As a servant of the crown, I was enjoying today off work, as part of the celebrations to mark Elizabeth Windsor’s remarkable 70 year tenure as Head of State. Regardless of what one might feel about having an unelected monarch as head of state, the Queen’s dedication and sense of duty are quite a sight to behold, particularly when juxtaposed against her Prime Minister’s blatant disregard for laws he enacted, but that he allowed. The Queen mourned the loss of her husband alone, whilst Boris Johnson’s office and staff made merry.
But the Bullingdon alumni that abused cleaning and security staff at No 10 Downing Street, whilst objectionable, don’t approach the squalid, wretched pitiful excuses for human beings who decided to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee with a song celebrating the violent murder of a woman, who happened to be the daughter of a successful sporting figure, who also happened to be from the nationalist community.
One of the those singing away was a girls' football volunteer coach at Linfield FC. Linfield, to their credit, removed the man immediately. A Craigavon firm are investigating reports that one of their employees was involved in this episode, and the Orange Order are apparently looking into whether or not any of their members were involved.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that:
While it has not yet been verified where the incident in the video took place, it is understood it occurred during the recent Centenary celebrations, with Orange Order banners in the background and Union flag bunting.
One wonders what action, if any, the Orange Order would take. It didn’t expel Norman Coopey for beating a 16 year old Catholic schoolboy to death with a hammer. To be fair to the Order, though, they did ask him to resign.
Nor did it expel Eddie McIlwaine, sentenced for his part in the abduction, torture, and attempted murder of a Catholic. Mcllwaine was also a part-time member of the UDR.
On the 29th September 2017, a 63 year old prominent member of the Orange Order named John Alexander Aughey was given a two-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court on Friday (half to be spent in prison) for offences related to driving a car into Catholics in Ardoyne. I could find no indication of the Orange Order having expelled him. At his trial, the crown prosecutor said that Aughey’s criminal record was “minor and of considerable vintage.”
In 1975, an Ardoyne man (and part-time UDR member) named John Alexander Aughey was charged with possession of ammunition in suspicious circumstances. I have no idea if this is the same man who would later be jailed for the car incident, but Dale “Nelson” Pankhurst didn’t seem put off by having Aughey of car infamy signing his DUP nomination papers.
So, perhaps we can’t expect much from the Orange Order. It’s a bigoted organisation which is capable of the most laughable hypocrisy, and associated time and again with the dregs of society.
But the condemnation of the low-lives singing a song celebrating the murder of a young woman on her honeymoon have been universal, and swift. In a perhaps questionable move, two of the men (John Bell and Andrew McDade) involved in the sing-song about a woman being strangled to death have employed the PR services of Jamie Bryson’s PR’s consultancy, through whom a statement has been released.
Part of the statement reads:
This behaviour is unreflective of the values of the Loyal Orders and the wider unionist and loyalist community.
I wonder how much of this is true? I think it’s accurate to say that a great majority of the wider unionist community would not engage in such base behaviour, but have not the “loyal orders” a prolonged track record of hosting behaviour such as this? A British Secretary of State said that the behaviour of some Orangemen would shame a tribe of cannibals. And didn’t the loyalist community bring us the sectarian lawlessness of Harryville, Drumcree, and Holy Cross?
Beyond the issue of the culpability of the Orange Order for continuing, and the continuation, of rancid, hate-filled actions like this incident, is where free speech fits in to all of this.
I have no dogmatic position here, but my general feeling is that the losers pictured singing away should not be prosecuted, but that their employers should be able to sack them for their actions. I wouldn’t want to work beside any of those individuals, and I wouldn’t want my sister, wife, or daughter to have to spend any time with them either. Ultimately, though, it’s all subjective, and without a criminal conviction, maybe employers shouldn’t have the right to sack individuals for their beliefs and the content of their songs, so matter how sickening they are.
⏩ Brandon Sullivan is a middle aged, middle management, centre-left Belfast man. Would prefer people focused on the actual bad guys.
Like the moth to the flame for some of them. Of more significance than the act itself is the discursive reaction to it: almost universal abhorrence. Welcome as it is, it challenges sectarianism really only at an attitudinal level. Is the North any less a sectarian society because of the reaction or any more a sectarian society because of the moronic outburst? I doubt it. The offenders here are a mirror image of the people who destroyed the floral acts of remembrance to the dead British soldiers at Narrow Water. Caught on video amplifies the vileness of one act over another.ReplyDelete
On free speech - as a concept free speech means nothing if it is not the necessary mechanism for freedom of inquiry. Speech used to bully can hardly be defended employing that criterion.
Should they be sacked? Fair dues to Linfield for terminating a voluntary coach with immediate effect. How can the Fire brigade retain within its ranks one of those involved while remaining reputationally intact?
Being involved in union activity I am loathe to see anyone sacked, particularly when it is related to something outside the workplace. Yet, there are circumstances where the universal application of such a tenet will not hold up.
I think the apology of the two men should be be welcome in the way that a guilty plea by a rapist should be welcome. It can mitigate but not absolve.
I don't think it should be a matter for the police. Horrible speech as it is, there was no immediate threat to life flowing from it, which in my view is the one ground for curbing speech. I had this type of discussion the other day on Twitter where somebody was demanding an investigation into some twisted type sounding almost orgasmic at a cop having died at some point. Absolutely no sense of proportion.
I think the societal response is much more potent than prosecution. Those who apologised should be invited to Tyrone to explain their actions and publicly undertake never to repeat them. Let the former coach tell the young people he worked with how horrible his behaviour has been and how much he has let them down. After that they can walk the earth with the self-imposed mark of Cain until such times as it fades from view.
Twitter is a cess pit sometimes. Singing songs about the murder of a young woman in the prime of her life is just another example of the sickening shite we have to endure in this country. This week I have seen Ann Travers forced off Twitter by republican trolls and Celtic fans celebrating the beheading of Lee Rigby, but no mention of these by Brandon. He just wants an excuse to write about themmuns.ReplyDelete
Peter, we live in cesspit of sectarianism and hate. And if we live in a cesspit we shouldn't be shocked that it smells.Delete
I doubt that objection works and exposes you to the risk of being accused of deflection by whataboutery.Delete
Brandon gets it in the neck from both ideological camps because he doesn't blur the focus on what he wants to write about by adding endless riders and qualifications.
There would only be a problem if he wrote something false - not so here; or if he sought to silence you from expressing an alternative or more expansive view.
The event he describes is toxic and can be addressed in isolation and on its own demerits.
Likewise, if you want to write about Lee Rigby and Anne Travers you should be free to do so without somebody suggesting you are willfully blind because you left something out.
Some of the better work on this blog exposing republican sectarianism has been written by Brandon. In these matters, a better understanding is reached if knee jerk reactions are avoided.
First I knew about Anne being hounded over the Rigby bile. But it is not the first time. She has encountered more than a few vile characters online - on one occasion a notorious drunk disputed that she had suffered cancer.
Ann wasn't hounded over Rigby. Read the comment again.
If I was going to write an article about Celtic fans chanting about Rigby being beheaded or the Ibrox disaster, I would add some balance. The majority of Celtic fans are good people and some Rangers fans are as bad. Sure I could write only about the worst of the Celtic fans, but we live in a binary situation here. Balance is needed. Brandon doesn't think so, fair enough.
Peter - you are as free to add what you feel is balance in anything you might write as Brandon is free not to. There is no iron law of balance that writers must defer to. Balance is only required if there is an imbalance leading to a distortion or an attempt to deceive. That can hardly be said of Brandon's piece. This was a toxic event and can be judged on its own without reference to somebody else doing it. I introduced the element of memorial flowers being desecrated as I wanted to add something. But adding something does not equate to detracting from something else. Brandon did a fine piece and was under no obligation to add what you think is balance.Delete
@Peter, unfortunately, if Brandon wanted to include every incident of rampant sectarianism he'd be there until the end of time. This was a piece purely on the disgusting behaviour of members of the PUL community (of which I am!) Ann Travers is a very very close friend of mine and yes, the abuse she and indeed I have taken from sectarian louts on the CRN side is beyond what anyone should have to take. I think, you should read the article for what it says, not what you think it SHOULD say.Delete
@ Brandon - yet again my friend, you have it the nail on the head! Sorry I haven't been in touch as life with animals, elderly ill parents and now a party animal of a daughter home on holiday from uni has been whereby I have no time to breathe!! Catch up soon
I literally researched and wrote two pieces totalling over 4500 words as a direct response to you and Steve challenging me to write about the sectarian murder of Protestants. You can read them, and feel free to comment. I came in for a range of criticism about some of the points made.
The only time I've seen or heard Lee Rigby being sung about was by Hearts fans.
What I wrote about is a jolly singsong carried out by what appears to be well embedded members of unionist society.
Like many things you've written to me, your comment says much about you, and little about me.
"Those who apologised should be invited to Tyrone to explain their actions and publicly undertake never to repeat them. Let the former coach tell the young people he worked with how horrible his behaviour has been and how much he has let them down. After that they can walk the earth with the self-imposed mark of Cain until such times as it fades from view." That would be an excellent form of restorative justice, Anthony. Confront these arseholes with the reality and permanent pain of bereavement that the Harte family have to go through and, to hear, first hand, how their words pick at the scab of their wounds. Social pariahdom rather than criminal prosecution is the most effective way to deal with such cretinism including the Munich, Hillsborough and Istanbul chanters.ReplyDelete
You're really getting yourself in a pickle.
Thus far we have a driving instructor, former fire-fighter, potential council employee, and voluntary football coach identified as signing, with great gusto, and to the amusement of many present, a song about the violent murder of a woman. The murder was completely unrelated to anything political. There is simply no need to offer any balance whatsoever.
I pointed out that the Orange Order has no track record of expelling members for crimes up to and including murder, and therefore I have little faith in them expelling any members involved in this latest act of wanton sectarianism.
As with my analysis of Holy Cross, you are simply incapable of accepting the most gross acts of sectarian dysfunction when it emanates from the PUL community, so you deflect with criticism of me personally. It's extremely weak.
I am still waiting for evidence to support your assertion that I had "hatred hanging out of me."
Would you say that hatred was hanging out of those singing that song? If so, why not say it?
@Brandon and PeterDelete
If Peter is getting his knickers in a knot over your article I may just withdraw from life when he reads my short piece tomorrow!!
"Would you say that hatred was hanging out of those singing that song? If so, why not say it? "
I already did:
"Singing songs about the murder of a young woman in the prime of her life is just another example of the sickening shite we have to endure in this country."
If you choose to attack an organisation without any balance, that's your choice. I agree with much of what you say about the PUL community. I have no interest in or support for the "Loyal Orders" or loyalist groups, bands, bonfires or any of that. Until the last election I voted Alliance. But I totally believe that the vast majority of people in both communities are good people, and that includes the OO.
Maybe withdraw the accusation that the hatred is hanging out of me, if you can't substantiate it?
You said that I just wanted an "excuse to write about themmuns."
But then go on to say that you agree with much of what I say about the PUL community. This isn't really a consistent position.
You go on to say:
"But I totally believe that the vast majority of people in both communities are good people, and that includes the OO."
Why, then, does so much enduring sectarianism emanate from the OO? I don't, by the way, challenge your position that individuals within the OO are decent: but as a collective? It's an abject basket-case.
@ Not Really Here
Hope you're keeping well :)
I have been assured that you are not a hater and I withdraw the accusation, however your articles lack balance.
My position is consistent. The OO, for example, is a deeply flawed organisation. I have nothing to do with it because I am an atheist and have many reservations about it, especially in Belfast. On the other hand, the greatest man that I ever met was the Grandmaster of the Orange and Black on the Shankill rd, my grandfather. It also plays a crucial role in a lot of rural communities and does much good, so no it is as not an abject basket-case in my opinion. Criticise the OO all you want, hell knows they deserve it, but maybe you should temper your article with some balance lest people doubt your motivations.
Myself and Tommy McKearney spoke in Newtowncunningham Orange Hall once. They made us very welcome. I knew Brian Kennaway and found him a very humane person: he loved the Orange Order but was in constant battle against its sectarianism. So cerebral, in stark contrast to Dawson Bailie.Delete
Your articles and comments are almost always carefully worded for balance. Like the comments in this thread. If you write articles on a subject with no balance people will make their own assumptions as to your motivations. In the past you advised Brandon on the tone of his article and/or comments and how they might be perceived, yet here is another one that comes over as a hatchet job.
They are not really worded for balance. They are worded to avoid skewing the issue which is not the same as injecting balance. I at one time felt Brandon's tone was too strident. I think he has changed the tone considerably. There is nothing about this piece that is a hatchet job or biased: it is a straight forward exposition of the facts as he believes them to be. He slices through the toxicity like a sharp blade - a hatchet job in my understanding is a gratuitously wounding piece. The type of balance you suggest would mean that when I endorse evolution I should also reference the religious crazies' view of the world; or that when I mock the religious crazies I should mock the evolutionists. Well, no. It requires no such thing.Delete
Balance is required if by its absence something fundamentally dishonest is in the content. There is nothing dishonest about Brandon's writing above.Delete
"They are not really worded for balance. They are worded to avoid skewing the issue which is not the same as injecting balance" So the reference to the flowers at Narrow Water was not added for balance?
"The type of balance you suggest would mean that when I endorse evolution I should also reference the religious crazies' view of the world" Not if that world view is completely without merit. Are the OO, Rangers, Celtic and the Catholic church without merit? All have systemic sectarianism, yet all of these institutions have many great people within their ranks and they all provide support for their communities. In our sensitive and divided society balance should be used when discussing such polemic subjects. That's my opinion for what it is worth.
The Narrow Water reference didn't strike me as being for balance. It was something I wanted to add, not to balance out Brandon's piece or detract from it. I found nothing wrong with Brandon's piece that required any balancing out by me.Delete
The desecration of the floral tribute annoyed me at the time. Same as when it happens at the site where the three Scottish soldiers were killed in 1971. When kids, we used to sing a song about that which was every bit as toxic as what happened in the Orange Hall. I guess we will be given a fool's pardon on the grounds of age.
Nothing more needs said by Brandon about the events in that Orange Hall. It stands on its own and does not need a comparator.
The people demanding that creationism be heard in their teach the controversy demands believe it is not without merit. We ignore them because we think it is meritless. Much as Brandon ignores demands for balance on the grounds that it is not required. The event described by Brandon merits no balance. You are free to script in balance but I think it falls down when you demand that Brandon do so as well.
Balance is needed only when a lack of it distorts or misrepresents. There is nothing in Brandon's piece that distorts.
Yesterday I saw a video of a 5 year old boy in a Celtic supporters club singing on stage about the death of Rangers kit man Jimmy Bell, egged on by drunken Celtic supporters. If I then write an article in anger listing Celtic's sectarian crimes with no balance, given our binary society and its ills, then my article would be no more than a rant against themmuns. My anger would be justified and the article factually correct, but it would have little value other than being a polemic. That's how Brandon's article reads to me.
What's wrong with a polemic? Polemicising is an excellent way to bring out a point. There is a difference between it and a diatribe. A polemic would be a most useful device for bringing out sectarianism amongst Celtic supporters. The response that you didn't mention Rangers supporters would be seen for the attempted deflection it is.Delete
I wouldn't need to mention Rangers for balance, just that the majority of Celtic fans do not support the blatant sectarianism of the few, and that Celtic provides much for its community.Delete
But you would only need to do that if by not doing it you were committing the crime of omission and as such distorting the representation. This has not happened in the above piece.Delete
Only just saw the obscene video. They don't speak for me and I doubt many others in the PUL community. Wholly disgusting and repugnant.ReplyDelete
I thought Brandon was courageous in his articles, I completely reject some of his assertions (Holy Cross for one) but that doesn't mean I have to reject them all in totality. At the beginning I like Peter thought Brandon was only putting one side in his scope, happy to see I'm wrong.
Regards the OO, not a fan of them or the bands/bonfires just not my thing, but the OO is a 'Protestant' organization so saying it's sectarian is a bit like complaining Prods can't be Priests. Why they are virulently anti-Catholic in this day and age is due to the treatment they went through in the past, probably as far back as the Peep O'Day boys and who knows for sure who started that nonsense? It's just the same story of looking backwards then tripping over their own feet. But we all know people on the Island love to hold on to their past like a security blanket.
The song was sang after the OO celebrated 100 of partition the weekend before the party for the parasites. What struck me about the song was how many people seemed to know the words. The question has to be asked...How long was it doing the rounds before it caught on video....
The video of the kid singing a sectarian song to drunken Celtic fans, I seen that on Jamie Brysons twitter feed yesterday morning. He posted a few other videos of the same... It's all different cheeks of the same arse to me.
(Until there is integrated education there will always be sectarianism....)
"If I then write an article in anger listing Celtic's sectarian crimes with no balance, given our binary society and its ills, then my article would be no more than a rant against themmuns."
I can see what you mean, but I think there's a distinction. I've said before that I wouldn't simply list a series of actions: it's been done elsewhere; and doesn't stimulate debate. But I think you'd be entirely justified if you listed a series of sectarian actions by Celtic fans and theorised as to why A/ they happened, and B/ they continue to happen. That would be an interesting discussion, and one I'd like to see.
I listed a series of despicable actions by Orangemen, and juxtaposed it with inaction from the Orange Order in relation to said actions. I think that is valid. I also think it's necessary.
Regarding the Jimmy Bell video, whilst I found the song objectionable, the coaxing of the child was revolting. One of the reasons simply listing the repugnant actions of rival football fans is a waste of time is that supporter's clubs and stadiums engage in a what seems to be a race to the bottom in terms of taste and decency. In Henry McDonald's excellent novel Two Souls, he depicts a football match in Belfast: one set of fans singing "there's only one 'Basher' Bates" and the other singing a pretty twisted song about the Mountbatten bombing. That loyalists were lauding a man who killed multiple Protestants, and republicans lauding an action that killed Irish children, was unimportant to those singing.
For what it's worth, I think Jimmy Bell was a bigot, and that his death is almost symbolic of the gradual move that Rangers is making from a bastion of prejudice to a normal, modern, footballing business. The entity that is Rangers FC (or Sevco as some call it) is making this journey faster than some of the fanbase. All that being said, the dead deserve respect.
Looking at it in a different context, I don't think the dead deserve respect merely because they are dead. I think their loved ones merit observation of their grief and loss. There are just some people whether alive or dead who merit no respect. As Salman Rushdie once opined when tyrant's die only hypocrites grieve. I know nothing about Jimmy Bell, but the scenes on that bus are really no different from the Orange Hall antics.Delete
I think that's more apt. I don't have especially strong feelings about Jimmy Bell, but his family and friends should not have to endure that spectacle.
I find the desecrations of memorials really vile behaviour. I imagine a majority of people in Ireland were at best ambivalent about the killing of the Para's at Narrow Water, but there would be very little support anywhere for damaging the memorial.
I get labelled an RUC apologist because I conflate the condemnation they receive, with their record of convicting loyalists, and recognising the massive price they paid in deaths, injuries and intimidation.