Calling for more Unionist writers and/or bloggers?

The last few weeks and months have seen a great inflow of new talent. I’m particularly pleased that we have made a start on flipping the dominance of the male voice in Slugger’s blogging team.  Earlier in the year in her lecture for the London Review of Books Mary Beard noted that the sidelining of the women’s voice

…is a well-known deafness that’s nicely parodied in the old Punch cartoon: ‘That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.’

We now have some great new female voices both on the regular team and coming in as guests. But they remain in a tiny minority on Slugger. This must continue, not for the sake of some well meaning political correctness, but because otherwise we will not hear what 50% of the population has to say on the matters of the day.

Which brings me to the reason for the post: ie, another 50% of the population which is rarely heard in public (except in anger, reflexive defence or ridicule) is the unionist voice in Northern Ireland. It’s not just on Slugger, nor is it just recently.

When I started Slugger off back in 2002 it was with the express intention of researching for a paper on the future of Unionism in Northern Ireland. Accordingly we were able to dig up a lot of fresh insight that threw a constructive light on the inner life of political unionism, it’s strength and its weaknesses and share that more broadly.

Over time we have had outstanding contributions from unionist bloggers like Turgon, and DUP Councillor Lee Reynolds who historically wrote for us under the pen name Fair Deal. But again, if you look through the current archives, you’ll see it is those of a republican, nationalist or just plain old Irish Catholic background who’s voices predominate.

This absence of voice leads to all sorts of distortions. One of the most obvious being the ‘does he take sugar’ contraction of unionism to a sum total of the political utterances of party political politicians. The other is, ironically, that oft thrown line that Slugger is somehow some kind of pro-unionist conspiracy.

The irony is that this only makes sense in the context of an apparent withdrawal (or perhaps it feels like an expulsion) of the unionist voice from public discourse. Such one-sided storytelling (even if it is unplanned or unintended) is now, as it was in 2002, a dangerous state of affairs.

We are trying to reach out privately to unionist writers, but it would aid us greatly if you have something you’ve wanted to say, or would just like the opportunity to articulate in a public space from a broadly unionist point of view.

Ping an email to editor@sluggerotoole.com and deputy@sluggertoole.com and we’ll try to get you a start. Even if you have emailed before, ping us again and bring it back to the top of the editor’s pile? To change the world, you must first find your voice and then speak into it…

…a critically self-aware tradition: one that is determined to reveal its conflicts and paradoxes and to raise bigger questions about the nature and purpose of speech, male or female [nationalist or unionist? – Ed].

Mary Beard, LRB

  • ..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Why are they not unionist Joe?

    Cos they don’t like Rangers?

    Or the OO?

    Or band parades?

    What is the criteria? Is unionism some sort of unique caste?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Robert

    You’re missing the point.

    Unless the court’s decision was read out during the speeches in the field on the 12th day itself then it was still a realistic possibility that the young Catholic boys in a loyalist estate (easy targets) were done in because they were Catholic boys in a loyalist estate.

    My point is that no one would even countenance such an scenario even though we all know it is quite possible that loyalist thugs could/would take things into their own hands.

    It’s the mentality that the order and the marching culture is above reproach and that anyone who criticises any aspect of it is ‘suspect’.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    My near monomaniac ‘obsession’ for criticising aspects (important word, for I don’t criticise every aspect as well you know) of the OO and marching culture is dwarfed by your own inability or reluctance to challenge these very same criticisms.

    You could save yourself a lot of hassle and explain the cultural importance of drunken man singing the sash whilst wearing a “yabba dabba doo any fenian will do” Fred Flinstone T shirt (i.e.ONE of the ASPECTS that I criticise, not the charity work or community aspect).

    I also think you’ve hit an interesting point:

    As I am not a mainstream unionist and (presumably) you are and people like yourself take umbrage to the criticism levelled at marching culture then that would explain their reluctance to take up the conch on slugger as they would be in essence defending the indefensible.

    If it is then indefensible (though please feel free to attempt it) then why defend it instead of admitting that there may be a few things worth examining (as Joe Hoggs has stated on occasion, even supporters of the OO admit there are problems).
    And if we can identify a few problems then what’s wrong with admitting this instead of being hostile to those that highlight these problems?

    And before you blame the narrow mindedness of nationalism or ‘extreme liberals’ please remember that there are a number of contributors on this site not adverse in the slightest to well behaved and properly conducted marches (Ernekid springs to mind).

    You’re right that my comments won’t encourage mainstream unionists to post here but I won’t be held accountable for unionism’s and loyalism’s shortcomings.

    As a smartass Dubliner that I used to work with joked to me:

    “A woman asks her husband “does this dress make my ass look big”, he replies “naw, all the junk you eat makes your ass look big” ”

    If the OO and loyalism has a big ass on account of its poor behaviour well that’s hardly my fault or that of other critics.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’d welcome it RL.
    Better run it past Joe Hoggs first though to see if you cut the mustard though, apparently voting pro-union may not be enough…

  • tmitch57

    Mick,
    There was an Irish political scientist from the University of Cork, whose name I can’t recall at the moment, who at the time of the GFA wrote a book entitled “Unionist Politics and the Politics of Unionism,” covering the period between the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the GFA, with a second edition bringing the story forward to 2002 or so. Although he is a nationalist, he seemed quite knowledgeable about the DUP and UUP. I suggest that you approach him about doing some posts for Slugger possibly on the future of the UUP or the next election or on the future of the DUP after Robinson.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Would be an interesting blog in its own right Robin.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Mick

    Just wondering if you could define or ask what or who counts as a unionist?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you AmG for the clarification! My half brother (OO, etc) has been calling me a Lundy since the 1960s when he was only five, so I may have inferred some of my own attitudes into yours in my comments. So Morph is correct and you can offer the much needed corrective of a decent man arguing for the Union (just as I’d recommended in my bigger posting to Joe!)

    Interesting though, how many pro-Union contributers seem to see you as a non-Unionist and, yes, my own researches describe a very different general social tollerence a hundred years ago all across Ireland, let alone the Wee Six.

  • Morpheus

    You don’t want to pull on that thread AG…:)

    Firstly you are cutting out pro-UK Catholics because, as we all know, support for political unionism among Catholics lies at a monumental 0%.

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2013/Political_Attitudes/POLPART2.html

    I would say that after this weekend’s ‘performance’ support has fallen further but you can’t get lower than 0% really.

    Further, if you add up all the votes for political unionism – DUP/UUP/TUV/BNP/UKIP/PUP – then it amounts to just 25.6% of the electorate – I don’t think only 1 in 4 could be described as unionist because that means 3 in 4 aren’t but then again it’s not a million miles out from the 2013 NILT where 29% of those polled said they were unionist:

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2013/Political_Attitudes/UNINATID.html

    The whole ‘pigeon hole’ debate has fascinated me for ages. I started a debate a while back on the BT forum asking the difference between a Catholic/Nationalist/Republican and a Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist and after about 100+ posts I don’t think we got the same answer twice.

    But in this debate I would say that you are not the one on the extremes – those on the extremes are watching you thinking they’re in the middle

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, Robin! Describe the journey, I’m sure it would be of some real help to others raeding the posting. Seriously.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    If their sole aim is to bash important foundations within Unionism and if they are embarrassed by Unionism then to me they can support Nationalism or abstain completely.

    Finally I have never equated Unionism and Rangers,
    Rangers is a sport’s team whom I do not support in any way as I simply don’t rate Scottish football.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    They are not Unionist but “Other”.

  • Morpheus

    Not officially, it needs an assembly election before they can change designation. Exactly the reason why it was stupid beyond measure to announce the change when they did

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Joe

    That’s not their sole aim.

    In fact, bashing (useful) unionist foundations would be self defeating to their goals.

    It just so happens that none of them view the OO as a modern day important foundation of unionism, it is to many people in Scotland something that hangs around the edges of unionism.

    And they are not embarrassed by ‘unionism’ they are embarrassed by the more extreme aspects of unionism.

    The OO does not have the monopoly on unionism.

    Joe, you’ve just demonstrated how easy it is to be thrown out of the unionist camp.

  • Practically_Family

    I believe it was just stupid beyond measure, the timing only compounded the error.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Please elaborate.

    Do I attack every aspect of the marching culture and those involved? No

    Do you have arguments to justify the necessity and cultural worth of these aspects that I criticise? Possibly.

    I said fair game in a more standard context: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/fair-game

    You may or may not consider examples mentioned on this thread as fair game (such as singing about the murder of Catholics or unseemly behaviour outside the house of a grieving person or drunken behaviour etc) but we’ll probably never know as you tend to disappear when hard and direct questions regarding these particular ‘aspects’ (again SOME not ALL) of marching culture are highlighted.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    This thread has evolved into the interesting discussion of what exactly constitutes a Unionist? At the risk of playing the man Am Ghobsmacht has been held up as a beacon of Unionist “intelligence, inclusiveness and decency” by our Nationalist contributors while those of us within the Unionist camp not only disregard Am Ghobsmacht as a Unionist but find his views and constant lecturing of Unionism and Unionist culture to be excessive, rude and often inaccurate. I apologise for using Am Ghobsmacht as an example and I’ve certainly enjoyed debates with him, finding him both interesting and at times courteous, however from a political standpoint his extreme liberalism is both disruptive and dangerous. I feel this statement will be rebutted by claims of “fear mongering,” however I just don’t see the value of a “Unionist” who spends the majority of their time berating Unionist culture, who seems embarrassed by Unionism as a whole and who at the drop of a hat would be willing to vote for a UI.

    Being Unionism for many within my community is not about being watered down, easily offended, weak or indeed offensive (yes I hear the howls of laughter). Unionism is about supporting the Union and not just in terms of financial gain although this is undoubtedly a significant bonus. It’s about treasuring our British traditions, respecting and supporting our armed forces and if need be holding them to account to ensure that the best traditions are always upheld. There are obviously examples of wrong doing by our armed services, however whilst holding the perpetrators to account we should not forget the 99.9% who carry out their duty with honour and respect. Supporting the rule of law is also vital, again there are examples when this has not happened but I would be confident that yet again the vast majority do adhere to this principle. Orangeism, this for many is a divisive aspect within Unionism but it really shouldn’t be. For those of us within this organisation there is a
    four pronged approach with the promotion and defence of the reformed faith
    being of paramount importance, followed by Unionism, history/culture and
    proactive/positive community work. Again there are examples of Orangemen and
    women not adhering to key principles within the Orange and this should be
    challenged when necessary but the good of the Orange in my opinion by far
    outweighs the negatives and this is why I remain a member. General pride in
    being British is also important including the support for the flying of the
    Union flag, I really don’t see the point in people proclaiming to be Unionist
    if they are offended by the Union flag and would rather not see it fly. This brings
    about two key points for me, firstly I believe Unionists should desist from flying flags etc from lamp posts etc, this demeans the flag and is unnecessarily offensive to Nationalists within Northern Ireland. Secondly I strongly believe that the Union flag should be flown from public buildings all year round, if we are part of the UK then this should not be an issue, on this note NI also needs an official flag and this is something Unionists need to be pushing for.

    Where does this leave our non-Protestant Unionists and do people like me completely trust them? The answer, of course they are important
    to the makeup of our fabric and yes people like me do trust them, however there
    is a requirement to accept and tolerate what I have pointed out above. Constant
    criticisms of aspects that are important to the mainstream Unionist tradition
    is damaging to Union as a whole and creates too much mistrust, fragmentation and leaves a hierarchy of Unionism which becomes confusing and blurred. I concede that healthy and constructive challenges are always necessary but constant sniping is unacceptable and this is an issue on Slugger when Unionist topics are debated.

    Identifying lundies is seen as a key aspect of our culture, however some of the people identified have questions to answer that they have failed to. Trevor Ringland being a key example, he professes to an extreme left wing fantasy of Unionism whereby Unionism must without question embrace sports such as the GAA. I find this attitude intolerable from a person who represents weak almost non-existent Unionism that is held together by little more than financial benefits and who upon leaving the UUP has disappeared into oblivion. I found TR’s lack of tolerance towards mainstream Unionism to be intolerable; he simply wanted to create a veneer of falseness and extreme liberalism while dismissing many important aspects to Unionist culture. I don’t personally have issues with Unionists attending GAA events, in fact the Orange has conducted some very good debates at GAA events. My issue is with people like TR who embrace GAA publically regardless of whether they like the sport privately in the hope that the “other side” will embrace that person and in addition to this TR fails to embrace any shade of Orangesism so his stunts reeks of hypocrisy and falseness. Some may find the sport of rounding up the lundies as “weird” but it’s important to challenge such people’s views on the Union and where exactly they stand at the final hour?

    I do feel Unionism has many challenges in the future, from a general perspective we are too negative and fearful, I feel a more progressive and confident approach would be beneficial and one starting point should be to organise within places such as Donegal where there is huge support for Orangeism which is on the ascendancy and where there are many disenfranchised Unionists. A second key approach would be to encourage more respect for the Union flag by vastly reducing if not eradicating completely the flying of it from lampposts etc. Improved education as a gulf is really developing here between Nationalist and Unionists, more tolerance for minorities such as homosexuals and Irish language speakers. I concede that I am supportive of the point Gregory Campbell has attempted to make and Sinn Fein’s abuse of the language, however we should not fear the language, rather it should be embraced and protected. Modernisation within Orangeism is required too, stricter decorum on parade, better encouragement to engage positively within the church and community and a lifting of the ban on attending funeral and indeed wedding masses. There is a void for a liberal Unionism that NI21 could have filled but again it needs to be respectful of the traditions it pertains to encompass, its members do not need to be in the Orange but neither do they need to bash it, its members don’t need to be Protestant but neither do they need to look upon religion as something evil and irrelevant.

    In conclusion I believe that being a Unionist should have a sense of pride about it, I disapprove of people on Job Seeker’s allowance for longer than is absolutely necessary and I feel there are enough jobs in NI to prevent this from happening. Hard work is an important aspect of Unionism that is diluting into a generation of benefit seekers, not only is a strong work ethic good from a personal development perspective but it’s also helps towards a better UK. Unionism needs to be more
    tolerant, we don’t need to bash homosexuals, personally I believe in equal
    rights, however I also defend the right of someone else to have a view contrary
    to my own, that does not mean one of us is right or wrong the underlying sense
    of British tolerance, equality and respect should always be prevalent. I accept that some will say my vision of Unionism is very much pie is the sky; however I feel there is nothing to be feared in striving toward the high ideals that we set ourselves.

  • Practically_Family

    Again, What is “unionist culture”?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I actually enjoy your posts and syle of writing, perhaps you would consider being a blogger?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Not much to disagree with there Robin, what does “A Chara” mean?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Now now comrade, that’s enough of that.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    You are very anti Unionist parading to the extent that your views are becoming hysterical.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I’ve attempted to address your point in a new post I made about 10 minutes ago.

  • Guest

    Tolerance, respect, remembrance, stubbornness, parading, honesty, hard work and strength.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Most definitely!

  • Practically_Family

    No, really though?

  • Reader

    Turgon: Rather it simply means that if one is trying to get more mainstream unionists to comment your contributions are not going to encourage them.
    Most unionists are not in one of the loyal orders, so some level of support for – say – the OO is hardly required to be a mainstream unionist. From my own point of view, not only is the OO doing damage to the unionist cause, but it is often behaving badly even as seen from within unionism.
    So far as I am concerned, it is not the job of unionism to defend the OO, it is the job of the OO to defend the union, and the sooner that the Belfast lodges work out how to become useful and acceptable, the better.
    I regard myself as a fair minded person, and I would be inclined to defend them from the ridiculous KKK name-calling, and would say “so what” to the charge that they are a religiously exclusive organisation; but typically they are too much of an embarrassment for me to bother.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    What is your vision of Unionist culutre then PF?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Joe

    A nice piece.

    A very large one too so I’ll just (vainly) highlight a few points the jump out
    at me (concerning planet Me, obviously):

    “while those of us within the Unionist camp not only disregard Am
    Ghobsmacht as a Unionist but find his views and constant lecturing of Unionism and Unionist culture to be excessive, rude and often inaccurate”

    I can understand why you see it as excessive as it is on a par with my moaning about SF’s use of the Irish language, i.e. a broken record player quality.

    Part of the reason for this is that people on the unionist side rarely admit to
    there being anything wrong (with the notable exception of yourself) or they can NEVER defend the aspects that I criticise. Ever.

    If it can’t be defended (e.g. drunkenly singing song about killing Catholics)
    then why defend it?

    I shall pursue this Achilles heel till some one comes out with a decent defence of that particular aspect of the culture or until other unionists think

    “hmmm, they might have a point here”.
    Also, which bits would you say are inaccurate? Most of my criticism comes from real life experiences that I have seen with my own eyes (or heard with my own ears).

    ———-

    “It’s about treasuring our British traditions, respecting and supporting
    our armed forces and if need be holding them to account to ensure that the best traditions are always upheld. There are obviously examples of wrong doing by our armed services, however whilst holding the perpetrators to account we should not forget the 99.9% who carry out their duty with honour and respect.

    Supporting the rule of law is also vital, again there are examples when this
    has not happened but I would be confident that yet again the vast majority do
    adhere to this principle”

    Joe, I gave an example of some of my (partly) military orientated, Queen loving unionist friends in Scotland and you said that you DO NOT regard them as unionists.

    Is this not a contradiction? You want unionists who “…treasure our
    British traditions, respecting and supporting our armed forces….”, I
    gave you an example of unionists who do just that and you dismissed them as unionists (possibly tongue-in-cheek) and then went on to DEFEND that dismissal.

    What is the actual criteria and who is allowed ‘in’?
    Can you clarify this please?

    ——–

    Joe, a lot of what you have written is not too distant from some of my own statements (with a few key differences but this is not the time to highlight yet more sticking points).
    I mind when people where talking of certain townlands they would say “if you kick one the whole lot go limp”, I sometimes feel that when I am tapping unionism on the shins rather than someone responding to me and looking at my criticisms the whole lot form a phalanx even if some of them agree with my points.
    You have listed some points similar to mine (I’m happy to go through them) yet still you see me as someone attacking unionism needlessly.
    IF it is needless then why do you find (some) of the criticisms worthy of repetition?
    “I feel this statement will be rebutted by claims of “fear mongering,”
    however I just don’t see the value of a “Unionist” who spends the majority of
    their time berating Unionist culture, who seems embarrassed by Unionism as a whole and who at the drop of a hat would be willing to vote for a UI.”

    Well, I berate MOPEry too.

    And I don’t berate ALL of unionist/loyalist culture, just some aspects of it which are probably the same aspects that you aren’t keen on when you say “A second key approach would be to encourage more respect for the Union flag by vastly reducing if not eradicating completely the flying of it from lampposts etc” or ”
    Modernisation within Orangeism is required too, stricter decorum on parade,
    better encouragement to engage positively within the church and community and a lifting of the ban on attending funeral and indeed wedding masses”.

    We are actually in agreement in many of these matters I just happen to be a bit more vocal about it and yet you use this as an iron to brand me ‘non-unionist’.

    We have similar viewpoints and I (and my friends) satisfy your criteria for
    unionism (mostly) but still I (we) don’t pass the test.
    So I ask:
    1/ Who is actually a unionist?
    2/ If someone has criticism for certain aspects of unionist or Protestant culture (like you do) then how should one direct this criticism, particularly on this very forum without the fear of being branded a non-unionist or ‘bile filled bigot’?
    This could save a lot of time on slugger.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Righto.

  • Practically_Family

    I don’t believe there is a “Unionist culture”.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    But you know I’m not anti-unionist parading, we’ve discussed this often.

    I disapprove of certain unnecessary aspects of it (as you do) and will continue to do so until someone sets me straight with a broadside of defensive shots regarding the more unsavoury (minority) aspects of marching.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Regarding my dismissal of the soldiers, I’m only doing this based on what you have advised of them. I know of other soldiers who are not Unionist, that doesn’t mean as individuals I can’t respect what they have done provided they conducted themselves properly. My question is beyond the pale of perhaps considering a yes vote to maintain the Union what makes them Unionist?

    When you ask who is allowed into the Unionist club it has to be someone who promotes the Union positively, ebraces the flag (not literally) and who respects and of course when necessary challenges the aspects I raised in my original post.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    What is Nationalist culture to you?

  • Practically_Family

    They’re both political viewpoints. Not nationalities, faiths or ethnicities.

  • Biftergreenthumb

    What is a unionist? I genuinely don’t think there is a correct answer to this question.

    On the one hand the word ‘unionist’ means ‘someone who wants to maintain the union’ or something similar. In this sense it refers to a person’s political/constitutional beliefs.

    On the other hand because most actual unionists tend to come from protestant backgrounds and most protestants here are thought to be descended from British planters the words ‘unionist’ and ‘protestant’ in practice are used to refer to a person’s ethnicity or descent or something similar (Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish?). So the terms ‘protestant’ and ‘unionist’ in this sense are basically synonymous and have nothing to do with political or religious beliefs but rather refer to blood and ancestry.

    Tying Orangism to Scotch-Irish ancestry further complicates things as now ‘Unionist’ comes to mean someone with/from a ‘unionist culture’. ‘Unionism’ then is no longer just about political beliefs or descent it is now also about identifying with cultural practices and symbols (flag, parades etc).

    The ‘British descent’ line of reasoning also leads people to tie ‘Britishness/British culture’ to ‘unionist’ meaning that an over-zealous love and respect for ultra-conservative British institutions such as the Royal family and the armed forces become aspects of ‘unionism’.

    This mess means that no matter what you actually believe about the union you can be pigeon-holed as a unionist even if you don’t self identify as one. Alternatively someone can say that you just aren’t unionist enough to be counted even if you do consider yourself a unionist.

  • barnshee

    “You’re missing the point.”

    Indeed you are

    ” it was still a realistic possibility that the young Catholic boys in a loyalist estate (easy targets) were done in because they were Catholic boys in a loyalist estate.”

    On what evidence?

    “the horrendous murder of those children had nothing to do with Drumcree or the Orange Order”

    Yet it was continually connected to them?”

    You’re missing the point.”
    Indeed you are

  • barnshee

    ” what you have done and tried to do to our ancient culture.”

    Indeed- all that provided housing, education and enough of the dole to allow “a rising majority” must be terrible

    Boasting of sexual incontinence and “out breeding” is a interesting method of political progress. Not a consideration that the results of such actions are self inflicted?

    “Lord help you in a decade’s time if we sought vengeance”
    I look forward to how a mickey mouse state like ” Ireland” would cope with extensive civil disobedience/IRA style campaigns.

    On its knees in a couple of years I suspect

  • Joe_Hoggs

    That’s simply your point of view.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks for your vote of confidance Joe, I’m thinking about it. I might do some literary or historical stuff. I’m very tempted to review Roy Foster’s new book, “Vivid Faces” which rather willfully leaves out most of the Northern contribution to the Irish Cultural Revival, or perhaps a piece on Amanda McKittrick Ros, Larne’s only world famous novelist. Or a piece on the seriously non-political nature of the early Gaelic league in Belfast,and the lesson of this for today. But immediate pressures of work inhibit me a bit.

    And I would, sincerely, still enjoy seeing you seriously present Unionist and Orange issues in sustained pieces. I know from other situations how very discouraging hard, sometimes wilfully unpleasant, criticism can be, but if we can extract from the slaps those very things which hurt us because we know them to be in some way true, then it helps us grow spiritually. I know that many Unionists, some of them my close personal friends, have, in heard Ezra Pound’s important phrase, “Make it New” about what they truly care about. It is this re-making of things in every generation, thinking them again from the ground up, that ensures that any tradition will live and thrive. We all, in all our diversities, have much to offer one another in re-making our culture for our children and their children. I’d hate to think that the enforced “pluralist liberalism” of the GFA and all the hypocrisy it has engendered is all we will eventually pass down.

  • carl marks

    Sorry but the old NI state run by the orange order did not supply Housing, or education, or Jobs anyway fairly when it ruled! this was the reason that the civil rights movement started, these thing only started to be fairly shared out when the English closed Stormont down and ran the place themselves,
    And you do love the whole Breeding like Rabbits bit don’t you, but answer some of AG,s go on I dare you!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Joe, A Chara! “A Chara” is usually translated as “my friend”. In the seventeenth century it was translated into English as “dear Joy” which perhaps more accurately represents the sense “from the heart” or simply “my heart” which is the almost literal translation. Irish has much more strong emotional content (usually) than English, and is a more intimate language. I’m saying this now with no intention of criticism, or scoring anything, but my grandfather ( a Protestant Irish speaker with a Protestant native speaker grandmother) used to say that perhaps if we, Gael and Planter, had all spoke Irish together from the start greater kindness might have grown between us. Linda Ervine is now enabling others to discover this, I sincerely hope.

    Slán agus beannacht (farewell, with my blessings), Seaan

  • Practically_Family

    Who else’s would I give?

    I will give you good odds that you and I share little/no cultural common interest, yet we both self define as Unionist (at least I assume you do). Unionism has no more “culture” than does conservatism (for instance). It’s simply a political opinion, expressed on polling day. It does not require a special diet, dress or behaviour to hold.

  • Bryan Magee

    Its an interesting piece Joe.

    I think that for unionists the initial point is that it is a very broad church – really there is just one thing that unites unionists and that’s that they would like NI to remian in the UK. You can be a lot of different kinds of unionist.. And that’s actually a strength in the end.

    I’d keep away from the idea of any narrow interpretation of what unionist means, but stick to the idea of pride in the UK, its traditions, and its contribution, and the idea of the UK.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Oh dear, you’re not calling yourself Unionist too? What’s your qualifcation?? Taken a poo in the Shankhill!!

  • Practically_Family

    Like I said old chap, it’s a political point of view, nothing more. No qualifications, membership card or secret decoder ring required.

  • barnshee

    The real victims of housing discrimination were the prods continually pushed down the “list” by roman catholics with more children/points
    http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/discrimination/gudgin99.htm

    (And the majority roman catholic Newry Council is singled out for special mention)

    Exactly why a free choice over family size should allow individuals special treatment is beyond me

    The state provided funds for an entirely separate roman catholic education system where no prod need apply – a state of affairs which pertains to this day

    Which parts of state services had roman catholics no access to?

    As I ask endlessly how did the prods prevented you becoming:-
    Doctors
    Dentists
    Lawyers
    Estate agents
    Plumbers
    Customs officers
    Tax Inspectors
    Social Workers
    (I ask because they must have been were pretty poor at it as I knew roman catholics in all these occupations- and more)

    “And you do love the whole Breeding like Rabbits”

    Sigh its no good boasting about how you are out “breeding” and then complaining when it is pointed out that its hardly a coherent economic strategy.

  • barnshee

    “1/ Who is actually a unionist?”

    In NI some who is not a Republican (sub set protestants )
    In Scotland anyone who supports the union (no subsets)

    In NI we`re “no joinin” Oireland” main theme — “unionism” thus a means to this end
    In Scotland we`re “no leavin” the UK

    2/ If someone has criticism for certain aspects of unionist or Protestant culture (like you do) then how should one direct this criticism, particularly on this very forum without the fear of being branded a non-unionist or ‘bile filled bigot’?

    Direct the criticism to the organisation concerned bear in mind that “hangers on” exist on both sides and organisations cannot be accountable for the actions on non members

  • Stan McGlone

    I would agree that Ireland being united would be of benefit in the long term. The catalyst for all the years of misery plain and simply lays at the feet of the English and from the birth of the sectarian NI state the Unionist majority were to blame. Irish men and women rising against that is not a crime. I have served in the forces and have seen the sheer racist abuse giving to Irish people by many English people. We are not British like them. We are a backward drain on their economy. Near 50% of Scotland want to be free. 75% of Irish people voted to be free nearly 100 years ago. I personally do not want some upper class politicians sat in London making our rules. On the other hand, I will not be bombed and murdered into a UI by armed Republicans. It must be carried out through democratic methods. Unionists are pretty much the minority now anyway and that will continue to decline further. What we are witnessing is the death kicks of a sectarian element who can’t stand to see anything Irish in the North of Ireland.

  • Tochais Siorai

    I think at its heart Unionism doesn’t yet really want to meaningfully engage, either here or anywhere else. Every political compromise is seen as a concession, whereas for nationalists they can be seen, or at least spun, as a gain, thus finding common ground with nationalists or even debating constitutional or related issues on a forum like Slugger can be difficult. Traditionally minded Unionists (as opposed to wishy washy liberals like AG and Belfast Barman!) don’t seem to like debating such issues because they might lead to understanding the other’s viewpoint. That might lead to compromise. And compromise leads to surrendering even more power. And we all know where that can lead to.

    Also, unionism personified by its largest party stands apart from all other parties on these islands in its attitudes towards a whole slew of topics. Nothing wrong with that in itself but at the same time, there is nothing remotely like Gregory Campbell’s performance the other day to be found at any other political conference elsewhere in Britain or Ireland. It’s of course a valid view to argue against Irish language supports but the fact that traditional unionism could see nothing wrong with how he said it & moreover that they thought it was hilariously funny might suggest that sort of audience is unlikely to be attracted here.

  • Practically_Family

    I would very largely agree with this. Unionist parties can offer little in the way of “gains” to their followers, they’re simply not capable of democratically achieving it. Whereas Nationalist/Republicans can do so at almost every political turn, it’s just birth rate versus death rate stuff.

    Regarding the rest of it… Both camps in NI are so insecure about their national identity that they behave ridiculously. The French have a rather comical view of the Quebecois, “Plus Français que les Français”. Both over the border Irishmen & across the water British folk view our respective camps in a similar vein, but with the added detraction of violence.

  • Morpheus

    Go back and check the guys screen name and see if you can guess why Gutter Boy was used. HINT: it was his name

    A fizzler is someone who comes in with a load of bluster and bollix, usually some garbage about ‘the truth’ and how it hurts then fizzles out after a few hours. I make no apology for challenging anyone who comes out with the rubbish he did.

    As for anything else aimed at me then man up ffs, it’s a bit of levity

    Oh and for the record you will notice that I also pull up republican and nationalist posters…but don’t let that get in way eh?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Just in relation to becoming a blogger, are users allowed to remain anonymous?

  • Morpheus

    I just asked Turgon, The Firemen, W[R]Ite Noise, Belfast Barman(ager), Kilsally, Soapbox, JR and Alan in Belfast and they all say you have to use your real name

    (just a joke, calm down 🙂 )

  • MainlandUlsterman

    isn’t that a bit like Mary Beard’s comment about the Punch cartoon Mick quoted? ‘That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.’​ I’m sure he has an interesting angle too, don’t get me wrong, but the priority should be actual unionists.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I mean how much information has to be given behind the scenes?

  • Paddy Reilly

    The appeal is fatuous. If you are a reactionary, you have no need to engage in ideology, politicking, anti-state fulminating or revolutionary propaganda. You just stand for things as they are. Most of all, you should not try arguing with non-reactionaries about the merits of the status quo—you might lose the argument, which would be totally counter-productive. Just restrict yourself to coming out with tired old chestnuts about people who are loyal to the half-crown, but not the crown, and puppy-dogs which have opened their eyes.

  • carl marks

    it is well documented and excepted by everyone else in the f*#~king world except unionists (who if they admit it happened ruins there little “it was all themmuns fault” mope) that catholics where discriminated in Jobs,Housing,and infrastructure by the unionist state.

    and how old are you if you knew Catholics in all these occupations pre 1971, when new legislation started to change things

    Doctors
    Dentists
    Lawyers
    Estate agents
    Plumbers
    Customs officers
    Tax Inspectors
    Social Workers

    and by the way as im sure you know (probably the reason your doing you like to throw it into the pot so often) is offensive.!

  • barnshee

    “i’d like to see you write an article but hold your horses as we have to see if a Catholic background unionist ‘counts’ as a unionist first.”

    Horse?/ Horse?? surely you mean unicorn ?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Bazinga!!!!!

  • barnshee

    “Similar to the way the Catholic Church once insisted that the kids of mixed marriages HAD to be brought up Roman; Catholic”

    What`s this “once”– Its still -no undertaking to bring up roman catholic/send to roman catholic school -no wedding

    Its called blackmail –then add in the propaganda where non catholic parents cannot “take the bread of life”and cannot “go to heaven”

    “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man” – St. Francis Xavier … The quote is from Baltasar Gracian who was a Spanish Jesuit scholar ”

    And these people have the neck to demonise the OO

  • KeepSluggerUnionistFree

    A repost of what I wrote under a new Unionist poster’s new article. I encourage all other Unionists to repeat this message whenever this site is engaged with:

    Richard Cairns, I have not read your article here out of principle, as I think you would be better disengaging from this site entirely, as most sensible Unionists already have done. Set up your own blog or, even better YouTube channel where you discuss and make rebuttals to issues in your own way that you have complete control over (and this will be even better with future peer-to-peer video technologies such as WebRTC where you won’t have to depend on the censorship of large corporations such as Google either). Do not bother with Facebook or Twitter either as those are a waste of time as severely restrict your audience to people who don’t care about privacy and intellectual depth.

    No Unionist should be giving enough respect to this site to give it a credence for any form of serious intellectual discussion, and should encourage all other Unionists to also disengage.

    The moderation policy and ethos of this site is such that it promotes an air of respect to extremist terrorist supporters and extreme traitorous hate-mongers (something that actually would be illegal to have do a few years ago, and I would argue actually is still illegal, merely that the treacherous government is turning a blind eye to its own laws). Discussion on this site is moderated so that respect need to be given to the unrespectable, yet to air an genuine opinion on the degree of ostracism needed will result in censorship — it is not freedom of speech at all. 95% of discussion here also is people restricted to debate within destructive amoral moral/cultural relativist leftist PC rules of discussion, meaning that you cannot speak in terms of absolute truth. It gives the air of freedom of speech, but this isn’t the case at all.

    Please boycott this site. It has become too powerful, with media circles, academics and politicians (even including Peter Robinson and the Bogside Butcher) seemingly treating as representative the views of the dominant Irish Nationalist Extremist hate mongers, together with oddball, effete, spineless, non-masculine sorry excuses for men calling themselves “liberal” non-Unionists who are an affront to the people of this small land. The respect that this site always guarantees to the former means this dynamic will always remain so.

    Even a TUV man should be able to admit that David Trimble said one thing correctly when asked what Unionists wanted when he replied “to be left alone”. None of us are interested in engaging with the views of people who spend their lives obsessing over wanting us dead. Do not do so either.

  • barnshee

    “The catalyst for all the years of misery plain and simply lays at the feet of the English and from the birth of the sectarian NI state the Unionist majority were to blame. Irish men and women rising against that is not a crime. ”

    The catalyst for the centuries of misery plain and simply lays at the feet of the IRA murder gangs and from the birth of the NI state the Unionists were right to resist—- Protestants–men and women rising agains the murderous republicans -t that is not a crime.