Monthly Archives: July 2013

What Are Loyalists Loyal To?: The Other Villager

What Are Loyalists Loyal To?

A very interesting article and one I have lots of difficulty with. Loyalism? What are Loyalists loyal to exactly? It certainly isn’t the British State or its Constabulary, as we see every year when contentious marches are opposed. Perhaps it’s Protestantism? But then I don’t see much evidence of the teaching of Jesus being displayed by members of ‘Loyalist’ terrorist groups or their supporters.  It’s a word that doesn’t appear to have meaning, or at least one I can see.  Social and economic depravation is at it’s worst where terrorist, community organisations flourish the most.  The ‘Peoples Army’ have butchered more of their own community than the so called enemy ever did and this applies to the IRA also.  I come from a working class (Those that work) estate, I sought employment, found it and made a humble life for me and my family.  Never once did I or those around me cry and beg for Peace III monies. In an apparent catch up and using the exact same marxist, Sinn Fein mantra, Progressive Loyalists are now adopting this ‘Poor me’, begging bowl strategy.  A common trait within the socialist community. Respect is not given, it is earned!  How do you expect Republicans to respect your culture and traditions when you insist in parading it over the top of them on an annual basis?  For the record, I support the right to parade, it is an important part of the culture and history of this Country, but refusal to negotiate where offence is taken is downright stupid. You don’t believe Republicans have moved in anyway shape or form to respect the view point of your community?  Not even that they have declared the armed struggle as a failure and are now implimenting British Rule in what they see as Ireland?  Sinn Fein have a strategy, they are sticking to it and it’s working.  Take the parade they voluntarily re-routed recently.  What did that tell the world?  It told the world that unlike the Loyalists, we are approachable and level headed. It invited the world to look at who the peacemakers are, who the resonable ones are.  It was of course a well thought out and deliberate strategy, but as far as image and moulding opinions was concerned, it was a very clever and cynical move indeed. Contrast that with the violence, stubborn attitudes and economically unsound behaviour displayed on the Crumlin Road/Ardoyne. How do we move on then? For starters, we need to leave the ‘Poor me’ attitude behind. We need real politics and not the sectarian drivel we have at the moment.  When we stop looking at people as Catholics or Protestants and start looking at them as individuals, only then will we slowly start to make the economic and social changes you crave. Hopefully we can do away with the ‘No one likes us we don’t care’ belief and put out a genuine hand of friendship to those we previously saw as our enemies, maybe then the silver lining can be realised.


No Republican Respect For My Culture: Villager

As I attempt to write this article, sitting in my house in the Village area of South Belfast, I look out of my window for inspiration and it occurs to me that my community can be seen as a microcosm of the problems faced by loyalism today.
It is a community that has been almost crippled by social and economic deprivation and has yet to feel the so called benefits of the peace process.
Moreover, to the people of the Village, Sandy Row and Donegall Pass, the visionary rhetoric of the peace process has been tarnished, not only by the realities of long term unemployment and social deprivation, but by the lack of involvement and alienation from the political world.
To these community’s the politics of inclusion as expounded by the 1998 Good Friday agreement has been interpreted as social exclusion. By what I have written so far, some readers may feel that I might be against the agreement and I wish to state that this is not the case. As a Progressive Unionist, I fundamentally believe in the principles of parity of esteem, equality and power sharing. As a community activist, however, I must point out the mood that currently resonates within loyalism. The Loyalist cease-fire was a window of opportunity that contributes significantly to the process of conflict transformation.
Appreciating the fears of Republicanism and Nationalism has figured prominently in the processes of reconciliation and dialogue which have emerged in my community.
Upon reflection my community, my party and indeed Unionism in general have taken great risks for the cause of peace.
In comparison, I argue that the Republican movement has not moved to respect, support or even reciprocate our actions. Republicanism appears to have retreated into the safe waters of ideology and victim-hood where it continuously pushes an exclusive agenda of change.
Certainly, my community feels that change is being forced upon them; the parades issue, police and other cultural and economic issues are examples. Indeed, it is fair to say that the grassroots of my community Are currently bitter about the state of politics today.
I feel the Republican movement should reflect on the fact that the more they push for exclusive change on symbolic issues, the more they destroy the confidence of my community in the peace process.



A New Initiative Needed By The Orange Order: Billy Joe

expose: verb,…to bring to public notice..disclose..reveal…..

The Orange Order have undoubtedly marched–in age old traditional fashion–themselves into another cultural cul-de-sac.  The stand off and repeated marches to and from Woodvale Avenue are reminiscent of such ill fated debacles as Obins Street, Lower Ormeau, Drumcree etc: which were all arguably “lost” due to the intransigence and superiority of the Orange Order heirarchy.  
The chances of the return leg of the 12th parade getting back past the Ardoyne shops is as remote Gerry Adams owning up to being a member of a proscribed organisation.  It wont happen.  And the Orange know it wont happen.  So why persist in an initiative that can only end in failure?  Why call for support from an already frustrated and increasingly bewildered loyalist community to back this act of folly.
Much as we would like to think that peaceful protests can bring about an about turn on the Parades Commission original decision sadly we all know what the outcome will be.  Crowds of supporters and well wishers will dwindle soon.  The weather has been kind but wont always be–the football season is about to start–and of course when the general apathy kicks in because nothing is happening, it will be back to the one man and his dog scenario.  Is it not better to graciously accept that this particular battle has been lost and to embark upon the next ensuing fight–which undoubtedly will come along quite soon?  In the wake of this particular decision and the fall out from it it would astound me if the Ardoyne residents don’t follow uo to have the 12th day morning feeder parade banned going down the road.  Simply put, the Orange Order NEED to be talking to whoever to be in the best position to fight their corner and try to ensure that they are in a strong bargaining position.
They need to lose the attitude that has seen them fail in the past.  Here is a chance for them to gain the high moral ground if only they could acknoweledge it.  If they reluinquished their current stance–it is unwinnable–and immediately entered into talks with ALL of the representatives in Nationalist Ardoyne, they could quite quickly expose those groups for what they really are.  Cosmetic fronts for hate filled sectarian groupings.  On the one hand you have GARC–a front for a criminal dissident alliance and on the other the mealey mouthed CARA, who are nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Gerry Kelly gang–who we all know are in the middle of a purge against all things British.  Except that is taking British money for administering British rule.  The Orange Order has the opportuntity to expose these frauds for what they are.  Anti Unionist and Anti Protestant.  Then, I am sure the Orange Order would be able to look towards the Loyalist people and call on them for support and receive a better response than they currently enjoy.


Billy Joe



In an age were it is common place to call newborn children after the latest pop stars or minor celebrities it makes me wonder will thos kids ever develop a nickname or an alternative moniker.  The Wazza’s and Dazza’s have all but faded into obscurity to be replaced by Britney’s and Paris’s–the Keanu’s and the Jay-Ze’s. 
But where have all the nicknames gone?  In days of old many people were better known by the nickname bestowed upon them than the one given at birth.  Where are all the Soup’s and Spud’s of yesteryear?  Twenty-odd years ago a TV programme and accompanying book was produced relating the many glorious nicknames that were preculiar to Harland and Wolff Shipyard.  Steel Chest, Nail in the Boot and The Barking Dog.  to say that some of the names were inventive is a gross understatement..they are, in many cases the work of genius.  And by far the best –or most appropriate nickname I ever heard came from The Yard–Pop-Up.  If ever a name described the character this is it!!
Having sailed through Long Kesh Camp for the better part of both the 70’s and 80’s it will suffice to say that I heard quite a few nicknames over the years.  I will reproduce many of them here in the hope that it jogs others memories who can provide the ones that I have either overlooked or forgotten.  It will, I’m sure bring a few smile to a few faces around the province and beyond.  With each name listed there is of course a story–but–as they say–that’s for another day.  Feel free to comment and add your own favourites.
The most common nicknames tended to be derived from surnames and over the years I came across a host of Jonesy’s and Stewarty’s–Smudgers and Smickers.  There were Blackie’s, Whitey’s, Greeners and the odd Red.  And then you had Janty’s, Beller’s Dinger’s and Dougie’s.  Quite a few Winky’s on my travels as well.  The list goes on.  And it will be obvious with many what the name relates to.  Some are too obscure to even hazard a guess. Keyhole Kate–Barney Rubble–Dogs Dinner–The Frog–Seven Stone–The Gannet–The Rooster–War Dog–Chinaman–The Buck–Humphrey Littleone–Nipper Lawerence–Boko–The Hat–Bamber, in reference to a sadly departed MLA!!.
Dumpkoff–Binge–Verbal Abuse–Snatters–Blinky Palermo–Fat Head–Skel’s a Singer–Big Eyes/No Thumbs–Hoker–The Galloper–The Wobbling Brush–Tut-Tut–The Grout–Burgermaster–again very appropriate if you know the person–Alarm Clock Harry–The Sherriff of Nottingham–The Bubble–Scaramouche–Hacksaw–The Muppet–Henry the Hippo–Karl Heinz Rummager–it’s a long story!!–Brick–The Scout–A couple of Niggers–Cleo–Jazz–Facecloth Willie–The Ghost–Jolly Jack–Wingnut–Two by Two–McSlob.
Hopefully this has given a few smiles and jerked a few memories for the auld hands out there to add to.  There are many more so get writing!!

Billy Joe


The Future of Loyalism ( according to Jackie McDonald ).

This article first appeared on LKIO in April 2012.

THE FUTURE OF LOYALISM (according to Jackie McDonald )

Easter is always an interesting time in this country. What with the Republican celebrations, the ‘Orangemen’ and juveniles. The decline in numbers marching in Loyalist areas reminds me of my 30’s when I started to lose my hair – every time I looked there was less there! Seriously though, it appears that PUL culture seems to be under a lot of pressure and some people are reacting to this in different ways. Take Jackie McDonald for example. To be fair to Jackie, he has shown great leadership to his organisation in the last few years. He has never shirked responsibility and he has been courageous in voicing his opinion about a whole range of issues. But his latest public statement wasn’t, in my opinion, well thought out.

At a recent conference, “The Future of Loyalism”, facilitated by the Political Studies Association, Jackie was at the top table with the Reverend Chris Hudson – well known for his mediation work, and alongside him were two academics, Jim McCauley and Graham Spencer. In the Q and A session Jackie was asked about the Orange Order and proceeded to inform all and sundry about the UVF planning to drive motorised machine guns past Short Strand during their route for the Balmoral Review celebrations in Ormeau Park on the 19th of May.

He then went on to talk about how residents of Short Strand would feel about that. I would say to Jackie they now have 5/6 weeks to formulate a demonstration of how they feel.  I can’t understand Jackie’s public opposition to this celebration.  If he felt that way he could have let people know discreetly instead of offering himself as some sort of apologist.

Of course, with the ‘not proven’ sense of peace we have here, I can empathise how trying to understand what others may feel about actions we take is PC but let me highlight the conciliatory gestures that have came from mainstream Republicans in the last week or so.

Gerry Adams – 7 step plan to a United Ireland

Caral ni Chuilin – addressing an Easter Parade inLondonderry– ‘Our task is not yet finished’

Martin McGuinness – ‘We are on the road to freedom’

Dissident Republican address at Easter Parade – ‘The IRA will continue to attack Crown Force Personnel and their installations as well as British interests and infrastructure’

Just today, it was announced that there is going to be a debate about the flying of the Tricolour over Stormont. Maybe the republicans of Short Strand will be able to see the Tricolour flying and if not we can knock a few buildings down so they can – we don’t want to offend them, do we?

Last word to Jackie – at the conference Jackie’s last words were, ‘I support the Orange Men but I don’t want anything to do with them – if you know what I mean’.

No Jackie, we don’t.

Hattie Carroll


Have Loyalism and Orangeism Learned Anything?

Have Loyalism and Orangeism Learned Anything?
Sean Brennan argues Yes.

This article first appeared on

July 24, 2013Posted in: News & Current Affairs, Opinion



As the summer sun adds to our annual ‘blood boiling’ fest, now more than ever is a time for cool heads and dispassionate analysis of where we are on this long and winding road towards peace, prosperity and political maturity.

Given the gravitas of events surrounding the parades dispute in north Belfast it is hardly surprising that widespread condemnation falls on elements within the PUL community, particularly in relation to the violent attacks on our first responders.

Yet, in moving beyond the traditional political analysis, adapting a more salient evaluative critique of current events may help to discern the chrysalis of a new non-violent era for Loyalist conflict transformation slowly emerging and forming in the cocoon of this current crisis.

To view this transformation it is necessary to move beyond the stereotypical loyalist lens and discern developments through a social capital frame.

Loyalists, having learnt the lessons of conflict transformation, are beginning to employ the tools, technologies and techniques of peacebuilding to shape a new PUL society at the local level.

This ‘grassroots’ transformation now arising, in response to the HET, flags and parades disputes, appears to be bonding ‘grassroots’ loyalists, bridging their internal identity disputes, and linking them to their politicians, local Orange lodges and civil society groups.

In so doing ‘grassroots’ loyalists are slowly beginning to frame a common vision of what a shared cultural future could look like and how they develop a strategic response to the perceived cultural war now being waged by Sinn Fein.

This vision is not shaped on any notion of a ‘Third Protestant Ascendency’ but on the dreams of the Protestant working class, striving to realize their prize promised in the Good Friday Agreement: to address the deep-rooted causes of conflict, eradicate victimhood, poverty, unemployment inequality, cultural and social exclusion and the creation of conditions for further sectarian violence never to erupt again.

However, fifteen years on from the Agreement the promised peace prize has yet to impact in ‘grassroots’ loyalist areas and communities, particularly in north, south, east and west Belfast. Instead of securing a new era, of social and cultural inclusion, the Loyalist community has witnessed their parades systematically attacked.

As a consequence, ‘grassroots’ Loyalists are now slowly reorganizing their social capital to secure their culture.

It is now becoming clear that through new logics, strategies and tactics, ‘grassroots’ loyalists are beginning to ‘return the serve’ in this growing perceived cultural war between the PUL community and ‘others’, this time using non-violence, legislation, the courts and community action, as their preferred tools for acquiring cultural equality and human security.

The street disorders arising from the Parades Commission’s determination preventing the Ligoniel Lodges returning home have been a godsend for the reformers of this new Loyalist programme for social transformation.

The disorder helps progressive loyalists expose the futility of violence in trying to obtain cultural equality. It also helps undermine ‘super prods’ attempts to lead ‘grassroots’ loyalism up yet another hill: only to get less at the pearly gates than St. Andrew gave them last time.

As this non-violent re-construction of social capital slowly re-profiles the PUL community it is inevitable that organised Loyalism will increasingly place constraints and tolerances on their elected politicians, moving them beyond the ‘moving statues’ theory of cultural conflict towards a more salient critique of how social and cultural inclusion is shaped, secured and agreed in a shared out sectarian state.

Socially motivated ‘grassroots’ Loyalism also adds a new inclusive non-violent community action element to forthcoming discussions and negotiations on how a ‘second-generation’ Agenda for Peace will be shaped through the impending Haas initiative.

While current political analysis dismisses ‘grassroots’ loyalists and the Orange Order as only 2% of the population and having little impact on forthcoming negotiations, a more sober realization is that if 1% of the world’s population can own 40% of the world’s wealth what can 2% of socially organised loyalists own?

As Professor Pete Shirlow notes, with the end of Ulster Loyalism greatly exaggerated, if ‘grassroots’ loyalists are to emerge from their ‘sloth-like past’ they will need to ‘create a new form of un-armed political loyalism upon the foundations of key and social justice driven principles’.

Through this current crisis we may just be witnessing this emergence of political loyalism through the building of  ‘’grassroots’ loyalists social capital.

If ’grassroots’ loyalists are to succeed in developing social justice in this emerging form of progressive unionism then it needs to formulate a coherent strategy and tactics with the leadership to deliver cultural equality.

While this emerging ‘grassroots’ loyalist social transformation movement may ultimately fall foul to the fate of other PUL social equality initiatives, thwarted by Ulster Unionist political elites, its gradual growth offers new insights into how progressive unionism will rise to meet other challenges, of poverty, ill-health and multiple deprivation.

Therefore, rather than viewing this current crisis as a stereotypical violent loyalist response to social change, a more cool headed and salient critique may detect the chrysalis of a new non-violent era for the Loyalist community emerging from its ‘sloth-like past’.

If so, in developing this new era of non-violent loyalist social transformation, ‘grassroots’ loyalists might yet provide the vision and leadership to show how a local application of social action and social capital can begin to transform ‘grassroots’ loyalists, from violent defenders to social menders, and in so doing, change utterly, the drive, dynamic and development of our post-conflict peacebuilding society.

If progressive loyalists can keep their head while others around them are losing theirs, to shape a shared vision and provide the local leadership to achieve the non-violent aims and objectives that secure cultural equality, we might yet see a new dawn emerging from the cocoon of our current crisis.

This new dawn, of ‘grassroots’ loyalist social transformation, may then even reform our staid sectarian political economy, to secure the hope of 98 and deliver social and economic well-being for all those most in need, to move us all a little further down this long and winding road towards peace, prosperity and political maturity.

About Sean Brennan

Seán Brennan is a part-time PhD candidate at the Queen’s University Belfast, School of Politics International Studies and Philosophy, researching Ulster Loyalism and the politics of Peacebuilding, Development and Security in Northern Ireland. He is a representative of the community on Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Partnership and has contributed articles for The Other View magazine, Pue’s Occurrences and Conflict Transformation Papers, Volume 9, Ethnicity and Nationalism (2005) and Volume 10, Peace by Piece (2005) and has contributed poems, The Gaza Ghetto (2008) and Belsen by the Sea (2008), for the Palestine Chronicle (16 July 2008). Seán also designs and delivers training in Community Relations, Conflict Resolution and Conflict Transformation and his Peace Building in Interface Communities programme was short-listed for the Times Higher Education Awards (2008).


Where Have All The Young Men Gone: Dr. John Kyle

Where have all the young men gone?

This article first appeared on

July 22, 2013Posted in: Opinion



Many in the educated liberal classes view the Armed Forces with ambivalence.  They are necessary for national security but war is evil and its consequences monstrous.  For working class Loyalists there is no such ambiguity; the Armed forces, that is to say the British Armed Forces, are held in the highest esteem, men and women of courage and conviction who are prepared to lay their lives on the line for our safety and freedom.  Indeed Loyalist families are particularly proud of their young people, predominantly young men, who are serving or have seen active service.

For many young men this is one of the very few employment options open to them, and therein lies a major problem.  Unemployment is particularly damaging to the confidence, morale and self-esteem of young men.  Many have already been given the message by an educational system tailored to the academically able, that they are failures. What now is their purpose in life, what is their role in society?  Have they a place or contribution to make, a responsibility to shoulder?

The responsibility to provide answers should not rest primarily with them.  Those of us who are established in our careers and positions of influence owe it to them to create employment opportunities, affirm their worth and provide role models and friendship.

The recent violence has provoked a further wave of invective towards Loyalists.   Brian John Spencer, in a recent blog on this site, called them ‘backward class, barbarian, curdled by hate, thug merchants, reactionary blockheads, blowhards of the past and street thugs.’ He is not alone in holding these views.  Criticism and condemnation of the violence is justified.  Pejorative labelling does nothing to address the underlying causes, change self perceptions or offer hope of a better future. Indeed it may reinforce negative behaviour.

In an earlier posting Dave Magee wrote persuasively of a crisis in Loyalist masculinity arising from the brutality of 30 years of conflict followed by a social and economic vacuum which offers young men little  in the way of aspiration, opportunity or role models.  It is hardly surprising that some take easily to rioting.  In the words of Bob Dylan ‘when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose’. Rites of passage such as entering the workforce and learning skills from older men which confer dignity, responsibility and a sense of belonging have largely disappeared.  Is it any wonder young men lack purpose? A bored unemployed underclass is inevitable and drug abuse a frequent consequence offering a cheap chemical high in an otherwise emotionally arid existence.

We owe it to these young men to create the circumstances in which they can develop and use their gifts in constructive and financially remunerative ways and an environment in which confidence, self esteem and self awareness can flourish.

This is essential if we want to give more than lip service to the goal of a just and equal society. Then perhaps some of our most problematic young men, in both communities, will believe that they are important, realise they are talented and discover that kindness and self control are part of being a man.



The 12th. 2013: A Critique Of The German Press Coverage:Marcel

The Twelfth 2013: A critique of German press coverage: by Marcel


It’s a ritual repeated every year: Nationalist rioting on the 12th of July but the sole blame is put on the Orange Order by the media. But this is not only the case with British or Irish media it is the same with the German press. Here are some snapshots about the coverage by the mainstream German newspapers:


1.            “taz”: the largest, left-leaning daily newspaper:

The headline reads: “Militante Protestanten haben sich in Belfast zwei Nächte in Folge mit der Polizei Kämpfe geliefert. Auslöser sind die jährlichen Oraniermärsche probritischer Protestanten.“ (translation: “Militant Protestants are fighting the police for two nights. These riots have been caused by the Orange parades done by pro-British Protestants“). The article also lables the parades as “provocation” and repeats the old fary-tale that the Orange Order is marching through Catholic areas.


2.            “Die Zeit”: the largest weekly journal, with a daily online feature:

This paper produced a series of reports and put a few videos online. In fairness, they initially attempted to gain a more balanced view but in the end, again, put the sole blame on the Protestants: “Protestant radicals rioting for the third night in a row”, a headline reads. And again, the claim is repeated that the Orange Order wants to march through a Catholic neighbourhood. As well all know, the return parade only passes some shops, the protesters have to walk down half a mile from the residential homes to be offended. In addition, some protesters travel 50 miles to be offended.


3.            “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”: the largest, Conservative daily newspaper:

Has put some videos on its webpage. In its reports, the newspaper doesn’t add anything new to the arguments or claims cited above: the violence is linked solely to the Orange Order.


4.            “Die Welt”: Conservative Daily: a Conservative daily newspaper:

This paper tries to add a new perspective: it links the violence with the violence surrounding the flag protests. It argues that while the flag protests have been deescalated for half a year, it has now resurfaced. Or in other words: the same people who were rioting at flag protests are now rioting because of the Twelfth. It really struck me reading such nonsense journalism!


5.            “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: liberal daily newspaper:

These reports are the worst of all. It starts with the headline: “Parades of violence”! The whole Twelfth is not a cultural event, but a spectre of violence. Protestants are fearful of the “Catholic vision for a united Ireland” because they fear economic disadvantages. The report goes on celebrating the work of the parades commission while labelling the Orange Order as simply provocative.

There is a German word for that kind of journalism: “Schweinejournalismus” (For those not familiar with German, please google it!”



In almost all German press coverage, the violence is exclusively linked to the Orange Order. Some newspapers are more open and put the blame directly on the Orange Order. There is no mentioning of Catholic violence, the events in East Belfast are ignored. In addition, the quite positive events in Londonderry are ignored: because there was no violence surrounding Orange parades, it seems to be not worth reporting it.

This is my challenge to the German media: Come over and travel to Northern Ireland. Jump into a taxi and tell the taxi driver where to go to: Cluan Place, Twadell Avenue, Glenbryn. After that you are welcome to join the thousands of people on the Lisburn road watching the Twelfth. You may also walk down with my lodge through the Holylands and witness how a ten-year old girl was attacked with a bottle (and left in shock) and then walk down the Ormeau Road and see the protesters taking pictures of us at the bridge – with Alex Maskey in the middle of all. Why were they taking pictures of us? Are they all journalists from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”?

Marcel is a Loyalist who lives in Germany.  He is a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland and a regular commentator on the political scene here.  This is his first contribution to longkeshinsideout–but hopefully not his last.  Marcels’s own blogpage is worth visiting….



In Danger Of Creating A New Superprod: Billy Joe

In Danger Of Creating A New Super Prod.


Within Protestantism–and without–to –at times a Global audience, there have been many images down the years that portrayed the militant side of our faith.  Militant being relative.  The abiding and endearing snapshots of a cluster of middele aged or elderly wee women clad from head to toe in red, white and blie, spinning Union Jack umbrellas whilst dancing to the strains of an old Orange tune may not be the same as that of a combat clad alpha male, replete with dark glasses and a cudgel.  A sober suited clean cut man wearing a collarette and a bowler hat can hardly bear comparison to those portrayed in wall murals–black, commando like figures brandishing automatic weapons and demolishing a front door with a sledge hammer.
Circumstances over the years have, to a large degree dictated what many of us have become.  Within certain elements of Loyalism there is a reluctance to give creedence to the continuance of paramilitarism.  And perhaps rightly so.  But there is, in many quarters, an even greater reticence when it comes to acknowledging the need for those same organisations over 40 years ago.
To be a young inductee into one such group in the early 1970’s didnt have the effect many might imagine.  Within my group of peers there was a distinct matter of factness about “joining up”.  There was no other options as far as I was concerned.  Rightly or wrongly, or whether you believe it or not, circumstances in the early years of the Troubles, attributed greatly to the birth of Loyalist groupings.  But to a larger degree, at least within the organisation I joined, there was an acceptance of what you had to do.  No fanfares and very little advertising of who you were or what you were doing.  However at this time there was a propensity within the larger of the Loyalist organisations to make oneself known to the public.  Their leaders were household names, and there was a tendency to parade at every opportunity.
Over the intervening years and for a variety of reasons, the perception of those organisations has chenged greatly.  The general consensus is that former members, many who are now old men, are an anathema.  Pariahs and scapegoats to a fickle society–a society who can, in equal measures, canonise or demonise at will.  To go further, a widely held belief in certain quarters is that many of those old defenders are actually the root cause of the many fold ailments affecting the PUL communities in present times.  That is if listen to those who choose to make the distinction now between Unionist and Loyalist.
December 2012 has become another defining time in the annals of Loyalism.  The much covered and widely reported Flag issue has helped re-awaken many of the hitherto dormant feelings within working class Loyalism.  The ceasefires of 1994 and the the subsequent Good Friady Agreement of 4 years later gave the vast majority of the population a real hope that peace had arrived.  And indeed it had.  Well, a version of it.  Peace became a new word in our vocabulary.  And as happens, when we learn a new word we tend to overuse it: at every opportunity.  Perhaps we thought we didnt have to work too diligently at maintaining that hard gained peace.  After all, we now had elected representatives who were there to ensure that peace was here to stay.  The new generation were content to put their trust in the Unionist politicians–as we had always done.  And after all, sure, they had never failed us or let us down–had they?
Arguably, a facet of the the Loyalist working class psyche–for as long as I can remember–is to blindly follow those who represent us–sure, didnt we install them in the first place, so they must be okay.  And anyway, what can we do about it?  Cast aside the fact that since time immemorial they have not only failed to give us proper representation when it counts but on a daily basis MIS-represent us.  They play on the political naivety of the masses and barely stop short of treating us like morons.  The working classes within Loyalism are little more than cannon fodder when it comes to the machinations of our politicians.  We are a tool that can lie unused for a long time but can be brought out and used when the need arises.  The two strikes of 74 and 77–Sunningdale–The Anglo Irish Agreement–the GFA being a prime example.  Here the Loyalist paramilitaries were used as a counterbalance to the huge influence held within Republicanism by ex-prisoners in the lead up to the GFA.  Barely months later those same lynchpins of the agreement were spuriously cast aside…without compunction.  The acquiesence of the hordes within the Protestant working classes can always be counted on by politicians.  We, in turn have this notion that this is what we are meant to do–it is our lot–what else can we do?
Since last week the events surrounding the non return of the Ardoyne lodges on the 12th July have again hit the headlines–for all the wrong reasons.  Up to 100 arrests have already been made with the promise of many more to come.  Add that to those already arrested and in cases jailed for the Flag disturbances and the numbers are very considerable.  What would be interesting to me would be a discosure of the figures relating to Senior Orange Order representatives or politicians who have been arrested and charged over the same period.  I fear that figure would be ridiculously low.  40 odd years of regular repeats is bound to have taught us something.  Ian Paisley Snr. was famously nicknamed The Grand Old Duke of York for his habit of “leading” Loyalists to the top of “The Hill”–and leaving them there.  Dont be fooled into thinking with Paisley no longer the prominent figure he was that others will not repeat his well tried methods.  The Orange Order have failed miserably over the years to lead and to represent even their own members.  Have they anything new to offer now?  Will they shake off the shackles of their intransigent past and show new dynamic leadership when it is most needed.  Hardly.  When our leading politicians call the masses to “their” cause–or when the OO ask for support for “their” lack of engagement, leadership or balls–pause–wait to see what they are going to do–without the insurance of the “sandbags” from within the streets and estates of working class Loyalist areas.  When you are languishing in Bush or Bann house in Maghaberry jail it is highly unlikely that those in the next cell are mandarins in either Stormont or Schomberg House.  Nor will these same people be in too much of a hurry to pay you a visit or leave a few quid into your tuck shop account.  For too long these charlatans have manipulated and coerced the “under classes” into fighting their battles.  Dont be fooled again.

Billy Joe




First and foremost Unionist politicos and Belfast County Grand Lodge are just not up to the job. Unionist politicos think that the shinners/provos war is over, they are such naive fools. As for the BCGL they are still stuck in the 19th century.

The bombing, shooting and killing phase of the shinners/provos war maybe suspended for now, as they have moved into a new phase a phase or war that gets them paid by the British to administer British rule, and I can say without fear of contradiction that they are doing a first class shoddy job at administrating British rule here, their new strategy is to divide and rule.

Be under no illusion the shinners/provos are waging a war, and it’s a good war, it’s a war on several fronts. It’s war on the streets, it’s a war at Stormont, it’s a class war and it’s a war in the media.

One of the main aims of this war is to further divide the PUL community along class lines by using parading and schooling. And I have to say they are doing a first class job of it, by using all the complex fronts above as a single strategy.

Unionist politicos are giving the impression that now that we have the Stormont assembly, the Good Friday agreement and the St Andrews agreement, and several polls that say a sizeable majority wish to stay within the UK, we are safe. These polls maybe factually correct, however the facts being played out on the ground and on our TV’s and radios day in and day out is very different.

The reality and the fact is that nothing has changed; the republican/nationalist sectarian war is on-going and intensifying. On Friday night Gerry Kelly in a TV interview claimed that a stretch of the Crumlin road is now exclusively romanist and therefore de facto republican, in essence a no go area for the Protestant Unionist Loyalist community. This claim rather than being rebutted is being given a hint of legitimacy by the parades commission determinations and how the psni police the area or not as the case maybe and its shinner/provo politicos.

Here is where the war is being won and lost, republicans have taken on board the situation on the street and in the polls and have now moved their politics and strategy to a new phase to use the weapons of parades and class to further alienate working class and middle class Unionists. They are back onto the streets but not in the mass civil disturbances of the 60’s and 70’s, but in a subtle and cunning way and drawing in reactionary Unionist Orange thinking, and they are using the psni, parades commission and residents groups as the spearhead in their war against the PUL community.

Unionist and the Orange Order need to wake up and start smelling the rotting smell of decay that is coming from the psni, the parades commission and the shinners/provos. They all need to be seen as the enemy and take nothing they say as genuine or binding.  We need to start using the system to defeat the system, why did they not take this irrational decision on Friday to the courts???? At every turn republicans use the system and the courts!!! Why can’t we??? Is it, it costs too much??? Will what cost the Union!!! Why can’t they have a list of people who are eligible for legal aid and get them to take the issue to the courts, republicans do it all over Northern Ireland, why can’t we???

The shinners/provos have got the psni, parades commission and media eating out of their hands with Ardoyne and Donegall Street and every other contrived flash point as their headline grabbers. And with every flash point we lose more and more support especially middle class support.

Not that the middle class don’t have their problems to with the shinners/provos, in the scraping of the 11+ and the inevitable scrapping of  grammar schools.

Each issue is being portrayed by the shinners/provos as mutually exclusive. We won’t help the middle classes because the shinners/provos have turned them against us, and they are turning their backs on us because of the parade disturbances. We don’t support the Unionist middle classes and they won’t supporting us, very cleaver stuff. The shinners/provos have made us into pariahs for the Unionist middle classes, with contrived continuous parades, bonfires, the blue bag brigade and irrational parades commission determinations and media performances.

Unless all sections of the PUL community come together we are a lost cause, and until the Unionist politicos especially Peter Robinson, wake up and starts smelling the feces that we are wadding in we will drown in it and I fear that day is not that far off.

A classic example of this can be found yesterday, Martin McGuinness was in Ardoyne to listen to the republicans. Where was the leader of Unionism Peter Robinson??? Is he so aloof being first minister that he does not feel the need to meet the working class PUL community on the ground in their heart lands, we are not important enough for the first miniter? Robinson does know where the Shankill, Twaddell Avenue, Woodvale, Crumlin or Ballysillan is? If he is never seen on the ground in his own constituency of East Belfast where he lives there is little or no chance he is ever going to find North Belfast???

Peter Robinson is not the leader that Unionism needs, and the DUP shenanigans at Stormont are an embarrassment, as for the Orange Order, it’s heading for irrelevance and I say that as a former member who left it in exasperation, however I still have the best interests of the Order at heart.

Let me relate a story told to me last week by a colleague. Paisley, had talks with the Tories prior to the signing of the St Andrews agreement. Paisley was aware of Cameron’s likely win at the next election and if there was a tight election result could the Tories relay on the DUP. Paisley was aware of Cameron’s willingness to bring in radical policies. Paisley asked if they form a government at Stormont would they be able to block homosexual marriage. Cameron was given that assurance. Weeks later we had a Stormont assembly. Paisley and the DUP put their own narrow theological religious interests before the greater good of the PUL community. We now have a Stormont assembly working to a shinner and DUP political and theological agendas, not an assembly working for or in the best interests of the majority, but for and to the narrow agenda of the two main parties.

As for the Orange Order I have contacted them with my concerns and ideas, and they are ignored. They are still living in the 19th century let alone the 21st century. They like the Unionist parties are reactionary and not media savvy, therefore letting the republican hoards run rings around them, and with their allies in the media we look prehistoric and obstinate.

The DUP would rather destroy any Unionist opposition than respect their alternative views, just look at the arrogance of the DUP at the Red Sky debacle and on the Maze issue.

The Loyal Orders are by far their own worst enemy that is why the republicans, the parades commission and the psni can run rings around them. They need to review their future strategy and reflect on where they want to be, not in the next few weeks but in decades ahead. And that goes for the DUP, UUP and the other Unionist parties, but that takes strategic thinking and to be honest we don’t have a walking talking thinking leader.

After the parades commission gave the determination for the Crumlin road, that there was to be no return parade. Did they work on the premise that if there is no home parade no one would want to use the Crumlin road to access the greater Ardoyne or Ballysillan???

Gerry Kelly described the area as a 100% catholic in a TV interview, and said (I Para phrase) “that they will not be walking up this road”. All fine and dandy Gerry, the implication being that men, women and children from the PUL who live locally can’t use this road, and they need Gerry’s or the shinners permission to use or make their way home along the Crumlin road???

If there is no parade the psni need to give assurances that those who wish to use or go to their homes in the greater Ardoyne and Ballysillan areas along the Crumlin road, who are on foot will be facilitated.

The parades commission and psni can’t demand that they all return home by 8pm, as they are private individuals going about their lawful business.

As for Kelly, I would suggest that Gerry Kelly’s rhetoric needs to be challenged as he stated that, that part of the Crumlin road is now the de facto, “independent Irish catholic republic of Ardoyne”.

All this has come as news to me as I use this area on an almost daily basis. Is this the shared space and future Kelly and the shinners keep telling me about??? I get the impression that when there is a catholic or nationalist/republican majority the shinners and local populous turn into a mirror image of the things they are charging Unionists and the Orange Order off. Strange how things go around.

Do I now need to ask Gerry’s or the shinners permission to access the area???

I find what Kelly said offensive as I’m sure will those from the PUL community who live and work around this area, and those who want to go home via the Crumlin road on the 12th night or any other time of the year for that matter.

Maybe I should put in a Gerry or shinner 11/1916 to get a determination to see if I can use the Crumlin road???

For Gerry in his, independent Irish catholic republic of Ardoyne. Here is an insight into my use of the now, independent Irish catholic republic of Ardoyne, I go to the car wash, I go to the Credit Union, I go to the library, I go to the chemist and shops, and go up and down the Ardoyne and Crumlin road on an almost daily basis.

Memo to self must Gerry says I must find new car wash, credit union, library, chemist and shops. Must now carry passport to check in at border control when wishing to enter the, independent Irish catholic republic of Ardoyne, on my way to and from home. As this new statelet is not part of the EU yet and as such there is no open border policy yet.

Lastly and more importantly, Gerry is playing to another gallery, he has an electorate to win back and to play up to. GARC have been giving the shinners a hard time in the “independent Irish catholic republic of Ardoyne” and Gerry and the shinners need to win back some credibility.

At every flash point Unionist politicos both MLA’s and MP’s should be there videoing the goings on of republicans and the psni. There should be a dedicated Orange Order or Unionist facebook and youtube page, just like the shinners have. Specifically dedicated to propaganda where eyewitness can give their testimony to counter republican propaganda. As for the Orange Order if they call people to protest they need to be there on the front line, not hiding at the Park Avenue hotel wining and dining.