Flags, here we go again

Belfast activist Davy Carlin, a long time contributor to The Blanket makes a return to article writing with his thoughts on the flags issue that has plagued Belfast since the end of last year.

Over recent times we have seen leaders of Nationalism call for border polls while seeing leaders of Unionism once again using a flag to whip up the loyalist working classes.

Such issues, more especially at this time, do little more than further enhance division and sectarianism, while for some, seeking also to divert eyes away for the real and essential issues for working class communities.  The old adage of ‘you can’t eat a flag’ couldn’t be more apt at this time of recession, cuts, job losses and misery for many.

Yet for many of the professional political classes the flag ascends above the interest of working class communities and at times they will fiddle that tune together  for self-interest and to attempt to avert attention away from their ‘lack of delivery’, ‘delivery’ {their word} that they themselves had promised. 

Stormont may have been set up on the basis of institutionalised sectarianism, yet that does not mean that we can further allow that institution to settle into the seemingly lifestyle choice of a dished out, carved up, wink and nod forte of many.

In working class communities our life expectancy is many years lower, unemployment is higher, mental illness, addiction and suicide over the years has grown, fuel and even food poverty is on the rise.

That is the real world for many outside of the Stormont bubble, and political optics, manoeuvring and shenanigans won’t change that - it is time for us to play our part in changing that.

We have seen much anger on our streets in recent times on the issue of flags, yet rocking the boat on such issues has also risen up many other issues of concern, from poverty and socio and economic deprivation through to lack of housing, unemployment  and  chance for a decent life.

These are the issues that not only divide us from most of the Stormont class but also unite us within our daily lives within working class communities.

Flags won’t change those material conditions and such basic wants and rights, but we can, if we begin to stand together and demand them’.


  1. I despair when i read such self righteous nonsense.Its called Sectarianism,deal with that first then we might have a chance at persuading our fellow workers of the merits of worker unity.

  2. Davy,
    Great post....Exactly where it is needed and to pen a business term "Just in time management" on this issue and how working class people should not be hookwinked by these smokescreens by the new stormont political elite. A coming of consciousness is needed, hopefully symbolic non- issues like these will somehow unite - if only for a day, or rational thought what is happening here,at whos expense, and for the benefit of whom or we are doomed for another generation of pure sectarian tit for tat shamming nonsence by the elected representative up there at stormont.

  3. Davy,
    Under the present macro-political environment (NI as part of the UK) it is highly likely that this is never going to happen. There are two peoples here on this island; one is British and the other Irish. What you are calling for may happen in single national society but not one such as here where there are not two communities but two peoples with diverging cultures and beliefs and therein lies the crux of the problem and not all those social issues highlighted by the flag problem which I agree are both shared by the working class among the Irish and the working class among the British. Only through the removal of Britain from Ireland, once and for all, will the stranglehold of Unionism on the Protestant working class be weakened enough to the point that just, maybe, maybe the Protestant working class will be able to see the wood for the trees.
    The flags problem and its associated protests of road closures is not only a protest against democracy but also illegal and those who participate in these protests, begun by the DUP who have acted like Pontus Pilate and washed their hands of any blame, are viewed as loyalists thugs by Nationalists and not as working class brethren protesting for working class rights and can be borne out by the attack on the Short Strand by these Unionist protestors. Plus, and this is the biggest plus, the issues highlighted as working class Protestant issues were all publicly stated in direct reference to what Nationalist had and they didn’t have……not one Unionist talked about the issues affecting both social groups, not one. Remember, Unionists on Belfast City Council prior to the vote on the flag were indifferent to it and only voted against it at the last minute because they claimed that they didn’t like the smugness of Sinn Fein!!!!! Not one mention of working class Protestant issues.
    To make matters worse, the highlighting of Protestant working class issues, was not a call to highlight their plight but a subtle subterfuge by the DUP to gain funding for the ‘community projects’ in Protestant areas – feed the Beast from the East and his cronies - while at the same time undermine the Alliance and thus re-take a Westminster seat. Protestant working class issues were never the issue.
    Peace funding is due to run out this Spring and with Cameron dithering over the UK’s position in Europe the funding was coming to an end and not likely to be renewed as the channels to renew are slowly closing for good. To overcome this, our wonderful hug and kisses across the peace wall society was too cosy for more funding. Something had to be done to show how close NI could slip back in to the abyss and the flag issue gave this impetus that it needed while resolving the Westminster seat for the DUP.

    Why else was a minister from a foreign state – Tannaiste Eamon Gilmore (a state that is an anathema to Unionists) cordially invited to attend a meeting involving the British secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the two heads of the British Stormont administration here to discuss an internal British issue that on reflection had absolutely nothing to do with the foreign state in the first place!!!!!Why was Nick Clegg not invited??????????

    The Reason is very clear and stated by Gilmore after the meeting when he publicly stated that he would try his best to seek out more peace funding – Ireland takes over the Presidency of the EU this year – has the penny dropped now especially since the trouble has dissipated since this announcement. Oh, we still have the odd road closure but that great impartial police force, the PSNI, has stated it is taking of the kid gloves to deal with the protestors (it didn’t do this weeks ago) and although roads are disrupted the violence has calmed right down……….It was all about the money Davy, little to do with the working classes.

    So Davy to reiterate, there is absolutely no chance of uniting the working class here for Unionism backed up by Westminster is too powerfull to allow the two lowest social groups to come together. Remove Britain and yes, you have a chance.

  4. This current"fleg" dispute was started by the DUP and UU as an attack on the Alliance party,with the distribution of 40,000 leaflets in east Belfast stating the Alliance party intended to vote for" tearing down our flag"now only the dumbest of the dumb would have been unaware of the violent reaction this would create,and with the thugs aka "community workers"always willing to increase their stranglehold on their community, and increase their coffers this has offered them a golden opportunity and one they have grabbed with both hands.the deprivation in that working class area couldnt be further from their selfish minds,I do agree however with Davy the border poll and the "fleg"dispute is a godsend to both quisling $inn £ein and their cronies in the dup,these are nothing more than whipping up sectarian tension for the sake of deflecting attention away from the austerity measures these parties are and will be downloading onto these communities on behalf of their tory bosses ably aided by the "peoples army"the uvf gangsters,these people are and have been the biggest hindrance to any working class unity in this place,and that I think will remain as long as these organisations are allowed to retain the stranglehold that they currently hold over their communities,I cant see either the DUP nor indeed q$3 having the will or the wish to change this,it suits their agendas..

  5. Nial

    Thomas G Mitchell writes some decent stuff on societies divided between natives and invaders.

  6. Spot on Niall. You cannot progress the class struggle while partition remains the constitutional norm, sectarianism has a more powerful political dynamic capable of overriding class consciousness. Only in a United Ireland following a full British withdrawal can politics here START to become about ordinary issues. The ending of partition is the key but it is not the end, it's just the beginning as I'm sure you'd agree

  7. Niall; very well said. A great post altogether.

    Davy; we can talk til' we're blue in the face about uniting working class people but it'll never happen here under current circumstances. Stormont for one thing, needs the division to operate.

    Also, there is absolutely no desire within the majority of working class Protestants to make change for the better, together with their working class catholic neighbours. They want to rule and rule only. They don't want to 'share' or any of that nonsense. That British superiority we know so well is entrenched in them and they'll do all in their power to get back the upper hand. thats not going to happen but if they cant see it for themselves, cant see how beneficial working class solidarity would be for them then thats not my problem. The bus is leaving whether theyre on it or not.

    Totally agree with Niall....until Madame Britannia packs up and leaves, then the long drawn out process of embarking upon some sort of 'reconciliation' can't even begin.

    If the Brits are really serious about bringing peace to Ireland they should pay us back what we're owed, what they've stolen from us and f*** off home.

  8. Interesting read but Niall that was a brilliant comment as well. Well said mo chara.

  9. Stephen,

    Both of us could run out of paper when making a list of terrible killings--indeed could you name a " good " one--or indeed one that solved anything?

    I can't. But I know of at least one murder could unite. Yesterday it was proven that Joe McCann was murdered by the BA. This is the same peson who after kidnapping three members of the UVF because they raided an OIRA arms dump, released them. Not because they were members of another 'Army' and he was up holding part of the Geneva Convention.

    This is from 'The Lost Reveolution (Amazon)

    In another incident McCann led a unit which captured 3 UVF members in Sandy Row. The UVF had raided an OIRA arms dump earlier that day and the OIRA announced they would execute the three prisoners if the weapons were not returned. McCann eventually released the three UVF members because they were "working class men like yourself".

    Stephen if the UVF had kidnapped three OIRA men, do you think they would have been released because they were "working class men like yourself ?

  10. Frankie...good post and shows the humanity in Joe McCann that another Gusty Spence acknowledged over 40 years ago. In 1974..October..to be precise..I was one of a group of 4 volunteers who were sent to the prison hospital to get a UVF internee out to safety. When we broke the hospital door down we found an Official IRA man in the same ward..curled up in a ball and hiding under a bed. Along with the UVF man..and an ODC..we escorted all of them to Compound 14--which was Loyalist internee cage--where he stayed until the place settled down and the Army regained control of the camp the next day. His name escapes me but I know he was serving a sentence for possession of arms which were found in the Lower Falls during the curfew of June 1970. He received the same hospitality as the ODC and was more than grateful for us bringing him there. When we went into the hospital and told him who wer were his reply was..Thank Fuck..I thought yous were Provies.

  11. Acts of humanity are always to be found. Recently I talked to a blanket man who was there at the early days of the protest. He got beat every day, on many occasions more than once. He was getting beat so badly one day that loyalist prisoners intervened and hauled the screws off. Each time he got out for a shower or wash when he came back to his cell the loyalist on the wing had left a Mars bar or sweets beneath his pillow. Small gestures like that meant a lot to him.

  12. Stephen; 'Thank fuck... I thought yous were Provies'

    Reminded me of the time when in 1989 as a schoolkid I was working in a hotel and two masked and armed men burst through the bar door. Everybody froze.

    'Provisional IRA, nobody move' one said.

    'Thank fuck' one of the regulars shouted, 'I thought yous were the UVF'

  13. Niail,
    I been looking at European investment since your post. Here's a PDF from PEACE (promote economic and social progress in
    Northern Ireland. It also encourages contact, dialogue and reconciliation between
    nationalists and unionists and helps consolidate the peace process.).

    And from 1995 PEACE has 'invested' at least 2.7billion euro...Thats a lot of brown envelopes..

  14. Stephen,

    Thanks for you reply. Maybe more 'war stories' like you and Anthony have mentioned should be told more often.

    Stephen, I grew up in Ardoyne and never threw a petrol bomb (some of the readers/posters already know). My take is this.

    There is a debate going on within Irish republicanism and when they mention injustuces carried out by the HET or they call into question a decision the HET made. Instead of getting involved in a war of words. Why don't you 'flag' more the damage HET investigations are having on yourside of the oxymorons (the ripple effect that has on working class families within your community)?. Or the difficulty ex prisoners have in finding steady employment or the lack of funding within your area? Or 35% of republicans and 50% of loyalists are on sedatives and tranquilisers .

    Stephen do you agree with what David Ervine says here and Brendan Hughes says here?

  15. frankie:

    that is a lot of brown envelopes.

    The Sheriff and his deputy are in Brussels today reference peace money.
    It is said they will be tasting Brussels Pate' !

    ffs, my head could be doing with some peace, will they give me some peace money. They even get money for public forums, Get in there Anthony, this is a public forum, although its social network.

    sherrif and deputy in brussels

  16. Here's a nightmare senario for the flag dispute and loyalists being responsible for bringing back British troops to the streets of the north (or even police from another country).. It continues into the marching season and there is heavy, sustained rioting similar to the Battle of the Bogside. Now Matt Baggot has said We need 300 more officers to hold the line.

    What if he can't get them and the line is 'breached'? Will some of the almost 5,000 British Army personel still billited in the North be called to 'refree' again? Or because of some obscure piece of EU polcing laws mean Matt Baggot will be able to ask his friends on the mainland for 'back up' (Britain & Frances armies are getting very cosey lately, why not other police forces)...

  17. The BBC are saying.

    The European Union has provided Northern Ireland with more than £1bn of peace funding since 1995. .
    Yet on the PDF link I posted it says.

    The PEACE I programme (1995-99) was launched in July 1995. Between then and 1999 it part-financed EUR 692 million worth of expenditure under the Structural Funds.

    For the 2000-06 period, total expenditure part-financed under PEACE II was EUR 796 million

    The extension of PEACE II to 2006 brought extra funding of EUR 144 million for 2005-06..

    For the current planning period (2007-2013), Northern Ireland has six programmes with a financial contribution of EUR 1.1 billion, including a continuation of the PEACE programme.

    What happened to at least the other 1.7 billion.?

    While I'm on the subject of money. I remember hearing that just after the Northern Bank robbery they changed the design of £5 notes wiping millions from the booty. And some was burnt in or close to Cork (I can be corrected) But did any of the money go towards helping the communities who gave their support (even passively by buying AP/RN every week and reporting anti-social behavouir to their local advice centres and not the police, generally turning a blind eye)? Was there an extra swing put up in a park funded by 'Mr A. N Other, or did 'wee Maggie who lives on her own on a pension and who lost her son/husband during the conflict and was there at the first civil rights marches' get her fuel bill paid by 'some stranger'. Did any youth clubs either employ an extra youth worker or find funding to train someone by anonymous donations?

    It'sjustmackers, there are lots of people getting big brown envelopes and it isn't either of us..

  18. Frankie; the Northern Bank money went to buy big houses like the one shown in another thread.

    In terms of Peace money- this was never going to have a direct impact on the streets here. Partnerships and consortiums were set up (with all the 'right' people) on them, to put in huge bids for programmes. Unfortunately they needed to employ people to run the programmes and in most cases, jobs were already boxed off before the funding was even released.

    These people for the most part, were not the right people for the jobs. They made a career out of running from meeting to meeting and getting nothing done. Setting up project after project (that were then funded too) that were never going to have a bearing on our communities.

    Prisoners groups done well - but you had to be the right
    kind of ex prisoner before you accessed support.

    I witnessed Peace money being rolled out and I've never seem such a shambolic mess in my life. The money could have potentially made a difference but greed, power, control and jobs for the boys got in the way.

    SEUPB to be fair to them make funded groups jump through hoops when monitoring and evaluating their money and you will hear the moans and complaints from the very well looked after groups about this. Can't understand this myself as, if you're spending the money well and correct, then monitoring finance and outcomes should be a doddle.

    Another huge issue is they all ring up their mates in said consortiums and ask for 'letters of support' for their projects. These mean nothing only a return of the same favour when needed for the next big pot.

    There were were some sporadic groups, genuinely trying to make a change but they're far outweighed by the bigpartnerships
    and consortiums.

  19. Frankie:

    "What happened to at least the other 1.7 billion.? "

    Well, it seems it is being laundered to buy properties, like Government House/Glendarragh house, but, wait a minute, maybe its a major euro lotto win!. the biggest money went to The Peace Bridge in Derry, some went on Public peace forums, I think we could say the rest went to build the PEACE WALLS!. The people who receive these amount are shrewed, until they are caught.

  20. Talking about acts of humanity that go untold during the troubles. Is the song 'A snipers promise' true and is it about Brendan Hughes?

  21. Frankie:

    It has been said, "The Snipers Promise" was a stickies song, It was written by Christy Moore.

  22. Frankie:

    I stand corrected on saying Christy Moore wrote snipers promise, it was wolfe tones

  23. ItsjustMacker; it was written by a fella called Joe McCann but its sometimes mistakenly assumed that it was about the OIRA's Joe McCann.

    Wolfetones covered it but in my opinion Kathleen Largey was outstanding singing it.

  24. Belfast Bookworm:

    Thanks for that correction, and your correct, no one could sing it like Kathleen, also, Only Our Rivers Run Free, I still have the original tape, "Price of Freedom", and another one came out, "Price of justice", I don't think the late Big Joe Mc Cann wouldn't have pulled the trigger!, but it's uncanny to say the least, it being written by a Joe Mc Cann, thats new to me.

  25. That song was written by a Joe McCann and not big Joe, I,ve been relibaly informed that someone was nearly killed in the cracked cup for singing it

  26. belfast Bookworm-Frankie and AM..sorry for the delay in getting back but work commitments and all that...firstly on the story side of things..there will always be 2 sides but this has to be recognised from the outset. Having worked for prisoners Group for 5 years and interacting with many ex republican prisoners of all hues I am very aware of the shared difficulties in those communities. I am also aware of the power of story telling. I was part of a delegation that took the UVF story to St. Mary's during the last Feile an Phobail--these things are important. There are many stories of mutual respect amongst former enemies during the times of conflict but understandably not THAT many. We can make up for that now though by coming to understand why we did what we did--forget about the whataboutery--and try to actually co-habit. In relation to the sentiments expressed byt Ervine and Hughes I have mixed thoughts. I consider myself to be an Ulsterman..Northern Irish..Northern Ireland to me is part of the British Isles. Culturaly and in most other ways I feel more " Irish " than British and would alin myself more with someone from North Dublin than say North London. My problem--rightly or wrongly--was that I felt the need to oppose what I seen as violent republicanism. I know this could spark big debate that was my take on things as a young man growing up. Hindsight gives you the capacity to reassess and see things in a different light..but then we are all wise sages after the event. The wall issue is a difficult one as far as I am concerned. Ideally I would like to say trail them down because they are devisive. But its not so simple as we all know. For one I am lucky enough not to live in an interface area although I did and was born 2 streets from Short Strand in the 50's. I know it sounds over cliched but my own opinion is that I would rather develop the will amongst the people to bring down the non physical walls that divide our society.

  27. Stephen: fair play to you for posting on TPQ, I've been interested in reading your posts so far. It's rarely you get the chance to have any sort of open communication or debate with people from the opposite side of the tracks.

    You said you felt the need to oppose armed republicanism. Using 'felt' in the past tense makes me assume that you feel different now. In all truthness, 'going at' the IRA was fair game. All IRA volunteers knew they were risking prison or death before they joined so in that respect, IRA (or other) volunteers made that choice, for right or wrong.

    What I have great difficulty in coming to terms with was the blatant sectarian killing; the 'any taig will do' attitude that permeated loyalist paramilitary groups.

    I read something recently where a prominent loyalist spokesperson was asked 'would you do the same again?' and he answered 'it would depend on the circumstances'.

    The said person was jailed for murdering two young postmen, unarmed, no threat to anyone. What I can't understand is what circumstances could ever justify killing two working men, trying to make ends meet like the rest of us?

    I know you can't speak for the person in question, but I've often wondered is this attitude still rife among loyalists? Should the 'peace process' go belly up, will the majority of loyalists want to kill ordinary people again, just because they're perceived to be catholic, in your opinion?

    I'm not having a go - I welcome the opportunity to have an open discussion with someone from the loyalist community. I remember that feile event, but chose not to attend.

  28. Marty: 'I,ve been relibaly informed that someone was nearly killed in the cracked cup for singing it'

    Kind of understandable. I feel like like this when the Wolfetones sing it.

  29. Belfast Bookworm..I too welcome the opportunity to talk to republicans and have done for many years. I also have republican friends from different shades who I am in constant contact with. When I say felt the need to I am saying that is what I felt at the time. Now? It is difficult because I am armed with the knowledge that violence is futile and achieved absolutely nothing here during the most recent conflict. I do admit that my views--on most things--have developed and changed over the years. I deplore dissident violence but dont feel the need to actively oppose it--prefer to leave it to the powers that be--maybe its because I am too old now!! I would hate to ever be in the same position again as I was in 1971 when I thought that joining a paramilitary grouping was the only way to stop what I seen as an onslaught from the IRA on the community I belonged to. The sectarian nature of Loyalist paramilitaries is something that cannot be denied--but then neither can the accusations pointed towards republican groupings. Indiscriminate bombings and shootings in my area was one of the main factors in me joining up. And without making excuses I believe--and I cant speak for the UDA here-- the reasoning for the shooting of so many ordinary Catholics was to try and illustrate to the Catholic working classes that the IRA couldnt protect them and hopefully turn against them. Sounds bad, but i firmly believe that was the thinking behind it. I also believe there was an attitude of " lets give them back more than they can inflict"--and this was the simplest way to do it. In answer to your last question I am certainly in no position to speak for loyalists of today..but what I will say is that the vast majority of ex combatants that I know would prefer to go forward with dialogue--myself included. Personally I dont believe the belief or will is there amongst ex combatants who have seen too much senseless deaths--for no visible return--this past 50 years.

  30. Belfast Bookworm lol a cara I feel that way when the Wolftones sing ANYTHING!

  31. Interesting article for those dereaming of working class unity in 'norn-iron'. Check out the political trajectory of mr Midgley who left the NILP and formed the CLP. Ended up going from anti-partition to unionist.


    YOU HAVE BENN WARNED. mwhahahaha!!!

  32. Good man Stephen good to hear it from a different point of view.

  33. Stephen; thanks for your answer. It's thought provoking, particularly your take on targeting Catholics in an attempt to show the IRA couldn't protect.

    I grew up in north Belfast so the loyalist threat was omnipresent. My family suffered greatly at their hands and if anything, I feel it cemented our belief that the IRA was right in it's course of action. Not in everything, like you say, I for one believe that the IRA commited sectarian acts, but as an organisation it wasn't sectarian. If this was so why were there people who were from a Protestant background in it's ranks?

    I was terrified of loyalists while I was growing up and our home had all the trappings you'd expect to see in most houses where we lived; security gates, bullet proof glass, window grilles. It wasn't a nice way to live but I only realised this when I grew up: it wasn't normal. I'd hate for things to go back to that.

    Having said that, I don't believe I was wrong for supporting the IRA. I was only a teenager when the ceasefire was called and maybe if I'd been a combatant id think differently but, despite everything - and having won nothing, I still believe the war was necessary and still believe the existence of the IRA was justified. That's not to say I applauded all its acts of course, but many, I believe were necessary and justified.

  34. Marty; did you know they're back in Belfast for their last, ever, ever concert this year?

    They've been saying the last ever ever concert for about 20 years., they do my nut in!

  35. Stephen,

    feeling as you do about having a greater affinity with North Dublin than with North London, what is it that wants you to remain linked to Britain? I don't think republicans fully grasp what it is that moulds that sentiment, preferring to explain it away in terms of loyalists simply being bigots who want to lord it over their nationalist neighbours.

  36. Stephen,

    Could you flesh out on the point Anthony said about you having more in common with someone from North Dublin than Finchley. A few weeks ago Harry from the PUL community said here on the TPQ he felt politically British as opposed to politically Irish.

    What I found interesting Stephen was this comment you made..

    Culturaly and in most other ways I feel more " Irish " than British

    I wonder if Harry thinks the same?

    On the flag dispute can you explain what part of Loyalism is represented in the Union flag. The diagonal cross is St Patrick's cross nothing to do with loyalism and why is the red hand sometimes used in loyalist symbols, when it has nothing to do with loyalism either..? I often wonder if the PUL community knew where some of their symbols originated from would they still use them?

    I've been looking at the site you (an others mentioned)... here , I still can't understand why John Coulter bible bashes..But what I found interesting was an article written by a former UVF volunteer in the prison section about loyalist & republican prisioners 'pooling' ideas in a common fight together There was nearly a riot in the compound today and the prods and the taigs were backing each other up. . And it's dated Friday 30th March 1973.

    We said that we should have some sort of protest and somebody said we should refuse to work and that the whole prison should come till a stand still. The IRA ones are going to get word till the internees about what happened and we are going to throw a note over to our boys in 12.

    They had an MO with them to make sure everything was done right but he was worse than the screws. They stripped us naked and searched everywhere—really roughly. They looked in our mouths and ears and made us lift our balls so they could look under there too. Then they made us bend over and the MO put his finger up our arse. Anybody who resisted got a couple of digs from the other screws and a lot got hit with batons. I think the Mo got pleasure out of it all cos he was laughing and joking with the other screws. Big Janty said he done it before and thinks say’s a stinkin’ pervert.

    Personally if more war stories were told about both sides came out about republican & loyalists standing together for the same rights the younger generation just maybe be persuaded to continue fighting for working class issues instead of feeding into capitalist hands.

    For the record Stephen, I can't for the life of me, figure out how Stephen Mathews is furthering a loyalist agenda based on working class principals. Unless (I doubt it), you think drug dealing, racketeering and money laundering was the goal the UVF had in mind when it opposed violent republicanism..And the same charge can be laid at certain republican doors.

    Recently someone mentioned about listening to (or not) former combatants. If anyone doesn't listen to them, then they do so at their peril and run the risk of history again repeating itself like this

    @Anthony what happened to The other view?

  37. Frankie,

    it came to the end of its life. I think after Billy Mitchel died our own involvement in it waned. We were having problems towards the end as the loyalists were uneasy about some of the more forthright arguments being made. They felt it would pose problems in their own constituency. But I would need to check back to give you an accurate account. I ended up attending Billy's funeral in the heart of Carrick.

  38. Anthony I only found out about The other view a few days ago by accident (from a Power base article). I stumbled on it by reading the Bangers piece you wrote here a while back and that led me Brian Clark views on All Voices (I'm celtic68)..
    My take on issues concerning the conflict maybe simplistic at times, but like I said to marty a while back when he said he'd a friend or two who were former loyalists, the inter-action with several former UVF/loyalist volunteers here and yourself trying to help people like myself understand the conflict is more benificial in the long term than anything I've heard from Stormount.

  39. To frankie and AM..away for the weekend and no access so will respond to both your posts later today.

  40. Am--again apologies for not getting back sooner.The reasons whi I want to remain linked to Britain are different now thatn they were when I was growing up. Born in the fifties I was part of a family--on my mothers side--who were staunc loyalists--Orange, Black, App: Boys--and anything else relating to that culture. I was brought up in that tradition--Junior Orange at 4--band the same year so the reality is that I knew nothing else. In our house--my grannies, I mean--anything Blue equated to good/right--green meant bad/wrong. The Union flag weas representative of who we were. Pictures of the Queen adorned our living room. The flag was put out for the 1st July and taken down again after Derry day in mid August and kept behind the wardrobe. In my hazy recollections I cannot remember Ulster Flags at this point in my life and can only remember them from around 1971 maybe to celebrate the anniversary of partition 50 years previously. So my bonafides as a British citizen living in Northern Ireland#s 6 counties was based around to me--religion--constitution and birthright. To say I was a bigot was an understatement. By the time I was a teenager the most recent conflict was beginning and I seen the PD marches and CR demonstrations as gurny taigs getting uppity. If course in later years and with acquired knowledge I seen that in many respects my community--Lower Ravenhill--had similar problems to those of my neighbours in the Strand. Problem was--you were allowed to have those thoughts but--keep them to yourself. I went into LK as a 17 year old in 1972 and it was while there that for the first time I started to fully understand the complexities of being a " loyalist ". Education and knowledge is a wonderful thing and for me--who, it has to be said, was not stupid in the first place--broadened my horizons in regarding who i was in terms of the conflict. Today my reasons for wanting to remain as part of the United Kingdom would be really along more practical lines and less to do with my previous reasons. More about practicalities than anything. I am of the belief that even the most staunch republican sees the uniting of Ireland in a completely different light than they did 40 odd years ago when they set out on the push for " Freedom ". Obviously some will still see it as worth fighting for while others will think it is a pipedream. One thing is for sure. The Ireland you wanted to unite all those years ago is a different Ireland now. Is it still the same romantic ideal that ushered republicans through the gates of LK and seen countless numbers of them carted to the graveyards? No..it isnt. And neither is the notion from a loyalist point of view to fight to maintain the link with Britain. But from a purely economic or practical point of view it make more sense for NI to remain as an integral part of the UK as opposed to being swallowed up by a country that economically is in disarray. And another aspect that may not have been relevant almost half a century ago is the strength of the EU--a strength that the South may have to rely on in the not too distant future. If we agree that the past conflict was futile--for both side--then surely we must also agree that dreamy ideals--again on both sides--must be cast off--for the future betterment of the people in perhaps a compromise position. An all Ireland as part of the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland? It would be interesting to see what sort of response that idea would achieve if it was posed in al all island referendum.

  41. Am..please find attached a short poem written by an ex compound man..it was read out at the ACT initiative presentation in St.Mary's College during the Feile An Phobail, August 2012.


    “Take him down” the wig decreed, and down and down I went-
    Into the bowels deep below--- hope destroyed--optimism spent-
    A darkened hole of dankest grey—a breeding place of sheer dismay-
    Such were my thoughts on my FIRST day--- in Long Kesh Prison Camp.
    Cells became cages and bars became wire but freedom was still afar-
    A liberty of sorts, autonomy too, but still under control of the tower-
    It rankled me most to admit to myself I was there for defending the Crown-
    But accept it I did –and never once hid—from the first day of being sent down.
    The Alma Mater—Twenty One—A University of sorts-
    Changed for good a muddled mind and set a brand new course--
    Free to express fresh ideas—to expound new points of view
    To expand upon- and illustrate-and demonstrate-the changes coming through.
    Deep rooted thoughts of former times being challenged every day
    A new approach—a diverse path to pave a different way
    The dubious knowledge of an ignorant past gradually fades and go’s
    And leads to understanding of previous deadly foes.
    Enlightenment dawned in a gradual way-- illuminating hope
    Awareness raised in a sceptical mind-allowing me to cope--
    With pessimistic downbeat thoughts in an unconstructive mind
    Transforms and lends to wakefulness of the knowledge I can find.
    And find it I did—and STILL never hid-but continued to study and learn
    Wakefulness gained—through all of the pain—in pursuit of the freedom I yearned
    A conversion of sorts—Transformation –Of course—a change to my intent
    Such were my thoughts on my LAST day—in Long Kesh Prison Camp.

  42. I can understand families wanting to know the truth. I'll stand by my opinion, if the RUC/PSNI want to restore faith in both communities, they'd do it quicker by looking a deaths they were involved in and charged the officers/Mi5 operatives involved in sectarian killings..

    Today someone is being held for questioning about Paul McNally. Surely that will do nothing else than make Loylaists more pissed off than they all ready are. Again I'm all for families finding out the truth, but you lot on the hill are..

    1...Going about it hamfisted.

    2...Making a pigs arse of ever getting a real T&R process up and running..

  43. a reply to Frankie
    My thoughts around identity and flags are quite simple. Using my country of birth I believe that I am Northern Irish and my flag is the flag of Northern Ireland (some may call it an Ulster Flag). This flag should be flown at Stormont and all City Halls every day of the year. The Union Flag should be flown on nominated days. As Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom then I accept the fact that I am a British subject. People from Scotland are Scottish – then British as is English and Welsh folk so why dream up a new identity – we really are Northern Irish. As for the Red Hand Im very much aware of ts Irishness but once it was used in the signing of the Covenant I do feel Loyalists decided it must be ok. Its a little similar to how Nationalist communities have adopted St Patrick yet he wasnt aware of Catholic or Protestant. Some would say that the Bodhran was developed in Africa and mad its way to Ireland via Spain yet Nationlists have us believe its theirs. I believe whether you are PUL or RNC there is an opportunity for us to share however, identifying what the dogs on the street already knew, ‘that PUL communities have had no social dividends from being an integral part of the peace process’, does not assist a democracy.Since the GFA peace walls have been added to, killings continue, communities become more segregated and socially divided, lesser equality and role reversal is prominent and our politicians continue to tell us they have control. when is this charade going to stop regarding a shared future ? Why can’t we develop a for/against government like any other democratic society ? Will the power sharing apply if we ventured into a UI ?

  44. frankie..many of the answers or comments you were seeking will be in what I replieed to AM but there are some other things I would like to comment on.
    Firstly, the Flag dispute which I dont agree with. If people who have an issue with the flag think that their Britishness is being eroded by this action they need to realise that the rest of the UK fly it on designated days. To want anything else is only asserting their Superprod tag. But on the other hand I also feel the Shinners are playing a devious game around it and were bound to have known the furore it would cause. Where you have two immovables there is very little chance of compromise anywhere. And yet every day of the week the Shinners and the Dupes are giving each other a nod and wink up the Hill. Duplicitous Knaves.
    Again on the flags and symbols I have my own opinion. As far as most Loyalists are concerned what lames the flag up doesnt enter into the argument. The wprship the Union Flag as a whole..not for the parts that make it up. And many loyalists will also counterclaim that in regard to the cross of St. Patrick--the whole celebration of St.Patricks day has been hijacked by republicanism and loyalists feel intimidated by the actual parade. The Red Hand is abviously a symbol that has been adapted to loyalism through the belief that there was ALWAYS six counties in Ulster and not nine. Perhaps in many respects much of working class loyalism need educated in their cultural identity..but honestly?..I'm not sure they would want to be...as a whole. Many loyalists i know are well aware of their history and can speak truthfullt and honestly about it. But I have to say that whenever things like this are raised we al fall into the trap of whataboutery and who was here first and who has the greatest rights. Should there not be a realisation from us all the we cannot keep visiting the past and try to make a concerted effort to concentrate on what is needed now and work towards that shared future we all allegedly aspire to?
    In relation to story telling and sharing experiences--I have been involved in it for 15 years and also feel it is an integral part of helping others understand and perhaps be used as a platform to move forward. There was a huge commanality with the prison system here--some of which has been documented. I remember when the fight for political status was ongoing--which by the way was a joint republican/loyalist initiative--and there were many instances of co-operation between different factions..not least the setting up of the Camp Council in late 73 early 74. What is worth remembering is that almost 100% of political prisoners here during the conflict covering all organisations were from working class areas. There is your first defining proof of commonality.
    Your last point on whether Stephen Matthews is promoting the Loyalist cause or not I cannot truthfully answer. What I would say is that Loyalism and the UVF are in a difficult place at the moment and they dont receive many inches of good press. It looks like to me that there is somewhat of a vendetta against EBUVF and Matthews in particular from certain sections of the media. There always has to be a bogeyman on the loyalist side and it looks like this is the latest.
    I would urge people to listen to ex combatants on both side because through experience they talk as much common sense as anyone here. But the reality is that on the loyalist side there is a widespread reluctance to pay heed to ex combatants--especially those who have been to prison. Must have something to do with that strict Presbyterian upbringing!!

  45. Tim/Stephen
    The shared future the executive was talking about, is more like the shared fortune for the MLA especially the DUP/SF. These two parties not only encourage sectarianism in a covert manner, they, they have a action and reaction to each of the staged managed shaming of each party. They operate on the principle of fear, fear is a very powerful emotion, almost as powerful as greed. Therefore, we have an political elite which utilises fear on each of the two communities, to keep them in line and more importantly, keep the DUP/SF in power, priledge and control. There is a real struggle going on at stormont, it is based on tribal greed, our share, at the expense of the people who elected them into the positions. These two parties in my opinion, never will want this change. It is far to cosy, it has no apparatus to challenge the arrangement. It is a political governmental dream come true for the neo liberial alliance on the hill. SF talk about "united Ireland" and the DUP talk about remaining part of the "british union". These are nothing more than a sales pitch based on identity branding to the tribal electorate. The PUL working class community is no better off or socially disadvantaged than the RC community. I have seen it from an employability social deprevation point of view. In many ways we are better off than in the republic, or britain as we speak. Not for long however, these parties in stormount are slowly but surely stripping the quality of life down to the levels in the UK. Why? because the block grant available here dicates that living standards are going to become more similar with tory british policy. Watch this space. No amount of sping dicates that that the union is in any question, it is simply not. So the whole issue of flags, symbols, identity, protests are simply playing into the game of SF/DUP so they can claim and counter claim the whole co-vert sectarian message again and again, until it becomes norm for the next generation. It has worked thus far. There is a socially acceptable level of sectarianism here reinforced by the church, the education system, the media and any other organisation which benefits from the division. These power intitutions need the division to exist financially, socially, psychologically. I am glad you have posted and look forward to reading more and understanding better the PUL point of view, because it has been denied through various mediums I have mentioned here. Only through this type of interaction in my opinion will people see the wood from for the trees. In orweillian stormount, it must be co-vertly discouraged at all cost.

  46. King Richards remains verified by DNA.
    Remains found underneath a carpark in leicster. Could this have been a hit and run.

    King Richard

  47. Stephen:


    That is a down to earth poem, it could have been written by either side, It gets to the point, also what was actually going on in the cages, Education became the norm, both sides Leaders going for the Voting system. congratulations to the writer.

  48. Stephen. Many of those that post on here are ex-combatants.
    Please understand that even though you were called loyalists paramilitaries,you were just an extension of the brit war machine,albeit the blunt end. I was not born sectarian and my family did not indoctrinate me into a sectarian mindset. The actions of loyalists brought me to hate them. A hundred kingsmills or shankil bombings would not satiate my hatetred of loyalists or the protestant communities they came from. Although I no longer am quite so raw I will never trust loyalism and anybody that does is,in my opinion foolish and deserves everything they get. I seen to many Catholics who thought they could go out with thier protestant work mates only to end up with a breezeblock dropped on thier head or some other horrible end. Now heres the the thing Stephen, you and your community nurtured my negative mindset and emotions. Hope you will be a regular on here and might encourage others from your loyalist background to visit the TPQ. You can expect honesty, something that has always been in short supply within the occupied 6.

  49. Tim Willis; 'lesser equality and role reversal'

    I believe these comments you've made into how loyalists feel post-GFA are very telling.

    Firstly, you can't have lesser equality. The clue is in the 'equal' part of this word. Equality can either be denied or in place.

    Also, your comment;
    'that PUL communities have had no social dividends from being an integral part of the peace process’ indicates that you think nationalist have. (Is this the 'role reversal' you refer to?)

    Nationalists have not 'got anything' from the GFA. None of us have - apart from the suits up at StormFront - but until you get that out of your head none of us ever will. A poster called Feargal did a brilliant post on TPQ a week or so ago, outlining deprivation statistics and it made for great reading. I'd recommend you dig it out, but don't take his word for it - try NISRA or NINIS, online databases with statistical information on deprivation and poverty etc. and see for yourself.

    Also, as an occasional bodhran player, I don't 'claim' this instrument and would love for more people to play it. It's an ancient Celtic instrument which has some affiliation with north and west Africa - but sure didn't everything and everyone come from Africa in the beginning?

  50. feel te love--i hope to able to contribute to TPQ for a while to come and although perhaps diametrically opposed to most regular contributors I dont have a problem in corresponding and sharing thoughts or opinions. However I feel that there would be nothing to be gained from setting up a discourse with you. You obviously have me pigeon holed without knowing me and feel able to cast aspersions on a whole community based on your sectarian hatred of a few. I know these are your thoughts because you have told me I can expect honesty. Whatever you think of me I can assure you you do not have the high moral ground and you are certainly no better than I am.

  51. Stephen I did not claim to hold any ground, also I take people as individuals and make my mind up on that individual based on how I perceive them. Yes I have serious problems with the community you come from but it does nt mean you will not have some valid points to make. That aside I am sure your contributions will be welcome on here. We all get a bit of stick on here for one thing or another but generally it is a good place for open debate without the constraints of having to be OTT PC

  52. feel te love--in your post you say " you and your community nurtured ny negative mindset and emotions "..that to me is judging me when you clearly dont know me. I would find it too time consuming to even bother trying to change your bigoted and sectarian mind. But rest assured I will continue to contribute to TPQ..with those I feel have something valuable to say.

  53. Belfast Bookworm,

    I think a stronger case can be made for the IRA campaign in terms of mitigation rather than justification.

    Should republicans ever apologise for Whitecross? Absolutely. Should they ever apologise for Narrowwater? Absolutely not.

    Stephen's point which you found thought provoking does not address the rights of the innocent people targetted. Had the right not to be killed which the loyalists violated in a strategic game of targetting the inniocent to show that the IRA were guilty of being unable to protect them.

    Whatever the strategic merits of that the ethics are dubious to say the least. The IRA did it too, not to so great a degree but in no small numbers all the same.

    Stephen does not strike me as someone who is indifferent to the human suffering involved in this but I think his answer invites further questions.

  54. AM.

    I think a stronger case can be made for the IRA camaign in terms of mitigation rather then justification.

    Would you elobrate on this point. I dare say we will find ourselves in disagreement.

  55. Alec,

    I probably will at some point but don't have the time at the minute. You know the arguments, having heard them all before.

  56. Suppose you are right. We will always have different views on this subject. Old arguments rehashed are still old arguments.

  57. Alec,

    I think it is an important topic to discuss but I also believe it is something that needs written about at length as its nuances and essences, and indeed the objections to it, are never really captured in a few soundbite comments.

  58. Thought I'd stick this in here. I got the loan of another profile and had a juke in on the shinner forum Ir.nits...

    The same old crap...Mellows is still trying to convince all and sundry that Unity is at the end of the next cul-de-sac.

    Anyway The Pensive Quill might not have threads on every pipe bomb thrown or the ramblings of Adams but it is by far the best Republican forum on the WWW.

    And I'd safely say we'd be surprised at who's likely following the goings on here.

    Anyway while a member of that other site I always had the feeling someone was going through my underpants drawer looking for any Y-Fronts that might be skid-marked lol.

  59. Dixie you think thats bad wait until you have to start wearing nappies again!

  60. Belfast Bookworm,

    It seems nothing has been learned if the loyalist said he would possibly shoot the two postmen again depending on circumstances. Is that person’s engagement with the move away from armed force merely tactical, a question of realpolitik rather than ethics?

  61. Anthony; I am in no doubt that loyalists paramilitaries murdered for the sheer sectarian thrill they got. Stephens answer didn't make me think otherwise but it did give me a bit of food for thought on their thinking that by murdering Catholics they'd be sending a message to my community that the ira couldn't protect. I'd never once heard of this theory so it was only interesting in that it was new.

    To be perfectly honest I've never been one to want to question loyalists. I know why they murdered - because they think we're subhuman, because they could, because they were being armed and facilitated by brit crown forces, because there were psychopaths in their ranks who liked it, but i thought id have a crack at asking stephen but apart from whst ive mentioned above, he didnt disappoint.

    This one sentence dulled my interest in wanting to explore further;

    ' I would hate to ever be in the same position again as I was in 1971 when I thought that joining a paramilitary grouping was the only way to stop what I seen as an onslaught from the IRA on the community I belonged to.'

    In 1971 you had McGurks Bar; 15 people killed, Ballymurphy; 11 killed, Internment; 350 arrested in ONE DAY (not a loyalist among them), 7000 people, mostly catholic intimidated from their homes. These are significant events in terms of numbers, I haven't even included those killed by shots etc. just where was the onslaught on Stephen's community? A bomb on the shankill at the end of that year?

    This is where I stopped listening.

    These 'from prison to peace' type programmes where ex prisoners are trailed around schools and youth clubs telling kids how bad their mistakes were bore me to tears and Stephen could've basically written the script for one of these projects with his answer. I mean no disrespect to you Stephen when I say this but you sound like a paid 'community worker' who gallivants round the place telling 'your story'.

    Commonality, learning from the past, being heard .. All of these phrases are becoming tiresome to my ears but I appreciate that you took the time to pen a response - many wouldn't.

    Anthony; I'm with Alec on the justification/mitigation issue.

  62. Anthony; 'It seems nothing has been learned if the loyalist said he would possibly shoot the two postmen again depending on circumstances. Is that person’s engagement with the move away from armed force merely tactical, a question of realpolitik rather than ethics'

    My own opinion is that this person is in a well paid job and its in he own self serving interests to make all the right noises - but he'd cut the throat of a catholic as quick as he'd look at one. He despises Catholics but his wages would stop if he said t aloud.

  63. Belfast Bookworm a truly excellent reply a cara I had intended to raise most of the points you mentioned but you have put my thoughts up for me ,Stephens assertion that their sectarian murder campaign was to intimidate the nationalist community into realising that the ra couldnt protect them is old hat,and just another ploy in Kitsons low intensity ops.they went about their murderous deeds safe in the knowledge in most cases that the security forces had indeed "faugh a ballagh" for them,this interaction between state and gangsters has now come back to haunt them observe little how little the state can or will do to put manners on those militant loyalists who know all the dirty tales,just like Scap, , Stephen has said that he is a community worker I believe therefore like his counterparts in quisling $inn £ein he now makes a living out of the past so it begs the question would he be wise to let it go and inturn make himself redundant,it doesnt appear so. like the "community workers" on quisling $inn £eins side its now a good living for a living ...

  64. Anthony the IRA .s campaign in terms of mitigation rather than justification,we have talked about this over the years ,but I agree with Alec on this to a point I think the campaign was justified up to the point that Stormont was prorouged in 72, after that the propaganda and Kitsons low intensity operations really started to take off the brits were starting to make the international community believe their spoof that they were just honest brokers trying to keep the peace between two separate sectarian warring tribes, I think the RA had delivered a short sharp shock to the brits by this stage and like the sticks it may have been the time to pull back,keep the powder dry and see what the brits would offer, as we now know what was on the table at Sunningdale was a hell of a lot better than the gfa so had we at that time been a united nationalist community well of our knees,we may have been in a much better place by now with as we know a lot less suffering on all sides.but as we now know the war was to continue pushed on by ambitious egos on both sides until they were top of the shit pile and they and their cronies would feast of the misery that they created.equality was never on the agenda it was all about power and ego..

  65. A response to a couple of things here. Firstly AM...fire away with whatever the other questions are around my assertion of killing Catholics for the reasons I claimed loyalists did. And I must also assert that whatever I thought of that tactic then I feel absolutely against it now...totally wrong. I don't want to get into whataboutery either but it must also be difficult for even dedicated republicans to fully justify their campaign of terror. Not just because it failed but because of many of the tactics used. Something else to clear up...despite what Marty writes I amnt a paid community worker..didn't state I was...I have a real job...I said I have met and spoken to republican ex prisoners for many years but I don't work in that sector and I don't get paid for doing so. I happen to feel that it is important for former combatants to talk...don't you? Stephen needs to go back to the chronology he took his instances from and come back to me with a list of killings and bombings from that year..quite considerable I can assure you. Loyalists killed for the sheer sectarian thrill they got...I turned 16 in 1971 and in the latter half of that year..around September..two of the first tit for tat killings occurred..perhaps not the first but close...in both instances I knew the people who were murdered..one on the Springfield Road and one found in an entry in Short Strand. Both had been tortured and mutilated..tied in one case with barbed wire..tattoos removed...the other had a similar fate and had an iron bar stuck down his throat. This was a guy of low intelligence who had strayed into the wrong street... and you are questioning me on why I thought I needed to do something. You actually sound like one of the other commenters...feel the love...by taking the high moral ground and indeed make a similar assumption...that we were all psychos and will never change.

  66. Stephen: In a nutshell, the provisional IRA emerged in 1969 as a direct response to the attacks on catholic districts by loyalists - Bombay St, ardoyne, unity flats, Derry for example. Had these sectarian attacks not happened and had thousands not been burned out of their homes there might never have been a PIRA who stepped up to the plate to defend nationalists.

    Prior to 69 you had the civil rights demonstrators protesting for the very basic of rights such as housing, jobs and votes... We all know what happened to the civil rights people.

    Tell me Stephen, if the shoe had been on the other foot and your people, Protestants, were denied basic rights, beat off the streets and burned out of your home, what would you have done?

  67. Belfast Bookworm...nice sidestep. PIRA were formed in early 1970 and fully emerged in late June after an orange parade was attcked by nationalist on Newtownards Road. You will be aware of this although probably from the point of view rewritten by republicanism of the heroically named Battle of St. Matthews. As I said in my last post I certainly dont want to get into whataboutery--it solves nothing. Would it not be simpler to draw a line and admit that what ever went on in the conflict was wrong from all sides...and start afresh? in all conflicts there seems to be goodies and baddies and it very much looks like the unionist/loyalists are to accept the mantle of the baddies. Leaving the republican movement as the hard done by and innocent party in the whole affair. Who only butchered and killed and maimed on many occassions those they were there to protect.. to protect themselves.

  68. Stephen I apologise for my mistaken comments and accept your sincerity in seeking dialogue, and yes I agree we need to talk and try to ensure that our children do not go down the sectarian culdesac we ended up in,aging please accept my apologies we have have have enough misinformation and lies over the years and it is not my intention to add any more a cara.

  69. Stephen the murders you talked a cara as a republican I dissociate myself from any form of hate filled sectarian murder such as these,the friend you mentioned was almost a carbon copy of Parick Benstead, both brutal and disgusting in their barbarity. we poked each other in the eye so long that we blinded each other,

  70. Stephen: even nicer sidestep.

    I didnt say the PIRA was formed in 69, I said it emereged and this is correct. It emerged from the split with the IRA in the December of that year, not constituting itself properly until early 1970. Anyway, that's besides the point.

    This is a real chicken and egg issue; which came first; the PIRA and its campaign, or the torture, harrassment, intimidation etc etc of catholics.

    Had the PIRA come first, and the above followed as a result of the formation of the PIRA, then I could understand why loyalist groups formed but that's not the case. PIRA was formed BECAUSE of what was happening to catholics right here in our own country, formed initially as a defence project.

    As I said earlier, had catholics been treated with even a shred of humanity, equality and not been intimidated out of their homes, then the PIRA would certainly not have been formed then, nor for the initial reasons it did. The organisation evolved after its formation.

    This is what I cannot get my head around you see. You say loyalist groups formed and people joined up to stop what you saw as an onslaught from the IRA - an IRA that YOUR people effectively created.

    Looking back, can you honestly blame catholics for wanting to defend their home, for saying 'enough is enough'? I ask you again, what would you have done?

  71. Marty--couldnt agree more..all organisations have a lot to be ashamed off--some maybe more than others. But the peaceful futurw we all supposedly crave will never be achieved by point scoring from the past.

  72. Stehen--maybe both of us would be better employed on Strictly Come Dancing then. How far back do you go for the chicken and egg scenario? It's the future that counts. We cannot change the past but we can affect the future if we apply everything we learned from the past. In answer to your question..NO..I do not blame young nationalists in joining the IRA and tha fact that I joined a loyalist organisation at that time tells you what I would have done if I had been a nationalist.

  73. Belfast Bookworm a cara on your point re the formation of loyalist paramilitary groups its is well documented that Gusty Spence reformed the uvf in the mid 60,s for what can only be described as sectarian reasons what part Paisley played in this will be open to others to unfold,the formation of the uda as defenders of the loyalist community is a myth they would have certainly been part of Kitsons low intensity operations plan and they fulfilled the role played out by loyalist militias throughout the empire ie as the counter terrorists working on behalf of the state,just history repeating itself the evidence is out there a cara.

  74. Bookworm,
    To lighten things up and add a bit of humour. I have a perception of you speaking quickly, passionate and being a little streetwise loud. Being about 5'8 short brown hair and thin, late 20's possible early 30's. A taste for fashion, cunning, intelligent, frustrated. Now you said you were a female in previous posts, but your usage of language is masculine and could be described as being aggressive/passionate depending on how you want to pass it off. So my question is, am I close, to the photofit, are maybe you are a big of a tom boy, transgender, are just plain north belfast hard?.lol. Fair play to your opinions and rationale, but sometimes, I get the impresson you want a rematch with the other protestant community. Surely,shirley, open debate is the best form of defence and attack.lol. Am I close?
    In my opinion, it is important to glance back at the past, but do not stare as it has a habbit of all of us losing focus when moving forward. Both sets of paramilitary grouping could not in any moralistic way claim any victory or comfort in the dirty war. It was rotten, it was a horror from start to finish. I hope to live out the rest of my days with never a return to that shite. It achieved nothing but martyrs, victims,entrenched sectarian fear- mindsets. I am not happy with the governmental style, in fact I am disgusted. The bought peace process, is exactly what is it. Fair play to any ex-combant who shares the message of not returning to the conflict. I truely tip my hat to you, as there is no shortage of disadvanted social grouping fucked off enough to pick up where it left off from the main republican/loyalist groupings. This should not be allowed to flourish again. NO SURRENDER TO SECTARIANISM should be the new banner of the people on both sides of the divide.

  75. marty...rightly or wrongly the UVF were formed in the mid fifties through information being bandied ablut around an imminent campaign by the IRA. Hindsight being a wonderful thing we know now that these sort of things were the machinations of pwer hungry egotistical unionists who decidedly had a different agenda. Although dormant at that particular time we know that the IRA were still in existence and hadnt gone away you know. To working class protestant communities the sceptre of violent republicanism always hung about--camoaigns in forties and fifties--ill fated though they were--are testimony. I'm not sure I fully agree with your assertion that the UDA were part of Kitsons low intensity ops. My own feeling--based on nothing more than experience of those times--is that they emerged from the street committees of 69--went into hibernation during 1970 but gained momentum again around internment time with the rise of vigilantes. Again my own opinion is that they were then manipulated by career criminals who seen a God sent opportunity to line their pockets. However I do feel that many young men were sucked in genuinely believing they were defending Ulster. It was the heirarchy of that organisation I feel were devoid of any patriotism and were basically gangsters.

  76. James--there's very little in what you wrote that I would argue with and would echo your sentiments on sectarianism. It is hard to see us making any inroads there when the 2 largest political parties sharing Stormont basically perpetuate sectarianism as a tool to stay where they are.

  77. with reference to our past during the longest war in Irish history, commonly called ;"The Troubles".

    The killing of any person just because of His/Her religion was unjust and unwarranted, That is called , Murder, there is no other word for it. As we are supposed to look to the future and put the past behind us, to me, the future is looking bleaker and bleaker, and, I really doubt if we are ever going to have proper peace, Bigotry is at the forefront, also, unequal laws ; ie ; Internment. In today's modern society, we (everyone) are facing draconian laws whereas any person can be arrested, brought before a diplock court, which is held in private, and, at the whim off a hat be incarcerated because an MI5 agent states that 'the defendant is a threat to National Security, and, that's all MI5 have to say, the defendant nor his solicitor do not see any (so called) evidence, which means your are locked up until they (MI5) decide its okay for you to be freed. What is the answer, In my opinion, All Parades should be banned, as stephen said ; "But the peaceful futurw we all supposedly crave will never be achieved by point scoring from the past.", The past is the major problem, because to many people are still clinging to it, especially all those parades to commemorate 1690, now, that is living in the past, The Orange Order knows these parades causes chaos throughout the six counties, and, that's exactly what they want, because those leaders are the ones making a fortune from the parades .If those members of LOL's just stood back for a minute and said to themselves, I'm not keeping that lot, It's costing us money just to walk down the road then to the field while those big fatcats are raking it in. Would it not be better to Bus everyone to the field, have your glorious day and bus everyone back, that way no one is being offended and you's can curse the pope all you's want on the field, but then again, that is still bigotry and sheer religious discrimination, Were does it get you, to be stupid drunk and banging out hatred against the Pope and Catholics. Is that what is called Looking to the Future?.

  78. James; have I met you or are you just engaging in a bit of amateur psychology or sleuthing?

    I am neither frustrated or transgender - just plain north belfast hard. I don't believe my language is masculine but other than that youre actually not a million miles off - I was quite surprised when I read your profile.. I also laughed..(I also wish I was thin, but I'm no longer due to an addiction to chocolate. )

    Marty; you've illustrated my point beautifully. How can Stephen say it was an onslaught on his community when in reality his community was preparing, planning and implementing attacks on Catholics before the PIRA was even on the cards?

  79. Bookworm,
    A feel in a funny sort of a mood.
    Just using my minds eye perception. I tend to try to visualise bloggers for some reason. I can assure you, I have not met you, I dont know who you are, except you are hard, from North Belfast. Woman or Man.lol. I read a book on profiling and that is where, I got the masculine/hard language from, which you do use, in my opinion. Which you are entitled to use. Anyway, you obviously have experienced more sectarian exchanges, whether physical or psychological than me, and north belfast was/still is a hotbed for it. Most of the sectarianism seems to be documented from the city 1920's onwards. Now, I aint no historian, or the kepper of all information relating to the subject, but you would think that to stop another generation falling into the sectarian trap, these working class areas should become a high priority for the executive to focus the anti sectarian message? Then again, why should they at stormount, as I see it functions on maintaining sectarianism. It is a big seller here, for votes, all you need is old rethoric any republician or loyalist will do, a tri-colour or union jack and the ability to behave like a caring charlaton- practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception. The media will present you as a Irish peace process politican of the (noble peace prize) variety and you could live right of that until you retire. Whats Good enough for John Humme,the new political must be saying is good enough for me. Breaking news Pope Benedict XVI to retire, he cited like any good GAA player in his 30's and unsure of getting his spot. He is retiring for family and work commitments. Maybe he has. After resigning as chief executive of one of the biggest organisation/businesses on the planet, maybe he feels like a little free lance. Godfather 4 style.lol.

  80. James. I am intrigued. I am actually wondering if you are a hacker? Are you part of 'Anonymous'?

    I see you as a 20 something young man with a degree in sociology or psychology. You read 'the lost revolution' and became really interested in politics, so you read, then read some more and buy in to the sticks' ideology. You're not from a political family either so politics is new to you in a sense. You are skinny and you wear glasses and blazers with leather patches on the elbows. You also smoke a pipe. Am I close?

    I can assure you I am female and am more than a little surprised that my language comes across as masculine. I'll take your word for this as Larry on this blog also assumed I was a man. In fact, he tried to get myself and Anthony McIntyre a discounted deal for boob jobs in Thailand. I didn't need one for obvious reasons. Not sure if Anthony took him up on it though?

    Re, your points about sectarianism. I think there is perhaps some sectarianism in us all. I wasn't brought up to be so, in fact I was brought up in a strong republican socialist household and sectarian language or behaviour was never tolerated, only challenged.

    But I think that whatever you see in life, whatever you hear, you feel with your heart. I experienced nothing only hatred and beatings and intimidation and killings and as much as I've tried to understand the other 'side' my mind cannot be changed it seems.

  81. Belfast Bookworm "your assumptions are your windows on the world,scrub them of every once in a while,or the light wont come in "Issac Asimov..

  82. Marty; so James is a pipeless, non-blazer-wearing O'D man, do you think?

  83. Belfast Bookworm a cara that quote is about closed minds,not about James from what I make of him he is six ft six built like a brick shit house ,long blonde shoulder length hair tied in a pony tail ,oh yeah and a 10 inch penis which he spends all day sucking ,thats a profile.
    Stephen good post ,but I urge you to read Kitson if you already havent ,then a cara you will maybe agree how the state used young guillible people to do its dirty work,they exploited young one and old from both communities to become touts and agent provocateurs.

  84. Marty; Just shows you how closed my mind is that I missed that. Interesting profiling on James, built like a brick shithouse or not, I reckon I could beat him in a fight. I'm from north Belfast you know.

  85. Belfast Bookworm proud to say I have friends in the North of the city,re beating James in a fight he is probably a leg end in his own lifetime.

  86. Belfast Bookworm,

    There is nothing new in Stephen’s argument nor does he claim there to be. He is reiterating an oft stated rationale for the loyalist targeting of non-combatants in the nationalist community. I don’t know how much of it was doing to thrill. I would say in respect of our own killing I very much have come to query the general ideological commitment to it. Many who killed for republicanism abandoned with gusto their activity and then went on to condemn the same ideological motives they claim motivated them when they were cited by others as the dynamic behind their own actions. Legitimacy it seemed was only a matter of dates as far as some of them were concerned.

    Again I don’t how many loyalists thought they were killing sub humans. I think there was a supremacist culture operating there but it was never something I got when talking to them while in jail or on the outside. And then we had Lenny Murphy’s crimes against humanity. But I have seen psychopaths in our own ranks.

    I think there was a defenderist mentality that developed within the loyalist community. One must question the objective basis of it when they had a state to defend it which nationalists did not feel they had the same thing. And the growth of a defenderist mentality in the nationalist community was fuelled by the state. One crucial event was the Falls curfew when the British came in and were perceived to have done so in a bid to take from a community the arms that were used to defend it a week earlier at St Matthews. At that point the IRA being I Ran Away existed no more. I just don’t see the equivalent on the loyalist side.

    It does not annoy me that Stephen could have been a paid community worker – although he has since corrected that. Having been involved in the Belfast Project I appreciate very much the value of individual narratives and would not be disparaging towards those who convey for the purpose of enhanced public understanding their stories. If they go around doing it without meaning it, just for the optics, I would be critical. I do feel there needs to be an engagement with young people. In fact I would fault myself for not doing it rather than those who do so.

    As for you being with Alec on the justification/mitigation issue, I think my position is a pretty marginal one. But I am used to that. Myself and Alec have been discussing these issues in one form or another from 1982 and never seen eye to eye on a lot over the years. Sometimes I have moved his way and others he has moved mine. We have played a long game of ideational ping pong from our days in the jail. I guess much of what I came to think over the years resulted from exchanges with him, ever where we vigorously disagreed.

    Still, I think the IRA campaign has more going for it in terms of mitigation rather than justification. And it is something I hope to come back to in greater detail at some point.


    I think that type of story about the incident on the night of the fire should always be out there.

  87. Belfast bookworm,
    I got a wee titter at your profile of me.lol. Way off the mark. Funny all the same. Marty is closer, with height, build, not manhood and flowing hair.lol. I even liked the sound of his profile myself.lol. Well into 30's no degrees in sociology, psychology, a little interest in them. Educated academically from business point of view, that you would find the lenght and breath of any pro right system. Relations in republican clubs. Politics has always been an issue, or lack of democtratic politics. My class identity and sociolist ideology, I had to find. It really did not take long. It certainly was not rammed down my throat, on the contrary, I had to search long and hard for it,and I am capable of independent, rational, logical thinking. Hence, my open mind on learning from all angles. The Irish jig saw puzzle over the years has become a lot clearer. The british are solely not responsible for all our ills. Simply any imperialist would have colonised us just the same. I have issues with the Irish imperialists, catholic church, media,and the education sysytem. P.S also, I am to pretty to be violent, I wouldnt dream of messing with anyone woman/man from hard- north belfast.lol. They would be far to quick for me, mentally and physically, we all know the cunning side of city folk, sure that is where the leaders of the main opposing grouping come from in the conflict. So you can draw your own conclusions on that. Bit of craic.lol.
    I draw many comparisons with your post. Both sides could debate until the cows come home the rational for their position. Defender or freedom fighter. Fair enough, why was it concentrated within the working classes, who suffered and lost most? The folk on the malone road had pretty good isolation from it on a daily basis, while the tribial war atmosphere in the working class communities practically remains the same to this day. What is fundamentally important is that future generations, have the access to dig deeper in the history they are presented from all angles, and not just the impression management, deceit and lies spun from the academics on the career tail of the so called peace process. Einsteins quote comes to mind "Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow". That is all all the next generation can hope for, the truth as the period of 1997- 2013 stormount should be titles. Impression Management, Deceit and Lies.

  88. James; you protest too much, methinks. I'm on to you!

    Anthony; I meant it was new to me that loyalists believed, at least in part, that their assault was to show the catholic community that the IRA couldn't protect. The rest I have heard a million times (ie that it was a response to the 'terrorism of the ira' and the defending rationale.

    Your points regarding so called republicans abandoning their ideals later on have given me some food for thought. Depressing thoughts at that.

  89. Belfast Bookworm,

    the collective loyalist mindset was the same as that of Bomber Harris - punitive killing. The Catholic community was to be punished in a bid to force it to turn on the IRA. Harris was snubbed after the war because he was a war criminal even though those doing the snubbing were up to their necks in it. Loyalist violence might have had a strategic rationale but it was a very malign strategy. Any strategy that deliberately targets a civilian population must be judged in the harshest of terms.

    And yes, we did it too, not for as long but we were culpable. We inflicted war crimes on Protestant civilians during the IRA's sectarian war of 1974-1976.

    The thoughts depress me too. Those who embraced the peace process and its values are often praised for their integrity. But it is so shallow. Why did they ever kill to begin with if they were to be so easily enticed away from it? Surely there has to be some ideological depth to your actions if you are prepared to take a life for it. Equally as sure, the process of moving away from it because of the depth must be torturous and challenging. But these people changed over night and came to love what once they hated.

    I think there is much more integrity to those who embraced the peace but who did not buy into the rest of the bull and who tried to retain some ideological depth and who because of it all have serious reservations about much of what went on.

  90. Anthony a cara I liked your comment re" serious reservations about what went on" and I,d go as far to say that if any of us dont have serious reservations about what went on then they must be reaping the rewards of what went on like the Quisling $inn £ein every one of them and the godfathers in loyalism.

  91. Marty a cara, The old saying is, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, But, You cant fool all of the people all of the time"

    Everyone , outside of SF of course, has reservations, when we all look back , I myself remember 1969 in Hooker St Ardoyne,being stormed by B-specials and Backed up by Loyalists, That street is no longer there, I asked myself, Why did so many die, FOR WHAT, Millions of pounds coming in from Noraid, a lot of people have an awful lot to answer for, and those people are now SF MLA's, TD's, how can they just turn themselves of and forget, and, still making money on Ten Brave Hunger Strikers selling Memorabilia, how low can they get. It just makes me sick to the core. This evening I had to Pick up Courage to send an Email to Adams regarding Marian and Martin, I felt like starting it off with, Well Gerry what about yee, Hows that house on the hill off yours,Give us a job hey, but I kept my cool and typed my email out as civil as I could,which I have posted on Menaces Email links, I just had to take a snide dig at him though, but you can read it when Anthony puts it up.

  92. Belfast Bookworm--again I feel you are being very selective in your argument. I have stated many times here that the sectarian violence practiced by all loyalist was irrefuteably wrong. Yet you have reservations about the Provies sectarian campaign and restrict it to 74-76. Bullshit. They were steeped in sectarianism from 1971 as I indicated earlier in the early tit for tat killings and were stil murdering Protestants well into the 80's. Your argument is full of holes. You cant have grey areas where you say "aye, we might have been sectarian but not as much as yous"..you either were or not. From an idealogical point of view loyalists felt they were being gunned and bombed into an all Ireland--which they resisted--by whatever means--in order to maintain their birthright. As you stated earlier in the correspondence--if you had of been a young loyalist from say the Shankill or East Belfast--what would you have done?

  93. Stephen,

    I think you have mistakenly attributed comments to Belfast Boookworm which were in fact made by me. I will deal with your criticisms later as I have other things to do. There are other issues you have raised that I intend responding to. Apologies for the delay,

  94. AM...and Belfast Bookworm...sincere apologies!! too early in the morning for me!! I,m glad you're picking up on my points and look forward to debate.

  95. Stephen; see youse loyalists! Always at that lark! :-)

  96. Stephen; If I was a young loyalist from east Belfast or the Shankill I'd honestly like to think that I'd be the same kind of person that I am now. I think I'm a person who asks questions, tries to scratch under the surface and consider what or whose agenda is really at play. Therefore, I think I would've asked myself what the ira's problem was, what led them to their war. I certainly asked this growing up in a nationalist community and I came to the conclusion that it was British imperialism that caused it all. Perceiving yourself as British I understand your taking that side. Protestantism and catholicism mean little to me, I respect people's right to religion but personally it doesn't float my boat but I detested and feared the brand of loyalism that wanted to obliterate my community. I still do.

    I'd still welcome you in a united Ireland though.

  97. Stephen,

    in a real sense PIRA existed before it was formally formed. The defence committess in Belfast that mushroomed in the wake of loyalist and state attacks in August 69 became absorbed into PIRA.

    The June 27 1970 events are a matter of dispute. From my own research I am certain that the Belfast leadership of the IRA were very concerned about a possible loyalist attack on the Strand. Its leader managed to get in before the Brits blockaded the place. Representations were made to the Brits to intervent but they ignored them.

    The IRA claim to have mounted two defences on the same day - one in the East and one in Ardoyne. Five loyalists/Protestants were killed and one republican. Republicans and nationalists on the ground at the time were adamant that without IRA intervention there would have been a repeat of August 69.

    The following week the Brits mounted the curfew and created an image of seeking to seize arms that had defended nationaluist areas from being over run a week earlier. That did more for the mushrooming of the IRA than June 27.

    The loyalists most likely have a different narrative and often it can be difficult to disentangle myth from fact in all narratives. But I think the republican narrative stands up to scrutiny fairly well despite what discrepencies might afflict it.

    The IRA killed more security force , members than it did anybody else. There were a number of incidents of attacks on Protestants because they were Protestants outside the 74-76 period. But they were not the general pattern of the IRA campaign. The Orr brothers in 72 is a case in point.

    What Protestants were they killing well into the 80s for no reason other than they were Protestants? You might say Enniskillen and it would be hard to argue against. But in general this was not the case.

    The loyalists killed more innocent Catholics than they killed republican combatants. They specifically targeted a civilian population. As you suggest, even if we don't buy it, this might not be because there was a bigoted hatred but because it was strategic. But even if it was strategic the general thrust of the loyalist campaign was against an unarmed civilian population.

    The IRA campaign - for all the criticisms we can throw at it and we throw plenty here - did not assume that character.

    If you can demonstrate otherwise we are willing to learn from you and consider what you put forward.

  98. Stephen,

    Thanks for taking the time to explain why you favour a link with London rather than Dublin. I think it more you reflecting rather than posing a challenge to ourselves. There won’t be a united Ireland until a majority in the North say there will. What’s the chances of that? As slim now as it was in 69.

  99. Stephen, Anthony:

    Even if a vote was taken in the North for a united Ireland and it succeeded There would be a civil War, Loyalist would not accept the results, But as Anthony stated, The chances on that happening are zilch. I believe we have stepped backwards instead of forward, and for those who call this peace they are living on cloud cuckoo
    Land, seems De valera's Blue shirts may be on the streets soon!. Or, are they here now?

  100. Stephen,

    is the identity of the ex prisoner who wrote the poem in the public domain. It was the decritption of an interesting journey; that's for sure

  101. AM- "The loyalists killed more innocent Catholics than they killed republican combatants."

    Not only that but according to Paul Dixon and Eamonn O'Kane's book "Northern Ireland since 1969" protestant civilians made up 21.5% of Loyalist paramilitaries' victims and 18.5% of Republican paramilitaries' victims. 74% of Loyalist paramilitary victims were Catholic civilians and 10% of Republican victims were Catholic civilians. These figures are for non-combatants.

    There are no comparable figures in Lost Lives and there are minor discrepancies but even though numerically the figures for Republicans are greater the comparison of percentages are a reminder of the nature of the conflict.

  102. Stephen/Tim,

    it seems to me that there is not really power sharing here but power splitting. There is no generosity in the political class which seems indispensible to any concept of sharing.

  103. AM.....I cannot always get back to you immediately because of the nature of my job but I will always try to respond. On your longer post I will answer hopefully at some stage tomorrow. As for the poem...it is one of a short collection of poems in a recent booklet by an ex life sentence prisoner...Beano Niblock.. There are some interesting poems although all aren't political...he also has had a couple of plays produced in recent years.

  104. Anthony,

    'What Protestants were they killing well into the 80s for no reason other than they were Protestants?'

    Gillian Johnston springs to mind. As I recall, shot 47 times at Beleek in 1988.

  105. Robert,

    while it makes no difference to the victim given that the effect is the same, we are talking motive here. If I recall that attack was directed against somebody who they thought was in the UDR. Was Gillian not in the car with somebody else? That makes her death no less inexcusable but it does impact on motive.

    I actually think a stronger critique can be made of the Poppy Day attack.

  106. Robert..AM..I will address further later but it is easy to find Protestants who were murdered by IRA even up until a couple of months before the ceasefire in 94...simply because they were Protestants...Anthony..don't treat " us " as fools...the republican version of events is a highly sanitised one in relation to sectarianism but events and facts tell us otherwise. You come across as either a blind bigot yourself or pedantic by your stance. And I don't for a minute think you are a bigot...........any more.

  107. Anthony,

    From recollection her fiance was present with her. There was no security force connection. Those responsible have also been accredited with Enniskillen.

  108. Stephen,

    present your case and we will let the chips fall where they will. 94 - who exactly?

  109. Anthony,

    John Smith and Alan McCloy both shot in Garvagh by Liam Averill.

  110. Robert,

    was there not a presumed security force connection even if wrongly assumed? I can't remember. I know there was a major stink when Harry Keyes got killed. I think he might have been a former member of the cops. I don't know if it was on the same level as the Whitecross massacre where there is no doubt about the motive. But even if it was an outright sectarian attack on innocent Protestants it was not genherally representative of the IRA campaign. I think that is borne out by the statistics.

    Now that probably makes no difference to you who would view all IRA targets as equally wronged. But I am simply trying to work out motives. Did the IRA in general target Protestants because they were Protestants? I don't think so. Stephen refers to 1994 but has not given us a name we can work with.

  111. AM...I will present my case..but you must know that your claim that the provies we're only sectarian between 74 and 76 is ludicrous. If it is as you say why so? Was it a tactical thing? Was it to do with the leadership at that particular time? Was there a start and finish date? Why did it end ?

  112. Stephen,

    no doubt when you present your case we shall see if it stands or falls. And if my view is ludicrous you should be easily able to demonstrate that with evidence. And if you do I shall revise my entire view of the IRA campaign. Your follow up questions are valid and merit an answer but I am on the brandy and not venturing too far in terms of serious discussion. Who are we talking about in 94?

  113. AM ..now you are lording it over me!!! Brandy to my Harp..at least I am being faithful to my Irish roots!!!...we can leave the full discussion for another day but I recall a security man shot dead in city centre shop in 94...Big store...Nigel Smith? And of course Freddie Anthony who was killed in May of that year...how do you "rate" "ordinary" Prods Anthony? We're Prod civilians who worked in police or army barracks fair game?

  114. Robert,

    I know Liam Averill and remember the incident. I had to have a brief google search to refresh my memory. It seems the cops think it was a case of mistaken identity. The IRA set out to kill UDA members.

    Of course, this has to be considered against a counter charge that the UDA thing served as a veneer for killing ordinary Protestants. I don't happen to believe it. I know republicans from that area and spent some time in it around that era. In my own view - which could be hopelessly wrong - is that i=f the guys were innocent Protestants it was one more IRA pas. If we take the Shankill bomb - it was an absolute disaster and the IRA did not ensure that all reasonable precautions were in place to prevent non combatants getting killed. The IRA was culpable regardless of the intent. But the intent was not to kill Protestant noncombatants but rather the UDA leadership.

    I know myself had I have gone to the IRA leadership in that period and sought approval to kill people because they were Protestants I would have gotten short shift

    My interest is not in defending the IRA campaign but in understanding it better. I am open to all manner of critiques.

  115. Stephen,

    I tend to drink brandy or whiskey if drinking at home. I like the odd pint when out but never really got into the tins at home. I had a bottle of poteen last that Marty here got me. I drank the bulk of it on a train from Westport.

    Nigel Smith I recall but think they believed he was a UDR member. Fred Anthony was working for the police as a clerk or something.

    The issue is not whether members of the security forces were fair game. But it would indicate that they were targeted for some reason other - and you might think it wholly without merit - than that they were Protestants.

    I had serious issues with Teebane and argued my case in the jail. But even there I have to accept that unlike those massacred at Whitecross they were not targeted because they were Protestants. I think the first person targeted in that campaign might have been a Catholic living in Dublin.

  116. AM ..with the greatest respect..and I do respect your openness and honesty on this site..I feel the brandy has you in its grip..you really are clutching at straws the more you try to defend the indefensible. Reality..the provies were sectarian..up until the end and no amount of wrangling or wet excuse making will take away from the facts. I could go to Lost Lives and regale you with stats but you know I don't have to do that.

  117. Stephen,

    there is no attempt to defend the indefensible for the very simple reason that nothing is being defended but explained.

    It might well be that you find it difficult to look back and see that the majority of loyalist targets were non combatants judged against the majority of republican targets being combatants.

    This might lead you into an exercise of trying to attribute the same intent to republicans that so evidently existed within loyalism. I am of a view that without much work being done, and without any manipulation, the statistics say an awful lot about the real thrust of the respective campaigns. Republicans for the most part but not exclusively targeted combatants, The loyalsts for the most part but not exclusively targeted non combatants. If you can show it to be different you will get a hearing on this blog.

    To get away from that fact you really would need to manipulate the statistics. So even with the brandy I think it is safe to conclude that it has not impaired my judgement to the extent that the beer has done to yours!!

  118. Anthony,

    'Did the IRA in general target Protestants because they were Protestants?'

    There was undoubtably a disregard for Protestant life but
    I couldn't make the claim that the general thrust of it's campaign was directed by sectarianism. I see it more in terms of Protestants being targeted by circumstance than by design generally. I believe there was a strong element of sectarianism operating within units of the IRA. In Fermanagh, for example, there is no other conclusion to be drawn from the repeated targeting of Protestant families that comprised of one son. There is abundant evidence to corroborate a claim that many Protestants were killed on the basis of religion outside of the timeframe that you highlight. An ex security force member, maybe retired ten years previously can hardly have been followed to work? When the actions of the INLA, off shoots and other flags of convenience are taken into consideration and we cannot disregard them, we are provided with a much broader picture of sectarianism. However, I appreciate that we are specifically dealing with the IRA here.

  119. AM..you're good..very good. I dont need to manipulate any statistics..they are there in perpetuity..the provies were sectarian and no amount of waffle can disguise that. You may not like to hear that but it is true none the less. Harp withstanding I am very confident in my assertions. Give me the space and I can list the sectarian murders over the entire conflict dispelling your laughable notion that you only carried out a sectarian campaign of 2 years in the 70's!!! Be realistic in your comments Anthony...otherwise I will start to believe you are an apologist.

  120. Stephen,

    argument by assertion is not really persuasive. When you come up with the evidence I will reconsider my position. And I might not like it but if it is true it is true. But up until now your case is, as the Scots say, unproven.

    If you believe I am an apologist on the basis that your case was not strong enough to be persuasive I am not to be faulted for that.

  121. AM..it's late and I am tweeted out...tomorrow is another day. I hope to provide enough evidence to make you reconsider your position. Remember though..I have never claimed that most loyalist violence was other than sectarian. My argument is that despite a continuing republican veneer so too was its campaign. Good night.


  122. Robert,

    There was undoubtedly a disregard for Protestant life

    I think there was less concern about the effect of operations on Protestants than was the case with Catholics. I think the case can be made that we took more chances with Protestants and that is borne out by the statistics. I think Anderson Street 1972 probably was the outer limit of any faux pas we made with our own community. And even then we lied about it and blamed it on loyalists. Does that add up to sectarianism? It might indeed. More reflection needed.

    I see it more in terms of Protestants being targeted by circumstance than by design generally.

    I think there is much to be said for this.

    I believe there was a strong element of sectarianism operating within units of the IRA.

    There was without doubt much sectarianism at unit level in some areas. Did it result in Protestants being targeted because they were Protestants? Where it was it was the exception rather than the rule.

    I have always been suspicious of the argument made about ethnic cleansing in Fermanagh - even in the case of Henry Patterson's analysis (a friend of mine and a very clear minded academic).

    If the son was in the UDR he would be targeted. I never bought into the notion that there was a strategy to force Protestants out. How many one son families were not targeted that could have so easily been targeted?

    On the question of ex-security forces being targeted because they were Protestant, I recall being involved in a series of discussions over the killing of a guy called Ronnie Funston (if I am right) circa mid 80 who had been out of the UDR 14 years and my point was it was impossible for us not to have known; and that if we shot those who left there was no incentive for serving members to leave. Whereas I thought it was incompetence the argument back was that these people would still gather intelligence. As most Protestants would I did not buy into the argument. I often thought they were picked for the ease with which they could be targeted. But it could have as easily been a former Catholic member of the UDR. But there were not too many of them.

    But I do think you have given some grounds for reflection in a way that Stephen has yet to do. I think it is important to marshal the evidence as you have done which then allows us to consider it. I am around too long to believe anything the leadership ever said about anything so all their rationales and reasons need to be revaluated including their rationale for targeting. But it is hard to get away from the fact that the majority of IRA killings were members of the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries to a much lesser degree. On the loyalist side the bulk of the targets were non combatants and a small minority were republican combatants. That says something - but you might take the view that there should never have been any targets, regardless of association with the security forces or not.

  123. Anthony:

    You are a very intelligent person.
    I have to stress that I believe that those whom are continuing to open up old gaps as to the Deaths of Protestants, but, are not to bothered about the Deaths of Catholics, are, in my opinion, doing nothing else but seeking information, they are very intelligent people, who knows from were?. If you know them personally, then I stand corrected.
    Myself not being a very literate person, like yourself, I now think its time to let these people know that , Those , Whom I can't call Protestant, In 1969 , were well oiled out of there heads and being backed up by RUC and B-Specials, were shot because they were trying to wipe out Catholic Areas. They deserved to die. That's all I will say on that matter,And if the want to continue to call me a Bigot, let them do so, I know I'm not, those who attempt to wipe out Catholic areas were the stupid drunken bigots, as were the B-Specials , commonly known as the Queens Midgets, and the RUC, commonly know as, Royal Ulser Cunts. Cat and mouse games don't go down to well with me, The Mouse soon turns into a RAT, and, can be smelt a mile away, and thats what I smell right now. If they want info, they know what to do. With your permission of course.

  124. I believe that to be able to arrive at any substantial reconciliation between Republicans and Unionists, Republicans should not necessarily believe that the perception of the bulk of the Unionist community that the IRA primarily carried out a sectarian war is true but that it is a valid viewpoint. It holds such an important weight that even the arguments against it provoke anger and annoyance. That's not to say that Republicans don't argue their case. Acceptance that this viewpoint predominates Unionist thinking is important in understanding and reconciling our differences. Valid in the sense of being honestly held and based on evidence.

    This evidence may not convince Republicans that they were inherently sectarian but the many individual instances of sectarianism doesn't help the Republican argument.

    I also find it hard to accept arguments of mistaken identity or accident. I think Robert is right when he says Protestant lives were treated more casually than Catholic lives. It may or may not have been marginal. Mistaken identity on the other hand can be claimed without challenge in any sectarian killing as an excuse or cover.

    Although books like Lost Lives or Sutton's Index of Deaths give credence to the fact that Protestants weren't on the whole targeted specifically and purely for their religion there were too many mistakes and accidents, too many risks with civilian life that the label sectarian can stick and with a level of justification.

  125. Simon,

    what is a valid viewpoint?

    A view genuinely held does not make the view held a genuine one.

    If we look at religious faith - many hold it genuinely but the existence of god hardly seems sustainable from my perspective. I don't believe the Unionist view on the republican campaign to be vaild.

    I think the anger we see in Stephen and some of the name calling (apologist, bull shit) etc results from having a long held belief challenged. That's fine. We don't always deal with criticism the same way and I have my moments as well. But it has taken Robert to flesh out Stephen's argument to allow the debate to move away from the ping pong table and onto the chess board where it really needs to be. It allows for better probing, more thoughtful presentation, greater time between moves, permits complexity and less knee jerk reactions. And I say this as somebody who is better attable tennis than I ever was at chess!

    I think it important to ask why people believe what they claim to believe. That is something that the loyalists can ask of republicans every bit as much as republicans can ask it of them.

    Reconciliation in my view will take place at this restricted level because people try to understand each other, But for now it strikes me as a personal reconciliation with political foes at the micro level rather than a general macro societal reconciliation. I have had loyalist and unionist friends for yonks - not a bit of diffference has it made at the macro political level where power splitting rather than power sharing (which implies a spirit of reconciliation) is an apt description.

    the many individual instances of sectarianism doesn't help the Republican argument.

    In what percentile do we find the sectarian operarational level? Fairly low down in my view.

    Robert is right when he says Protestant lives were treated more
    casually than Catholic lives.

    I think Robert and I had a meeting of minds on this last night.

    Mistaken identity on the other hand can be claimed without challenge in any sectarian killing as an excuse or cover.

    But we are still left with the task of demonstrating rather than assuming. Amd one way we have of looking at it is to ask if it fitted in with the pattern of IRA targeting. We also need to look at the IRA capacity for incompetence and getting matters wrong - I think Boyer Bell used the term structural incompetence when refering to the IRA.

    I think the risks taken with Protestant lives allows for a charge of sectarianism to be made in a way that focussing on the operational selectivity of the IRA does not. Again I think I closed ground with Robert on this.

    An anecdote that might or might not be useful. In the Crum in 1976 after lock up some people would shout 'up the sectarian assassins.' Many were in for targeting Protestants or loyalists. Even then I found it straange because the IRA would deny they were ever involved in these things. But the shout was never frowned upon by the jail leadership. When I arrived in the cages, the complete lack of enthusiasm for the IRA's 74-76 campaign was striking. I spoke with Brendan Hughes for hours on end about it at the wire of his cage. He was scathing of the sectarianism and pointed out that Adams who was in his cage at the time was furious that republicanism had descended into it. When I later moved into that cage - and there was a quite a few in it as a result of the 74-76 campaign - the ethos was, fairly critical of the sectarian direction the struggle had moved in. It was regarded as a serious but temporary departure from what we were doing

  126. Itsjustmacker,

    I think this is unfair to Stephen who has come here to debate the issues. We will never be able to exchange ideas if we start accusing everybody we debate with of being there only to get information. People do see things differently from us. We try to persuade them that they are wrong or we are persuaded in the process that we are wrong. To strangle the exchange at birth seems uncalled for.

  127. Marty,

    Even if Stephen’s claim that Catholics were targeted in order to demonstrate that the IRA could not defend them, the fact remains that the vast bulk of loyalist targeting was aimed at an unarmed civilian population which had no combatant status. The bulk of the IRA’s targeting was different.

    Now we can argue the morality of either and there are many who will raise objections that all the killing was equally without justification and that there are no mitigating factors. But this will be a matter of interpretation. The facts in as far as we are able to establish them are as outlined above. Stripped down to its bare essentials and at the risk of oversimplification one campaign was for the most part directed against combatants while the other was directed against non combatants.

  128. Robert as usual puts forward a strong argument Stephen seems to me to be looking to equate the actions of republicans on the same terms as that of loyalists, quoting names ad nauseum hides the reality that the majority of those killed were members of the security forces be it part time or not,during the second world war those who worked willingly for the Germans in France were regarded as legitimate targets and indeed Churchill or the soe had no qualms about eliminating anyone, the Ulsterisation policy was designed to limit the number of "mainland "soldiers being killed or injured not for any concern about their well being but for propaganda purposes only, the second reason was that the use of local cannon fodder would then be used in the propaganda war that it was a sectarian conflict,hard to argue with when the reality was that the majority of security force personnel came from the protestant ,unionist community,and republicans came from the other side,was there an element of sectarianism amongst republicans more than likely,but it was the exception rather than the rule,what cannot be in dispute that the continuing partition of this country has and will be the root cause of conflict for a long time to come,

  129. AM- "what is a valid viewpoint?

    A view genuinely held does not make the view held a genuine one."

    I realise that which is why I clarified my point by saying it is honestly held and based on evidence. Unionists believe that security force killings were sectarian because the RUC & UDR were overwhelmingly Protestant. This is a deeply flawed argument but each individual sectarian killing by the IRA only helped to increase the perception of a sectarian strategy. I see no problem with arguing that the PIRA's policy was on the whole non-sectarian but accepting that Unionists genuinely hold the opposing view and honestly believe it, is the first step to winning the argument.

    "In what percentile do we find the sectarian operarational level?"

    Sutton puts the figure of 376 civilians being killed unintentionally by the IRA and 133 sectarian killings. Out of a total of 1755 deaths (1969-1993) 7.6% were sectarian.

    Pretty low down which is why you're right in saying we should ask why Unionists hold this view and challenge it. But some Republicans see this as a bogus view which Unionists don't honestly hold, that maybe it's purely propaganda. Perhaps they are suspicious because the evidence points strongly in the other direction but to win the argument it would help to accept it is genuinely held and approach it from there.

    "I think the risks taken with Protestant lives allows for a charge of sectarianism to be made in a way that focussing on the operational selectivity of the IRA does not". Agreed.

  130. Simon,

    I actually realised you had reworked your validity comment and intended going back to amend my response but ended up relating an anecdote to you and forgot!

    Unionists believe that security force killings were sectarian because the RUC & UDR were overwhelmingly Protestant.

    Or alternatively they claim to believe it because it might let unionism mask the real reasons that security forces were considered targets by republicans. I would also argue that unionism claims to believe that it was the law and order community and that nationalists were the law breaking community (in a very general sense). But unionism backed law enforcement agencies that operated the law in the Kitsonian sense Marty often refers to. The law was broken by the state continuously to enforce a political rule rather than the rule of law. So we end up in a situation where unionism, the most adept practitioner of sectarianism on the island, accuses its opponents of sectarianism for the purpose of denying grievance legitimacy to nationalists.

    I think we had a number of unionist ideologues making the case that the IRA campaign against security forces was sectarian for this very reason. And of course when it came to the killings of Catholic non-combatants by loyalists that the state could have done more to prevent, we have the attempt by the same ideologues to prevent any proper scrutiny of the security forces – Ken Maginnis in the case of the McKearney killings is a case in point.

    So I have to question your assertion that unionism genuinely holds the view in favour of a position that it is politically convenient for unionism to hold that view. And somewhere along that continuum there are a lot of unionists who hold to neither extreme. Many unionists claim to hold the view that the security forces did not torture, did not collude, that the prison service beat nobody up. I am really sceptical about such claims. I think this is the one area that republicans and loyalists can agree – torture, collusion and prison staff brutality – regardless of what the unionist propaganda says.
    But I am open to persuasion on the matter. It is pointless having this discussion if I am not.

    Out of a total of 1755 deaths (1969-1993) 7.6% were sectarian.
    I would suspect that the majority of that 7.6% of IRA sectarian killings came in the period 1974-76.

  131. Itsjustmacker,

    and your point is?

    Stephen is neither disputing nor defending this. What he is trying to do is challenge the assertion that the republican armed campaign was not for the most part sectarian.

  132. Stephen,

    and the book is available where? Wouldn't mind obtaining a copy.

    As for you not getting back quick, well there is only a limited amount of time we can give to these things drunk or sober. Internet debates can go on forever and it is important not to allow them to become all consuming but to use them as springboards to reflection. People who worry too much about winning or losing arguments on the internet really lose the plot in terms of working out the value of the net.

    A day or a month, a reply comes when it does.

  133. I know intelligent unionists who honestly believe the Birmingham Six were guilty. I know others most of whom genuinely believe that the IRA carried out a sectarian campaign. They didn't get these beliefs from nowhere they got them from the Unionist and British leaders down the years and this was reinforced by things like carelessness, rogue members, mistaken identity etc. and from genuinely sectarian attacks no matter how uncommon they were. I believe that Unionist politicians are often disingenuous in these arguments for your reasons and others but many of the ordinary people genuinely believe what they've been told. The media and leading politicians are important influences on perception and beliefs and after 40 years of constant argument many Unionists understandably have flawed interpretations.

    To use your religion analogy many people genuinely believe that there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark albeit easily controllable baby dinosaurs. They believe what they've been told just as the Unionist population have certain perceptions which are honestly held. The religious leaders may be corrupt and the politicians may have an ulterior motive but people can be persuaded to believe almost anything and believing that the IRA was sectarian isn't the most fanciful.

  134. Simon,

    I think there is much in this which is fair and valuable. It is useful to distinguish between the politicians and the people they set out to mislead.

  135. Anthony:

    and your point is?

    My Point is, sectarian murder of innocent Catholics happened way before PIRA. came into existence.

    Loyalist were the first to start the sectarian murders, and, at times , Brutal to the extreme. There is No doubt in any ones minds that Once P.I.R.A./INLA started the tit for tat it got out of all proportion from both sides. Stephen knows this to be true, If its on a points scoring system then Loyalist win it On sectarian Murders of innocent Catholics.

  136. Simon a cara the majority of the people here believed Mc Gurks bar was IRA premature explosion as per the press and the security forces, its the power of propaganda a cara but its not always the truth we need to sceptical about what the the states put out as fact remember weapons of mass destruction ?

  137. Itsjustmacker,

    I am still confused as to the relevance of this to the current discussion which is not about who did what first but is about the reason people were targeted.

  138. Marty,

    while true I think it reinforces the point Simon was making.

  139. Couple of intersting posts. Sectarianism from my point of view is non avoidable, it is ingrained in the very fabric of governmental system here in ulster. No one is allowed "leave time" from the societial apparatus and institutions which promotes its very exsistence in both covert and non covert ways. Segragration,in whatever shape or form from education, housing, church,media outlets, is very real,and plays its part. For example, the politicians in stormount are successfully sharing the votes on a "green and "orange" religious theme. I am in the positon to question there republican and unionist ideology, as it looks a little like a smoke screen to get the people onside tp get the political so-called representatives where they need to go. I would ask anyone, at present name me one MLA, who is not careerist self serving. Only through debates through what ever communication channel or medium, ie internet,will facilitate the opportunity to record in history, that we are/were pretty much NOT sectarian to be going a long with political pantomine it in the first place. As, there will be no shortage of pro right history revisionist to come capable of generating a bigger lies spinning it out we all agreed to stormount,had faith in our tribal representatives, and generally accepted we are fool enough to sit back with glowing apathy. Debates for me, are not about winning or losing, they are about learning and understanding differing view points. Whatever military campaign someone supported loyalist/republician, it should be confined for the history books under the title "a lesson learned from history,". The Irish and British government when you think about it, didnt come off to bad,they share the responsiblity as well. It couldnt have went any handlier for the SF representatives. Power, prestige,wealth,status,bad guy ot good guy- at the stroke of a pen. I am sure there were good and bad on both sides of the military conflict. Good people, doing what thought to be right for loyalty to community, culture,defence etc. Unfortunately, the bad guys grab the headlines. I am sure there is many a ex combatant, wished they never played any part in it. Maybe it was unavoidable, its hard when the state actively needs it at the expense of the non wealthy. The cities took the brunt of it, especially belfast.Maybe it was unavoidable, taking all the considerations of tribalism. There should be mandatory educational programmes on sectarianism. If not it may well happen again, and again, and again. More Cross community events required, but the political so called representatives do not want this unless, they are the main players with there own terms, conditions and photoshoots. Sure, they wouldnt want us getting to friendly. Just in case we pull the plug on their live for life lifestyles. History repeating itself, just with different opportunist boardplayers. A little like sociol monoploy.

  140. Marty- You're absolutely right. I'd go one step further and be sceptical about what everyone in a position of power and influence says. If they have a track record you can rely on I think you still have to scrutinise what they say and why they say it. Otherwise people will take things on face value and believe things like weapons of mass destruction, dinosaurs on Noah's Ark and as in the case we're discussing now the motivation behind the IRA's campaign.

    We have to question everything. Question the State, the media, Unionists, Republicans. Remember when Labour's Jonathan Powell I think it was drafted some IRA statements?

    We have to question ourselves as individuals, challenge what we believe inside and have an open mind and be open to changing our minds. Otherwise we stray from being misled to being bigots. However your point is the keenest and persistent questioning of the State, any State, is vital to freedom. When peaceful protesters at peace or environmental rallies in England or people nearby who are mistaken for protesters are cracked over the head or killed and it's frowned upon by many ordinary people to question the system we know something is rotten at the core.

  141. Anthony:

    "I am still confused as to the relevance of this to the current discussion which is not about who did what first but is about the reason people were targeted."

    Is it not logical as to why Nationalist and Protestants were targeted.

    Because of there religion , being at the wrong place at the wrong time, Sheer bigotry , More so from the Loyalist, then PIRA /INLA came in using bigotry as well which to me stained the movement. Was it right to murder non combatants? , NO it wasn't, Ive lost two relations to that hatred and a brother who is walking about with a bullet in his spine which cant be removed because it would leave him a cripple, turned him into an nervous wreck, I wouldn't wish that on any person , no matter what colour or creed they are from.

  142. AM...you are correct in what you are saying to the other contributors...this is not a point scoring exercise..nor it to determine who fired the first shots. I am trying to convince you that despite what you may think..thought at one time..or always thought...that the Provisional carried out a sectarian campaign through the conflict. At times it may have played second fiddle to whatever other aspect of their campaign they were applying but the reality is that it was always there..somewhere. You previously asked me to give names of prods killed in 94...I did. I have no need to..as you suggest to manipulate the figures to prove my point....the figures are there. As early as August 71 there were prods being killed for no other reason than their religion. Billy Strong in the Bally streets in the Oldpark was one such killing. Three months prior to McGurks we had would might have been the first of these type of attacks. The Four Step..crowd of Bluemen after a match against Standard Liege. The next month..as I have previously pointed out was the first of the so called assassinations. Robert McFarland..a man with learning difficulties tortured and murdered in the Strand..Tommy Kells found on Springfield Road his tattoos cut off both arms and shot. The same month another bomb in the Red Lion..a Protestant pub on the Ormeau Road..the Provies perfected the car bombs long before the prods I think. In retaliation for McGurks a car bomb on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the Shankill....you are seeing a pattern develop here Anthony? 2 days after McGurks aSalvation Army Hostel blown up killing a pensioner. I could go on giving examples ad infinitum..La Mon in 78..again well outside your sectarian zone of 74-76. Through to Enniskillen ten years later and as I proved into the nineties. I credit you as an academic and a man of superior intelligence. Don't tell me that these acts weren't planned or thought out. Years ago when I heard of the excuse for the blanket bombings in Belfast..that it was the IRA striking at the economic targets..I despaired. Despaired that someone has the temerity to think that we are all so gullible and naive. I read the same sentiments in the Brendan Hughes section of the Ed Maloney book...there was no intent to kill anyone on Bloody Friday. Come on please. Anthony, the last thing I want is to turn this in to some sort of tit for tat between me or any of your other contributors. I have stated categorically that the UVF/RHC waged a sectarian war. I gave a reason why I believed that happened. I will state again..retrospectivelly those tactics were wrong. My claim in this argument is that throughout the conflict the Provies carried out a sectarian war as well...and it cannot be verified by someone saying... Aye maybe so..but it wasn't as bad as the UVF,s. at times it may not have been the main focus of their thrust but as I think I have demonstrated it was there from the early 70's right up until the ceasefires mo chara.

  143. Stephen powerful post and you have put up a considered argument its not what republicans may want to hear but delivered in that context it is what we need to hear,I sinscerely believe that the majority of republicans are of the Tone tradition,if I were to proffer any explanation it is maybe that the leadership of the PRM allowed itself to be sucked into a sectarian conflict against it own ideals or wishes I honestly dont know,but what I can honestly say is that posts from Robert and your self are exercise in reflection which is no bad thing in my mind a cara .

  144. Itsjustmackers,

    'I have to stress that I believe that those whom are continuing to open up old gaps as to the Deaths of Protestants, but, are not to bothered about the Deaths of Catholics, are, in my opinion, doing nothing else but seeking information, they are very intelligent people, who knows from were?'

    In my defence, it was by way of the gauntlet thrown down by Anthony to Stephen that I became involved in the debate. The conspiracy, if there is one, is to garner knowledge and sate a cognitive demand for understanding. Nothing more insidious than us alligators taking some time out on the bank of free enquiry, attempting to make sense of our past death roll.

    It never occured to me that anything that was discussed could in any way be construed as Stephen or I attempting to spike Anthony's Remy Martin with a truth serum for prosecutorial purposes or other malevolent intent. Conspiracism, and I am not a fan of the genre, always seems to accompany a resistence to criticism.

  145. Stephen,

    We are under no illusions that Protestants were killed. That is not in dispute. But as the statistics brought out by Simon earlier strongly suggest the sectarianism formed a minor part of the IRA campaign – less than ten per cent – and the bulk of it I would suggest were squeezed into 74-76. I remember the Four Step Inn. Spent a lot of time in the cells at Townhall Street every week with the son of one of the people killed there. Don’t know why it happened. Can’t recall hearing for definite that IRA people carried it out but cannot for the world of me think of who else did. But it was sectarian and wholly wrong.

    I have no memory of the guy who died in the Strand. I don’t even know if the IRA did it. What we do know is that one sectarian killing in the Strand led to convictions of people who were not in the IRA and it was not the result of an IRA action.
    The Red Lion I recall very well. I was very young but ran up the road with a view to pulling people out although luckily for me the emergency services had it all done by the time I got there. It was one of two premises that had bombs placed in them. Sandwiched in between was Ballynafeigh RUC station. The attack was on the station not the pub. But there was a terrible disregard for the people in the pub even though they were not the target. As Robert and Simon suggest there was a casual disregard for Protestant lives which is hard to disassociate from sectarianism. And I think republicans need to consider that criticism most strongly.

    The car bomb was devised by the Provos, even if they stumbled across it rather than devised it as such. I don’t think anybody has argued otherwise.

    La Mon was an attack that was a major disaster. It is well accepted that it was not an attack on those people in the building but part of a wider bombing campaign that went hopelessly wrong. Even the conviction that resulted from it was for manslaughter. No consolation to the dead but we are talking intent here rather than effect.

    Billy Strong or Tommy Kells, I have no memory of. But is there a pattern or is there a deviation from the norm? Were they approved or carried out on the side? I don’t know the answers to those questions.

    I know there were more examples than the ones you cite. And while lack of knowledge prevents us from commenting on all the activity it is known that after some of these acts there were attempts made to clamp down on them and cut it out.

  146. Stephen,

    Enniskillen, I have already stated, would seem to me to be little other than a sectarian disregard for non combatants. Was it approved? In my view the operation against security forces would have been but not the attack on the civilians. I would certainly hope not. But those that detonated the bomb in the full knowledge that civilians would be massacred must carry full responsibility. And ultimately the IRA being a centralized organization by this stage must take responsibility for those in its ranks who carried out this type of attack. There are indeed some things we cannot escape from.

    Spare me the patronizing Stephen with this guff about superior intelligence. I don’t do it to you. We debate as equals, nothing else.
    Bloody Friday, you seem to know little about in terms of the thinking behind it. It is an event in republican history that has been discussed endlessly within the ranks. We don’t merely assume it was a faux pas. We know it was. Unless we have all been conned by some Machiavellian plot that you know existed and we don’t. And if you have the evidence by all means come up with it. Even if it was certain that there were people who would be killed there was little to suggest they would be Protestants. Everybody used Oxford Street. Catholics died that day too. The IRA has a lot to answer for in relation to Bloody Friday, as in La Mon but sectarian intent to kill Protestants because they were Protestants is not among them. Don’t underestimate incompetence.

    At the end of it all, we know that elements of sectarianism existed within the IRA. We also know that there was a lot of sectarian attitudes in the ranks. And even though we do not agree on the meaning of Bloody Friday, La Mon or the Red Lion, we are left with the cold hard facts that the IRA campaign – without in any way in this discussion trying to justify it – for the most part targeted people who were in the security forces and combatants (even here I have misgivings about some of that) while the bulk of the loyalist campaign was directed against a non combatant civilian population. Even if we accept for the sake of argument that you are right and the IRA was more sectarian in its application than I allow for we are still left with that yawning gap between the campaigns. There is simply no getting away from that Stephen. I don’t think you address this adequately.

    I think what you do is to stretch very thinly a number of sectarian killings over the IRA campaign in the hope of ascribing a strategic sectarian rationale for the purpose of colouring the campaign. The problem is that it is so thin that the transparency allows us to see the IRA campaign as something other than you describe it as. Even some of your own examples don’t met the criteria, bad as they undoubtedly were in terms of harm caused to non combatants.

    Here we are not shy of describing some IRA actions as war crimes, seeing Whitecross as being on a par with Bloody Sunday. I don’t believe I have any interest in covering for what happened. I call it as I see it not as I don’t see it. I think Robert poses a more penetrating critique that is in need of being addressed.

    But you have made your case and I have responded. After that I suppose others will make their own judgement. But as we agree it is not about playing silly buggers. Making the point rather than scoring the point should be the guiding thread.

  147. AM...thanks for giving me the opportunity here to put my case forward. To a large degree you are very conciliatory to much of my writing but concede little. For whatever reason you are reluctant to admit the sectarian nature of much of the Provies campaign. Not sure who made the Four Step bomb...La Mon went horribly wrong? Maybe the Butchers were only trying to give those Catholics a shave? Anthony I look forward to many more opportunities to contribute to TPQ but I feel this particular subject is a dead duck. The booklet I mentioned isn't in shops other than the Loyalist band type of shops. I have a copy and can easily get you one but don't know how to get it to you....other than scan each poem in and send it through to this site?

  148. Stephen:

    "Maybe the Butchers were only trying to give those Catholics a shave?"

    Think only a bigoted 16 year old from a shankill boys brigade band would write that, But seems bigotry is really still with in you for such a snide remark.

    Has not the UVF/UDA/UFF/RHC not carried out Sectarian Murders after the dates which Anthony quoted.

  149. Stephen,

    I can't claim to know what I do not know. Perhaps this is the weakness in your argument - claiming to know what you don't. I know nothing about the Four Step Inn bomb. But that was not an attempt to say it was not the IRA. I made it very clear I could not se who else would have done it.

    Explain the purpose of the La Mon attack. Unless you do your own argument is hobbled.

    You have in my view failed to make a persuasive argument in respect of the Provo campaign. However, we will leave it to others to decide on that.

    But the following question strips the matter to its essence: is is true to say that the bulk of the IRA campaign (right or wrong, justified or not) was directed against combatants whereas the bulk of the loyalist campaign (right or wrong, justified or not) was directed against an unarmed civilian population?

    The answer to that should go some way toward settling matters.

  150. Itsjustmackers.....my debate was with Anthony and if you have read the full thread you will have noticed why I made the flippant remark...not snide..but you obviously cannot follow what was being written by both of us and in what context..please don't butt in with your inane remarks.

  151. Stephen,

    send me a private e mail address (not for publication) and I will make arrangements regarding the book

  152. Stephen:

    .please don't butt in with your inane remarks.

    and who do you think you are speaking to?. This is an open forum, any one can debate. So don't you tell me to butt out, The only person who can do that is Anthony, and, If he feels the need to do so because of my rebuttal to you, then so be it.

    The shankill Bombing went wrong as well, seems the pike's left the net early?, yes innocent people died needlessly. But if the top brass had have been upstairs, those innocent people still would have died, Is that logical enough for you.

  153. Robert:

    I hope you got enough knowledge!

  154. Itsjustmackers,

    'I hope you got enough knowledge!'

    From a motivational perspective Anthony has provided much to reflect on and resolve to our own satisfaction.
    When I return to my desk I will place a note in your file - Itsjustcrackers.

  155. I've been folliwing this 'debate' and one over the weekend Anthony had with Alec..It deffo. gave me food for thought. The best way to describe the TPQ is educational. I learn loads from here..

    Anyhow, I seen this word sectarianism branded about and the use of stat's from Sutton & Lost lives. I'm of the opinion that both Sutton & Lost lives need to be revised. Anyone who was working in any capicty as a British agent who either killed someone or set someone up to be killed, that murder should be attributed to the British (IMO..is wasn't a Republican or Loyalist agenga being followed but a British one). The Francisco Notarantonio killing is a case in question. Pat Finucane is another On the other hand, how many innocent IRA volunteers where killed by the nutting squad by British agents wanting to protect a higher spy or themselves..Or mistaken identity because the FRU/MRF/SB got their intell. wrong....Even if their intell. was correct, the deaths should be blamed (at least in part) to the British...

    Couldn't the 14 deaths on Bloody Sunday be labeled sectarian...Kingsmill was sectarian like Darkley..

  156. Robert:

    merci beaucoup , A bientot!

    Thank you , see you later!.

  157. Tu parles très bien it'sjustmackers...

  158. Frankie,

    I think that is a good point about revising the detail we already have.

    Bloody Sunday was state terrorism not sectarianism. Eamonn McCann did a great piece on the same terrorist troopers being involved in gunning down unarmed civilians on the Shankill. I think the case could be made that rather than state terrorism being sectarian, sectarian killings were often state terrorism. How else would we explain the killing of Pat Finucane?

  159. Merci Frankie.

    I don't speak it that well, my partner is french, we travel there quite often, she has relations in south east France, she teaches English as a second language.

    I'm not sure how Anthony looked at that reply to me via Robert, re, "File of Itsjustmacker in his desk?, I'm sure I read into it differently from Anthony, to me there is only one type of "Person" who would make a statement like that, but lets hope I'm wrong, and, The comment about the shankill butchers re "Shave" , really riled me, since one of my relations fell victim to that scum.

  160. Wayyyy of topic (sorry in advance)..

    Goto here or type Myiplayer into google. On the bottom right of the screen, you'll see flags. Click on to the french flag and your good lady can watch French tv for free (TF1 Fr2,3, 4 &5, Arte & M6)..
    You will have silly pop ups (click them off<----small red croxx on the right of pop up))..last 'pop up' click to allow and she'll have French TV (not the TNT channels as of yet)..

    There is no virus. I kinda know the webmaster (he's based in Spain, from the UK).

    For free footy, GAA, boxing etc...Check out Wiziwig. The forum will explain how it works (basically sky sports for free).

  161. Itsjustmackers,

    'I'm not sure how Anthony looked at that reply to me via Robert, re, "File of Itsjustmacker in his desk?, I'm sure I read into it differently from Anthony, to me there is only one type of "Person" who would make a statement like that,..'

    'A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It's jolted by every pebble on the road.'

  162. Frankie:

    Thanks for that link.

    She just changes the language to French via the remote control. lol

  163. Robert:

    I'm pleased to say my springs are working perfectly, and, they only thing which jolted me in life, was the bullets zooming past my head, on several occasions.

  164. Frankie:

    wiziwig is good, ive registered on that, also, sopcast.

    cheers mucker.

  165. Itsjustmacker,

    I don't think anything bad was intended by the butchers comment. I found it a weak attempt to derail a logic he did not approve but I saw no malign intent in it.

  166. anthony:

    Thanks for that, but, sorry to say, I read as a , "Don't you think so", malign way of using a question mark.
    But, that's it, case closed now.

  167. Stephen,

    from an earlier post which I am late in commenting on:

    but it must also be difficult for even dedicated republicans to fully justify their campaign of terror. Not just because it failed but because of many of the tactics used.

    Even if we defer to the term campaign of terror for the sake of discussion that would seem self evident from much of the discussion that has been conducted on this blog and elsewhere. I simply try to avoid the term justification ( I am sure there is slippage) preferring mitigation. Who wants to justify killing people or waging war? We should be seeking to marginalise such things as strategic options.

  168. AM ..two things...you grasped the Butchers comment correctly. I am neither crass nor insensitive enough to mean it otherwise especially here. Nor dominsee it as a weak attempt at anything. You know the effect Inwas after in using it. Justify may well have been the wrong word. The meaning I was trying to convey was that there is no need for republicans to stand up for what part they played in the conflict. None of us can. But many have seen the futility and now strive by different means to recompense.

  169. Stephen,

    why I thought the statement was weak was that in terms of motivation it compared apples with pears. The effect of La Mon on the Unionist community would have been no different had the attack been purely an act initiated for the purpose of killing as many Protestants as possible. But throughout we have been discussing not the effect of targeting but its purpose. Robert has a more robust point than your own in that he argues that the sectarianism might not have lain in the intent but in the safeguards or lack of them. A better question to have asked would have been 'would the same hotel under the same ownership have been targeted in similar fashion had it have been situated in West Belfast?' Robert may very well be right to suggest that where the risk to Protestants was greater than it was to Catholics there was a much greater likelihood that the operation would have gone ahead. I think that is where we really get down to the question of sectarianism in respect of targeting.

    The Butchers example does not work because there was only ever one intention with these killings: the slaughtered Catholic was the target not the by product. The Butcher enterprise went according to plan; La Mon did not.

    I think republicans can explain their armed role in the conflict without being in your face, triumphalist or bragging. In fact I think republicans, loyalists, security forces, judges, government have an obligation to explain their role in the conflict. Republicans need to be able to explain their role and to some extent 'stand over' it. It is only through doing that can it be shown that other conflict participants had a causal role and that conflict must be seen in the whole rather than in one part. Society needs explanations. It does not get them by one participant standing up and taking the blame, effectively allowing other participants to escape scrutiny and censure. That allows society to view conflict with a hand over one eye.

  170. Stephen,

    It is hard to see us making any inroads there when the 2 largest political parties sharing Stormont
    basically perpetuate sectarianism as a tool to stay where they are.

    I think loyalists on the ground who see this for what it is could contribute more to public discussion on it. Loyalism is often said to be saturated in sectarianism yet we see a loyalist critique of institutionalised sectarianism. But the critique does not seem to be getting out there.

  171. Stephen,

    It is all a matter of recorded history now.

    Was it a tactical thing?

    No. There was a deep seated resentment by many prisoners towards the sectarianism of the era. People in jail including Brendan Hughes threatened to resign.

    Was it to do with the leadership at that particular time?

    To a large extent yes. Plus facts on the ground where loyalist killings were frequent created a pressure for a response which Belfast in particular but not exclusively responded to. Internment had removed people who would not have allowed it to happen or at least would have done as much as possible to prevent it.

    Was there a start and finish date? Why did it end?

    It started towards the closing months on 1974. North Belfast in particular seemed to be involved. There was a particularly bad killing of 17 year old Heather Thompson in a garage along with a young guy in a garage. The previous night a Catholic girl and man (if I am not mistaken)had been killed in a garage in West Belfast.

    It effectively ended around the end of 1976. The Loyalists campaign against Catholics seemed to lose a lot of impetus. The British were claiming that they had grinded it down. I am of a view that the Loyalist easing off was more related to a report by the Orange Order that the British were not pulling out as a result of the IRA ceasefire. There were a number of loyalist attacks in 1977 including the Butchers but nothing that produced a sectarian response. There was a shifting balance of power within the Provisionals, away from a sectarian mindset. La Mon occurred a year later but as was pointed out earlier its purpose was not to kill Protestants. Ed places Adams as chief of staff at the time it occurred. He had been one of the most critical voices against the sectarian campaign and was highly unlikely to preside over one.

  172. Anthony,

    'Adams as chief of staff at the time it occurred. He had been one of the most critical voices against the sectarian campaign and was highly unlikely to preside over one.'

    I recall reading somewhere that Adams referred to Protestants as 'Non-nationals'. I can't now recall the source. Would that have been a term that you encountered?

  173. Robert,

    I don't recall the term. That is not to say I never came across it. At this stage in life things we think never happened because we no longer remember them happening can come up and give us a nasty bite! Your comment that I had said to you that to engage is not to acquiesce is one I would have passed a lie detector test if claiming it wasn't me! No recollection of it but you are not making it up.

    I am so sceptical about him that I am sure he would do anything for career mileage as ethics don't seem to figure in his worldview. But back then it was a different story. His stance may have been determined by sheer calculation - it was the cul de sac to defeat and obliteration.

    The non-national one sounds dubious only because Protestants were viewed as misguided Irish men and women.

  174. Robert as your well aware I am no defender of Adams . I cant recall the bearded one saying anything derogatory against the unionist population as a whole, there was a time when he seemed to choose his words carefully...

  175. Staying with Gerry Adams. Here's a song to duck lovers everywhere.

  176. Okay Frankie on the subject of ducks What has 200 balls and fucks them?
    a 12 bore shotgun!

  177. Anthony,Marty,

    I now recall the source as Sean O'Callaghan.
    Your position on Adams makes what you say in this respect all the more persuasive.

  178. Robert,

    not in my view the most plausible of sources.

    He also quoted a Stick as having claimed that Adams once told him during internment 'I'm prepared to wade up to my knees in Protestant blood to get to a United Ireland.' But I think that was an attempt to project the Sticks own non sectarian credentials vis a vis the supposed Provo lack of them as nobody else ever heard it and the Sticks were not beyond labelling and smearing.

  179. Anthony and as you have said yourself many a time quisling $inn £ein now employ the very same tactics.

  180. Former-IRA-commander- Sean O Callaghan says-dissidents-to-display-big-show-in-Britain-for-2016 Easter-Rising-Celebrations.

    Former IRA Man Sean O Callaghan"

  181. Former-IRA-commander- Sean O Callaghan, I read his book. He was not very complementary about belfast provisionals, claiming nothing short then sectarian bigots. He also claimed that the provisionals bastardised the republician movement especially from a sectarian point of view. Arguements and blaming on either side, provisionals claim they were sucked into sectarianism by the loyalists. Evidence and truth to support this. Jesus christ, they were bad times. Do you think it could happen again? Another thing about ocallaghan, I always question how a man could not only lead but maintain a double life like that,was it, guts, stupidity, thrill,maybe he thought it was never going to end. Christ I really do not know how they could. I know money maybe a issue, but to risk his own life, he must have been pretty "outhere" when if he was unhappy he could have just left. Maybe, he thought he couldnt leave unless he got set up by MI5.The whole conflict was knee deep in a british counter intelligence basis. They really did run the war.

  182. James:

    I haven't read the book, but I have done plenty of online research on O' Callaghan, He walked into a British Police Station and admitted to Murder, His on friends in London Disowned him. But we must all learn from those who took the queens shilling, that if a future conflict is started, those agents will be at the forefront of every ones mind, Lies, Lies, and More Lies, to make himself look big and important. My oldest daughter Bought me McGartlands Book, fifty dead men walking, with a complementary DVD of the movie, I ask her did she get it in a pound shop, But the main point I am trying to make about those people is, They are always discarded by the British to live a life of fear. For O' Callaghan to say that PIRA were Sectarian , I would disagree , but not on all killings of Protestants, some were uncalled for, some tit for tat. Both sides were infiltrated from the top echelon down to the Volunteer, but the Loyalist side had a huge advantage with the help of those agents and the RUC/RUC special branch, also, the FRU. My reading of those agents, especially from RUC special branch and FRU was to make sure that the Catholic and protestant working class could not unite, But, Paisley had already done that. I hope some day that we can all unite as a society of Peace working together for the generations of the future, to me, that is the only way forward. Because another conflict would be more bloodier that that from PIRA.

  183. Bookworm...
    James. I am intrigued. I am actually wondering if you are a hacker? Are you part of 'Anonymous'?

    If you are right about James being connected to Anonymous. Then it would make him a cracker not a hacker. Hackers are good people and without them the internet would be very different from what it is today.. The Difference Between a Hacker and a Cracker?

    But as always the media have bastardised the word. In the same way as they label all dissident republicans as phyiscal force...(or they at least give that impression).

  184. Eamon Mc Cann reports on a very disturbing situation in

    Derry, 2nd Para Flags flying next to the Britiash Union

    Jack. An Insult to Bloody Sunday, and, Ballymurphy

    2nd para flag flys next to British Union Flag in


  185. Frankie, I can't open your link for some reason.

    James isn't a hacker. He's a 6ft 2 body builder. Hackers are skinny wee guys with glasses and wear shambala bracelets. Everyone knows this.

    There are no women hackers either.

  186. itsjustmacker,
    I agree with you assertion on the last post. The protestant elite has the working class grass roots snookered on their identity. I read a good book called "hate" by Matthew Collins, charting his life from working class youth in the British the far right in this country, to eventually becoming a whistle blower and eventually to anti-fascist campaigner. Matthew Collins was a teenage member of the National Front in the 80's and 90's, and it basically explained to me the lure of working class british identity and the aspects of the far right. I see how this basically could be perceived as becoming mindset of working class loyalist youths, with the orange order, marching season, the 12th and helped my understanding of extreme loyalist ideology with imperialist mindset. There is also a reading on the links with the UDA in Ulster, I thought it was a good insight as how the working class can be manipulated with flags, symbols, emblems and perceived identity.
    I aint that physically big. Mentally at times, yes. The occupy movement have it right in my opinion and there are women hackers, I am sure.

  187. James, fair dos.

    Can I assume that your not mentioning the shambala bracelet is an admittance that you do?

    If so, what colour is yours and where can I get one?

  188. Bookworm,
    I had to google to see what a shamballa bracelet was. lol. I aint into any faith, spirtuality, or witchcraft of any type. Pure scientific fact man. No shamballa bracelets, old school, the highlight of my jewellery would be a no logo, £10 quid watch. I see where you are coming from with that perception of the occupy movement, I spoke to one guy from a america when he came over here at a event last july and he was every inch of your perception. Young, 20 something, long blonde hair, tied in ponytail, handsome, thin, with bracelets on each arm. I asked him for a laugh was he a CIA plant because he looked the part. He looked bemused, either he didnt get the usual irish humor of "greeting someone with a friendly slag" or he was a plant,could have been for all I know. It is a popular image, for the young radical just like the 70's. Maybe he was a hacker looking for a Irish female cracker.lol. Frank Carson,Its the way I tell em.

  189. Willie Frazer was among a crowd of about 100 people who took part in a protest at Belfast City Hall on Saturday 23/02.2013.

    What caught my eye was wee willie was wearing a British Army Beret, I didn't know willie was ex RIR/UDR, or is it his late fathers Beret, Please don't get me wrong, I'm not rubbing it into willie if it is his late fathers Beret, seems willie like uniforms, I would suggest a Nurse Uniform, It would be more appropriate for a loner.

    Wee Willie Frazer Is In The British Army?

  190. Bookworm,
    Sorry the link about the difference between a hacker and a cracker didn't work. That link should work. I very much doubt if James is a hacker. A cracker Je ne sais pas

    I think the case could be made that rather than state terrorism being sectarian, sectarian killings were often state terrorism

    I'm still convinced that some BA were guilty of blatant/naked sectarianism after watching Soldiers' Stories Northern Ireland. Some of the BA interviewed admited they hated the Irish with a vengence. There are a few funny stories told like how a BA patrol in the Markets (during the honeymoon period) got called 'The Adams Family'. Which is apt when you consider how things have panned out.

    There is also a sinister admission about 7min 40seconds into part 3..and there was a bomb scare in the SF HQ on the Falls Road and the place was crawling with RUC SB (which was out of the norm)...Long story short, instead of clearing up and opening the road the SB photocopied everything in sight in the SF office. It confirmed in part what Brendan Hughes said in Voices..That there were bombs exploding in the name of the IRA that he couldn't (nor anyone else connected) account for. It's made me wonder were all IRA related bombs actually IRA bombs...

    I stumbled across incident 597 it's about an illegal SAS op in South Armagh..I'm inclined to believe it.

  191. frankie a cara what would be hard to believe about the states forces being involved in nefarious activities,? Mamai showband, Nairac,! Dublin and Monaghan, FRU need I go on a cara it was all par for the course...

  192. I'm on the same hymn sheet marty. The more I read, watch, videos, listen...scratch the surface of what happened between 1969 and onwards, Mi5, RUC SB etc are always there in the back ground with their finger prints every where.

  193. Frankie; got it now. Thanks for clearing that up!

    Troublemakers and agitators these crackers, Aren't they?I must admit I like the sound of them.

  194. Bookworm,

    A wee favour. I seen last night you mentioned half of the posters not fitting a profile. What does my picture say about me. There is a very innocent explanation..

  195. Frankie; I knew I recognised you!

    You're the case study yer man used in his book showing us how to spot a psychopath!

    Ps. Your beard needs trimming.

  196. The beard was a one off. Two yrs ago my son asked me to grow a beard and paint it for Paddy's day. It sounded like a plan..

    Maybe I am psycho Bookworm. But as Waylon Jennings said in a song...

    I've always been crazy (it helps me from going insane)

  197. For Jesus' sake Frankie, I thought you were going for the Gerry Adams look in your photo!

    You're the duck egg of him!