class loyalism doesnt really have a relevant voice

  • dodrade

    Of course the media are fixated with the paramilitary link, it’s the PUP’s only reason for existence. The idea that the party could ever become the focus of left-wing working class unionism whilst shackled to the UVF is fantasy, which Dawn Purvis belatedly realised.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Any wonder some Loyalists might be feeling frustrated???

    What are you saying Stephen, that they would come quietly if the republicans were being prosecuted to the same proportion ?

    The slogans in Mount Vernon do not say “why aren’t HET chasing republicans?” they say “HET forget the past”. Don’t try to excuse this.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t think it’s a question of the UVF controlling the PUP. The UVF clearly don’t care about politics.

  • Stephen Ferguson

    “What are you saying Stephen, that they would come quietly if the republicans were being prosecuted to the same proportion ?”

    I’d say they would.

    But seeing the killers of ‘The Disappeared’ being guaranteed amnesties whilst aging UVF members have their homes raided allows them to feel the HET/ICLVR/etc are being one-sided.

    ‘Everyone or no-one’ – I presume their attitude might be.

  • stewart1

    UVF at their work again this evening, petrol bombing, highjackings, rioting etc…

    Can we expect hundreds of pics of suspects in the press in coming days?

  • Stephen Ferguson

    To expect hundreds of pics of suspects in the press you’d need to have hundreds – possibly thousands – involved in the trouble to enable the PSNI photographers to get enough high quality shots.

    Is that the case?

    Are there thousands involved?

    Is the trouble on the same scale as Ardoyne ’10?

  • PN

    Is there some reason a democratic politician shouldn’t talk the same way their constituents do? Here’s an essay by George Orwell. I hope it clears a few things up.

  • alan56

    I think there is an opportunity here for Brian Ervine to step up to the mark and prove that the ‘link’ which he says is a valuable ‘bridge’, is really worth anything at all. He cannot afford to just ignore this or his credability will nose dive as will his electoral chances.

  • JH

    Yeah, sorry but that’s the height of snobbery Neil. Anyone can speak politely, some of us choose to use the accents and inflections we were raised with.

    You might not like it, others might. I think the working class Belfast accents are class. I think it’s uglier to hear people over-egg the pudding with regards to decorating their speech. There’s a pride in using your natural accent.

  • Alias

    The good thing about the Ulster-Scots dialect passing itself off as a language is that is makes every English speaker multilingual.

  • JOHN

    JH – Big difference between a strong accent and poor grammar, there not the same thing.

  • pippakin


    And you would know.

  • JOHN

    Do you like what I done there

  • pippakin


    I assure you I was really impressed to see someone reaching my own standards.

    It occurs to me that people talk to their own audience not to a bunch of pedants whichever side of the divide they are on. My experience has been that such pedants exist on both sides, ever ready with the correction pen and the superior tut, tut.

  • Neil

    I know I’m barking up the wrong tree defending this, but a couple of points. First is the statement, pasted above:

    The media are fixated with the paramilitary link, but I am interested in raising literacy standards

    Second, this is not an accent issue. Everyone has one and everyone should take pride in their own; I would certainly never criticise someone for their spelling, grammar or lack thereof on a message board such as this.

    However to hold yourself up as a politician, you are inviting criticism and telling people they should vote for you to represent them, to communicate their concerns. A bit of a problem if you can’t figure out the rules around the use of the words did/done for example.

    All of the above taken in the context of the quote above, regarding raising literacy standards. I would suggest learning the lingo first.

  • PN

    Neil, you seem to be under the impression that Ervine was trying to speak “proper English”* and failing. At least, that’s how I interpret your comment about failing to “figure out the rules”.

    But this is not true; he was speaking perfectly well and I doubt anyone who was listening actually failed to understand what he meant.

    Some dialects make a distinction between simple past and past participle (thus “I have done” is different from “I did”) some, such as the Ulster Scots sociolect/dialect/language** do not.

    Now, compare American and British English. American English distinguishes these two tenses of the verb ‘to get’ (so: “I got”, “I have gotten”) Standard British English has no such distinction. To American ears, the perfectly standard “I have got off the train” would sound just as strange as “they done this”. Is Standard British English wrong, then? No, because it is not trying to be American English.

    So, Ervine was not trying to speak Standard English: he was speaking in a way that presumably felt natural and presumably seemed best suited to get his point across.

    As far as literacy goes, I’m not sure. It’s at least possible that less pedantic insistence on arbitrary ‘rules of grammar’ would help kids struggling with basic reading skills to feel more confident about their abilities.

    *Which is nothing more than a certain dialect of English which had the good luck to have the backing of some influential 18th-Century Classicists.

    **”A language is a dialect with a navy” – Frederick the Great

  • PN
  • PN

    Oops. Stupidly, I thought that was a reply to me. Massively sorry. Ignore it.