Changing times?

On my recent trip to France with the Green and White Army to support Northern Ireland one topic kept raising its head: the national anthem.

For all of my life the singing of God Save The Queen (plus the wee No Surrender bit) at Northern Ireland matches was sacrosanct; not anymore. More and more GAWA are arguing for a neutral anthem and I am one of them. The sight of the team lining up before a game with the prods mumbling away and the micks looking nervously at the ground is not a unifying or inspiring time for the players. Sure the Scots have Flower of Scotland and Wales have Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, while the Irish rugby team have the unifying Ireland’s Call so surely the time has come to get our own anthem. And while we’re at it why not get a new flag? There is no great desire, north or south, for a united Ireland so why not get on with making our wee country less hostile to the non-British that live here. I don’t need flags or anthems to remind me of my nationality. The NHS and the pound in my pocket do a better job of that. A neutral anthem and flag is a no-brainer for me. The IFA will be discussing it soon so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Read more »

Share

The Annual Bonfire Debate: Jamie Bryson

 

Today, with only 6 days until the 11 July bonfires, once again debate raged around the yearly cultural events. 

 

There has been a long term agenda to bring all bonfires under the umbrella of a statutory enforcement scheme, which would have eventually sought to neutralise and finally eradicate bonfires.

 

I have written extensively about this in the past as well as successfully  raising legal points challenging the validity of statutory led schemes. This led to a reversal in North Down and Ards- some articles can be found here; 

 

http://www.longkeshinsideout.co.uk/?p=3498&wprptest2=2

 

http://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2016/04/01/news/loyalist-claims-bonfire-management-scheme-is-illegal-470619/

 

During today’s debate we consistently heard the Alliance party’s Paula Bradshaw mention the need for regulation. This was echoed by commentator Chris Donnelly. Mr Donnelly’s call for regulation stems from his desire to eradicate bonfires per se. Looking at the success Nationalists have achieved using the Parades Commission to wage war on Unionist culture, they see the benefit in statutory regulation and therefore are continually attempting to bring flags and bonfires under such a remit. 

 

Such statutory regulation, which again would be designed to limit and police the cultural expressions of primarily one community, must be strongly resisted by Unionism. 

 

Any form of racism is absolutely disgraceful and should not be tolerated. You, quite simply, cannot be a loyalist and a racist. Therefore, it is in this context that I say the racist slogan on an East Belfast bonfire is not  reflective of loyalism. 

 

Given the widespread agenda to demonise bonfires and to find some mechanism of opening the door to statutory enforcement, I am not wholly convinced that the racist slogan wasn’t placed there by an agent provoctetour in order to give an excuse for statutory intervention and thus opening the door for a precedent being set for the PSNI to remove items from bonfires. 

 

The East Belfast Act initiative deserve credit and praise. As soon as it became apparent the slogan was on the bonfire, East Belfast Act representatives had it removed and, I understand, will continue in discussions with local residents and bonfire builders about a range of issues pertaining to that particular bonfire. 

 

I believe such positive leadership within loyalism should be showcased and promoted. Often the positive deeds within loyalism go unnoticed, perhaps due to a reluctance to engage positively with the media 

 

Chastising the media for covering stories about bonfires and flags will only serve to deepen the alienation and isolation of loyalism. Instead loyalism must engage and challenge the negative narratives, whilst promoting the positive work being undertaken. 

 

Share

https

The Battle Of The Somme And ‘An Englishman’s Betrayal’….

As most readers of this blog will know, tomorrow, July 1st, is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, perhaps the bloodiest and most pointless occasion of slaughter during the First World War.

For the North’s Loyalist community, this date is on a par with the Nationalist celebration of the Easter Rising, to be celebrated with pride and militaristic manifestations. July 1st, known in Belfast as ‘the Wee Twelfth’, regularly witnesses some of the most rumbustious Orange parades of the marching season.

Read more »

Share

Remembering and learning at the same time

I found it by accident.

My great aunt didn’t speak in much detail of her two brothers who were both dead except to say that they were soldiers who had died during World War One.

In fact this was not quite right. One brother, Thomas, a sergeant in the Inniskilling Fusiliers died in action on the 1st July 1916. Sergeant Thomas Bailey it says on the card that bears his name and photograph. It has a black border and a small black ribbon on the front and it was this that I discovered in a box of items kept in a drawer. I wasn’t looking for it.

Read more »

Share

Listening to the quiet voices of The Somme

 

on 1 July 2016 , 12:20 am 0 Comments | 72 views
Poppy edited 2As a child I was forever fascinated by a random collection of oul ‘things’ in a rarely-approached cupboard at home.

It was the sort of place where unflattering school reports and old medical cards lay alongside broken spectacles and stringless yoyos, the theory being that they might some day be read, repaired or resurrected.

There were a few medals – the full relevance of which I never discovered – but what especially caught my imagination was a bloodstained Nazi armband, taken from a soldier at Dunkirk by a Lurgan man who brought it home as a memento of battle.

Read more »

Share

MARCHING – MORATORIUMS – AND LAST MINUTE MEETINGS

MARCHING – MORATORIUMS – and LAST MINUTE MEETINGS

Marching, Brian Rowan

 

Every word will be scrutinised – when the fine detail of the north Belfast marching formula is revealed.

This is not just about unblocking a parading route from the Woodvale up part of the Crumlin Road – and it is not just about marching and protesting.

Think of the policing money that runs down the drain at this time every year and upon what else it could be spent – and think also of the battered image of Belfast and how this place, supposedly at peace, is undermined.

There is nothing dramatically new about the proposed agreement.

This idea of a return march to complete the banned 2013 twelfth parade has been on the table before – as a last return march.

Read more »

Share

De-Bunking the Myth of the “Battle” of St. Matthews

De-Bunking the Myth of the Battle of St. Matthews.

 

Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th of June 1970 will live long in the memory of those who were witness to the horrific events that unfolded that weekend.  Of the two people and many others who were injured by the indiscriminate gunfire their families pain has been exacerbated in the intervening years as they have had to endure the ignominy of the perpetuated untruth that somehow this incident was some sort of glorious battle honour by the Short Strand IRA, and that their sectarian murderous attacks were in actual fact heroic defending of a ghetto under siege.  So much so that an erroneous moniker of “The Battle of Saint Matthews” was bestowed upon it.  However all right thinking citizens are well aware of the FACTS surrounding that day’s events and can quite easily debunk this theoretical falsehood.
Almost one year after the onset of “The Troubles” the Republican movement and the Belfast IRA in particular were in disarray.  In July and August of 1969 they, as a grouping had done little—in the eyes of the Catholic population in working class areas—to defend those communities from the “Loyalist hordes “.  The acronym now read I Ran Away.  Behind the scenes an idealistic shift was also taking place—a shift that would eventually –and inevitably lead to fractions within the movement, culminating in feuds and counter feuds.  The new hardliners—although many were seasoned veterans of the organisation–were making their presence felt.  Individuals like Francis Card—BillyMcKee—Joe Cahill-Seamus Twomey and Leo Martin.  McKee, as the Belfast Brigade commander knew that 
in order to make a statement and win back the affections of the disillusioned Catholic inhabitants he needed a victory—something that would announce the arrival of the new Provisional movement.

Read more »

Share

He didn’t deny his Past… WILLIAM ‘PLUM’ SMITH 1954-2016

William Plum Smith

His life story spans the ‘war’ and the ‘peace’ of this place – a place of conflict that has now been given the chance of something better.

Yes, it is also a place still terrorised and traumatised by what we call The Past – the hell it has been through and in which many still live – a past understated and perhaps even trivialised in the oft-used term ‘the Troubles’.
We have all fallen into the way of that understatement, that easy and convenient use of a phrase that says nothing and means nothing.

Read more »

Share

Sinn Fein Leader Credits ’08 Crash For Re-Think On Unity

The article below is taken from the latest online edition of The Detail, the web-based current affairs magazine and stablemate of Trevor Birney’s growing film production empire which recently released, via Fine Point Films, a docudrama about Bobby Sands called 66 Days.

I have read this piece several times. It is based on a speech given by SF MEP Matt Carthy and no matter how I hold it – up to the light, sideways, upside down or at various angles – it seems to be saying the same thing: the Good Friday Agreement is as good as it gets, folks!

Read more »

Share

Will Stakeknife bring the house down?

By this time next week we should know the shape of the Stakeknife investigation.

Already, there has been one delay in the announcement. It had been expected today (Thursday June 2).
The waiting is for the new political members of the Policing Board to be in place.
Those nominations have now been made:

  • DUP 4 – Nelson McCausland, Brenda Hale, Joanne Bunting and Keith Buchanan.
  • Sinn Fein 3 – Gerry Kelly, Raymond McCartney and Jennifer McCann.
  • UUP – Ross Hussey.
  • SDLP – Nichola Mallon.
  • Alliance – Stephen Farry.
Share