Och, C’mon in Gerry, what a beautiful big horse y’have there.

Belfast Barman is the first person we’ve published in response to our call for Unionist bloggers. He has an interesting and cautionary tale to share. There will be others to follow.

I awoke this morning to a better understanding of my own political leanings, and for that Gerry Adams, I thank you.

I was raised unionist in the same Braniel estate that Michael Stone hails from, I spent my childhood braining myself with mis-caught union jack batons bought for 50p from a wheelie bin on the newtownards road for the 12th each year…

I voted Sinn Fein this year. Admittedly, not just Sinn Fein, but some of their candidates were high in my preference votes. If my now-departed grandfather knew this, I’d be in for a clout.

Why though? Since that child left the Braniel, I have seen first hand what minorities suffer, I have seen discrimination and have had plenty of abuse directed at myself for not being the norm. I have gay friends, I have muslim colleagues, I am an atheist, I know women who had abortions after rapes…

All things that the DUP stand against. When Gerry Adams explained the “entire republican strategy” of using equality as a Trojan horse, it suddenly made sense why I had steered away from the family tradition, why I had voted for a party I was raised being told were “terrorists and murderers.”

I have seen DUP frontmen insult so many of the people and issues that I hold dear whilst seeing Sinn Fein front people speak out for womens rights, seeing progressive new-blood MLA’s standing front and centre at Gay Pride events, inclusive religious events being hosted by SF councillors. Sinn Fein have preached and practiced equality, and I respect that and appreciate it.

If it is part of some great strategy, so what…if we get the equality we deserve, what is the problem exactly?

Northern Ireland will not revert to Irish control without a referendum, that much is clear…

As clear now as it has ever been. If that referendum is held next week, next year or a decade or more away, the will of the people of these united 6 counties will hold the direction of our collective future. Whether or not we live in a more equal society should hold little sway over the decision of secession…

If a fair society is a side effect of a future referendum, so be it.

The fact that unionist leaders are so vociferous in opposition to Gerry Adams tactical revelation shows perhaps that this plan of his will do nothing but ingratiate their cause into the goodwill of wider society, people like me.

With the sheer frequency of DUP societal faux pas laying a persistent spotlight on that which is unequal within our community, in such an insidious manner, proclaiming their own culture is under threat whilst slinging dirt at anything other than their own identity, this is not a party I can support.

I consider myself pro union because I think it is more beneficial for our country…however now I see that if we could make Northern Ireland equal for all who live within it, no matter colour, creed, persuasion, gender or belief and the ONLY cost of that is a change of passport and a different tax pot to send my hard earned money to, then it’s a price I would consider paying.

Equality is the Trojan horse that has got under my skin and convinced me that there are worse things in life than a united Ireland, the DUP could tackle this head on with embracing the concept of an equal and diverse society, thus nullifying The Great Republican Strategy™ however the unionist response has been to treat “Equality” as a dirty word.

Sílim go gcaithfidh mé vóta ar son Shinn Féin mar sin de.

, ,

  • Practically_Family

    The vote on same sex marriage. I’d imagine.
    Only SF & Greens came out of that looking good to anyone in favour.

  • Practically_Family

    Mmm. Maybe. I’d be a lot more convinced on that score if they (SF) had a viable alternative option.. Which they don’t.

    I doubt it’s lost them any votes, but equally I don’t see anyone signing on in Holywood Rd. taking to voting SF for protecting their giro.

  • Practically_Family

    It’s scarily close to the case however. See also decent sarnies, tea and a wee sausage roll.

    If you want good music & drink though, you have to go republican.

  • Barneyt

    Whao…a lovely piece, but without reading the massive response yet, does the journey you have taken not make this article more poignant? Your entire blog here strikes a cord that will be better received in the IrishNationalistRepublican community and would perhaps extend to Alliance. Given there are so many responses, I am guessing many are positive but you risk the rath of your “own kind” reacting badly. Some will not doubt suggest this is a planted article 🙂 Very positive, and I too take the words and expect action on the drive for equality.

  • Barneyt

    I’ve said it many times on here that unionism is disenfranchised from politics over here….particularly if you lean to the left. Not much choice, unless you are brave enough to pursue the politics and not the tribe.

  • Barneyt

    Apart from the PUP (who one might regard as too extreme for a moderate unionist) who else is on the left? Genuine question. UUP, DUP, TUV and UKIP are not yet close to left to even be called centre parties.

  • Practically_Family

    Historically Unionists had their gun in hand moments also, it may have been a century or so ago, but it happened. UR & the Third Force aside. On the wider Irish basis it’s the norm rather than the exception.

    You can explain to people who were not old enough to see the violence all you like, but be aware that some will vote for SF because of what you tell them rather than in spite of it. And the buckets of water, as with everything else in NI, can be thrown both ways.

  • Barneyt

    But given that NI is assured for some time, and we know a border poll would not change things (that’s what I hear in many quarters), its best to pursue SF on the basis of their presence in NI and their general policies on offer? Surely a unionist is defined by someone who actively favours the preservation of the union with Britain and nothing else

  • Barneyt

    and to think that Presbyterian and Republican was the norm at one point. Did they not invent it?

  • submariner

    MU do you really need reminding again of both the UUP/DUP links to loyalist terrorist groups.It was the UUP who introduced the gun to modern Irish politics. They stood shoulder to shoulder with terrorists during the UWC strike,Drumcree,Holy cross and Twaddell.The DUP have been involved with every loyalist terrorist group since their formation until the present day.They also formed their own terrorist organisation the Ulster resistance which imported hundreds of weapons which were used to murder over 200 people.they have had members of the party who have been convicted of terrorist offences including murder. The only major parties free from the whiff of cordite are the SDLP,Alliance and the Greens.

  • Practically_Family

    But the bodies are not a big issue for many, that’s the thing.

    And much as you may dislike it, I dislike it, believe me, there are people who will be voting SF because of the actions of those same bodies.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The thread is well on the way to being one of the most-commented threads on the site. It’s interesting for a few reasons.

    I don’t think it’s at all unexpected that some people might vote “out of turn”. I did it myself; my “background” is nationalist, but in 2011 I transferred to the DUP on the basis that they’re good ministers and that they were at least trying. The fact that I loaned my transfer/vote to the DUP does not mean that I’m an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-Catholic Paisleyite. It does not make me a Unionist.

    It’s amusing that some people cannot cope with the concept that it might be possible to vote on the basis of something other than your opinion about the union. To repeat once again – voting for Sinn Féin does not make a united Ireland more likely. Sinn Féin’s stated objective may be the end of partition, but when push comes to shove they have no practical means of actually bringing that about. The only way it can happen is when there is a referendum. And on referendum day, Belfast Barmanager has assured us that he will be voting for the union – which means that he is at very least a unionist with a small U.

    It is the definition of “unionist” that seems to cause some trouble here. According to some contributions below, BB cannot be a unionist and is clearly pro-republican. Yet BB has not made any pro-republican comments (apart from intimating his voting preference). BB says he supports what would anywhere else be the progressive left aspects of Sinn Féin’s manifesto – abortion reform, licensing law reform, marriage equality etc. It is interesting that some unionists apparently feel that this disqualifies you from being unionist. This makes it very tempting to believe that political unionism is trying to circle the wagons around cultural unionism – flags, bands, parades, F the pope and so on.

    Ultimately, though, this is self destructive. Whose interests are unionists serving by striking Prods off the list of people who can be relied on ? Unionism should be instead asking itself why it is losing those who are naturally inclined to support the union, and whether or not this means it should be changing any aspect of its message.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Because you support a political party which has as its absolute mission statement the destruction of the Union

    The salient fact is that SF cannot destroy the union or do any harm to it.

    Arguably most of the harm being done to the union is by Unionism. In whose interests is it to alienate the rest of the people in the UK by having contrary policies on abortion, marriage equality, etc ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Belfast Barman is repulsive how exactly ? Did he threaten to kill your firstborn ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    unlike the charge of the “you can’t be in our gang” brigade

    In some neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland, BB would be burned out if he revealed he voted for Sinn Féin.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You’re aware that quite a few Catholics were murdered by the IRA too ? Hundreds of them if I recall ?

  • JustOneMoreTimePlease

    That’s the best observation on here. And yes, you have to be very brave! Particularly when you are away from the “chattering classes” and close to the streets (vide Belfast Barman). Kudos to him

  • Comrade Stalin

    Yet British people generally get on with Germans just fine. And in fact would consider it rather rude to bring up the issue of the government they elected in 1933.

  • FromEarth1792

    Moving the discussion on – I would like to register as a unionist from a partly catholic background. My support for the UK is based squarely on the idea of a ‘mongrel nation’ (or multicultural, or multinational if you like); and being part of a political culture that is responsive to a progressive form of gender politics (although in political institutional terms, this is of course more true of Scotland and Wales, than Northern Ireland and Westminster). Even if I trusted SF to deliver substantially on these issues, it would have little purchase in a narrow NI framework or an all-Ireland framework.

  • FromEarth1792

    🙂 one part Catholic, one part Lutheran – weaned on atheism, socialism and feminism.

  • Practically_Family

    I would certainly like to see an analogue to NI21, I believe the name and the association are now a poison chalice, but the idea…. Please bring back the idea.

  • FromEarth1792

    hm, there would need to be a distinction between joiner and integrationist, then – I am not necessarily an integrationist. I like the idea of joint venture, though (in a travel, more than a business sense)

  • Practically_Family

    Doing the dying fly….
    (apologies if you’re under 40)

  • Stan McGlone

    Exactly why are some Unionist? Why be loyal to English handouts and lawmakers who don’t care one bit about the Irish. All the times we have heard the famine song being sang by bigots who miss the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of Irish Presbyterians in mass graves all across Ireland. Missing the fact that the royal navy shipped out several tons of food to England each week. You can go on and on about what the English have done to us here over hundreds of years. Twadell is another Drumcree. The flag is down. Unionism is crumbling and are now very much the minority yet keep on spouting hatred left right and center. They are the cause of their own death.

  • Practically_Family

    Unless there have been some radical changes in the past 5 years or so

    Máirtín Ó Muilleoir wouldn’t be in BCC if it were not for Unionist, or at least Protestant votes.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What if some day most people who are pro-union don’t fit your description of a unionist?
    Will we then get to dictate what a unionist is and boot you out of the club?

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I do feel that the NI21 fiasco has hamstrung any new centrist parties for the foreseeable future, where the electorate will dismiss any new ventures as “sure it’s just another ni21, don’t bother listening to them”

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Indeed, some unionists seem to find issue with a unionist who doesn’t confirm to all the mystically pre determined tick boxes required to carry a unionist card. You’d think that with the message in my post, unionists should want to try and win me and my kind back…whereas all I’ve had is encouragement and understanding from joe average nationalist (or is that seamus average??)

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    The bodies are indeed a big issue, to me included. And I freely admit, I am not going to vote for certain members, but I think it’s important that people consider who they are voting for and not just the colour of the election literature.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Agreed. I wrote a blog post on how to steer the future of NI politics in general,for the good of all. Direct democracy would furnish the parties and the electorate with the raw facts needed to steer policy.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    As Red Lion pertained to:

    BelTel declares that X amount of SF voters would vote pro-union:
    Typical unionist response = Combo of delight, mockery and relief

    Slugger prints the thoughts of one of these people:
    Typical unionist response – Disbelief that a Shinner would vote pro-union.
    There are at least two ways of looking at this:

    1/ Realising and acknowledging that ‘traditional’ unionism is losing its appeal and that it’s time for a rethink but take heart in the idea that there is a greater potential ‘harvest’ out there than previously thought

    / Be outraged and carry on as before all the time wondering why political unionism receives so much criticism, why there are so many ‘Lundys’ these days and why so many young people from a unionist background leave NI. (FYI, most Protestant ex-pats that I know didn’t leave NI because of the Provos…)


    If dropping traditional unionism in favour of a less aggressive form of unionism has the potential to attract people of a nationalist back ground to vote pro-union in contrast to main stream unionism which not only deters people of a nationalist background but also some people of a ‘unionist’ background then does that mean that traditional unionism is ‘less unionist’ in terms of garnering votes for the union?

    If so, does that make the hardline & traditional unionists more nationalist than the moderate unionists and nationalists (in terms of gaining a united Ireland at least)?

    My head hurts….

  • I think you’ve already fallen for Adam’s ‘Trojan Horse’. A Unionist voting for Sinn Fein because of their policies on equality.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed, Morpheus, its getting to a situation when a re-incarnated Sir Basil will have to say “I would not have one about the palce, or one of those, or one of those, or that one , or……..”

    “Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira….”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Joe, Lundy sincerely believed that Derry could not be held. Quite rightly so, as a serious seige train would have taken it in a few days and it almost fell at least twice even during the loose blockade of three and a half months. Lundy was left by his superior officer Mountjoy with a commission to make intellegent decisions, and saving hardship and perhaps “Magdeburg quarter” massacre by opening the town at the request of the King who had issued his military commission, and whom most of the inhabitants of the three kingdoms still regarded as their lawful king was such a decision. And no matter what we have all been so often told it is hardly reasonable to paradoxically declare the man a traitor for unwavering sound loyalty to his lawful king!

    James’s policies:


    “Though often depicted as a despot who sought to impose his own Catholic faith on a Protestant people, James is revealed as a man ahead of his time, a king who pressed for religious toleration at the expense of his throne. The Glorious Revolution, Sowerby finds, was not primarily a crisis provoked by political repression. It was, in fact, a conservative counter-revolution against the movement for enlightened reform that James himself encouraged and sustained.”

  • Joe_Hoggs

    There is a subtle difference in being pro Union and being an actual Unionist. In answer to your question if you feel once you become the majority that people like me need to be expelled then yes I will accept this decision.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Joe, this is exactly what I was recommending you do over on the other thread.

    Hone it a bit, before finishing try and think what your opponent will intellegently argue against it, and try and address these points before they are used against you and caricatured out of all proportion. This will happen anyway, but you will be trying to present to reasonable, thinking people primarily. Finally focus it on some single strong issue, other issues can be addressed in later articles. Despite your modesty about your abilities, you are clearly more than able to prepare a fine committed lead article for Slugger.

    In the Pisan cantos Ezra Pound says “That which thou lovest will not be reft from thee, that which thou lovest is they true heritage.” In the end what we really care about is all that is finally true, the acrimony is all dross. Continue to share what you care about. As you present your Unionism, you want to see an end to much of what I’d want to see an end to too, simply using other political themes! Keep it up.

    But for myself I still think of AmG frequently as a voice of reason, criticising something not because he hates it but because he deeply cares about it. There’s no danger in disagreement if we keep empathically listening to one another, and sometimes even start thinking the unthinkable. Both traditions.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Apologies for not answering your original question on this, been a few too many comments and discussions to keep full track of, digitally overwhelmed by the responses!
    Firstly, I have stated that I did vote for PUP fairly high in my preferences (3rd I think)
    Furthermore, Sinn Fein have (publicly at least) declared no current link with any paramilitary organizations, going so far as to REGULARLY condemn actions made by these groups. Whilst I’m not naive enough to think that there isnt some element within the party that still has the correct numbers to call, of course there is, but they are not “linked” per se. Compared to the PUP have actively maintained the link with the UVF, despite movement within the party members to progress beyond this. I don’t profess to know a great deal about the situation, but it is my perspective that the PUP, whilst having a policy sheet that along with the AP, probably most closely mirrors my own opinions, the PUP do it with the most visible balaclava tucked in the back pocket of any of the parties. This isn’t an indictment of Hutchinson and his history at all either, plenty of reps from parties have a, shall we say, “tainted” history. Would I vote for Hutchinson? No, would I vote for PUP, well I did of sorts. I also think the decline of the PUP in recent times has been a sign of their core support seeing the UVF link for what it is, an old habit that is dying on its arse. I think what they stand for is fantastic, I’m just not sure that even they believe it…Perhaps something like the Lib Dem joke of old (and of recent I suppose..) “It’s really easy to write a manifesto when you know you won’t have to follow through”

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I’m not sure “fallen for” is the right phrase…I am embracing the concept of equality because it has no bearing whatsoever on the union question.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    By the by, this was my first piece for Slugger, I have written on my own site previously about current affairs, craft beer & the hospitality industry. If anyone fancies some background reading into myself prior to being the keynote speaker at next years Sinn Fein Unionist Party Conference, I’m over at http://www.belfastbarman.wordpress.com (sorry for self promo Mick et al.)

  • Fair point. I think true equality can be only obtain if the entire working class unites and demands it. Unfortunately the 4 main parties (Sinn Fein) benefit from a divided working class so true equality won’t be obtained through voting for for them.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    You genuinely think the relationship between, say, the UUP and terrorists is indistinguishable from that between SF and terrorists? Really? Come on.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    the Germans did distance themselves somewhat from the Nazis to the point of banning them and making any kind of apologism for their crimes absolutely unacceptable. The failure to do that is the whole problem with the rise of SF.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    the Queen was amazingly brave and diplomatic in meeting Martin McGuinness. She deserves a lot of credit for stomaching it, given what he did to her country and her family. McG can make gestures like that as he knows it wins him plaudits as some kind of transformative man of peace. Yet he won’t apologise to IRA victims for what they did. Cosmetic only I’m afraid, he doesn’t regret what he did in the IRA at all. He lives off it.

  • Kemple End

    Fully agree with this, the response received to past comments (elsewhere away from this site) has seriously putted me off commenting previously but I’ve decided to give it another go. The vitriol that can be received when you don’t fit nicely in the ‘PUL’ box can be quite pathetic at times.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wouldn’t accept anybody being expelled irrespective of who they are. That’s just crazy talk.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I am absolutely appalled and disgusted

    Jesus will you dry your eyes.

    A guy posts an article saying he’s a unionist who is lending a transfer (not his first preference vote) to Sinn Féin and you’re making out as if a gang waving pitchforks have showed up to burn down your house.

  • submariner

    Yes i do although not the the extent of the DUP who you have conveniently omitted from your question

  • Comrade Stalin

    What are you saying here Joe, that non-conforming unionists should be censored ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why are you so frightened of people arguing with you ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    define “tolerant”.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I think it was a practice rant for the Nolan show

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    you mean as tolerant as you were of me……? or more than that?

  • Cue Bono

    They get off on doing as much harm as they can to unionists (breaking the bastards), so the notion that a unionist would vote for them is beyond parody. Unless of course the unionist in question happened to be a compete idiot. My calculation is that in this case that is unlikely and that therefore the barman is a republican masquerading as a unionist.

  • carl marks

    you of course forget about the history of unionist discrimination when they controlled NI and it links to loyalist killers (links shared by the OO) and you seem unaware about the fact that the first bombing’s and shootings where carried out by unionists,
    so less if the oul righteous rantings, SF aren’t the only ones with bloodstains.
    .Unionism has to start admitting to it part in what happened this constant “woe is us” mopery is getting boring!

  • carl marks

    Bryan do you think that same principal applies to unionism, how does the pact between the DUP,UUP,TUV and the OO with the PUP and UPRG sit with you.
    I am sure you understand that i have trouble with people using the word Principal about one side and turning a blind eye to their own side doing the same thing.
    i have asked a lot of unionists on this site for a answer to this question and they never give one something which in itself tells me a lot.

  • carl marks

    so Joe, Tell me my In laws, they think they are Unionists but think that the OO is wrong at Twaddell, the reaction to the city hall Flag vote was out of order (comprised reached acceptable result) and Jamie, Willy and Gregory are embarrassing.
    Now in the family there are Soldiers,and Ministers they are mostly churchgoing decent people who vote UUP (i believe) but some have mentioned that they may not vote at all owing to the present pact that the UUP has with gangsters ,now they most certainly disagree with you on contentious parades and a few other things, are they unionists?

  • carl marks

    what’s your’s on unionist parties and the OO having a pact (not to mention a long history) with loyalist human rights abusers here in NI.
    please answer i ask every unionist this question and i don’t get a reply !

  • carl marks

    think your being a bit unfair there, they got my respect for the way they kept their nerve when the thugs went for them and the three unionist parties fired venom at them,
    they got my respect and my vote as well last time round.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    It appears (unbeknownst to me and many other pro-union types here) that there are many subtle differences between being a unionist and pro-union.

    I think I know people who would officially tick most of the boxes that you laid out earlier but would still struggle to get the unionist certification on account of some of their notions.

    Thankfully if unionists like me do become the majority we’d have no inclination to tell people that they are no longer unionists and attempt to boot them out of the club.

    The way I see it is unionism should accommodate as many different types as possible. (Though naturally I am biased to a certain viewpoint, but who isn’t?)

  • MainlandUlsterman

    No I didn’t forget about it, I just regarded it with a sense of proportion, in a moral universe in which murder isn’t comparable with giving a job to the wrong person.

    Unionists are more aware than you may realise of the wrongs of our own past and more willing than you may think to disown those who were responsible. I know very few if any unionists who take much pride in the decades of Unionist government from the 20s to the 60s. I know SF aren’t the only ones with bloodstains – all those with bloodstains should answer for it. I’m as appalled by unionists who flirted with terrorists as you are. But I’m not letting that relatively small part of the picture obscure the whole.

    SF is different. Of the big 4 parties, SF is the only one derived from and attached to a terrorist organisation. There *were* unionist parties that were SF equivalents – the PUP and UDP for example – but they didn’t win many unionist votes. What we on the unionist side of things find hard to understand is why more nationalist voters don’t shun SF in the same way we shunned the Loyalist parties. Trying to maintain the UUP and the DUP are “just as bad” because “we all have blood on our hands” is frankly an evasion, an attempt to wriggle out of this unanswered question. It’s unanswered because the truth is, much of Irish nationalism lost its moral bearings long ago and is now too complacent to even try to recover them. Trying to make out terrorism is some kind of morally ambiguous act, which it’s OK to have different views on, is absurd and flaky. But many have been seduced by the convenient (for them) conclusions of that approach.

    It’s simply absurd to compare parties like the UUP, SDLP, Alliance or DUP to Sinn Fein. Indeed, there used to be a phrase most people used when talking about the NI parties, “the constitutional parties”: which meant basically everyone except SF. It was always a massive distinction; SF has moved on but is still dominated by IRA men and is still unwilling to reject its violent past. It’s sends terrible, terrible signals to future generations.

    You have a go at me for singling them out, as if I’m showing some kind of bias (though I apply the same standards to all parties) – but isn’t the problem really that we’re treating them and what they say as normal – that we’re NOT singling them out ENOUGH? If we go along with their line that everyone else is as bad as they are – which is also patently not true – we effectively let them off for what they did in the Troubles. Let’s have justice against ALL the wrongdoers of the Troubles please – Loyalists as well as Republicans and rogue members of the security forces. But in politics, let’s not kid ourselves – it means SF must be in the firing line in a way that other parties, even the DUP, simply aren’t.

  • carl marks

    Everything you say about Irish Nationalism losing it moral compass can also be said about unionism, now you know i’m not a shinner but as you say SF have moved on but with Unionism we still await their Massereene moment, they got rid of the gun a while ago the UVF/UDA (how many have they murdered) are running criminal empires as we speak ,Right now the UUP/DUP/TUV have a pact with their long time friends the UDA/UVF and support a illegal tension raising farce at Twaddell and you still attempt to claim some sort of moral high ground c’mon man give me a break!

  • carl marks

    Imagine how this is going down in other parts of the world,

    GA states “Equality is the way we will beat these racist,sectarian, homophobes B’s”

    Unionist’s respond “that evil man is threatening us with equality”

    So a outside observer is quite likely to conclude that ;
    A, Unionists get defensive when someone uses the word,sectarian, Racist, Homophobes even when he doesn’t use the word unionist, why so touchy boys.

    B, what sort of people regard equality as a threat, most people (who aren’t sectarian racist or homophobic) regard that as a desired state.
    Is there anybody inside the DUP who actually tries to think these things out,do you not understand Arlene,s little outburst did the SF propaganda machine a favour.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Everything you say about Irish Nationalism losing it moral compass can also be said about unionism”

    What, voting in the Troubles terrorists? I think not. And that was my point.

    SF have moved on only in the sense of no longer pursuing a violent strategy; they haven’t been willing or able to renounce their past violence. So yes I still attempt to claim a whole lot of moral high ground over them and make no apology for doing so. But not for myself alone, for all the people who pursued peaceful means and opposed terrorism throughout, which is the vast majority of the population on both sides during the Troubles.

    Indeed, not to claim moral high ground would be a failure to defend the idea that what people do does matter. Not to claim moral high ground over terrorists is to abandon any serious position on human rights. Note, I’ve been clear throughout, I’m applying this to all terrorists (even if this obiously impacts today mainly on SF as the only main party still justifying terrorist acts).

    I’m already hearing the cries of ‘But morality is in the eyes of the beholder.’ However, no serious moral philosopher would agree. SF and its apologists use this bogus moral relativism to pretend the Troubles was some kind of free-for-all scrap everyone took part in – the “we’re all guilty” defence. Sorry, it’s not only unjust on the innocent but devoid of any logical or factual underpinning. We’re not all guilty. The people who did or supported murder were and are guilty of that. The rest of us are not guilty of that. I’m sure we all have guilt for other things – we are human. But if you can’t criticise someone for murder when you’re not a murderer yourself, where are we?

    They are trying to drag the rest us into their mire for obvious reasons. Letting them do so is no small wrong in itself.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would have thought that, in a democracy, where the only influence a citizen has is his vote, if you vote for a party that supports the union, you are unionist, and if you vote for a party that is republican, than you are not.
    It seems fairly straightforward.
    What concerns me is why you bring in all the stereotypical slurs about tattoos, graffiti and Rangers?
    If you came out with that level of abuse in England about Asians, gays or the black community, your feet wouldn’t touch the ground.
    You should stick to pulling pints.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While I’m no fan of Churchill his comment “The further back you can look, the further forward you can see” is perhaps worth thinking about here……..

  • carl marks

    while unionist’s live in orange world where the parties they elect did not form terrorist groups and make statements in support of other terror groups, did not organise the UWC lockout using loyalist terror groups as muscle,
    In Larne the a very popular DUP councillor was a loyalist bomber who lost both legs transporting a bomb to a Catholic pub (its fair to assume that it was not planed to give a warning, loyalist’s never done that with their bombs) Unionist never seemed to understand the irony when they complained about the past of SF councillors or indeed Just their membership of SF.
    Now many examples of this have been produced for you and you still seem to regard the murder of catholics by loyalists while Both the DUP and UUP shared platforms and supported these groups.
    Now lets get up to date,Unionists voted for a Party that not only put members of the UPRG/UDA .up for election at the last council elections but stand shoulder to shoulder with the political leaders (remember what Billy done) of the UVF a group up to its oxters in criminal activity

  • MainlandUlsterman

    None of these things are good and I hope the parties are ashamed of them, but you’re not answering my key 2 points about why SF are not like the other parties here: 1) closeness of relationships; and 2) scale of relationships. There is simply no comparison between paramilitary-based parties like SF / PUP and the constitutional parties on those bases.

    It’s a very selective and eccentric reading of the record of the UUP, DUP, Alliance and SDLP in the Troubles to see them parties supporting terrorism, though I’m sure all of them met terrorists and had to deal with them. Even the SDLP had its controversies over links to guns early on, but to characterise it as a terrorist-supporting party would be absurd.

    Much as you would like unionist parties to be the mirror image of what has happened on the nationalist side, it simply isn’t the case. Was David Trimble a bomber? Did Reg Empey machine-gun people to death? The unionist equivalent of SF is very obviously the PUP.

    Attempts to tar the huge numbers of decent, democratic, peaceful politicians in the constitutional parties, who stood up to terrorist intimidation for 30 years at great personal cost, are deeply wrong and unfair. What Republicans did to Gerry Fitt and his family was appalling; and to all the unionist politicians who had to check under the car for a bomb every morning, let alone the ones Republicans murdered. Republicans violently targeted their political opponents doe decades. Was this really the modus operandi of any other party? Really?

    Your assertions are not a victimless crime, Carl – you are casually insulting the many, many people in the constitutional parties who kept to democratic politics in the most difficult circumstances. We owe the people who put their heads above the parapet to stand up to terrorism in public an immense debt of gratitude, not glib slurs. Those involved in terrorism of any stripe are not fit to clean their shoes. To regard the politician who has to remove a bomb from under his car as morally the same as the politician who ordered the bomb to be put there is pretty vacuous.

    We still remember what happened, so it’s no good trying to airbrush it. It might work with people outside Northern Ireland but you’re not fooling anyone here.

  • eiregain

    ridiculous logic!

  • carl marks

    firstly in reply to your questions,

    Whenever it suited them the mainstream unionist parties stood shoulder to shoulder with loyalists when it didn’t suit them they washed their hands (as you are try to do now) many loyalists including Gusty Spence and David Irvine (i could tell you what the wallpaper in their living room is like) have stated this. Using killers when it suits is as bad as being a killer, i think that is a accepted moral stance by most people.

    Now lets knock down the strawmen,

    “Your assertions are not a victimless crime, Carl – you are casually insulting the many, many people in the constitutional parties who kept to democratic politics in the most difficult circumstances.”

    so the UWC lockout and Drumcree were somehow the actions of those who struggled to keep the democratic alive during the dark days, really!
    and how about the response to the lawfully formed paradise commission encouraging lawbreaking when the ruling does not suit hem, How about the times the mob attacked the police, property and the Alliance party we seen how attached they were to maintaining the democratic process
    Bastions of democracy, not really no.

    now the last bit about comparing he politician was removes the bomb (thought the army done that job but any way good hyperbole) what about the politician who stands with terror leaders,winds the mob up and refuses to condemn them,them goes home to his nice warm fire and bif pay packet while someone dies and someone else goes to Jail!
    I have no intention of fooling anyone, it is you who is in deniel here not me!