Loyalist Engagement Survey: What It Means for Unionism/Loyalism…

Let’s Talk Loyalism (LTL) recently published their survey examining a defined segment of loyalist opinion on the Northern Ireland Protocol, Policing and Politics. The full report, its methodology and its key findings can be found on its website. As the survey was only completed by 1,020 respondents, most of whom as LTL has acknowledged are “middle-aged, male and either from County Antrim, County Armagh or County Down,” it cannot be taken as a representative survey of loyalist opinion in its …

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Teenager critically ill with 40% burns to his body after being engulfed in flames at Eleventh Night bonfire…

If anything is it surprising that more people were not injured or killed over the weekend. From Allison Morris in the Belfast Telegraph: A teenager is in hospital with burns to 40% of his body and face on Monday night after catching fire at a north Belfast bonfire. Eyewitnesses say the 17-year-old, who is from the Ballysillan area, lifted a canister of petrol to throw at the already ignited bonfire when the flames caught the accelerant dousing him in burning …

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The hedonic treadmill of bonfires…

One of the more enlightening moments in life is when you discover the concept of the hedonic treadmill. In simple terms, it is the tendency of a person to remain at a relatively stable level of happiness despite a change in fortune or the achievement of major goals. We see this effect when we buy a new smartphone. For a few weeks, it is the bee’s knees and we marvel at how fast it is and what lovely photos it …

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We Didn’t Start the Fire – The Ongoing Problems with Bonfires…

Inevitably as we enter July in Northern Ireland, there is much talk about the parading season. With that, I thought it would be a good time to discuss one of the most controversial elements that accompany the parading season, namely bonfires and, specifically, Eleventh-night bonfires. Bonfires are a difficult subject; even within the Unionist community, there is not widespread support for them, and many Unionists are dismayed by the negative trappings associated with some bonfires. Bonfires are legitimate expressions of …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 3…

In Part 1 & 2, Steve Bradley laid out a prima facie argument for why political violence has not delivered in Northern Ireland, particularly for the Republican movement during The Troubles and the Unionist movement since the Home Rule crisis. In this part he concludes by looking at the lessons loyalism and republicanism have learned from their previous campaigns of violence. What is very telling on the issue of violence is the vastly different routes that republican and loyalist groupings …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 2…

In Part 1, Steve Bradley laid out a prima facie argument for why political violence has not delivered in Northern Ireland, particularly for the Republican movement during The Troubles. In this part he looks at a much broader history of unionism to further argue that political violence doesn’t work. Unionism and loyalism doesn’t need to look to anyone else to justify using violence. It has its very own long history of threatening force to advance its political objectives. Prior to …

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“But Violence Worked For the Other Side!” – Loyalism’s Dangerous and Dishonest Myth. Part 1…

Earlier this month a few hundred people gathered in Newtonards for a public protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol. Despite the presence of a strong cast of speakers – including former-MP Kate Hoey and former-MEP Ben Habib – it wasn’t the podium soundbites that caught my eye and inspired this article. Instead, it was a very telling vox-pop that Sky News captured with one of the protestors at the event. A lady who’s grey hair, pashmina-type shawl and well-spoken North …

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Unionism in a tailspin is bad for Unionism but it’s bad for everyone in Northern Ireland too…

For some time now I have been voicing grave concerns about the direction in which Unionism is travelling in and indeed the underlying problems that have hamstrung it, however, over the last week we have seen Unionism and Loyalism in a tailspin, and as both groupings begin to lose control, pockets of violence have broken out across Northern Ireland. The core issues that have stymied Unionism at present are as follows: – Leadership vacuum – Lacking a vision – Incompetence …

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Loyalism’s Response to the Northern Ireland Protocol…

We have seen media coverage of the banners, posters and murals being put up rejecting the Irish Sea Border, the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and even in some cases withdrawing support from the Good Friday Agreement and calling for the collapse of Stormont. However, behind this disapproval and anger, we have not seen analysis of why specifically loyalists are rejecting the Northern Ireland Protocol; their understanding of recent political events relating to it and what they propose to …

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Grass Roots Unionist culture – lacking the voices it needs…

When I was working on a community history project in Mid-Antrim several years ago, I engaged with bonfire committees across the district. They were in receipt of a grant from the local council to help make their Eleventh Night festivities family-friendly and to enable participants to be more aware of the traditions they sought to uphold. As part of my work, I referred to the (possible) origins of bonfires in 17th century celebrations to greet the victory of William of …

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Loyalism must succeed where Sinn Fein has failed…

Moore Holmes is a Loyalist from East Belfast. You can find him on Twitter I have a fond memory of my dad telling me how foolish he thought the phrase, “learn from your mistakes.” Each time it came up in a conversation, he’d half-chuckle and half-scoff, provocatively asking, “why not learn from someone else’s mistakes and save yourself the hassle?” Although my dad would be at pains to point out that I’ve sung “Fathers Advice” far more than I’ve ever …

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If Unionism is to maintain Northern Ireland’s membership of the UK then it must change and evolve – otherwise, it will become a footnote in a forgotten story…

There is an old joke within Orange circles that goes, if you put 10 Orangemen into a room for 3 hours and task them with putting together a strategy on their lodge’s ambition for the next 10 years, the outcome would be – 15 completely different and contradicting ideas that all must be implemented. The results being 3 people leaving the Orange for good (2 indicating it’s gone soft, 1 citing it’s got too extreme), 3 leave to set up …

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Loyalism: The Enduring Perception of Loss…

Background My university dissertation that I began researching and writing in Summer 2013 to eventually submit in Spring 2014 asked the question ‘Why do Northern Ireland loyalists feel they have lost out from the peace process and current political settlement?’ This was a question that I genuinely was curious about during the 2012-2013 flag protests resulting from the vote in December 2012 in Belfast City Council to reduce the number of days the union flag flew atop Belfast City Hall. …

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No Peter Weir, there is nothing to be said for saying another Mass…

You might remember the Fr Ted episode Speed 3. Here is a handy episode summary from IMDB: Ted is shocked to find that Pat Mustard, the island milkman, has been having affairs with his lady customers – possibly including Mrs. Doyle – and reports him to the dairy manager. As a result Pat gets sacked and Dougal takes on the delivery route, as the manager trusts a man of God. A vengeful Mustard has attached a bomb to the milk …

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Parity of esteem: A unionist perspective

I have been a supporter of the Good Friday Agreement since its inception. I believe many of the mechanisms contained therein are sensible and necessary to manage the divided society we live in, and I accepted the principle of consent as a reasonable compromise in pursuit of a peaceful and democratic society. Nonetheless, while I have been a fierce advocate of the Agreement, I certainly won’t dismiss every criticism levelled at it. Mandatory coalition, for example, has led to a …

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Can fresh Perspectives help a community tell its changing story?

How can a community tell its story? That’s the question Jonathan Hodge has been asking as he visited other places and communities to bring back ideas and challenges to loyalist communities in Northern Ireland. This week he hosted a discussion in Shankill Road library and launched his new Perspectives magazine which looks at identity, rights and the United Kingdom.

‘We have lost ground in the past 20 years’, claims PUP’s John Kyle

Society in Northern Ireland has gone backwards since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, argues the former leader of the Progressive Unionist Party John Kyle, who is also a GP in Belfast. “In my view we have lost ground in the past 20 years,” he says in the latest Forward Together podcast. John believes that we need to review the progress that was achieved and consider why it has lost momentum.  He suggests three factors enabled the conflict to …

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“A leadership vacuum” that must be filled

A leadership vacuum is causing harm across Northern Ireland, including in loyalist areas, and contributes to the lure of paramilitaries, warns victims’ campaigner Alan McBride in the latest Forward Together podcast. “I think we probably need to put a lot of investment into areas like East Belfast and the Shankill and other areas to try and improve the leadership potential,” he argues. Alan adds: “As a grassroots working class Protestant loyalist myself, I have a real feel for that community. …

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Future Ireland / Loyalist Voices: A Conversation I’d Love To Have Someday

I like the idea of the conversation. I’ve always found conversations very useful. Arguments are too heated, always driven by aggression, and even debates always seem poised in an uncomfortable, adversarial way. But the conversation is good. A conversation is calm and much more likely to be geared toward understanding.  It was mid-morning in a nice bar in Northumberland Road, Dublin. My friend was across the road in Dublin and Wicklow’s Orange Hall. I’d been in there earlier and absolutely loved it, as any Loyalist anorak …

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What should I tell my kids about the 12th July?

My kids always ask me what the flags are about. They find the black ones scary. But this year they were very impressed by the bunting and fresh Union Jacks in our area. ‘It’s making me feel very British’, said my five year old. ‘Me too, it makes me proud to be British’, added the seven year old. ‘That’s interesting,’ I said, thinking about their Irish passports in the drawer. And the fact that they tried to turn bath water …

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