The Green Shirts

Young nationalists must form a Right-wing, ultra-Christian political movement known as the Green Shirts to realistically bring about the process of unity within republicanism. This is how the Pope’s message to Ireland should be interpreted, according to Radical Unionist and conservative evangelical Christian commentator Dr John Coulter in his latest Fearless Flying Column today.

So how should the Pope’s message to the faithful who attended in Dublin and to the faithless who have abandoned the Catholic faith be interpreted in a practical way?

Some Unionists have spent the Protestant Marching Season discussing how to re-create a single Unionist party.

But although they each share the goal of Irish unity, the Provos, Stoops, Stickies, Erps and the Eeks (erigi) don’t have a clue how to form a united nationalist movement.

These parties are so busy trying to squeeze nationalism into a Left-wing socialist hole that they have forgotten the real solution – swing republicanism to the Hard Right.

To achieve this, the nationalist family needs to look to its youth, and launch a uniformed republican version of the popular predominantly Protestant Boys’ Brigade movement.

The Green Shirts – not to be confused with soccer fans known as the Green and White Army – will instil much-needed pride in Irish patriotism.

Nationalist adults seem to have contracted the same disease as Unionists – they love infighting.

What nationalism needs is not a united party, but a united republican youth movement.

General Eoin O’Duffy’s patriotic Blueshirts blew a wonderful opportunity to build a uniformed nationalist youth organisation.

But the Blueshirts fell apart because of O’Duffy’s drunken antics and homosexuality (especially in an Irish society then dominated by the Irish bishops when being gay was a cardinal sin), which greatly offended Catholic middle class support for the movement.

Had the Protestant Lisburn journalist Ernest Blythe been Blueshirt commander, the organisation would have become the most influential movement in Ireland.

It could even have persuaded Unionists to back a united Ireland in the Commonwealth with the British Throne as the big boss.

If Blythe had staged a coup against O’Duffy, the Blueshirts would not have descended into an Irish version of English fascist boss Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, or Nazi Ernst Rohm’s Brownshirts.

A viable attempt at building a nationalist version of the BB was Fianna na hEireann, but rather than becoming a credible band of young patriots, the Fianna became nothing more than a breeding ground for the IRA.

Older IRA godfathers politically abused the Fianna movement as a chance to ‘blood’ new republican death squads.

Uniformed and Right-wing the Fianna certainly was, but it eventually lacked credibility with devout Catholic nationalists.

The opposite was the case with the Catholic Boy Scout movement. It was well-disciplined, very credible with Christian Catholics – but with no political clout.

Even into the 1980s, the BB was the most influential of Christian uniformed organisations in the Protestant community.

In the 1970s, when I was a young hack reporting on the activities of the BB’s Ballymena and District Battalion, the movement across Ireland, north and south, boasted almost 30,000 officers and boys.

Any new nationalist Greenshirts would stress the need for unity among young Catholics; pride in their Irish language, uniform and Christian faith.

There would be a clear emphasis on community responsibility, which would go a long way to eliminating the yob culture which has plagued nationalist districts since the republican ceasefires.

The pervert priest scandals have shattered the ‘social hero’ image of clerics among modern Catholic young people.

Realistically, Northern nationalists are never going to agree in the short term to National Service, even if it is with the Southern Irish Defence Forces.

But a hardline Right-wing Greenshirts will give young nationalists a democratic pride in their patriotism and their communities.

After all, they would just be following in the footsteps of the radical Presbyterians who were the backbone of the United Irishmen.

Likewise, while the Pope was in Ireland, the current Protestant Marching Season was being brought to a close across Northern Ireland with the traditional Last Saturday demonstrations by the Royal Black Institution.

So nationalists must lay claim to the next Marching Season by promoting the Catholic Orange tradition.

Given Protestant voter apathy, unionists already rely heavily on the Catholic unionist tradition to get elected in many supposedly safe pro-Union constituencies.

Just as St Patrick’s Day is viewed as a nationalist holiday, 12 July is seen as the Protestants’ ‘Big Day Out’.

Historically, nationalists have as much right to commemorate the Williamite/Jacobite war in Ireland as unionists.

Unionists can shout about their heroes Marshal Schomberg at the Boyne and Ginkle a year later at the equally crucial battle of Aughrim in 1691.

Nationalists have their heroes, too. What about the ablest Irish military commander of the day – Patrick Sarsfield, who brought the Williamite campaign to a grinding halt in Connaught?

What about the Dundalk-based viceroy Tyrconnell who in 1689 launched the Jacobite guerrilla force, the Rapparees, which hounded Schomberg’s forces with their hit and run tactics?

During the so-called Tan War hundreds of years later, IRA chief Michael Collins was to base his lethal Flying Columns on the strategy of the Rapparees.

Loyalist tune, The Sash, marks Williamite conquests at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne – but conveniently leaves out the routing of a Williamite militia at the Break of Dromore in Co Down in March 1689.

The hero that day was Jacobite officer Richard Hamilton. And let’s not forget if it was not for King Billy’s predominantly Catholic elite troops, the Dutch Blues Guard, King James may have won the day at the Boyne.

The annual Sham Fight re-enacting the Boyne may then have been taking place in nationalist Swatragh rather than unionist Scarva.

Unionists mark that war as the Glorious Revolution, but what about the Treaty of Limerick negotiated by Sarsfield, who by that time had backed William politically and militarily into a humiliating corner?

The Marching Season sees the traditional loyalist ‘Kick The Pope’ flute bands out in force.

But in 1690, Pope Alexander VIII ordered a special Te Deum to celebrate William’s Boyne victory.

The Boyne was actually part of the War of the League of Augsburg, which saw Protestant England and Holland team up with Catholic Spain and the Papacy to fight Louis of France.

Even after King Billy left Ireland to fight Louis in Europe, the Irish Catholic gentry formed the Patriot Parliament to undo Oliver Cromwell’s land conquests on the island.

While unionists mess about with a broad north Antrim accent they like to brand as Ulster Scots, nationalists have laid claim to the Irish language.

For many years, an Orange lodge, Ireland’s Heritage, marched with Irish gaelic sayings on its banner.

It was later disbanded as the Beast of Kincora and Tara terror boss, William McGrath, was unmasked as a key member.

At long last, nationalists are recognising the thousands of Catholics who fought and died for the British Crown in two world wars and other global conflicts.

Nationalists now need to take a further step and re-claim their Catholic Orange heritage and see the rebranded Orangefest as an integral part of their own Irish culture.

But time is not on their side. They need to do so before the hardline Protestant Orange Reformation movement within Orangeism completely airbrushes Catholicism’s contribution to the Glorious Revolution out of history altogether.

Follow Dr John Coulter on Twitter. @JohnAHCoulter

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

2 comments to ''The Green Shirts"

  1. "There would be a clear emphasis on community responsibility, which would go a long way to eliminating the yob culture which has plagued nationalist districts since the republican ceasefires."

    Much as the influence of the Boys Brigade has eliminated yob culture in Loyalist areas we must suppose.

  2. For all the consideration given to Kitsons counterinsurgency methods, it’s hard to think of one phenomena that has been so detrimental over the long term to the Irish independence movement as the one voluntarily inflicted by the abandonment of Nationalism as an organisation principle.

    The situation in the North has been reduced to one of competing bureaucracies, rather than the advancement of a people’s, because Irish Republicanism has unquestioningly adopted the progressive orthodoxy of abolishing the Irish as a people. Thus considerations of Unity framed this way are undertaken with all the associated urgency such an irromantic concept demands. That the rejection of this is now seen as “far right”, is a tragic farce.

    A glance towards our friends and family all across the West shows youth today are yearning for identity, the sooner Irish boys and girls are given one, the sooner Unity on our island will come.


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