Loyalist disenchantment moves along the Gold Coast

From last week’s North Down Spectator what, at first sight, appeared to be an insignificant piece of news:

EIGHT of Bangor’s eleventh night bonfire celebrations will now be deregulated, it has been revealed this week.

The Spectator understands that a total of eight local bonfires have now pulled out of the bonfire management programme following a dispute with North Down Borough Council. 

This means that over half of the bonfires lit across the borough could be burning hazardous materials such as tyres, white goods such as fridge freezers and children’s nappies.

The council runs a Bonfire Management programme which awards grants of £1,200 to constituted groups, to host community celebrations in established sites.

The scheme aims to reduce anti-social behaviour, reduce the cost for the Fire Service and Housing Executive as well as reducing pollution by only using clean burn materials on the bonfires. 

In truth, the bonfire question is, to pardon the pun, a smokescreen. The dispute apparently has escalated and in contrast to the timescale employed by them during last week’s events in East Belfast, the loyalist paramilitaries have helpfully already outlined which of their grievances will be responsible for any outbreaks of violence tomorrow night:

 1.      The DUP controlled North Down Council, which has “betrayed the loyalist community”

2.      The “mismanagement” by the Council of “European peace money”

3.      The “politicians at Stormont ignoring loyalist voices”.

To be fair, Point Two is a genuine point of concern and one which the council should have sorted out much quicker than it has done. And in contrast to popular stereotype, Bangor is not all three hundred grand apartments and professionals enjoying a chilled chablis with their smoked salmon; real pockets of  social deprivation do exist alongside the undoubted opulence.

  But how they expect the reality of hoisting up of literally hundreds  of Union and N.Ireland flags on every available pole or lamp-post in the town and, more sinisterly, the threat to attack Catholic homes is going to solve those problems is well beyond my comprehension. 

What adds to the volatility of the situation is that loyalist estates such as Kilcooley are home to many of the  2nd and even 3rd generation East Belfast folk who were rehoused by the authorities in the 1970s and 80s in (what is generally believed by loyalists anyway) an attempt to depopulate the “protestant” population from the flashpoint areas surrounding the Short Strand. Family connections and the inevitable folk memories, with all the potential danger that at the present time entails, remain strong.

A UK Unionist and also confirmed devo-sceptic.
I believe the creation of devolved “governments” in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, along with the corresponding unsolved “English Question”, has weakened that Union.

The present-day Conservative Party would be the national party which would come closest to representing my political beliefs. I have previously belonged to the “Friends of the Conservatives” and the UUP but am no longer connected with either party.

Outside of my Unionism, I consider myself as an economic libertarian, social liberal and secularist- e’g. am pro-choice, anti-schools segregated on the grounds of (parents’) religious beliefs.

Very suspicious of NI’s Human Rights’ Oligarchy (in particular the NIHRC) and hope to be writing on this topic, as well as wider UK and European political issues.

  • On point 1, they have no leg to stand on so to speak. We’re only just after an election where the DUP topped the polls in North Down. Their best performer, Alex Easton, enjoys the support of the estates. What exactly have the DUP been doing since the election to betray Loyalists that they weren’t doing beforehand?

  • dwatch

    Loyalists threaten to turn posh Bangor into the Short Strand


  • That’s already linked to in the post dwatch,

  • dwatch

    That’s already linked to in the post dwatch,

    Thanks oneill, anyway a repeat wont do any harm.
    I cannot see a repeat of what happened in Short Strand last week happening again in Bangor. There is no Catholic enclave for loyalists to attack for a start. ND council do not even have a SF or SDLP councillor.

  • cynic49

    Is there not a certain irony in that violence has been threatened in response to alleged mismanagement by the council of “peace money”?

  • cynic49


    Just checked out your link to the Tele article. Have they met with Robinson or McGuinness yet and does anyone know what the outcome of the meeting was?

  • dwatch,

    There is no Catholic enclave for loyalists to attack for a start

    There isn’t but, for example, St Comgalls has been attacked more than once before, most recently in May:


    But it’s interesting the apparent antipathy between them and ND Council which, ironically, is less accomodating than others on the subject of bonfires etc.

  • dwatch

    I don’t know why Bangor loyalists are crying about missing out on peace money. In July 2007 Kilcooley Community Forum received £113,000 and Kilcooley Women’s Education and Development Group received £115,000 in funding from the Department for Social Development.

  • The Raven

    I’d like to see something more substantial on Point 2. I understand it is not Councils who make decisions on where PEACE III money goes, or how it is strategically targeted.

    They probably do handle payments on behalf of a third-party, and if it is the case that errors have been made there, then that should be clear in the Tele piece. And here.

    Otherwise, it’s a point which ultimately means “we’re annoyed cos we didn’t get our wedge.”

    Silly me…clarity in newspaper pieces…pfft…

  • cynic 49 and The Raven,

    The latest I can find on the Euro funding, in relation to Kilcooley anyway, is:

    The SEUPB Peace III funding to some projects within Kilcooley has also been welcomed and well utilised, however it has come at a cost, because the bureaucratic burden it lays upon community groups has served to create an atmosphere of disagreement and mistrust between the managing authorities and the community they are there to assist.

    That was from less than a week ago (http://tinyurl.com/62be2bj)

  • Aontachtach

    The people who are leading this campaign stood at the last council elections and were rejected by the people they claim to represent. They are led by a so called christian “Pastor” who has apparently “turned native”.

  • Mark McGregor

    I’m interested in how these people would know the catholic homes and cars in Brunswick Road. Surely that would require active targeting or locals passing details to the RHC?

    Adds: or the other option, a lot of this story not being totally accurate (the source not the reporter)

  • tacapall

    Well fair play to them they obviously know the right feathers to ruffle, and the gall of it, and anouncing it too, Is this going to be some kind of another last stand at the gold coast will the PSNI do what they are paid to do by the ruling class or will they do what they’ve always done and bow to loyalism – interesting times.

  • Rory Carr

    “Loyalist disenchantment” in the title of the thread leads me naturally to consider a disenchanted loyalist which leads me further on to consider what an enchanted loyalist might turn out to be like. Now that JJ Rowling has finished with Harry Potter (for which mercy, Deo gratias) she might want to turn her talents to Wee Wullie McCoubry and the Enchanted Loyalist.

    As for an enchanting loyalist, I think I will leave a pen sketch of such an improbable creature to greater literary talent and more vivid powers of imagination than mine.They certainly seem to be in short supply even on the Gold Coast.

  • Aontachtach

    I don’t believe that catholics will be targeted in Bangor. The people who they are angry with are NDBC. The leader of this grouping is a “Pastor” of a small church in Bangor ( approx 60 members) who has delusions of grandeur. He was rejected by the people of Bangor at the council elections. He is seen by mainstream christians as a bit of a lunatic. Like most fundalmentalists he believes that he is right and everyone else is wrong. One of his cohorts in the political party he helped form last year was interviewed in a local paper last year and is very cross community. She sends her children to the local catholic school which is on the edge of Kilcooley. This dispute is between “Loyalists” and NDBC.

  • requiem777

    Bangor has always been rougher than its reputation would let on; I remember the town centre used to be particularly dodgy on a Friday or Saturday night when the “hoods” would come down from Kilcooley and Whitehill for a scrap at kicking out time.

    Bangor’s funny that way, there’s opulence and destitution almost elbow to elbow in the town; one just has to take a look at the state of Queen’s Parade to see what I mean.

  • JR

    NI needs to take a tougher stance on burning Tires. Not only on the 12th but at Halloween and the 15th August as well. These low lives that have no concern for peoples health or the environment need to be tackled. I like a good bonfire as much as anyone but they should be strictly wood only and the cleanup should be paid for not by Europe or the Taxpayer but by those that light them.

  • It saddens me to hear Kilcooley being described as a “loyalist” estate. I lived there for 7 years in the early 70s when the estate was still being built. There was a degree of integration, and many Catholic families sent their children to the estate state school, until the Bishop of Down and Conor found out and gave shit to the priest when went to the school once a week to give religious instruction. It was a great place to bring up our two boys.

  • Into the west

    Ballymacarrett District Lodge, of which Reverend Mervyn Gibson is chaplain, responded by saying it was an “action worthy of the Taliban”.

    Rev Gibson said the commission was “fanning the flames of division”.

    The lodge statement also accused the commission of “having a jihad or holy war against the loyalist people of east Belfast


    Mark, I’m disappointed you didn’t spot this beauty ;

  • galloglaigh

    “This dispute is between “Loyalists” and NDBC”

    The dispute the UVF had in East Belfast, was with their political representatives. They still took it out on innocent Catholics. What is to say loyalists won’t do the same in Bangor?

  • another

    I remember Gerry Fitt saying, when the troubles took off, that one of the places that he most worried about was Bangor. Perhaps, surprisingly, given its hardcore loyalist element, the town did not witness too much sectarian violence during the past forty years; although the Church on Brunswick Road was both shot at and burnt down.

    The notion that Kilcooley is not a loyalist estate is something of a joke;



    I pity the poor catholic families who live their; efectively isolated in Shankill on Sea.

    It is something of a joke that the good old, old school unionists, in their big houses, with their friends in the police, are so quick to turn a blind eye, when the loyalist rent a mob, turn the town into a shit hole, the like of which you would not see in a thrid world country.

  • I did not imply that Kilcooley is not a “loyalist” estate. In fact I have no idea. I was pointing out that it was not such a place when I lived there.

  • otto

    “although the Church on Brunswick Road was both shot at and burnt down.”

    When was this?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Never could see the appeal of the place, in or out of season. Unsightly, untidy, unwelcoming dump. Chavtastic since I can remember when.

  • …when the loyalist rent a mob, turn the town into a shit hole, the like of which you would not see in a thrid world country.

    Ever so slightly an exaggeration. On a bad Friday night, it’s something akin to a weekend Hastings or Romford. Most of the rest of the time, something closer to a Tuesday afternoon Bournemouth.

    Anyway… several hundred turned up at the demo, everyone went home reasonably peacefully afterwards. Several bellicose statements however were made by local loyalist dignitaries but these were aimed directly at the council not the town’s catholic population. The 11th night bonfires will be interesting, I would put money on a *show of strength* this year certainly in Kilcooley.

  • eddie poole

    Environmentalists love to talk about conservation and sustainabilty. Tyres will help to sustain a bonfire for a lot longer plus using tyres will conserve trees as less need to be chopped down for the boney-What’s the problem?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The 11th night bonfires will be interesting, I would put money on a *show of strength* this year certainly in Kilcooley.

    There are shows of strength at loyalist bonfires every year. Indeed you could argue that the bonfires themselves are a show of strength; an act of defiance to the authorities and to those of us whose taxes and rates go into cleaning up afterwards.

    The ironic part is that the whole idea of regulating the bonfires was to try to keep them as legal as possible in order to keep at bay those who would seek to have them stopped – the burning of plastics, tyres, fridges etc almost certainly violates a slew of European directives and could well result in us being hit with a hefty fine.

    What we really need is a legal framework for bonfires.

  • likeitis

    Lets tell it like it is, there was no show of strength at any bonfire celebrations and yet again the PSNI reported the evening incident free. I would be interested in Comrade Stalin’s evidence of annual show of strengths at bonfire celebrations. I make a point of attending many fires and there has been no such displays in many years. There was a framework for bonfires which worked well and the council pushed aside.

    I also look forward to someone supplying evidence of the local chapel being ‘shot up’. Absolute nonsense.

  • likeitis

    Ok, thanks for the update

    I also want to apologise for the length of time it took to get your comment approved. Fair enough I was the writer of the original post and I was away for the weekend but that’s no excuse for no one else bothering their arse to approve it.