What Loyalism Means To Me: Julie-Anne Corr Johnston

From Long Kesh Inside Out Julie Ann Corr-Johnston expounds on what loyalism means to her. Julie-Anne Corr Johnston is a Progressive Unionist Party representative and a Belfast City Councillor for the Oldpark ward.

To better understand the L in PUL we must first address the definition of U – a Unionist – which I believe, is universally accepted as an individual supportive of Northern Ireland’s constitutional position within the United Kingdom. An overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland recognise the benefits of our union with Great Britain and would subsequently vote to maintain it. However should greater benefits be met outside this Union, be it independence or uniting with the Republic of Ireland, that majority could very well become a minority.

Unionism has no religious preference despite the attempts of many to dress it as such. In fact, many Catholic Irish men and women across the province recognise the benefits of Northern Ireland’s constitutional position and would vote to maintain it and are therefore, subsequently by definition, Unionist.

In the context of Northern Ireland Loyalism is arguably a subset of unionism, we value the union however, without reservation, we remain unequivocally loyal to its preservation.

Loyalism has not changed prior nor post conflict in Northern Ireland, however the means by which it defends the Union has. What has also changed is the perception of loyalism – once considered key stakeholders in moving this country forward via the peace process, loyalists are now more referenced as “fleggers and protesters holding Northern Ireland back”. Regrettably there is an air of negativity around the definition and portrayal of loyalism – the media and those venomously opposed to, or threatened by it, would have you believe it’s a dirty word describing the “rough and ready” of this country or those responsible for the ills in Northern Irish society.

Of course the preservation of the Union is of great importance to Loyalism however the social and economical well-being of the citizens of Northern Ireland is as equally important.

The Principles of Loyalism is a document produced “as an attempt to put forward the key elements of the loyalist cause that were established by the founding fathers of unionism at the time of the home rule crisis.”

It reads:

today’s loyalists are the covenant children of those who signed the covenant and as such have a duty to maintain those core principles of that covenant which remain appropriate in the 21st century. These include :- 1. The material well-being of Ulster; 2. Civil and religious freedom; 3. Equal citizenship within the United Kingdom.

Duties that can only be upheld through the political process.

The document describes the need for a social agenda, it reads:

Loyalists have a duty to ensure that our people have satisfactory housing that meets the social needs of our people, gainful employment that provides a living wage under satisfactory terms and conditions of employment, adequate health care from the cradle to grave that is free to all at the point of delivery, efficient public services and utilities that are controlled by elected representatives accountable to the public, a safe and healthy environment that enhances individual and community life and a free education system that provides life-long learning for all citizens.

I’m confident most if not all would agree with that sentiment – how it is achieved is where we differ – and whether those duties have been upheld by our unionist parties is a matter for each individual to decide themselves.

In my opinion as a proud unionist and unashamed loyalist living in the 21st century, I can’t help but feel these duties have been abandoned. Feelings I won’t press at the risk of going off topic, and perhaps for another submission, but will in closing acknowledge that Loyalism in its entirety does not have a social class nor does it have a singular political ideology – to claim it as such is an inaccurate description.

Politics of course is the means by which we can protect the union and enhance the lives of those living within it however Loyalism is much greater than any manifesto or political ideology. Loyalism has a rich culture and heritage that is passed down and celebrated through generation to generation. We are a proud lot and in times of hardship demonstrate the strength of cohesion despite “political difference”.


  1. "In the context of Northern Ireland Loyalism is arguably a subset of unionism, we value the union however, without reservation, we remain unequivocally loyal to its preservation."

    Yes, very nice words..But the fact that Loyalism and Unionism sat on their arses during Britain "darkest hour" means that this ideology is fatally flawed.
    As in why didn't these brave sons of unionism fight for the bRits during WW2 aka the "big one"

    Loyalism/Unionism is in denial about it's contribution or more accurate it's lack thereof.
    And as the saying goes What's the point of having a dog..If you have to bark yourself?
    Unfortunately from my point of view the bRits on the "mainland" are largely ignorant of this history and instead focus on "Eire's neutrality"
    Thus allowing unionism/loyalism an escape route.
    A challenge for Irish Nationalists would be to get a fair hearing and to revise this unionist myths of "loyality".
    Also, Loyalism and unionism are completely out of step with the current trends happening in the "mainland" So their so called Loyality which is in reality "faux Loyality" is a mirage.They are "loyal" to a false image of Britain trapped somewhere in Alf Garnets' world where Brixton was full of White English" and when telephone boxes were red.
    Time to learn some new tunes..And wake up to the reality.

  2. Ozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzy
    Boring keyboard warrior. Zzzzzzz. So you hate us Brits/loyalists, I understand, but do you and Larry have to troll our every appearance on this blog? You sound like a bit of a sad sack, don't let the hate ruin your life.

  3. Ozzy

    To me the definition here of loyalism and reference to the Ulster Covenant is the other side of the 1916 Society coin. You are of course correct about WW2 and the unionist determination to avoid another Somme experience and also to safeguard 'Ulster' from another 1916. We can hardly blame them for that. But it does shed a bad light on their WW2 contribution. De Valera let them off the hook with his condolences to the German Ambassador after the death of Hitler.

    I see an 'all our people' reference in there akin to the Irish Proclamation. Believe that when I see it.

    It is in my opinion correct that many 'nationalist' are content within the union. SDLP voters in the main for example. My own parents and siblings too 'funny' enough. The problem is a lack of acceptance/democracy in both loyalism and republicanism. That leaves the door open to round 99.


  4. Peter.
    Not as boring as an Orangefest...summer.
    Anyhow Here's a wee video that might interest you from you tube.
    The guy who most interest me..Is the last guy at 9 minutes.
    Of most note is his experience as a visitor to Westminster.
    Stick with it.

  5. Larry. Yeah devalera and the Daily Mail black propangadists have created many myths.
    Which even today are regarded as facts.

    As for Irish Nationalists in the Wee 6.
    I think at least 30% of the wee 6 in da North would vote for a UI at present.
    30% is a worthwhile base.
    I don't believe the unionist mainstream press.
    Also I believe that in a future Border Poll vote..the Brits will study what would make a majority vote happen and they will make announcments that will lead to this outcome.
    They will not be active persuaders in a vote..but their policies stated before a border poll will be aimed at soft nationalists.

    For example I suggest the bRits will offer to continue their funding for the place for the first ten years and taper it off after that. After all they are on the hook paying for a lifetime..What's a decade or more. cheap at twice the price I reckon.
    6% of their exports go to Ireland -26 Counties thereof.
    They can't afford a fuck up to happen.
    What's also in it for the Brits is they wave goodbye to the problems.

    Anyhow that's how I see it. A complete different attitude from the brits than what they took over Scotland.

  6. Ozzy
    Do you remember the Ballynafeigh lodge walking past the scene of the Sean Graham massacre and shouting "5-nil" at the catholics standing there? Well then you remeber the day I stopped supporting the OO. It was an easy decision given that I am an atheist and my wife is the product of a mixed marriage. You seem to stereotype unionists as bigoted, collarette wearing DUP supporters; I am not that unionist. But you would know that if you bothered to engage in a reasonable manner. "Not as boring as an orangefest summer" - I couldn't agree more. Your rantings are tedious, why don't you go over to the Newsletter comments where their are loads of ranting keyboard warriors, you would fit right in.


  7. I have heard you speak that you were not in favour of the OO several times.
    I tend to believe your dislike of them is more to do with demographic shift to try and preserve your beloved union. That's my opinion.And you have explained how this works yourself.

    I don't have a problem with you per se.
    Yes I do dislike unionists.
    I regard them as quislings.
    Also, I suspect you are aware of some Irish History.
    so Which is your favourite bit?
    The Cultural vandalism that makes ISIS look like amateurs.
    The Penal Laws?
    The planters?
    The selling off into slavery in the Carribean?
    The Navigation Acts which killed OFF Irish exports by making it impossible to trade.
    All goods had to be shipped via England.
    No imports meant no exports.
    Or do you think ship owners LOVE to see their ships sail in Ballast with NO revenue earning cargo?
    COZ that's what your beloved Brits DID.
    They also forbade Irish wool exports.
    Dear Peter.
    Ever wonder why Irish Linen existed????
    Shall I tell YOU Or do you know?
    I shall tell you.
    the Brits had NO linen industry..Ergo They let Paddies have some.
    Simple as that.
    Then we have the Genocide of the Famine.

    You have a cheek calling yourself a Brit..Campaigning for a border.. in an effort to make part of Ireland Britland.
    And then to have some Doe eyed Wonderment As to why the Natives have "issues" with it.
    FFS Grow a pair..Or at least read some blooming history.
    And NOT that Orange Tripe.

  8. Ozzzzzzzzzzy
    Rant rant rant Zzzzzzzzz
    My favourite bit of Irish history is when Mr Guiness decided to make a black beer....zzzzzz
    Nite nite


  9. Well Peter..That's quite funny.
    But as a citizen of Dublin, myself I have to say trust a unionist to get the history wrong. XD ( was ever thus )
    As every Dub worth his salt knows Guinness was a mistake.
    When Arthur J sunk all his money ,and many more besides into a brewery venture.
    He made a mistake and burned the Hops.
    Due to the fact that he was skint..He decided to sell the product in any event.
    So he did decide to sell it!!!!!! But to make it wasn't his first choice.
    At least that is how it is told in Dublin.
    so it must be true.

  10. As a member of a party affiliated with the uvf british terror gang Corr-Johnston conveniently leaves out whether or not she belives the loyalist cause is worth killing for. As in does she believe the uvf was right in torturing and murdering hundreds of catholic non combatants? As a member of a paramilitary linked party whose uvf/rhc affiliates have murdered over 40 mostly protestant people just since ceasefires she can't leave this question unanswered.