Stormont and its games

Guest writer Maitiu Connel with his take on the relationship between republicanism and the PUL community.

For many years now, I have studied Irish Republicanism and have met many Republicans with different views on their ideology and from their own words, they do wish to bring the Protestant community into a United Ireland and to live in peace. I have debated with many Unionist friends on how they would feel about a united Ireland and how they feel in regards to Sinn Fein trying to extend a hand towards the Unionist community. A few have commented that they would not mind an independent Northern Ireland, if it brought real peace for once and all. Though how could it? As long as one section fight for a British free Ireland, another side will fight to maintain our connection to Britain.
Perhaps as the world continues with globalisation, we will all end up being sucked into a European state. Over the past few years, I have listened to Gerry Adams give lip service to the Unionist community about moving forward and bringing us in to the Ireland of equals. I as many others feel these are just empty words. Perhaps only a cheap sound bite to give him applause as a “ peace “ maker. For any steps made forward by Sinn Fein. Castlederg's Republican show certainly cast the message into the moderate Unionist community, that they really have not gone away. Just as the recent major UVF parades will have hampered any Unionist reach out to the Catholic community. I have always been an avid supporter of the late David Ervine and his loss was a huge set back for the PUL people. I had met David Ervine on several occasions and I was always intrigued by his non sectarian outlook. He is what the PUL community need at this exact time.

Irish Republicanism at it's very root was non sectarian. Protestant, Catholic and dissenter. Despite these words of unity, every single bullet fired and bomb set of by the IRA and INLA made sure the final nails of unity were buried deep in the coffin of bringing in the Protestant community. Just as every day of misrule from a Protestant government for Protestant people alienated and gave fuel to the Republican conflict and for hundreds of young men and women to join the IRA.

During this year, we have witnessed several large parades in relation to the formation of the UVF and remembrance of the 36th Ulster Division whom were massacred at the Somme and other leading battles across the trenches of the Great World War. These were young men who volunteered to go and fight. Men and many boys, from every street across Belfast, East Antrim, North Down, mid Ulster and beyond were gunned down in no man's land. I have family who fought in that world wars and I am proud of their bravery. They laid the way for freedom from Nazi rule and I believe that should be remembered. How would that be remembered in a united Ireland? This is a great fear amongst the Unionist community. Like many here, I am half Scottish and half Irish. I certainly enjoy both aspects to my identity. In Republican words, I have been called nothing but a planter and told my Grandmother should have stayed out of Ireland. Yet these same people flocked to Glasgow to follow a Scottish team each week. Also ignoring the many Scottish IRA members. How do such comments bring my community in and make us feel at ease? Though I recognise these are a minority with views like that.

A few of my friends during our debate asked “exactly why would we want a united Ireland?”, “Are things not ok as they are now?” And “I am happy just being part of the UK”.

Sinn Fein are now part of the UK ruling in the 6 counties. I really do not feel that SF will ever deliver a united Ireland and are no threat to Unionism at all. They seem very content with maintaining the sectarian division. They have and continue to get rich from it. The PUL has no real leadership. The flag protests are evident of such. A minority may protest on the street but thousands are scratching their heads wondering why the so called leaders are doing nothing. It is as if the Unionist community is as usual, leading people up the path for their own agenda. I am not sure where we can go from here. A return to conflict is not an option and our politicians are failing us on every level on both sides. The truth is, the PUL community just do not want to break with the UK and Sinn Fein have completely sold Republicanism down the river for a handsome pay check. Are we going to go round in circles again and end up right back in 69?

Republicans seem to have a belief that the UDR, Army and RUC were to an extent an extension of loyalism during the conflict. Yes many young protestant men and woman joined these organisations as a legal alternative to the paramilitaries but for us having grown up in a loyalist areas, the truth is the opposite. The RUC were hated. I had a few friends who's houses were raided non stop by the RUC. They ruined furniture, toys and anything of value. RUC members living in loyalist areas were a target. This is one of the many reasons why the UVF and UDA were seen as defenders of the area.

The Army and RUC were not there to defend their areas from Republican attacks. So local men took it on themselves to do so. Many walked away from the UDA once the UFF formed and started killing Catholics. Loyalists were sent to prison by the very British system they believed they were fighting to defend. Egged on by Paisleys words and then once arrested and sent to the Maze they were then dropped like a hat by the DUP.

Loyalists were walked under the road from the Crumlin Road jail to face a Diplock court. Certainly Loyalist volunteers believed the British system was just as much against them.

At the moment there is a huge sense of resentment in the PUL community. The parades commission stating were they can and can not walk. The same British courts sending them to court and prison for protesting to defend their British identity. Despite having broke laws, they genuinely do not believe they are breaking any laws but only standing up for their British rights.

The world has changed and continues to change and I feel the PUL community is being left behind. They are also being exploited by the DUP. Tensions are very tense and I honestly believe it could spill over into a life being lost. Last December on the Newtownards Road the PSNI came in very heavy handed, knocking several pensioners to the ground. Setting dogs on by standers, water canon set against young mothers pushing a pram. These scenes were not shown by the media. In the backdrop of this the Unionist leaders keep spreading whispers on the ground that the Catholic community is getting everything. They are getting all the investments whilst loyalist areas are left in poverty. A rather facetious claim considering Catholic areas such as West Belfast are amongst the most poor areas in the UK. Though in times of anger, the truth seems to not matter.

Each day passes and tensions worsen on both sides and as usual, Stormont does nothing to help. Protestant kids are leaving school with the lowest GCSE grades and the highest drop out rates. Terrible unemployment levels in both communities. Truth is, we are all losers in the games Stormont plays. Until the DUP and SF can work together to better all communities, I do not see Protestants accepting Republicanism at all and nor the same for Catholics accepting a hand of friendship from Unionism.


  1. Maitiu-

    " Egged on by Paisley "-

    How long is that old excuse going to be used by the PUL community-if Paisley had of told yous back in the day to demand and vote for a United Ireland would you have done so-its like the German idiots saying after world war 2 that they only became Nazis because of Hitlers words-when all the time it was in them-the hate was always there-it was bred into you fcuks-

    Now we have the prods on here saying Sinn Fein have sold out-[ I am away on the piss ffs-]-

    Hodgie boy named Adams in the Irish news yesterday and not a word of complaint-[anti Irish News my arse-]-the last one that named him to the media did not last that long to brag about it-

  2. I do not support the DUP and certainly have no time for Ian Paisley.
    I am taking into view the beliefs of former loyalist prisoners. These men stated to me, that Paisley helped fuel them. He built up anger that may not have been so strong, if he had not been around.
    Is it a cheap excuse? Not for me to answer. I was never a follower of the DUP to be worked up on their word.
    Hatred was not " bred " into every person in the PUL. Saying that is the direct opposite of loyalists saying the all Catholic priests are child molesters. Neither is true and just plays to the sectarian tune that is holding this place back.

    In regards to Adams. I am sure the British government will protect him and reward him with another nice pay check. After all, he brought down the PIRA for them.
    Today's Irish News states that SF believe that it is insensitive to have a former SAS soldier as the new NIO leader. Yet some how it is not insensitive to have child killers and bombers sat in our government. A man who hid a child molester, let the hunger strikers die for his own gain, has the blood of hundreds on his hands and sold out the Republican movement to be a British politician. Yet he still gets voted into power?

  3. Great read, and your comment is very true. Adam's et al are a protected species by the British, Irish and American governments.

    Anyone can see that. The only issue I have is that anytime the PUL community is concerned, feels threatened or isolated, it usually results in sectarian murder, terror or peddling fear using various channels and outlets.

    This has been the settler for eons, when various loyalist paramilitary organisations had a beef with each other, they simply ended shooting a taig to calm things down in their own community.

    Tribalism at its very best. In relation to culture, as long as the OO and marching fire and brimstone bands exist, recruit and demonstrate their anti Irish/catholic culture sectarianism will never go away, this is a matter of fact.

    Even the blind can see this. Now in saying that, on the catholic side, sectarianism is in my opinion can be as bad in various quarters. I have encountered many, many, tribialistic sectarian people, who claim not to be sectarian, "it is them uns mentally". No mate it is YOU...

    However when you scratch the surface, it is there alright, this is due to how we:
    Are educated separately
    Live separately
    Folk devil storytelling
    Socialisation/ Parents
    Religious institutions
    Media representation of each other
    and finally how our supposed elected leaders are carving up the electorate to maintain in power by religious identities and labels such as PUL community and Republican/ nationalists.

    This tactic of manipulation by MLA's to identity, location, religion, HERD THE sheep mentally is very effective here.

    There has been NO credible attempt by the stormount executive to limit, or even end sectarianism as it is a vote winner and the powerful and priviledge certainly do not want to let go of the power, when there is a financial, political and business curve up on the go.

    In the future, if things keep going the way they are going, especially up in stormount, we will be as every bit corrupt as a nigerian state.

    S/F and the DUP are not building a future of equals and sharing, they are building the situation that Nepotism especially in the new middle class catholic communities can exist, only, mind you if you are in the upper end of the S/F power elite cliché. I leave with this definition:

    "Nepotism is favoritism granted in politics or business to relatives regardless of merit. The term originated with the assignment of nephews to cardinal positions by Catholic popes and bishops. Nepotism is found in the fields of politics, entertainment, business and religion".

    The British English expression "Bob's your uncle" is thought to have originated when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, promoted his nephew, Arthur Balfour, to the esteemed post of Chief Secretary for Ireland, which was widely seen as an act of nepotism.[9]

  4. @ James

    I am thankful that I went to an integrated school. My first love was a Catholic and I married a Catholic, so thankfully my kids are free from sectarian tit bits, at home anyway. They also have dual nationality to north America, so they can go get a life in America if things worsen here.
    When people would ask me about Belfast, whilst I lived in America. They were amazed that we have separate schools, walls keeping us apart and it is awful that that is how I had to represent my country to people.
    I see no hope for this place with the current politicians. I drove up the Newtownards Road the other day and it is a total mess. Boarded up shops and flags everywhere. It is years now since the DUP promised to inject cash to these areas and they have failed big time.
    It was ironic standing in the SF shop up the falls, watching tourists come in to buy an " up the RA " shirt, whilst West Belfast is one of the poorest areas in the UK. Gerry owns several nice homes. Great how it has all worked out good for them.

  5. Maitiu,

    In my opinion integration is the key across all fields.

    I sat the other night with a "protestant by birth" probably not his choice, as I would describe myself as a "catholic by birth" not be my choice either and discussed how the whole religion, national identity issue is being manipulated by political elites here.

    The politician of S/F-DUP are not ever going to help eradicate sectarianism here, it is a vote winner every time.

    I have lost count How many times in my life time have I seen the "orange" or "green" card utilised to herd the sheep back in.

    I find it pretty sad, that we simply follow suit when it has been pulled, by using perceived perception, fear, anxiety from what the other religious side is gaining, winning or taking.

    In America they use the red, amber and green warning signs of possible terrorist attack, as far as I am aware. This tool automatically reduces the population to a state of perpetual fear and anxiety. It is a pretty effective government tool of control.

    Over the last few years I have seen the PSNI use this tactic on the threat of terror.

    I personally believe the future is bleak for non religion based politics and perpetual sectarianism.

    If there is ever going to be any change it will be the people at the interface driving it forward, it certainly will not be the political representatives, although they may be present for the photo shoot, media soundbite and lifting of the "peaceman throphy" of 2013,14,15,16,17 and the years roll on, same old same.

    Nothing much is going to change, they are all paying lip service to Mr Hass in the hope of a bigger cheque to keep this whole farce going for another bit at least.

    and it will.....

    Stormount MLA'S should be on a performance related pay award for making governing decisions, then we might see some movement up the road. Oh I forgot we are far to close to election time to rock this love boat.

  6. Perhaps a diversion but god I hate the sectarian acronym PUL. I've seen some also use CNR.

    It may be the current shorthand but Republicans should reject any attempt to box people into a political identity based on religion.

    There are numerous CUs and I've met PRs.

    Time this sectarian shorthand was left to be used by sectarian people and not 'mainstreamed".

  7. Yes that is correct. In the states we had the amber, orange and red alerts. Mainly only in the large cities that you would find those.
    We lived in rural America and the town 45 minutes away had a warning sign on the road. Even in a Negative 30 degrees blizzard it was say there was a chance of " terrorist " attack. A billboard not far from that was recruiting for the USMC. Rather ironic.

    I agree with you on the DUP/SF. They need to go. I have been following NI21 and hoping they do well. All governments are just corrupt. In my day dreams, I try to vision a pure socialist world. Then I wake up to reality.

  8. Kev,

    I don't like the term either but only because I don't take to new terms all that well. LOL, PMSL and the like don't do it for me. I don't get hung up on 'terminological exactitude' as we used to sarcastically refer to it in the jail. I prefer people, where possible, using the language they are comfortable with. PUL and CNR have both drifted into the discourse in recent terms and the new fangledness of it irks me, not any purported sectarian overtones. I would be more tolerant of a wider rather than a restrictive use of language.

  9. From Beano

    Maitiu has tried to be as even handed as possible here and is to be commended for that. A couple of points I would like to pick up on though. I don't know how many ex prisoners he spoke to or the depth of that research-or what their "affiliation" was...but the majority that I know-and that is quite a few-wouldn't simply lay the blame at scaremongers like Paisley on them becoming involved in the first place and spending time in prison consequently.

    Sure, there were many sabre rattlers-and many people listened to them. But from a personal point of view-and one that is shared by many-is that for a 15/16 year old-as I was in 1971-who was already involved in some sort of paramilitary activity-to hear elected and mainstream unionist politicians speak in the terms they did-shoot to kill---build dossiers on your enemies-form a third force-was adding fuel to the fire-was giving the go-ahead in some ways. But I would never blame them for landing me into Long Kesh. I knew and accepted that risk willingly. There is also a naivety when Maitiu talks of getting rid of SF and the DUP in order for us to move forward together. Reality check-that ain't going to happen.

    Both parties are in the position they are in simply because they have nurtured a divisive voter base over the years and there will be no departure from those tactics in the near future by either.

    On Michael Henry's point-is he saying that it is okay for republicans or nationalists to talk of Sinn Fein's sell out -but not prods? If so, why?

  10. Beano:

    The prods sold out nothing , they got SF were they wanted them , In a British run Stormont , paid for by the British. That's the bottom line'

    It will take an awful long time to reverse it.

    I cant wait for 2016 though, is everyone following mcguinness to the Republic. lol.

    Maitiu has been doing fine on the TPQ.

  11. Beano-

    " is he saying that it is ok for republicans or nationalists to talk of Sinn Fein sell out-but not prods "-

    Write away-complain or support away- you or anyone else has that right-and I support that right-

    Its just that very few talk about the british goverments sell outs like getting rid of the crown oath in the PSNI and the Assembly despite they themselves take this oath yearly-not very Loyal/Royal of them- or like when the brit government got rid of the 1920 Government of Ireland act and allowed the new Articles 2&3 to stay and never made another comment on them after the GFA-Article 2 is wrote on the new Irish passports which will be issued shortly-

    Likewise few make any comment on the dissident sell outs and their anti war status against the brit army-but-all is fair in love and war and in successful politics and failed politics-

  12. I certainly accept a level of naivety in my written view of the DUP and SF needing to. I know it will never happen but i do hope the likes of NI21 can grow in power.