Category Archives: Loyalism Today

Contemporary Loyalist: Sam White

Sam-Chalky-White is a 57 year old member of the Democratic Unionist Party and a former loyalist prisoner.  He has a background in community development work in East Belfast and is hotly tipped to replace Gavin Robinson on the Belfast City Council.

Contemporary Loyalist

 

The Contemporary loyalist unlike in the past, no longer appear confident and superior. Compared with the days of the Ulster Workers’ Strike of 1974, or the huge loyalist demonstrations against the Anglo-Irish Agreement in the 1980s, the loyalist protests over the Union flag have been very small affairs.

The things loyalists once held dear – Britishness, the monarchy, no longer mean much to the British establishment, which has found new ways to maintain its rule in Northern Ireland. That said, Sinn Fein has been drawn into the peace process via the Good Friday Agreement signed in April 1998; these republicans have signed up to a new, reformed six-county state. The reward for this compromise has been increasing  ‘parity of esteem’ in terms of identity politics and symbols.

Many working-class loyalists, however, have never really accepted the peace process and view it as Sinn Fein and republicans waging war by other means. Watching Sinn Fein becoming the largest party on Belfast City Council was bad enough for loyalists; seeing Sinn Fein successfully have the Union flag removed from City Hall was too much to take, hence protesting throughout the province.

While some commentators think the distinction between ‘loyalism’ and ‘Unionism’ revolves around attitudes to violence, class was and is a much more significant aspect. Loyalist paramilitaries are deeply rooted in the poorest sections of the Protestant working class. That said, out of that loyalism has been an underappreciated expression of Protestant working-class consciousness. Today, the resentment of young working-class loyalists towards middle–class Unionists in their leafy suburbs is concerning, and is part of what makes up the siege mentality on display in the flags protest. Loyalists increasingly view Unionist politicians in the same way they view republicans, the cross-community Alliance Party and British politicians: as untrustworthy enemies, still, the recent unionist pact has installed a relative arena of trust giving way to more in depth cultural safety and less marginalising within loyalist communities.

While many loyalists, what is happening in loyalism today as a bold move to embrace the peace process, I argue it differently. Ulster loyalism is a dramatically fragmented force that has been dragged towards embracing the Good Friday Agreement. When Britain needed an aggressive, supremacist majority to guarantee British rule, loyalists played that role to the core. Now Britain needs loyalists to behave differently in order to secure the status quo; it needs them to adopt the therapeutic language of accommodation and respect for diversity. The loyalists who ignore the new script and refuse to adapt to their old ally’s new demands will find that their devotion to the British state cuts little ice.

Sam White

Share

Scapegoating: Billy Mitchell

This article by the late Billy Mitchell first appeared in Lion and Lamb in 2002.

SCAPEGOATING – THE ANCIENT ART OF SHIFTING BLAME

In Old Testament times the itinerant Hebrew nation had a novel way of cleansing itself of any guilt arising from social sins. The religious leaders laid hands on a goat and ceremoniously transferred the guilt of the people to the goat, which was then driven outside the camp of Israel into the wilderness. From this ancient ritual we have developed the practice of scapegoating.
When something goes wrong in society and it is perceived that this is due to corporate wrongdoing we look for a scapegoat. We usually pick on the eccentric, the minorities and the unlovable. Someone has to bear the guilt for society.s ills so that the rest of us can rest easy in our own sense of self-righteous well being.
In Northern Ireland we have ready made scapegoats in the paramilitaries. Like every other part of the United Kingdom and Ireland we have a problem with drugs. But it is not our fault. The paramilitaries are to blame. We still have the most ancient trade in the world – prostitution – but it is not really society’s fault. It is all down to the paramilitaries. We are plagued by anti-social behaviour, petty crime and organised crime – just like many other cities. But in Belfast it is not our fault. If it wasn’t for those damned paramilitaries Northern Ireland would be a great wee place to live in. At least that appears to be the analysis of politicians, clergy and other civic leaders.
Let me make it quite clear. I am not an advocate for para- militarism, nor am I about to suggest that they are paragons of virtue. I used to be one myself and am not blind to what goes on within paramilitary circles. At the same time I refuse to make them the scapegoats for society’s ills.
Like many of my former comrades I have moved on. But I have not moved away from those who remained nor turned my back on the new generation that came after me. Because I know that there is a better, less violent and more democratic way in which to resolve Northern Ireland’s problems I have a duty to work with others of a like mind alongside my former organisation in the hope that we can be an influence for change. I believe that we are being successful.
One would have thought that the slow but steady move towards politics and the steady reduction in violence would have been welcomed by so-called constitutional politicians and church leaders. But not so. Raise the issue of drugs, rackets, prostitution and other forms of criminal activity and my former organisation is automatically blamed (along with others). No evidence is ever produced. No names are ever linked to specific criminal acts. Nothing tangible is ever presented. Yet the organisation as a whole is painted with broad black brush strokes. The ritual of scapegoating does not require evidence, it just requires a prejudiced mind and a willing press.
Scapegoating is as pernicious an evil as any of the sins that are ceremoniously heaped on the heads of our vicarious victim. It is first of all an exercise in self-righteousness. As a society we can cleanse ourselves of all guilt for our social ills. So long as we can point to the scapegoat we have no need to look at ourselves.

Secondly, it is an exercise in social exclusion and marginalisation. Just as the scapegoat was driven outside the camp into the wilderness so we attempt to drive our scapegoats outside the parameters of respectable society into the margins of a supposed mafia sub-culture. We demonise, vilify and marginalise others so that we can enjoy the smug satisfaction of our own self-righteousness. We fail to recognise that members of paramilitary organisations are members of our own communities – that they are husbands and sons, brothers and fathers. They are not animals like the Hebrew scapegoat, they are flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone.

Scapegoating saves the media from having to investigate the true origins and nature of society’s ills. It is a lot easier to lay the blame on a ready-made scapegoat than having to look for real identifiable culprits. Blaming unincorporated organisations which have no legal remedy against slander and libel is a lot safer than naming individuals and having to face them in court.

Politicians use the paramilitaries as scapegoats to cover up their abject failure to establish a just, equitable and peaceful society in which all citizens can enjoy a life free from crime and deviant behaviour. The clergy use the paramilitaries as scapegoats to cover up their failure to build a bridge between a world of hurting humanity and the love and compassion of a healing Saviour. Locked away in their holy huddles and spiritual bunkers they have lost the significance of incarnational theology and forgotten the true meaning of kenosis.

In the wake of recent events within loyalism some of these clergy have emerged from their cloistered hide-aways to present themselves as potential mediators. How people can present themselves as credible and impartial mediators, while still engaging in the prejudicial art of scapegoating the very people between whom they wish to mediate, is beyond my understanding.

Whatever the faults of paramilitarism may be – and there are many – they ought not to be used as the scapegoats for society’s ills or as a cover for the failure of civil society to address its own problems.

Billy Mitchell was a member of the Progressive Unionist Party Executive and Programme Manager of LINC resource Centre, an inter-community development initiative based in North Belfast.

Share

The Crisis Within: Eddie Kinner

The following piece was written in 2002 and first appeared in the Christian magazine Lion and Lamb.

 

The Crisis Within

 

AS A LOYALIST I would challenge the view that Loyalism is in crisis and argue that the crisis lies within Unionism because of lack of strategic leadership. Loyalists have always looked to Unionism for leadership and guidance: leadership and guidance that Loyalists have been conditioned to depend on but which has frequently failed them and their constituency.

Unionism could not provide security and defence of working class Loyalist communities through the security forces in 1969 when the conflict erupted into intercommunal violent confrontation. This led the Loyalist community to give birth to the current Loyalist paramilitaries who themselves supplied the security and
defended the community against Republican aggression. While the Unionist leadership publicly condemned Loyalist actions, they privately congratulated them and encouraged their activities.

In October 1969 the first police officer was killed on the
Shankill Road when Loyalists rioted with police and security forces over the disbandment of the B Specials and proposals to disarm the police. My father was arrested and charged with being a riot ringleader. He was found not guilty of the charge, and was subsequently released. However, during the period my father was held on remand, the family minister produced a massive food parcel, the like of which we had never seen, and likely wouldn’t ever have seen, had my father not been arrested. To me at that point in time, the signal from that action was not one of supporting a destitute family, but one of tacitly supporting
what my father was being held in prison for, and was privately encouraging the actions of Loyalism.

All sections of Unionism and Loyalism lack self-confidence. Because of historic circumstances, Unionism has depended on leadership from the British government, a government that they distrust immensely, and with just cause. It was that government who betrayed Carson and partitioned Ireland; that government who signed the Anglo-Irish agreement; that government that was having secret meetings with the IRA. The insecurity of Unionism and Loyalism has been vulnerable for exploitation by their enemies and by the government which they mistrust so much.

Loyalists have seen themselves prepared to take the IRA on in a military capacity, and prepared to accept the consequences: death, imprisonment and its impending hardships, while their Unionist leaders have sought protection from government, seeking others to take on the IRA.

Unionists have never shown the leadership to take on their enemy in the same way Carson did. They have attempted to emulate him but have never shown the willingness to endure the same sacrifices he displayed. Nor have they been prepared to take full control of their own destiny since Carson.

Loyalism received a level of empowerment during the negotiations to the Good Friday Agreement, when they were consulted and received communications about the negotiations. The Confidence-building Committee was the vehicle used for this purpose and it was successful in developing confidence and security during the negotiations leading to the Agreement. However, Unionism failed to take confidence and security from the principle of consent enshrined in the Agreement and by so doing failed to take control of their own destiny. The principle of consent should have given Unionism the confidence and security to embark on removing the inequalities and injustices of history and assisted to secure the Union. The established Unionist representatives failed to take this opportunity to
cement the Union and have allowed Unionist insecurity and lack of confidence to be exploited both by their enemies and anti-Agreement rejectionists.

Following the Agreement, the Civic Forum was stablished.
It was intended to be a vehicle for consultation and communication with all sections of the community in the same manner that the Confidence-building Committee had been during the negotiations. Instead, it has been highjacked by civil servants who control and dictate its role and functions. There is insufficient community representation on this forum, thereby dooming it to fail in
achieving its intended objectives.

Established Unionism, instead of embracing these two
elements, of the principle of consent and the establishment of a genuinely representative Civic Forum, and taking Sinn Fein on politically, embarked on seeking ways to avoid taking on traditional enemies and sought to have them removed from the Executive by running to London and Dublin, making demands of the two Premiers. This displayed a lack of leadership and a reluctance to take control of our destiny. Our traditional enemies exploited this insecurity by making their own demands and creating a circumstance where Republicans appear to be benefiting more from the Agreement than Unionists and denying any Unionist fault or responsibility in this process.

Those of us within Loyalism are frustrated with established
Unionism’s reluctance to take Sinn Féin on politically. It is all the more frustrating that they are preventing us from developing Loyalism to take on the task which Unionism is shying away from. They want the credibility of being elected representatives, but will not accept the accountability such a role demands. Established Unionism has been an obstacle to Loyalist development to take up this political role.

The formation of the Loyalist Commission is the most positive step that has taken place within Unionism for many years. It has the potential to develop Unionism constructively, but it is important that it does not become a version of the Combined Loyalist Military Command representing solely Loyalist paramilitaries. The Commission consists of political, religious and community
representatives in addition to representatives of the Loyalist paramilitaries.

For the first time in our existence a group has been established that can bring Unionism and Loyalism together. An opportunity now exists to learn from each other, to strategise for the benefit of the Loyalist and Unionist community and to secure the Union by putting the past inequalities and injustices behind us and persuading those from the Nationalist community that our objectives are to their benefit as well.

Eddie Kinner is a former UVF political prisoner and was an active member of the Progressive Unionist Party at the time of writing.  He is no longer politically active.

Share

What Loyalism Means To Me: Pash Pashler

What Loyalism Means To Me: Pash Pashler

 

In brief, My Loyalism, is a love for my country, a love for my kin, my family and fellow loyalists..it’s a respect for other loyalists who dared to do what I didn’t or didn’t have the shoulders for, to carry the weight they carried or carry, so no apologies for the past will be forthcoming from me.
Why apologise to those who wish to end my Loyalism and push me off my country into the sea.
Loyalism is branded as a bad word now, a dirty word, Is it a dirty word ? associated with criminal behaviour as some would have you believe ie racism and terror as propagated by social media left wing assassins and indeed mainstream media with their own agenda of self loathing and hypocrisy. I even see other loyalists trying to mainstream the meaning of the word, trying to appear more acceptable to those who really don’t care about us. Stop ! are we not who we are or Have we become the stray dog under the table waiting for a crumb to fall, waiting for acceptance and a pat on the back…Loyalism is a strong masculine word, it’s your da or your uncle and your grandad, your brothers. It’s a history, a good history that kept the UK together when called upon. I could deliberate over every word here so as not to offend anyone but that is not my Loyalism, my Loyalism is a good, a force to end the bad, I’m proud of my Loyalism, if I’m the lion in the jungle why would I want to be the mouse, Loyalism is a strong chin, never backing down from what’s right. it’s a strong word, upstanding and steadfast.
Accept my Loyalism or don’t, I care not, it’s my country and I’m going nowhere, we are going nowhere. 

 

Pash. 

Share

Understanding Northern Ireland Without Prejudice: A Follow-on to ” Unheard Voices “: Sophie Long

Understanding Northern Ireland Without Prejudice: A Follow-on to ‘Unheard Voices’.

 

Following the ‘Unheard Voices’ article which was shared across social media on Saturday and Sunday, we  have received some encouraging feedback. A broad range of people, from within and outside of Loyalism, read the article and recognised the internal reflection process which is taking place amongst East Belfast’s Protestant working class. They welcomed the engagement of local people in those issues which affect them, and the civic ways in which those needs were articulated.

 

This was the reason I wrote the piece, to share the positive and critical thinking which took place in the Strand Arts Centre that evening, and by doing so, allow those people a voice, and begin to unsettle the comfortable assumptions which some commentators hold about Loyalism.

 

However, we have also received, indirectly I might add, some less than encouraging feedback. These responses are the ones which I hope to address now. As always, I am open to challenge, criticism and counter-argument, both publicly and privately. I will make sure my email address is included when this article is shared. This is not intended to be a ‘final word’, but a step towards a transformative conversation.

 

The first item I would like to refute is the suggestion that, given my support for Loyalists, I am either connected with, or have been bought off by, the UVF. This is not only a dangerous, not to mention libelous statement, but it also reveals a great deal about the individual who made such a claim. What this means, is that in speaking up for the working classes of East Belfast, I am responding to either partisanship, fear or bribery. Further, the underlying assumption at play is that the working classes of East Belfast are so abhorrent, so beyond reproach, that I could have no other motivation for writing positively about them. What type of person would suggest such a thing? Not a liberal, one would hope.

 

In addition, the assertion that anyone who discusses Loyalism in a positive way is under the control of paramilitary forces, insults not just me, but a whole school of academics. There are a number of writers, who have worked with Loyalists and produced scholarly research which moves beyond the intellectually lazy assumption that Loyalists are simply ‘thugs’. Professor Peter Shirlow, Professor John Barry, Professor Kieran McEvoy, Professor Jim McAuley, Dr. Connal Parr, Dr. Gareth Mulvenna, Dr. Tony Novosel, Dr. Graham Spencer, Dr. Richard Reed, Dr. Aaron Edwards, Stephen Bloomer and many more besides, have taken the time to work alongside Loyalist communities. Are they all in the pockets of the UVF? Are they simply deluded, these academics? Or do they recognise that Loyalism, like all identities, is complex, and that Loyalists, as citizens and human beings, deserve to be listened to?

 

The second item I am addressing is the casual, yet also dangerous, mis-reading of my article. I wrote that the discussions on the 27th centered around people’s hopes of securing social housing, decent jobs and schools for the area. Most people read this for what it was; the articulations of a community who have considered their circumstances and strive, not unreasonably, toward those things which all of us do. A home, stable employment, and to live in a vibrant community. I challenge anyone to find sectarianism within these aspirations.

 

Those who strive to end the politics of ‘Orange and Green’ often point to those things which we all share, and argue that closer attention to these would begin to heal communal rifts. The people of East Belfast agree with them. The common ground is there, if you wish to see it. However, some saw this as a ‘shopping list’ or ‘list of demands’, and critiqued the locals of East Belfast for asking for such things.

 

Local people observing the area in which they live, reflecting upon community needs, and asking for a say in how resources are applied; is this sectarian? Is it tribal, or paramilitaristic? I don’t think so. It is commonly referred to as participatory budgeting. Cllr. John Barry of the Green Party recently submitted a Motion of Notice to North Down Borough Council to have participatory budgeting implemented there. If he is successful, the people of North Down will have a say in how to use part of the Council’s budget. My question is this: are the people of North Down sectarian for wanting to be involved in how their community is run? Or is it only sectarian when Loyalists do it?

 

I have spent some time considering why quite a routine article provoked such a hostile response in some areas. There are a number of reasons that a working class community speaking up might make these commentators uncomfortable. It did not fit with their world view. Loyalists are meant to be apathetic, they aren’t meant to know about politics, their areas of expertise are flags, bonfires and parades, right? So far, so prejudiced.

 

If you are reading this, and consider yourself a progressive, tolerant, liberal figure, you might think, “I can’t be prejudiced, I’m a feminist, I’m pro-choice, I support equal marriage, I want a multicultural Northern Ireland”. These are all laudable qualities, and I share them with you. As do, notably, the PUP.   However, all of these traits do not sit comfortably with the routine denigration of any community. That includes Loyalists.

 

When reflecting on the possibility that Loyalism might be progressive, you might also want to ask yourself how Cllr Julie-Anne Corr was successfully nominated and elected, by those backward Loyalists whom you despise. Or indeed, how one can attend both the Twelfth and Gay Pride. Such complexities are no doubt unsettling, but to remain blind to them is to perpetuate prejudice.

 

Despite the demand, often issued from the liberal middle, that Loyalism abandon its ‘irrational’ attachments to flags and parades, and focus on the real, bread and butter issues, when Loyalists do so, as they did on the 27th,  they remain, in the eyes of our great liberal comrades, the ‘sectarian thugs’ whom they have always been.

 

This refusal to modify one’s position in response to new information, is anathema to rational thought, one of the pillars of liberalism. Indeed, it is of particular interest to me, because, like many, I would like to see Northern Ireland build a genuine and inclusive peace. I believe that to do so, we should begin to seriously listen to others. Not just the others who agree with us, which is reassuring, but a form of stasis. We should be listening to those whose views and beliefs we disagree with. For the ‘liberal middle’, whom this article is addressed to, the ‘other’ is Loyalism.

 

There are, of course, no obligations to challenge our own preconceptions. We are free individuals, and can nurse our bigotries and reassure ourselves that there is little point engaging with our opponents. This might bring comfort but it won’t bring progress However, for the self-appointed ‘progressive thinkers’ of Northern Irish society, there is an obligation to listen, and to be self-critical. In claiming to be non-sectarian, rational thinkers, these people invite us to challenge their statements, and reveal their internal inconsistencies.

 

These people dismiss Loyalism as violent, uneducated, obsessed with flags, intolerant, racist, right-wing, sectarian and regressive.  This, they are certain of. They have formed these opinions, perhaps from personal encounter, but more likely from the tired and recycled media narratives of Loyalism, which ought to be confined to the history bin.

 

However, when confronted with the notion that Loyalists are actually more concerned with living in houses which aren’t riddled with damp, or reforming a school system which is systematically failing young, Protestant males, or indeed, having some shops to visit near their homes, how do our great, liberal peacemakers respond?

 

They don’t. What was said cannot be called a response. Because a response requires that one reflect on what the other has said, and frame their own contribution accordingly. They have already decided what Loyalism is, and nothing we, or Loyalists say, will alter this. To these people, and I am grateful they are in a minority, I finish with this: if you, the self-styled saviours of our wounded and divided society, cannot listen to your fellow citizens because their identity disgusts you, then you are not part of the solution. You are the problem, and you should be utterly ashamed to call yourself a liberal.

Sophie Long

 

 

 

Share

The Indisputable Original Definiton of Authentic Ulster Loyalism: Charlie Freel

THE INDISPUTABLE, ORIGINAL DEFINITION OF AUTHENTIC ULSTER LOYALISM.

 

To fully understand the true definition and the genuine cause of authentic Ulster Loyalism, it is essential to return to the root cause of its original formation and to examine in detail, both honestly and impartially, exactly what is deliberately, simply and clearly written indisputably, on the actual tin of original, authentic Ulster Loyalism. IE, “THE ULSTER COVENANT.”

Unfortunately Original, authentic Ulster Loyalism, in much the same way as Original, Authentic Christianity, has become so continually morally diluted by some and intolerantly religiously added to by others, to such a deliberately meaningless extent that, both are now conveniently wide open to misrepresentation by insincere followers of both.
Close examination of the principles of authentic Ulster Loyalism reveal that, most of us, the modern day claimants of Ulster Loyalism, are conveniently deluding ourselves and as an aid for implementing this self-deception, we have created the eagerly embraced new Buzz Term within Unionism, IE, (P U L) (Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist.)
The term P U L, is especially popular within the younger generations of Unionism, who despite being raised in a Christian/Protestant environment, do not themselves practice and in some cases do not even respect, the
Christian/Protestant Faith of our Forefathers.   They do however eagerly embrace the Cultural Heritage, band scene, marching, singing, flag waving and the Glorious Commemorations of the courage and the Sacrifices made by our Forefathers, in the defence of our Christian/Protestant Faith and Ulster.
So obviously the main purpose of this new fangled P U L Culture of mix and match, or take your pick Unionism, is to provide a convenient, anything goes safety net of loose association, for those without the Faith or the sincerity, to commit to authentic Ulster Loyalism.

 

THE UNION.

Our forefathers have been totally vindicated by history, in their totally correct assertion within the Ulster Covenant that, “Home rule would have been disastrous to the material well being of Ulster and subversive of our civil and religious freedom.”

The fifty years of official State and Roman Catholic Church authorised, sectarian discrimination and ethnic cleansing that, was aggressively directed at the shamefully abandoned Protestants and ex- British Servicemen within the Republic of Ireland after partition, is well documented.  These facts have been nearly completely air brushed from history, but they go a long way to explain why Northern Ireland was for fifty years after partition, ” A Protestant State For A Protestant People.”
So rightly convinced were our Forefathers that, Home rule would mean Rome rule, they took up arms and were prepared to defend, by the use of force if necessary and against even the might of the British Army if need be, the democratic right of the people of Northern Ireland, to decide their own destiny.
Today that determination remains an essential requirement of Ulster Loyalism.

 

THE MONARCHY.

 

Although our Forefathers had pledged Loyalty to King George V, and the British Empire, the Ulster Covenant makes it clear that this was not a slavish one way pledge of Loyalty, it was made clear that Loyalty was a double edged sword and that if Ulster’s faithful Loyalty to Britain was betrayed, then the Ulster Volunteers sacred Loyalty to God and Ulster was the sacred cause that, they were prepared to die for.
So slavish loyalty to the Monarchy is not a requirement of authentic Ulster Loyalism.
As a soldier of the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Royal Irish Rangers, I had also sworn allegiance to the British Crown, however due to the slaughter caused by the IRA, via a no warning sectarian bomb attack on The Four Step Inn on the Shankill Road. I left the British Army in early 1972, with the sole intention and purpose of taking up arms against the IRA.
I became a full time Fire fighter with the Belfast Fire Brigade, were I witnessed on a daily basis, the indiscriminate carnage caused by the totally sectarian and cowardly, no warning bombing campaign of terror being waged by the unappeasable, bitter, twisted terrorists, of the IRA.
I was arrested by the security forces in March 1973 and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for counter terrorism. Immediately after my release I had to have a kidney removed, due to damage received during one of our numerous confrontations with the British Army, during my imprisonment.
So do I qualify for description as an authentic Ulster Loyalist? Sadly No.
Instead of being content to take up arms in defence of democracy. I personally and enthusiastically took up arms and aggressively sought the satisfaction of revenge. I was in fact an aggressive counter terrorist.
So what am I now?   I am exactly the same as all the IRA terrorists now employed up at Stormont and on Belfast City Council and in the council chambers all over Northern Ireland.   We are all slumbering terrorists. If our veneer is scratched the old spots of terrorism quickly reappear and if we are abruptly aroused, then we all resort to what we know best.
So for blatantly obvious reasons, which the British Government is shamefully ignoring, NO CONVICTED TERRORIST, LOYALIST OR REPUBLICAN, should be legally permitted to be democratically, nor by transfer, elected into a position of authority over the ordinary decent people of Northern Ireland, were they are at present causing further daily hurt upon their former innocent victims, via their constant unrepentant publicity through the media.
Always remember the warning from the IRA’s most senior, old senile politician Gerry. He can’t ever actually remember being in the IRA, but he has absolutely no intention of ever letting anyone forget that, “They haven’t gone away you know.”

 

Charlie Freel.

Share

What loyalism means to me: Dr: John Coulter

Dr John Coulter has been a life-long member of the Ulster Unionist Party. He is chairman of the radical Right-wing Unionist think-tank, the Revolutionary Unionist Convention, which wants loyalism to embrace the concept of One Faith, One Party, One Commonwealth. In this article for Long Kesh Inside Out, he outlines what purely democratic path loyalism should take and what loyalism means to Revolutionary Unionism.

 

I am an unashamed and unrepentant Radical Right-wing Unionist and loyalism now needs to follow the path of the ideology I have penned – Revolutionary Unionism. It encompasses the ethos – one faith, one party, one Commonwealth.

As a born-again Christian, my first loyalty is to Jesus Christ as my Saviour and political mentor. His Sermon on the Mount, often referred to as The Beatitudes, as outlined in St Matthew’s Gospel, represent a caring Christian social agenda which every loyalist should adopt as their manifesto.

As a journalist and commentator, I have grown up in a political era where loyalist and unionist indulged in the luxury of splitting and fragmenting Unionism, Loyalism, Orangeism and Protestantism.

As a Revolutionary Unionist, I want to see loyalty to a single pro-Union movement simply known as The Unionist Party. It can contain as many pressure groups as it has interest groups, but seats have been lost to republicanism and nationalism through splitting the pro-Union vote and Protestant voter apathy.

Tens of thousands of loyalists gave their lives, were wounded, or served in two world wars so that the generation of 2015 could enjoy the freedoms of democracy. Like the fine example of our sister Commonwealth nation, Australia, responsible citizenship should also carry the moral duty of compulsory voting. Being a loyalist should also mean loyalty to the ballot box – and the ballot box alone.

 

As a Revolutionary Unionist, I recognise that the Occupied Twenty-Six Counties (known as the Republic) has failed as a political and financial experiment. It is time for these 26 Southern counties to resume their rightful place in a new Union within the Commonwealth of nations.

The historical roots of Revolutionary Unionism lie with the Glorious Revolution – hence the title of the ideology – of the 1690s under King William III which established modern parliamentary democracy as we know it.

That Glorious Revolution affected all of Ireland, not just the six Northern counties of Northern Ireland. All of Ireland was a founder member of the Empire Parliamentary Association in 1911, which later became the current Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in the 1940s.

Loyalism must not become a purely defensive ideology. Through democratic persuasion, Revolutionary Unionism will encourage the South to initially join the CPA before taking its place once again in the Commonwealth.

Revolutionary Unionism will campaign for the UK and Ireland to leave the cash-strapped European Union with the CPA as the economic alternative. The CPA represents more than 50 national and regional parliaments throughout the globe and is much more stable politically than the crumbling EU. Where the UK goes politically and economically, Ireland must follow.

Revolutionary Unionism seeks to further the cause of Faith and State, not Church and State. The latter assumes a religious denomination ramming its views down the throats of citizens. Revolutionary Unionism will seek to re-establish the Biblical standards – not denominational dogma – as the guiding principles for the state.

The Christian ethos will be that espoused by the Salvationist doctrine as outlined in the New Testament text of St John Chapter 3, verse 16. Revolutionary Unionism is firmly committed to the concept that a political awakening in Ireland will go hand in hand with a Christian spiritual reawakening, such as that which swept across the island in the 1859 Revival.

Revolutionary Unionism will not confine itself to the six counties of Northern Ireland or the ‘Not An Inch’ mentality. It is not a case of being loyal to the maxim ‘What We Have We Hold’, but embracing the aspiration ‘We Will Take Back What Is Rightfully Our’s’.

Loyalism needs a new aspiration; as a Revolutionary Unionist, I firmly believe loyalism has the solution – one Biblically-based Christian faith, one pro-Union party, and all of Ireland back in a single Commonwealth under the Royal Crown.

John Coulter

 

Share

A Tribute to the Late Volunteer Ken Owens

AUTHENTIC ULSTER LOYALISM, AS LIVED OUT, BY THE LATE VOLUNTEER KEN OWENS.

 

Ken Owens was a totally humble, unassuming, Volunteer of the Red Hand Commando, who departed this life on the 10th April 2015. Ken didn’t leave behind any academic pearls of wisdom, or profound one liner parables for the academic dissectors of sincere Ulster Loyalism to squabble over.

However to the rapidly dwindling, surviving Ulster Volunteers of the early seventies, Ken left behind the priceless  memories of a sincerely served record of actual military service, on behalf of Ulster, before, during and after incarceration that was surpassed by very few.

Below is the tribute paid to Ken, by his old Comrades, during Kens Funeral Service.

 

Ken Owens was a totally sincere, Ulster Volunteer and Red Hand Commando, of the early seventies. He gladly stepped forward and served his Country at a time in our Country, when civil war seemed certain.

Ken took up arms in defence of the democratic right of the people of Northern Ireland to determine their own destiny, free from the constant sectarian attacks, by bitter twisted Irish Republican terrorists.

 

Ken Owens sacrificed his freedom in defence of his Family, his Faith and his Country, at a thankless time and for a thankless future, when the only reward for sincere military Loyalism was either imprisonment or death.

Today, we all have the privilege of thankfully and respectfully, acknowledging that sacrifice.

 

Ken was an old ex-shipyard caulker, which meant that he was as deaf as a door nail,( although Ken always maintained that his deafness was due to other large bangs in his life.) How ever regardless of the cause, the one thing that we can be sure of is that, Kens undefeatable, fighting spirit, is still with us here today listening to every word we have to say about him.

 

Ken Owens was an old school Northern Ireland Loyalist, he was totally Loyal to his God, his Family, his old Comrades and the Authentically Original, Founding Principles of Northern Ireland Loyalism.

Kens cause and principles in life were simply and unquestionably, For God and Ulster. He made these sincerely held principles the unshakable Foundation Stones of his Family, his Faith, his Country and his Cause.

 

Ken Owens wasn’t a big man in physical stature, but he had a massive heart, massive reserves of courage and a totally undefeatable determination. If ken decided he wasn’t going to be moved, then it was always going to take much more than one massive man to move him. This resolute courage and immovable determination stood Ken in good staid, during our numerous confrontations with the army and the prison authorities, in Crumlin Road prison and in Long Kesh.

 

Ken was a proud East Belfast shipyard man, born and raised in East Belfast at a time when the front door of every house in street lay open until bedtime. Neighbours looked after neighbours, Children respected their elders, marriage was for life, our Protestant Faith was respected by all and the only drugs on the streets were totally un-tipped woodbine and parkdrive cigarettes.

Ken firmly believed that, we all became far better adults than the adults of today, because of our Christian based childhoods in East Belfast.

Kens life was cast iron proof that, he was right.

 

Back in the early seventies, the IRA, embarked on an indiscriminate, sectarian, no warning bombing campaign of slaughter and destruction. They attempted to by the use of terrorism, to overthrow democracy here in Northern Ireland and sought by the use of force, to deny the ordinary decent people of Northern Ireland the democratic right to decide their own destiny.

The main targets of the IRA’s cowardly campaign of no warning slaughter and destruction were, Protestant Working Class Heartlands, isolated and defenceless border Protestant villages and farms, and Belfast City Centre.

 

All over Northern Ireland, in response to this sectarian slaughter by the IRA and the dithering lack of serious action by the British Government, Loyalist Working Class area’s were forced to form local Volunteer Defence Forces.

 

In their pathetic attempts to contain by repeated appeasement, the unappeasable, bitter twisted, sectarian terrorists of the IRA, the British Government capitulated even further. They suspended the democratically elected Government of Northern Ireland. They disarmed the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They abolished the B Specials,( Northern Irelands Legitimate first line of defence against the IRA, especially in remote border areas.) They also barred the Northern Ireland Regiments of the British Army, from serving in Northern Ireland. They even unsuccessfully attempted to ban Northern Ireland resident British Soldiers, from coming home on leave.

It was apparent to the ordinary decent people of Northern Ireland, that the British Government would soon capitulate completely to the IRA.

Urgent counter action was required and the Loyalist Working Class People of Northern Ireland responded accordingly.

 

Ken Owens actions as an Ulster Volunteer on 26th March 1973, resulted in an

8 year prison sentence.

Kens immediate response to the Judge, the Court and the cowardly British Government was, a totally defiant shout of NO SURRENDER, UP THE RED HAND COMMANDO.

 

Ken spent the first 10 months of his sentence in Crumlin Road prison and the remainder mainly in Compound 18 Long Kesh, Ken had no cause for sleepless nights nor sessions of self-pitying cultural, political, nor ancestral self-reflection, in pursuit of excuses to blame anyone, or anything other than himself for his own totally unrepentant actions against the belligerent

sectarian terrorism, of the IRA,     Ken proudly accepted personal

responsibility for his actions in defence of democracy.

That unyielding spirit of NO SURRENDER became even more evident, during the last few years of Kens life, as he battled through illness after illness with a complete absence of complaint or self pity.

 

Ken cared sincerely about his old Comrades from Compound 18 and despite his own ill health, he never failed to turn out on parade to pay his sincere respects, at the usually premature final parades of many of his old Comrades.

A few years ago when Ken was informed of the death of his much younger Comrade Edmund McKay, Kens immediate response was to inquire if Edmund had made himself right with God before he died.

Ken often brought up the subject of God, he made no secret of his belief in God as his Creator and in Jesus Christ as his saviour.

 

A few days before Ken departed for his final holiday in Benidorm, he handed over his old Somme Society uniform to his old Comrade Gorman McMullan, as a free donation for some other Somme Society member who didn’t have a uniform.

Ken had realised that due to his serious ill health, he would never again be able to properly and respectfully parade, with his Comrades of the Somme Society.

Today we can all celebrate together the fact that, in much the same way as Ken gladly discarded his old Somme Society uniform, because it was no longer of any earthly use to him, he also on the 10th of April in Benidorm, discarded the old worn out uniform of an earthly body, in which his totally undefeatable spirit had been clothed for the past 73 years.

 

Today that totally undefeatable, fighting spirit, of our old friend and Comrade, is still very much alive and well, in fact I strongly suspect that, as we all trudge up to Roselawn Cemetery to give Kens old worn out uniform of a body the military funeral that, Kens active service on behalf of his

Country deserves,   Kens old undefeatable fighting spirit will probably be

dancing and skipping up the Newtownards Road and into the bookies.

 

On the 10th of April 2015, I believe that our old Friend and Comrade Ken Owens, gladly exchanged the temporarily relaxing sun of Benidorm, for the eternally relaxing Son of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

Charlie Freel.

 

 

Share

What Loyalism Means To Me: Posnett

What Loyalism Means To Me

   

 

This is my reflection of being a young Prod in the early ‘70s,  born in the centre of Belfast and growing into a teenager at the height of the troubles.

Loyalism was about colour. The Red.  The White.  The Blue.  The Ulster flag with six pointed star. The Crown over the Red Hand.  The flag going out before the twelfth. Pride on seeing the street festooned with bunting. An arch. Loyalism was about the badges – oval and round. Our identity worm on the lapel of our wrangler jacket or the black lapel of the green pilot jacket.  Multi shaped badges.  Orange Widows badges each year. Collect them all. It was about clean clothes. Wearing shirt and tie to church and to funerals.  Sitting in church on Sunday morning.  Sunday school at the halfway mark.  Being polite to our elders.

Loyalism was clean and crisp Wrangler jeans.  Clean and shining shoes.  A freshly ironed Ben Sherman shirt.  My loyalism was about a  growing realisation of my identity. Britishness and all that was entailed.  My family immersed in the British army. The fighting and the dying.  Loyalism was about sacrifice. The Somme. Loyalism was a realisation that our identity- mine- was under threat from violent republicanism.  Loyalism was about being a part of the local tartan. Out walking on the streets. The parades to Stormont.  Supporting the boys.  Loyalism was about standing up for what we believed in.  Even having a general strike.

Loyalism was about working hard. Loyalism was collecting the boney, the big 11th night and the big walk on the 12th. Easter and down to Bangor. Hail,  rain or shine. Loyalism was about the dances in the local orange hall which we got dragged to. Belonging to the BB. Loyalism was about defending our wee streets.  Loyalism was about the Crown. Our Queen.  A long and proud history of belonging.  Loyalism was about pride and meaning.  Loyalism was about decency and not getting blocked at every minor excuse.  And soon loyalism became joining a paramilitary group.  And doing what was required.

And today?

Loyalism is a different animal today. I’m a different animal today.  Over a decade in the Kesh. Asking questions and discussing points. Having people like Gusty,  Mitch  and Davy  to talk with. Looking behind the superficial.  Facing uncomfortable truths.  If loyalism was about decency and fairness then what about some of things that were committed  in the name of loyalism? Some of the things I done.   Times have changed but history is history. I grew up in glory days. Simpler days. Even as the bombs exploded and the shots rang out across the rain soaked Belfast evening.

I’m still a Brit. But the teenager is long gone.  I’m a lot older and I hope a lot wiser.  Loyalism today?  The vast majority of people I meet, loyalists , republicans and others are decent people. Wanting to get on. Loyalism today is about respect for others even for those I disagree with.  Loyalism is about learning and being able to argue/debate with anyone. Loyalism is convincing them why I follow my way if life and why I think it’s the best.

 

Posnett.

Share

Fifty Eight Delegates: William Ennis

From my forthcoming book

Fifty Eight Delegates

Civil and religious liberty are natural and fundamental rights that must be promoted and defended by all who claim the title of Loyalist (From William Mitchell’s Principles of Loyalism document, 2002).

It was one moment I shall never forget, one of those occasions when the heart pounds and every second becomes an eternity.  A feeling so terrifying I can still summon it today as I reminisce.

I had been involved in the counting of hands in the only resolution so tightly debated that a careful count was necessary.  Julie-Anne Corr had proposed that our party should support the campaign for gay people to have full marriage rights, and the vote would be far from unanimous.  For months five of us had met in the PUP’s East Belfast office and rehearsed the debates, battered the arguments, doled out bucketfuls of mock abuse toward Julie-Anne as she stood at our makeshift lectern, drafted and redrafted her presentation, leaked, and then championed the proposal to less sympathetic Loyalists through social media, and now, at the chairman’s table at party conference 2013 the chairman was totting up the delegates’ votes.

The resolution passed, by fifty eight delegates to thirty six.  Being stood upright at the back of the room I had a full view of the hustle and bustle, as the reality of what had just happened spread through the hall with a ripple of murmur and activity.  Johnny Harvey who was sat half-way down the seated area to my left simply turned in his seat to face me, and as I noticed his gaze he picked up on my delight, smiled, and fired a satisfied wink.  Julie-Ann, Kerry Johnston, Ian Shanks and Ysabell Giles each made a clambering bee-line for the door as I was clutching for my phone determined to let the world know of this development via twitter.  I then joined them outside.  Our equal marriage committee re-united in victory.

I think I was the only one whose joy didn’t present in tears.  Instead, I broke from the group embrace with what must have been an absurd smile, akin to the ones used nowadays to punctuate text messages.  Dr. Stephen Baker, a professor of media who would address later PUP conferences, arrived to join the conference and began conveying his apologies for being late only to stop mid sentence curious at the drama spilling out before him.  I composed myself enough to explain the cause of our elation.  I managed to explain to him that we were the first small group of people to convince a Unionist party in Northern Ireland to embrace equal marriage rights for gay people.

The small group of people to which I refer are all still friends today, we are still active campaigners, and we are all Political Loyalists.

William Ennis

Share