Category Archives: History

Colin: A story by Primo



1975 in Belfast was a violent year. Many people died due to the troubles, many more were wounded both physically and mentally.  This is the story of one of those victims.  For reasons outlined later Im not using his real name.  Slightly older than myself I recall him from my school days. A bit chubby,  easy going  and very quiet. Not one of us who run the streets kicking football, collecting for the boney and later drinking cider up the local entry. He lived with his mum. One night he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was hit by an IRA bullet. One other man died. One other was injured. Colin  had never been in trouble. Had never been in court. But as well as his physical wounds the attack left a terrible mental legacy. Colin  had what we called in the old days a nervous  breakdown. He was never the same person after the IRA shot him for being at a pub door.  Undoubtedly an innocent bystander, an unfortunate,  collateral damage, just the way things were. No apology was offered to him or his mother.  His physical wounds healed but it was obvious that Colin had changed greatly and was not coping.  Colin would never marry, never have children, never have a full time job, and never go on a big holiday.

Only for his mother I wonder what would have become of Colin. His mother was a small, quiet, house proud ,working class Belfast woman. I most often saw her out brushing and sweeping the front of her home. Her neighbour was a good friend of our family. She lived yards from my parents.  It was a tight knit community were people knew each other over decades. I would stop and chat with her and ask about Colin. A stable form of routine and stability had been established. Colin was a real Linfield man. He would go watch a match then go for a drink,  then home. His mother done all the cleaning,  cooking and everything else.

Colin  then started to sport a beard.  When we talked I would be teasing and slagging about the blues. (Despite being a supporter myself!) I then started to tease him about the beard. Which actually suited him.  If he had the correct attire he would remind me of some pictures of Henry VIII.  We had some discussion about his excessive drinking of Coke. This,  despite the diabetes that he had developed.  It all came crashing to an abrupt end in 1994. I lived close by and someone came to the door to say that Colins mother had taken seriously ill and was in hospital.  Eventually I got talking to Colin  and he explained as best he could. I offered to go to the RVH with him.  His mum was in bed unconscious and hadn’t spoken since admission. The nurse was keen to talk to me and ask various questions. Obviously they had assessed the mental state of Colin  and wanted someone else as a contact.  I gave my contact details.
It was explained that the mother had suffered a major stroke and was not expected to survive. I stood beside Colin  at the bedside. He looked puzzled.  He wasn’t given to expressing how he was feeling.

He simply said that he mum wasn’t well. I agreed and tried to explain the situation. I was unsure as to his level of comprehension.  Eventually we went home. I asked if he was OK and he said yes. I returned home to my wife and children. No sooner had I got into bed than the phone rang and it was the RVH. Please get Colin up here asap.  Up out of bed,  dragging clothes on, grabbling car keys. Rapping and kicking Colins door.  Urging him to hurry. It was late and thankfully with next to no traffic. I may  have went through some red lights?  I was prepared to take the consequences but I needed Colin  to see his mum. While she was still alive.

It was too late. She had died peacefully. We told Colin quietly. I will never forget that scene. Colin was standing beside his mother’s bed. The ward was deathly quiet. And dark. I walked away to give Colin  some privacy to say whatever he had to say.  He turned to me and said,  ‘my mums sleeping’.  I just agreed.   Eventually we had to go home. I rang my wife and said I was staying with Colin  for that night. Then another bombshell.  There had been a major falling out in the family and there was no one to take over the situation.  I took work off the next day.  Undertaker,  hospital,  register death, check insurance policies, make lunch, pick a coffin, contact friends, death notice in the Tele.  I was watching for any signs that Colin was not coping with this but he seemed unperturbed and strangely calm.  The funeral came and went. It was with pride that I think back to the circle of friends and mates that Colin had.  Collectively we helped him through. That circle of friends would be needed again.

What now?

Colin carried on in his home  with good  outside support around cleaning and cooking. And he got back to a routine which was important for him. Neighbours kept an eye out. I dropped the bantering and teasing. We spent a bit more time talking to him but his general health started to fail. One day I was told that Colin was in the City hospital. His stays in hospital were becoming more frequent. When I visited him I felt he was a bit failed. Some weight loss? We went out of the ward to a visitor’s room where he told me that he had MRSA.  This was when MRSA was making its way into the public consciousness and was seen as akin to the black plague.  It didn’t seem to fuss or upset him. Then again nothing seemed to fuss him.  I had never heard him bewail his situation. Or curse fate. Or wish it all away. No moaning,  no self-pity or  bitterness.

The inevitable came and Colin died of a range of issues.  The ceasefires had come into being but far, far too late for Colin.  Again friends rallied round. The small funeral parlour service was packed.  Out at the cemetery we buried Colin with his mother. I think she would be happy with that.  Her only child was now back with her. She spent her lifetime looking after him.  And now,  together for ever.

There are no poems or songs about Colin. There were no TV people  or journalists asking about his story.  No name on a wall plaque. No bands with his name emblazoned on a drum. A Google search does not produce one mention of the man or his life.  Another forgotten victim of the troubles.  His story is part of the price paid by so many no matter where they came from.  The unseen and unmeasured suffering   that dominated so many lives. The IRA men were caught and imprisoned for life.  They were all out by the time Colin’s mother had died. Colin didn’t die that dark cold night in ’75  but in a way his future died.   Maybe we should tell the story of everybody hurt through the troubles?  Get away from the hierarchy of victims.  Drop the them and us?  See the person and not the label?




” Humbly Relying on the God Whom our Fathers in Days of Stress and Trial Confidently Trusted”: Charlie Freell



Above is the declaration of faith in the Christian cornerstone and foundations of Original Authentic Ulster Loyalism, made by our Forefathers in 1912 and the Ulster Volunteers of the early seventies, as they prepared to defend, by the use of force if necessary, Civil and Religious Liberty for all and the democratic right of the People of Northern Ireland to decide their own future. This sincere pledge was ended as follows. “IN SURE CONFIDENCE THAT GOD WILL DEFEND THE RIGHT, WE HERETO SUBSCRIBE OUR NAMES.”


The majority of the Ulster Volunteers of 1912 and the early seventies, would probably not have described themselves as sincerely practicing Christians,

or the guardians of strict, Human Moral Decency.   However, nearly every one

of these Ulster Volunteers would have expressed a basic belief in God and a desire for civilised standards, of basic Human Moral and sexual Decency. It was in fact because these basic Christian and basic human moral beliefs that, they had found themselves in the dangerous positions that, they were in.


As they prepared to go over the top, the vast majority of these brave Ulster Volunteers will have silently and privately turned to God in prayer, to ask for forgiveness of sins, protection in the coming battle and a request for the Salvation promised and earned by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.


At this point it is worth remembering that, Civil and religious Liberty becomes an abuse of Civil and Religious Liberty if, it is used to force someone to support, inscribe, or subscribe to, something which they sincerely believe contradicts their own sincerely held, basic Human Moral Principles.


Once again Northern Ireland is about to enter a period of “stress and trial”. The IRA/Sinn Fein are in a stronger position than they have ever been before, both politically and militarily, both here and in the Republic of Ireland.

The IRA/Sinn Fein are on the verge of becoming the Government of the Republic, if not in the coming election then in the following election. The end result will then be that, the IRA/Sinn Fein will have total control of all the arms and the Armed Forces of the Republic at their disposal.

Here in Northern Ireland, the numerous new variations of anything goes Loyalism, are all totally divided, some of them even claim to be religious, but they all lack the basic Christian corner stone of Original Authentic Ulster Loyalism and ” THE SURE CONFIDENCE THAT GOD WILL DEFEND THE RIGHT”.

Thanks to their combined totally selfish personal egos, and the lure of the Stormont and Westminster honey pots, they have all abandoned, God and Ulster and the Innocent Victims of the conflict, in favour of Party, Personal profit and totally intolerant false equality. The end result of this constant feuding and their selfishly small minded, Party before Country policies, has allowed IRA/Sinn Fein and the “peace at any price” Alliance Party, to exert a republican influence over the affairs of Northern Ireland, our security forces and the flying of our National Standard, which their electoral support does not justify.


The time is fast approaching again when, sincere, ordinary, decent working class, Northern Ireland Loyalists are going to be forced to take up arms again, in defence of the democratic right of the people of Northern Ireland to decide their own future, and again as happened in the early seventies, the never, never, never, politicians, will be conspicuous on the front line by their absence.

Now would be a good time to remember the words of “THE RED HAND SOLDIER”.


Raise the Red Hand proudly boys, raise the Red Hand proudly boys.

Raise the hand of Ulster, never let it fall.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


Stand up you Red Hand Soldier, with your rifle at your shoulder.

Our enemies still lay in wait, to rise up once again.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


This land our fathers cherished, for its cause they perished.

At the Boyne, the Somme, Gallippolie, Dunkirk and Normandy.

While others failed and faltered, their cause they never altered.

Their cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


Some say the war is over, no more need for the Red Hand Soldier.

But we have seen their peace before, we will see it through again.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


So stand up you Red Hand Soldier, with your rifle at your shoulder.

Old Ulster’s cause will not be lost, while you remain on guard.

Let others fail or falter, our cause we will not alter.

Our cause for God and Ulster, we will never deny.


Charlie Freel.




Pilgrimage To Hell: The Greatest Inhumanity: Dr. John Coulter

Pilgrimage to hell – the greatest inhumanity

Written By: John Coulter
Published: February 6, 2015 Last modified: February 3, 2015

Just imagine the 3,000 people who died in the Irish Troubles being slaughtered in 30 minutes – that’s what the Nazis had perfected in their death camp in Poland, Auschwitz Birkenau.

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp by the Russians in 1945 during the final months of the Second World War. Although it was only operational for a handful of years during that war, an estimated one and a half million men, women and children were slaughtered at Auschwitz using gas, firing squad, torture, horrific medical experiments, hanging, starvation and illness.

In terms of the Nazis Final Solution to eliminate Europe’s Jews, Auschwitz was Hitler’s jewel in the crown of his murder machine. Hitler’s SS thugs set up two types of concentration camps – a labour camp to supply slave workers, and a death camp, which had only one aim: mass murder.

The tour of the Auschwitz camp lasts around four hours. It will be a roller coaster emotional journey to hell and back again. Having covered the Irish conflict for more than 30 years, I wrongly believed this experience would prepare me for visiting Auschwitz.

I even watched blockbuster movies on such camps, such as Schindler’s List, starring Irish screen legend Liam Neeson, The Boy In The Stripped Pyjamas, as well as the renowned documentary series The World at War.

Our hotel was an hour’s drive from the camp, but I became engulfed by an dreadful uneasiness as we approached it. Then it hit me.

As I walked through the gates with the notorious metal sign – “Work Shall Set You Free” – in German, I had to run out again to vomit in the visitors’ centre. My own personal Auschwitz nightmare was underway.

It was a bright, sunny summer’s day and thousands of people were visiting the camp. But this is not a tourist attraction; this is a memorial to man’s inhumanity to man. Indeed, a visit to the camp is more like a pilgrimage to gain a clear feeling of the depths to which man can sink when it comes to the slaughter of fellow humans.

Out of respect for the murdered, we don head sets to enable us to hear the whispers of the tour guide as we visit the various areas of the camp.

No one shouts; no one even talks loudly. Every building is a piece in a jigsaw of mass murder. And the emotional turmoil for the visitor deepens as we visit each cell, each room, each corridor and each execution yard.

Even inside the buildings I wear my sunglasses to prevent people seeing me weep as I walk the corridors lined with photos of the victims. Then I realise many others are weeping too at the horrors which out tour guides unfold to us. It is not merely words – it is clear images; the suit cases of the victims piled high; the hair cut from the victims; the execution wall where people were shot. Eventually, I am composed enough to get my photo taken with the shoes of tens of thousands of victims behind me.

Worse follows. We travel to the Birkenau section to see the beds where victims were held before slaughter. The Nazis tried to cover their tracks by blowing up some of the gas chambers. We see the ruins as they have been left – alongside the ashpit where the remains of the dead were dumped.

Even worse follows. We are taken into a gas chamber. Although it contains a massive memorial wreath, I look skywards to the vents as if I was expecting people to drop the poison gas pellets down.

Then the door slams behind me and for a few terrifying seconds, I experience the petrifying sensation that this is not a shower room but a room of death. Thankfully, the door is opened and we walk out to see the crematoriums – except the victims’ bodies would have been carried out.

Only one aspect of the camp is off limits – the house of the camp commandant for fear it could become an iconic symbol for neo-Nazis.

But unlike one and a half million other humans, I walk out of Auschwitz. In spite of the warm summer afternoon, my gentle dander becomes a steadily hurried rush as I almost race towards the bus to take me back to the hotel.

I had been given a glimpse of a man-made hell. I still have nightmares every January around the commemoration of International Holocaust Memorial Day.

In spite of the nightmarish experience, it is one pilgrimage which I recommend everyone takes at least once in their lives. It will leave you in no doubt about the evils of racism.


About John Coulter

John Coulter is a journalist for the Daily Star


Editing God out of 1916 is risible: Proclamation’s Ideals ignored: Dr. John Coulter


Editing God out of 1916 is risible: Proclamation’s ideals ignored


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Many republicans need to ‘wise up’ and actually read the 1916 Proclamation.

Just as secular society has changed the true meaning of Christmas by editing Christ out, republicans are guilty of editing God out of the Proclamation of Poblacht na hEireann, issued during the failed Rising.

It’s a mirror image of Unionists who ridicule the Irish language by conveniently forgetting it was Presbyterians who kept the gaelic tongue alive in past centuries – so stick that in your curry and yoghurt!

The Proclamation opens: “In the name of God …” How can republicans go on about returning to the Proclamation’s ideals when many don’t even believe in God?

I can understand a fundamentalist Catholic such as PH Pearse signing the Proclamation, but why would a hardline Scottish communist like James Connolly?

The moral crisis facing republicans is simple – either they fully embrace the 1916 Proclamation and its clear references to God, or the Shinners have the guts to write a new secular Proclamation in 2016. Either you keep God, or you dump God. You can’t be an atheistic Marxist republican and still pledge allegiance to Him!

Since the early 1970s, the Shinners, INLA and all the dissident republican terror factions have made a mockery out of a core passage in the Proclamation.

It states: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts …”

So much for the Protestants slaughtered by the IRA at Tullyvallen and Kingsmill, or butchered at Darkley Mission Hall by an INLA faction, and so much for all the women and children massacred at Omagh.

And what about all the Catholics ‘disappeared’ over the years? Guarantees of ‘religious and civil liberty’ are now nothing but empty rhetoric and modern republicans are only making tits of themselves by swearing allegiance to the 1916 Proclamation.

It gets worse for the 21st century republican movements. The Proclamation goes on: “We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God …”

When was the last time these so-called republicans attended a religious service where they genuinely prayed to God for protection?

Perhaps forgiveness for the movements for the pain and suffering they have inflicted on the Irish nation would be a better sentiment to pray for.

And embarrassment for republicans just gets deeper with the Proclamation wording: ” … we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity or rapine”.

Given the number of alleged sex abusers the republican movement has hidden or moved over the generations, the time has come for republicans to face a bitter truth.

Modern republican morals bear no resemblance to the ideals of the original Proclamation.

Either tear it up and start again in 2016, or get back to 1916 basics and return God to His proper place in republican thinking.

December 17, 2014________________


This article appeared in the December 15, 2014 edition of the Irish Daily Star.


17 in Belfast: James

17 in Belfast.

It is late June 1974. I have just turned 17. I live in the middle of Belfast. In the middle of the troubles. This is just some memories of one year.

July. It is a great month although its wetter than usual.  Still doesn’t stop us enjoying the bonefire on the 12th.  The 3 Degrees are belting it out and the Osmonds have hit the UK.  While I’m not a Liverpool supporter Bill Shankly has resigned. This is sad because I like him as a person.

The Provos have set a bomb in London killing one policeman. There is madness in South Belfast.  A woman is beaten to death by loyalists with her child outside the room. I recall sitting having breakfast before school when a report on the radio says a woman’s body has been found on the side of the M1.  It is all women and one man who are lifted for it.  The victim is Ann Ogilby. It is basically a fight over a man.   We hear sirens all the time now.  Im not into rugby but we have been  watching the famous British lions team (the Invincibles) play in south Africa. It’s the dirtiest  play I’ve ever seen in rugby.   Players from here are Mike Gibson,  Willie John McBride, McKinney, Milliken and Grace.

August. It is a lazy warm month although half inch of rain falls on the 10th.  One of them heavy,  summer plumps.  I mess about not doing much. I kick ball on the street but the young ones are out and they annoy me.  They are children. I am grown up now. There are daily riots around Belfast but they are so common they are not reported unless,   a) there is a foreign news crew or b) it is a slow  news day.  There are only 13 people killed this month due to the troubles.  One is a 13 year old school boy.  Wearing a school uniform is a problem these days. It can identify you to the ‘other side’. Arnotts shop in town closes. My mum is sad. I remember us going  shopping there.   There are regular bomb scares these days.

September.  I start my new school.  I am not happy. No friends and strange new routines.  I do not know anything about social class until now. It is made obvious that I am regarded as coming from a poor family and a poor place. I got a scholarship to be here but that does not seem to matter. It ends up with me fighting. I blacken the guys eye real good. I’m in front of the headmaster but I soon have friends who tell me that the bully deserved his punching.  At the same time Karl Douglas is singing away to the number 1 spot with King Fu Fighting. So after the Bruce Lee period a while back, everyone is out in the street giving it loads of karate chops and flying kicks.

October.  It is a busy month. We are having a second general election this year.  Big John Parkes runs a shop in the Donegall Pass. While he is a DUP man, all shades of Unionist are helping the Rev Robert Bradford keep the South Belfast seat.  Leaflets are given out and posters put up.  He keeps his seat but that night there are numerous Provo  bombs about Belfast.   It is a cool but dry month but the nights are getting chilly. Homework’s are starting to pile up for me.   One evening the news carries a story of a fire in the long Kesh prison outside Lisburn. I know one of the guys in there. No one knows what is happening.  The UDA mobilises and big patrols are out on the streets. I see a patrol of about 30 UDA men on the Shankill road. People are afraid. But David Essex is Gonna make us all stars.  My dad,  friends and I watch Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle on our black and white TV.

November.   It is a violent month even by our standards.  Bombs explode in pubs in Birmingham killing a lot of people. The government rush in new anti-terror laws.  Everyone is my street is angry.  The killings continue here, over 40 troubles deaths.  A doorman, a catholic,  is killed at the Club Bar on the University Road.  A man, a Prod, who worked in the Markets is found  shot dead in a car in Apsley Street.  A man, a Catholic, is shot dead at Carolyn Road  at the top of the Ormeau Road.  Barry White,  the big black dude with the white suit is crooning all over the charts.  It is a cold month but very windy.

December.  Getting ready for Xmas. Still watching Blue Peter and seeing how their charity appeal is coming along. There is a feeling of fear at this festive time. If you go shopping in the city centre you are assured of searches, bomb scares and maybe even a real bomb going off.  Army and police jeeps race about the streets.  If not in school uniform I wear my black DMs,  skinners  and bomber jacket. I love my Orange Widows badge. I am stopped often for a ‘pat down’.  The dark cold nights and troubles mean people stay in their homes.  The Monty Python TV show is finishing.

At least Top of the Pops is still on.  Thursday night is usually a good TV night. Mud will be at number 1 this Christmas with Lonely this Christmas.  Mud,  a name that they wanted to  stick. A catholic man who was shot at the City Hospital in October dies on Christmas Eve. Won’t be a great Xmas for that family. A woman is accidentally shot dead in a club.  I know the man who is charged. He is mentally wrecked. It was his friends wife. His friend has forgiven him and knows it was a terrible accident. We have a traditional family dinner with one invited guest.   There are fewer toys in the house now that we are all growing older. Clothes are more usual now.  No white Xmas,  more like cloudy  grey.


January. The year starts off with Status Quo and ‘Down,  Down’. Excellent. I already have one of their LPs.  My collection of 45’s is growing. I get my pocket money on a Saturday and it is down to the Gramophone shop in the city centre.  Back to school. It’s a long slog until June. We are told about our mocks this year.  Only 9 people killed in the troubles this month.  A young catholic is shot dead off Great Victoria Street. He is 17 years old. Same as me. The FA Cup starts for real on the 4th. Still love reading Shoot! The mighty Everton are held by little Altricham at Goodison. Liverpool win as do Leeds but Man United only draw with Walsall only to be beaten in the replay.  After a local church youth club on a Saturday night I go home to watch Match of the Day along with buttered bread and a bowl of Dads vegetable soup. Happy days.

February. It is turning out to be a mild winter. No snow.  Steve Harley and his Cockney rebel are going up to see the Number 1 spot.  Some woman called Thatcher has taken over from Teddy Heath as leader of the Tories.  A Catholic and Protestant are killed on the Ormeau Road.  Merlyn Rees is the Secretary of State. He’s annoying the Unionists. I always think of Harry Worth the comedian when I see him.  I have taken up playing squash through school.  Not a working class game but good fun.  Leeds and Arsenal look strong in the F.A . Cup.  But neither make it to the final.

March   The Shadows represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest . They sang ‘Let me be the One’. Instead they were 9th.  Another young catholic is shot dead off the Ormeau Road. The loyalists are having a deadly feud. 15 people die this month. The first policewoman dies in the troubles,  killed by loyalists  in Bangor.  My favourite bald, lolly sucking, American policeman, has made it to the top of the charts.  IF he would only  stick to catching baddies.  ‘Who loves ya baby’? One of my grand uncles has died.  It is a country funeral in a small country church. He was a happy go lucky man. I will miss him. Our whole family are at the funeral. It is good to see them all but sad that we only meet when someone dies.  Leeds and Ipswich go on a marathon tie needing to play 4 matches before Ipswich win out. Bryan Hamilton who plays for N. Ireland scores one Ipswich goal.

April.  I have backed Red Rum this year in the National after backing him last year when he won. We are a once-a-year betting family. My mum gets L’Escargot.  We all put a shilling each way.  Its nice to win. Especially when we haven’t a clue about horse racing. We banter Dad. His is still running somewhere.  I am putting in a lot more revision for the class tests. Although,  I am coming to hate maths.  The teacher knows that I am struggling with it. Mud are back at Number 1 with Oh Boy.  Fulham and West Ham win their semis to book a place at Wembley in May.  5 Prods die in the IRA bombing of the Montainview on the Shankill. It is one of the bloodiest weekends in Belfast. 13 men die in the space of 3 days in Belfast.  The army shoot dead a young Shankill man after a bar is attacked in Lavinia St.  The leader of the Sticks is shot dead on the Falls.  A man is shot  dead behind the City Hospital.  Rangers win the league in Scotland. Some of their best players  are Jardine, Johnston,  Jackson, Mclean and Parlane (top scorer)

May.  I have to go away on a residential with school. Feels very odd being away from family. And its only a  weekend. Only 11 dead in the troubles this month. Tammy Wynette is standing by Her man and West Ham win the FA Cup.  Man United are promoted from the second division back into the First Division. We watch Leeds being beaten in the European Cup final by Bayern Munich. Then the riot starts. There is an election to a Convention.  It was doomed from the start.  Another grand uncle dies. I am aware of a generation moving through and that we are all mortal. Even my generation today will be old at some time. And then?

June. I will be 18 this month.  Childhood has gone.  Summer holidays then one more year in school. What will I do then? All my mates have jobs. I see less of them.  A storm blows in at the start of the month. My birthday is a non-event.  It’s more about getting the card with the money inside and then a spending spree.  I think about a job and money of my own.  The killings carry on unabated.  A 3 year girl dies in her daddy’s booby trapped car in the Ormeau Road. The Daily Mirror headline screams ‘Bastards’.  A Protestant man is shot dead off the Ormeau Road. A 16 year old is shot dead in north Belfast. His killer is aged 16. It’s a warm and dry June but probably will be a long hot summer.   What will I do with my life? What can I do. Where would I go? I have never left this island. People just seem to plough on and hope for the best.  Wonder what the next year will bring.






Protestants Vital in Rising: Republicans Hi-Jack Heroes: Dr: John Coulter

Protestants vital in Rising: Republicans hijack heroes.


If Shinners really want to suck up to the pro-Union community after Gerry Adams’ disastrous ‘b’ word gaffe, then the party should encourage Unionists to commemorate Protestant nationalists associated with the Easter Rising.

Many events, such as St Paddy’s Day and the Somme battle, have been claimed by both sides in the sectarian conflict as ‘our wee commemoration’.

It has taken almost a century for republicans to recognise the thousands of nationalists who fought and died for the Crown in World War One.

But with the centenary of the doomed Dublin Rising in 2016, there is an urgent need for Unionists to honour the historic role of Protestant nationalists.

Unionists need to follow the example of Queen Bess when she laid a wreath at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance which honours those who fought against Britain.

Republicans should not try to rewrite Irish history to give the impression that only fundamentalist Catholics and diehard socialists fought in the Rising.

The bitter medicine which republicans must swallow is that the Rising failed because of the inept military strategy of Catholic hardliners and fantasy communists.

If they had listened to leading Protestant nationalists – many of whom wanted the Rising postponed until after World War One ended – then the rebellion would have been a success.

Irish rebels should have waited another two years until the war ended and thousands of trained nationalists would have been returning from the trenches.

Essentially, the wrong people were in charge of the Rising. It should have been Co Antrim Anglican Captain Jack White, the founder of the Irish Citizen Army, and Lisburn Presbyterian Ernest Blythe, who was in jail at the time.

Blythe was an expert military strategist who eventually ran the fascist Blueshirt movement.

Another high profile Protestant nationalist, Bulmer Hobson, a founder of Fianna Eireann, strongly advised against a coup in 1916.

Other key members of the unofficial ‘Protestant Nationalist Militia’ were Roger Casement, who attended my old school Ballymena Academy; Sam Maguire who recruited Michael Collins and after whom the famous GAA trophy is named.

There is also the gun-runner Erskine Childers and Constance Markievicz, both from a Protestant heritage.

Had these Protestants been running a Rising in 1918, especially after Sinn Fein’s stunning victory in the Westminster General Election that year, a Christmas Coup would have worked.

Just as it has taken decades for Unionism to acknowledge the vital role which Irish Presbyterians played in the 1798 United Irishmen’s rebellion, Unionists must have the courage to commemorate those Protestant nationalists.

They are just as big a part of Protestant heritage as the Catholic troops who fought for King Billy at the Boyne in 1690.

Republicans have already hijacked many Protestants from history, such as Wolfe Tone, as ‘their own’.

Unionists must be wary that the Rising centenary does not become another republican Trojan horse.

This article was first published in The Irish Daily Star.


James Orr-The Bard of Ballycarry

James Orr-The Bard of Ballycarry


James Orr was born in the town land of Ballycarry in the year 1770.  He was th only child of elderly parents and was tutored and taught at home. He was a prolific writer as a young man and wrote both in English and Ulster-Scots.  He was a contemporary of Rabbie Burns, who he was compared to.  Indeed in more recent times John Hewitt claimed that indeed Orr was a better poet than Burns.  Quite a claim.  Orr was foremost of the group of Ulster Scots poets who became known as the Ulster Weaver Poets—or rhyming weavers.
Orr joined the nationalist Society of United Irishmen as a 21 year old.  Much of his poetry from that time first appeared in The Northern Star—the journal of the United Irishmen.  In 1798 Orr took part-with the United Army of Ulster-in the failed attempt to capture Antrim town from the Royal Forces.  A biographer of the time says..” his conduct will long be remembered in having been actively employed in preventing his companions committing acts of cruelty”. He along with many others fled and went into hiding.  Their leader Henry Joy McCracken was captured and hanged in July of that year but Orr fled to America, where he remained, working for a newspaper before returning to Ballycarry under an amnesty in 1802.

He applied to join the Yeoman—a part time militia-who apparently were in existence to fight the UI threat.  He was turned down because of his still radical views. Orr took over the running of the family farm after his father’s death taking again to weaving as a trade and he self published the one book that appeared during his lifetime…Poems on Various Subjects.  In later years alcohol played a big part in Orr’s life although he remained close to many of his literary friends.  It was they who published The Posthumous Works of James Orr of Ballycarry in 1817.  Orr had died the previous year aged 46.  At Orr’s request all proceeds from the sale of the book would be used to hopefully relieve poverty in Ballycarry.
In The Passengers Orr tells the story of the exiles after the ill fated 98 rebellion and particular the Battle of Antrim Town.


How calm an’ cozie is the wight,
Frae cares an’ conflicts clear ay,
Whase settled headpiece never made,
His heels or han’s be weary!
Perplex’d is he whase anxious schemes
Pursue applause, or siller,
Success nor sates, nor failure tames;
Bandied frae post to pillar
Is he, ilk day
As we were, Comrades, at the time
We mov’d frae Ballycarry,
To wan’er thro’ the woody clime
Burgoyne gied oure to harrie:
Wi’ frien’s consent we prie’t a gill,
An’ monie a house did call at,
Shook han’s, an’ smil’t; tho’ ilk fareweel
Strak, like a mighty mallet,
Our hearts, that day
This is my locker, yon’ers Jock’s,
In that aul creel, sea-store is
Thir births beside us are the Lockes
My uncle’s there before us;
Here hang my tins an’ vitriol jug,
Nae thief’s at han’ to meddle ‘em
L—d, man, I’m glad ye’re a’ sae snug;
But och! ‘tis owre like Bedlam
Wi’ a’ this day

Aince mair luck lea’s us (plain ‘tis now
A murd’rer in some mess is)
An English frigate heaves in view,
I’ll bail her board, an’ press us
Taupies beneath their wives wha stole,
Or ‘mang auld sails lay flat ay,
Like whitrats peepin’ frae their hole,
Cried ‘is she British, wat ye,
Or French this day?’
‘Twas but a brig frae Baltimore,
To Larne wi’ lintseed steerin’;
Twa days ago she left the shore,
Let’s watch for lan’ appearin’;
Spies frae the shrouds, like laigh dark clouds
Descried domes, mountains, bushes;
Tha exiles griev’t – the sharpers thiev’t –
While cronies bous’t like fishes
Conven’t, that day
Whan glidin’ up the Delaware,
We cam’ fornent Newcastle,
Gypes co’ert the whaft to gove, an’ stare
While out, in boats, we bustle:
Creatures wha ne’er had seen a black,
Fu’ scar’t took to their shankies;
Sae, wi’ our best rags on our back,
We mixt amang the Yankies,
An’ skail’t, that day






Shinners Cannot Re-Write History-Republicans Died for UK

Shinners can’t rewrite history: Republicans died for UK


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Why is Sinn Féin so pig-headed about insulting the memory of Ireland’s true republican dead?

And that’s not taking into account the tens of thousands of republicans with Irish ancestry who herald from Commonwealth nations, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Then there’s the hundreds of thousands of republicans of Irish-American descent who served, were wounded, maimed or were killed fighting for the Allied powers.

On Armistice Day, on 11 November 1918 at 11 am, the guns of World War One finally fell silent.

If you were to believe some Shinners’ accounts of the two World Wars, no Sinn Féin member or supporter ever fought for the Allied cause, let alone died in battle.

For an organisation like Sinn Féin which takes so much pride in remembering its republican dead, its stance on republicans who died wearing Allied uniforms is hypocritical, if not downright baffling.

Is Sinn Féin seriously trying to tell the people of Ireland it is snubbing thousands of dead republicans simply because the party doesn’t like the British Army?

Sinn Féin’s desire to ‘disappear’ these republicans from Irish history reeks of shame at its underhand actions during both world wars.

While thousands of republicans were being slaughtered by German bombs, bullets and shells, Sinn Féin was secretly in league with the tyrant Kaiser Bill to get guns for its ill-fated Easter Rising.

The Irish Catholic Church actively encouraged republicans to join the fight against the Killing Kaiser because the bishops knew what kind of tyrannical society this German nutball would create in Ireland if he defeated Britain.

An even bigger shame was the republican movement’s secret dealing with Nazi madman Adolf Hitler.

As with World War One, thousands of republicans signed up to fight the evil of fascism. As republican blood flowed, the IRA sneaked into bed with Hitler.

How many Irish people would have been slaughtered like the Jews of Europe had Hitler defeated Britain and Ireland had become a Nazi satellite state?

The best way Sinn Féin can honour its true republican dead is to use Armistice Day to issue a public apology for the IRA’s links to Kaiser Bill and Hitler.

And it wasn’t just republican servicemen and women who died in the world wars. Both conflicts also claimed the lives of dozens of republican civilians who died during the Zeppelin and Gotha raids on Britain in the First World War, and the Nazi Blitz on British cities during World War Two.

Given the IRA’s links to Kaiser Bill, was it any wonder that the pro-Treaty Free State Forces got stuck into the IRA during the Civil War, executing more IRA men than the British during the War of Independence.

Sinn Féin should use Armistice Day to announce that it is striking a medal which it will present to the families of republicans who fought for Britain.

In terms of a hard body count, more republicans have died fighting for Britain against Germany in the two world wars than have been killed fighting against Britain in terror campaigns.

It’s time for Sinn Féin to grow up and honour Ireland’s true republican fallen.

November 11, 2014________________


This article appeared in the November 10, 2014 edition of the Irish Daily Star.







Wilfred Owen was born on the 18th March 1893 in Oswestry Shropshire.  He lived there for a short period of time before the sale of the family home forced them to move into lodgings in Birkenhead where his father worked on the railway.  After spending a short time there they moved back to the West country to Shrewsbury.  It was here that Owen attended school and by his late teens he was a pupil/teacher in Wyle Cap before graduating to the University of London.  At a young age Owen developed a great love of the Bible and he carried this devotion throughout his short life.

In October of 1915 Owen enlisted in the Artistic Rifles Training Corps and by the following year-in June-he received the commission of Second Lieutenant into the Manchester Regiment.  Within a short period of being on the front line Owen was blown out of the trench in a mortar attack.  He lay for a long period outside the trench before rescue and was suffering badly with shell shock.  He was transferred from France to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh and it was here he first met his friend and mentor Siegfried Sassoon.  When he was deemed to be fit for duties once more Owen was transferred to the Northern Command Depot at Ripon in Yorkshire.  He spent the summer of 1918 here and at nearby Scarborough before once more moving back to the War in France and the front line, in August.  During his time here Owen took part in a great deal of action and on one occasion led an attack that overpowered a German machine gun post-earning him the Military Cross.  However the award wasn’t processed until 1919.
Wilfred Owen was killed in action on the 4th November 1918 exactly one week before the Armistice.  His death took place while trying to cross the Sambre Oise Canal.  He was promoted to Lieutenant the following day and his mother received news of his death on the 11th November when the church bells in Shrewsbury were ringing out in celebration of the ending of the War.
Wifred Owen was buried in Ors Community Cemetery.

Owen was the author of many fine war poems.  Where poets like Rupert Brooke captured the patriotism of War, Owen was seen as an anti-war poet and the poem below—perhaps his best known relates the futility of War and the notion that it is a glorious thing to serve and die for one’s country.


Dulce et Decorum Est
By Wilfred Owen


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—

Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.




Alan Seeger: I Have A Rendezvous With Death


Alan Seeger was born in New York City in 1888.  His family moved to Mexico City when he was 10 years old and it was this period of his young life that was to influence much of his poetry.  By the time he was eighteen Seeger had enrolled in Harvard University.  Seeger’s brother Charlie was the father of the famous Seeger siblings…Pete, Mike and Peggy..pioneers of the American Folk music scene.

In late 1914 and at the start of the First World War Seeger enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in order to fight for the Allies..the US hadnt entered the War at this stage.  On the 4 July 1916 Seeger was wounded a number of times by machine gun fire at Belloy en is claimed that he continued to shout encouragement to his fellow troops as they mounted an offensive-despite his grave wounds.  he died from those wounds.  All of Seeger’s poetry was published posthomously-his first book being published in December 1916.  By the next year his most famous poem was released for the first time and remains a standard almost one hundred years later.  By now the quality of his poetry attracted great acclaim and drew comparison with the great British poets of the time, in particular Rupert Brooke.
In 1923 the French government erected a monument to the 24 members of the French Foreign Legion who died during the conflict between 1914-18.  On the monument are inscribed these words..from the pen of Alan Seeger……….

They did not pursue worldly rewards; they wanted nothing more than to live without regret, brothers pledged to the honor implicit in living one’s own life and dying one’s own death. Hail, brothers! Goodbye to you, the exalted dead! To you, we owe two debts of gratitude forever: the glory of having died for France, and the homage due to you in our memories.

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

Alan Seeger
I have a rendezvous with Death   
At some disputed barricade,   
When Spring comes back with rustling shade   
And apple-blossoms fill the air—   
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.   

It may be he shall take my hand   
And lead me into his dark land   
And close my eyes and quench my breath—   
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death   
On some scarred slope of battered hill,   
When Spring comes round again this year   
And the first meadow-flowers appear.   

God knows ‘twere better to be deep 
Pillowed in silk and scented down,   
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,   
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,   
Where hushed awakenings are dear...   
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,   
When Spring trips north again this year,   
And I to my pledged word am true,   
I shall not fail that rendezvous.