Monthly Archives: April 2015

Youth Must Rock The Vote:Get Teens into Politics: Dr. John Coulter

Youth must rock the vote: get teens into politics


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

The Auld Shinner jibe of ‘Vote Early, Vote Often’, will solve the apathy crisis across Ireland as elections loom, especially the Northern Commons poll on 7 May.

Now hold yer horses! I’m not advocating breaking the law, but providing the solution to getting more young people to engage with the political process.

While the Grey Brigade of elderly voters rule the roost when it comes to getting their asses into the polling booths, if we are not to face the embarrassing democratic nightmare of politicians being elected on only 30% turnouts, we need to mobilise our young people.

The voting age in Ireland – both in the North and South – must be lowered to 14, and schools have a vital role to play in making Voting Studies a compulsory subject on the curriculum. Shinner schools boss John O’Dowd please take note!

Likewise, it’s time for Westminster, Stormont and the Dáil to adopt the Australian system where voting is also compulsory.

The Shinners and Dupes are masters at getting their respective voters out and both parties have very active youth wings. But that’s not enough if the democratic process is to survive.

The more fanatical the parties, the better they are at getting their supporters out – just look at the rise of Nigel Farage’s hardline Right-wing Ukip, which could easily be one of the key parties along with the DUP and SNP holding the balance of power after the Commons General Election.

Young people should be encouraged to join a political party as soon as they leave primary education and move into secondary schools to prepare them for their first voting opportunities after they reach 14.

The fuddy-duddies will yap that kids are too young at 14 to understand the complexities of government. This will not happen if the schools grasp the nettle of voter apathy and teach young people how important it is to engage with the democratic process.

And new electronic systems of voting must be introduced. If we can have electronic banking and students can have their work assessed through electronic portfolios, then we can have electronic voting using the internet, social media and using mobile phones.

Just look at the millions of folk who regularly vote in prime time shows, such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.

There’s quite a few candidates running in the North – and even across the UK – who would give their eye teeth to chalk up the responses.

I’m not suggesting the influential Grey Brigade are computer-illiterate, but many elderly folk still prefer the physical jaunt to the polling station. Supermarkets and shopping centres should also provide polling booths.

And if we lower the voting age to 14, the age of sexual consent must also be dropped to 14. But again, both the Christian Churches and schools must provide comprehensive sex education lessons.

I spent my teens in the Young Unionists, the UUP’s youth wing. But in all those years, I can only recall two meetings where the views of us Young Unionists were seriously considered by our elders.

I have always been an unashamed and unrepentant radical Right-wing Unionist. But in my teenage years, North Antrim Ulster Unionism was dominated by liberal Unionist views. Radical viewpoints were dismissed as quickly as a Celtic goalkeeper in a Scottish Cup match.

During election canvassing, we were sent to out of the way parts of the constituency where we could not cause any bother.

The politicians will only take young people seriously when they get off their asses and vote.

And if the MPs won’t listen, take a leaf out of Sinn Féin’s history and set up an alternative ‘House of Commons’ in Ireland, just as the Shinners used their 1918 victory to establish Dáil Eireann.

April 28, 2015________________


This article appeared in the April 27, 2015 edition of the Irish Daily Star.


A Tribute to Volunteer Ken Owens: Charlie Freel



Traffic in both lanes of the Newtownards Road, were completely blocked off and brought to a standstill, from Templemore Avenue,  right up to the junction with the Albertbridge Road on Monday the 27 th of April, as the Red Hand Commando draped coffin, of our loyal friend and gallant Comrade, Volunteer Ken Owens, was shouldered with pride and fitting military precision, at a slow march, in the centre of the road, right up to the Red Hand Commando Memorial at the top of the Newtownards Road, where a totally respectful one minutes silence was observed, before proceeding to Roselawn Cemetery, for burial, with well earned Military Honours.

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

Ken took up arms in defence of the democratic right of the ordinary decent people of Northern Ireland to decide their own destiny, free from the constant threat of, bitter, twisted, Irish Republican terrorism.


Ken Owens, a then Husband and Father of two young Daughters, sacrificed his freedom in defence of his Family, his Faith, and his Country, at a time when the only possible reward for militant Loyalism was, either imprisonment or death.

Ken’s actions as an Ulster Volunteer in early 1973, resulted in an eight year prison sentence. Upon sentencing, Ken immediately proclaimed a totally defiant declaration of, ” NO SURRENDER”, ” UP THE RED HAND COMMANDO ” to the judge.

Throughout his entire incarceration, Ken Owens remained a totally defiant, ”

NO STATEMENTS”, “NO REGRETS”, ” NO SURRENDER”, Ulster Volunteer and Red Hand Commando.

To his eternal credit, Ken was never in any doubt as to how he had found himself in prison and was proud to proclaim personal responsibility, in relation to his military operations on behalf of democracy, he wore his imprisonment proudly as a badge of honour.


Ken Owens was never, ever, tempted to betray our forefathers, or their cause of “FOR GOD AND ULSTER” by converting to the popularity seeking, totally Godless, and morally corrupt, ideology of why me, poor me, sorry I ever heard of God, sorry I ever heard of Ulster, meaninglessly diluted Loyalism, which is being covertly used by fraudulent Loyalists, who are seeking to infiltrate and divide, sincere, authentic, Loyalism and Unionism, at this present moment in time.


Ken Owens was an old school, totally sincere, Northern Ireland Loyalist. Ken was totally loyal to his God, His Family, his Country and his old Comrades.

He was devoutly loyal to the authentically, original, founding principles of Northern Ireland Loyalism.


Ken Owens did not consider, ” FOR GOD AND ULSTER”, to be merely a regimental motto, neither did he consider it to be meaningless, boastful words on a badge.

Ken proudly made “FOR GOD AND ULSTER”, the unshakable foundation stones of his Family, his Faith, his Country and his Cause. He humbly relied upon the same unchanging God, in whom our forefathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, in the sure and certain confidence that God would defend the right, and God never, ever, let Ken Owens down.





Charlie Freel.




Adams needs his Big Guns: McGuinness for the Dail!: Dr. John Coulter

Adams needs his Big Guns: McGuinness for the Dail!


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Invade the Republic with Northern candidates! That’s the only way Sinn Féin will guarantee it will be part of a Dáil coalition government after next year’s Leinster House General Election.

Southern Sinn Féin simply doesn’t have enough big guns based in the Republic to bust through the 20-TD mark which will blast open the Tanaiste’s door for party president Gerry Adams.

Cynics might argue that Adams was pushed out of his West Belfast Westminster bolthole and parachuted into Louth to escape the Jean McConville murder allegations as well as his family’s personal sex abuse scandal.

But the bitter medicine which the Shinners have to swallow is that the party’s ‘Southern Command’ simply lacks the experience of the Northern ‘Big Guns’ when it comes to running a government.

Adams and Marty McGuinness have transformed Northern Sinn Féin from pathetic apologists for dying hunger strikers and IRA death squads into a confident modern 21st century party which is capable of working a power-sharing partitionist Stormont with the DUP – that’s some leap!

Until Adams landed in Louth, Southern Sinn Féin was nothing more than an old boys club to remember the Rising, and what might have been if the anti-Treaty IRA had won the Irish Civil War in the 1920s.

But it’s only a handful of years until the centenary of the Treaty and that bloody civil war which saw more IRA volunteers killed by the Free State Forces than were killed by the Tans during the earlier War of Independence.

In the South, civil war scars still run deep in families. The divisions and wounds that the war inflicted have spanned the generations.

Just as Northern-based Irish Volunteers managed to not get their hands dirtied by the doomed Easter Rising, so too, Northern Shinners managed largely to keep their hands – and lives – out of the civil war.

If Sinn Féin is to be part of the next Dáil coalition, at least a dozen of its Northern ‘Big Hitters’ must follow Adams into the Republic and leave the safety of their Stormont, Westminster or super council heartlands.

Adams needs McGuinness, Gerry Kelly, Alex and Paul Maskey, Michelle Gildernew and Conor Murphy in Leinster House – not wasting their time pussy footing with the Brits.

While Southern Shinners can point to successes in Donegal and Dublin, as with Stormont, the party needs to be getting TDs elected all over the Republic.

Sinn Féin needs to recognise it has won the battle for Northern nationalist supremacy with the Stoops.

It is only Sinn Féin’s Commons abstentionist policy which is keeping the Shinners from electorally wiping the SDLP off the face of the Northern political map in the same way as the DUP has outgunned the Ulster Unionists.

Only by shifting serving Shinner MLAs and MPs into the Dáil can Sinn Féin hope to repeat the electoral success of 1918 when it captured over 70 of the 100 plus Irish Commons seats when Ireland was one nation.

While the Adams and McGuinness peace strategy refuses to let Sinn Féin MPs take their Commons seats, a united Ireland can only be achieved through the back door of Leinster House.

But Team Adams is not getting any younger. At some point Sinn Féin’s Grey Brigade will have to be ‘retired’. It’s about time Northern republicans taught their Southern fringe counterparts how to run a nation! Let’s see more Six Counties Shinners heading South!

April 21, 2015________________


This article appeared in the April 20, 2015 edition of the Irish Daily Star.


Passing of Volunteer Ken Owens


It is with regret we report the death of Volunteer Ken Owens.  Ken died whilst on holiday in Spain on Friday 10th April, but his remains have just arrived home with the family in East Belfast.  Ken’s funeral will take place from his home in Baskin Court at 9:30am on Monday 27th April.  From there it will go to the Skainos church for a full sevice and onwards to Roselawn for a burial.  Refreshments will be served afterwards at the Westbourne GSC on Newtownards Road.
A full tribute to Ken will follow.

Lamh Dearg Abu


Political Case Against YCV Band, a Warning to Us All: Jamie Bryson

Political case against YCV a warning to us all

Posted on by jamiebrysonadmin

The ongoing case against the Young Conway Volunteers Flute Band stands as a stark example of the corrupt and pro Republican political cabal that runs through our systems of policing and justice. It also is a giant flashing warning light for the rest of the Protestant community, one which I feel has yet to be fully heeded.

This case is just one example of how policing and justice has been used as a political tool in the ongoing cultural war against the Protestant community. I have heard little from any of our elected politicians in terms of speaking out in support of the band, perhaps some of them are wise enough to realise that these problems within our justice system stem from one place and that is the Hillsborough agreement, therefore perhaps they don’t want to highlight this fact and expose their own faults!

The case against this band has been malicious and contrived from day one; the draconian and outrageous bail conditions placed upon the band members had a very clear and distinct agenda and that was to utterly destroy the YCV FB. It is the YCB FB this time, but it could be any band next. The political cabal waging the war of criminalisation against the Protestant community have time on their side and make no mistake about it, once they have finished persecuting the YCV band they will move onto their next target as they relentlessly pursue their ultimate aim- the total and complete destruction of every vestige of Ulster Protestant culture from this Country. It is another one of those Republican Trojan horses and this time the horse is actively supported by the PSNI and PPS.

In the case against the YCV flute band one only had to look how JJ Magee, a Sinn Fein/IRA member, was brought into court by a PSNI officer and treated as the hero of the hour as a Crown witness for the Public Prosecution Service- whether it pained the PPS or JJ Magee more to hear the term ‘Crown witness’ used remains to be seen.

I have raised very serious concerns about the impartiality and perceived bias within the PPS for a long time. One only has to look at the prosecutions mounted since the appointment of the former solicitor of choice for the IRA Army council, Mr Barra McGrory. One must also look at the type of questioning used by the PPS barristers, it is quite clear they have a deep rooted distain of the Protestant culture and they use every opportunity to try and demonise the Protestant culture and tradition. In my own personal case the PPS barrister played a video of a crowd singing ‘no Pope in Rome’ and proceeded to label this as ‘disgraceful behaviour’. Just who is this barrister to make a judgement call on that? Who is he to comment, whilst employed by the PPS, on an expression of anyone’s culture when there had been no breach of the law?

The PSNI work hand in glove with the PPS in pursuing these fruitless and political prosecutions, which more often than not end up as nothing more than Protestant bashing persecutions! Of course the concerns about republican infiltration of the PSNI, that people such as me were mocked and derided for voicing, have proven to be well founded following the recent suspension of a Sergeant for passing information to the INLA. How many more PSNI officers is passing information to republicans or actively doing their bidding by criminalising expressions of Protestant culture?

Sinn Fein has made considerable political capital out of claims of collusion between loyalists and the RUC yet they seem to be totally silent on the clear collusion between the PSNI and republicans. They also seem to be silent on the actions of the PPS, who quite often seem to mount very convenient prosecutions against not only Protestants but also against anyone within the republican community who speaks out against the Sinn Fein peace process strategy.

The Belfast Agreement has allowed republicans to infiltrate every civic and public body as a result of the perverse notion of ‘positive discrimination’. They now have their blood stained hands on the levers of justice and there is a clear cabal which runs throughout the PSNI, PPS and bodies such as the totally discredited and unelected quango, the parades commission.

Far too often the Judiciary have either willingly or unknowingly pandered to this political cabal by playing along with blatant and clear political prosecutions. The judicial system has failed to robustly challenge the PSNI and PPS, instead giving them a free ride to contrive all sorts of fanciful cases using dubious pieces of legislation. A lot of the cases have verged on nothing more than legalised internment!

The case against the YCV band should open the eyes of every bandsman in the country. The court should have been rammed with hundreds of bandsmen supporting the YCV band, but sadly too many seem to care little as long as it doesn’t affect them or their band, but who knows which band will be targeted next. Who will the PSNI and PPS hound next with draconian bail conditions and malicious prosecutions designed to destroy the band? We have already seen the criminalisation war beginning to be waged against the Pride of Ardoyne for playing music in a 100% loyalist area. This is where we are at and unless people wake up and take a stand to resist this horrific oppression that is silently engulfing our people then before we know it we will be so oppressed that there will be no way back. We must resist now before it is too late.

They came for Drumcree but I am not a Portadown Orangeman…

They came for Rasharkin but that is miles away…

They came for Coleraine but I don’t march in Coleraine…

They came for the Crumlin Road but I don’t march the Crumlin Road…

They came for Clifton Street but I don’t march Clifton Street…

They came for the YCV band but I am not in the YCV band…

They came for the POA but I am not in the POA….

They jailed a Protestant for playing a flute but I didn’t know him…

They jailed peaceful flag protestors for defending the Union flag but they weren’t my friends…

They changed the law to persecute outspoken Protestants but I haven’t been charged…

Eventually they will come for every band, every lodge and every Protestant. Resist now whilst there is still a chance of victory because it may come to the point when even resistance will be fruitless.

Stay silent and watch the chains of oppression become tighter or resist and stand together to defend our freedom and liberty.


Charge of the Grey Brigade: Dr. John Coulter

All hail the Grey Brigade of elderly, retired and pensioners who will decide the outcome of the 7 May Commons showdown in the North.

And the Grey Brigade’s vote will also play a major role in deciding the shape of next year’s coalition governments in Leinster House and Stormont.


Politicians seem hooked on curing the apathy factor by focusing on young people and first time voters, while the elderly are written off as yesterday’s men and women.


Quite often, pensioners are portrayed as the vulnerable or forgotten section of society who are the subject of muggings, robberies and lying on hospital trolleys for endless hours.


But people are living longer in Ireland, meaning there are more elderly folk in the community – and they need to get organised politically into the Grey Brigade.


Sure, we can point to the many organisations which cater for old people, such as ex-service associations and pensioners’ clubs – but they need a massive political voice.


During their younger days, many of these elderly served their communities and country with dedicated discipline. They are now the backbone of the voting community.


Tens of thousands of their fellow age group died in wars so that the generation of 2015 could have the freedom to vote in democratic elections.


As the anniversaries of the two world wars are commemorated, we can only imagine the horrors which would have descended upon Ireland had either Kaiser Bill or Hitler won.


For many elderly people, it would be a gross insult to the memory of those who died, were wounded or left with serious mental health issues because they had helped defeat these two German tyrants.


While it is important to get young people involved in politics, it is equally vital parties do not turn their backs on the elderly; politicians snub pensioner power at their peril!


But to have their voices heard, the elderly need to take a leaf from the gay and lesbian community and organise themselves into an effective and vocal political lobby.


Just as we are seeing pink power on the verge of getting gay marriage legalised in one of the most supposedly Catholic nations in the European Union, we need to see a cross-community Grey Brigade formed to campaign for the rights of older people.


This Grey Brigade can help combat the wave of political apathy sweeping across Ireland where some politicians are getting elected by only around 50 per cent of voter in some constituencies.


In the Unionist community, many elderly voters have become disillusioned by the splitting of the Unionist vote and the large number of pro-Union parties. The Grey Brigade must campaign for a single Unionist Party to represent all shades of pro-Union thinking.


In the republican community, there is a real fear among the elderly that those folk – either ex-inmates or ex-IRA terrorists – will be airbrushed out of republican heritage by a new generation of young nationalists anxious to prove armed struggle was a huge mistake.


If Sinn Fein and the DUP can work a Stormont power-sharing Executive together, then aging republicans and Unionists can form a common bond in the Grey Brigade.


People may be living longer, but the stresses of modern society also mean that many mental health conditions previously confined to pensioners are hitting folk much earlier in life.


The Grey Brigade must also campaign against ageism. Why should a person have to quit their job simply because they have reached pension age?


There are many pensioners who have made a significant contribution to their communities well into their eighties.


Accusing the elderly of holding onto jobs which keeps young people out of employment is a lame duck excuse.


One day, all of us – and especially all politicians – will be ‘old’. When the candidates come a-calling during election fever, just send them a clear message – it’s the Grey Brigade who decide if you will be elected!




Gifting a Seat to Irish Republicanism: Charlie Freel



The most sensible and easily the most successful graduated response that Unionists could possibly partake in, in response to the sectarian belligerence of intolerant Irish  Republicanism and the treacherous Alliance party at this moment in time, would be the selection of one United Unionist Candidate, in every constituency of Northern Ireland for the fast approaching Westminster Election.

The IRA/Sinn Fein and the treacherous Alliance party, united on Belfast City Council, to defy the clearly expressed and massively endorsed wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, ( VIA NUMEROUS EQUALITY COMMISSION ORGANISED OPINION POLLS) regarding the flying of our democratically selected National Standard at Belfast City Hall, in the Capital City of Northern Ireland.

Since that time, dozens of young Working Class Loyalists have been prosecuted, for protesting in defence of the democratic right ,of the democratically agreed National Standard of The United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, to be flown every day at The City Hall in Belfast , the Capital City of Northern Ireland.


The two main Unionist  parties, have both declared an interest in obeying the clearly expressed , desired wishes, of the United Unionist electorate,( especially in Loyalist Working Class areas,) for a United Unionist response aimed at defeating the constant drip, drip, drip, deliberate erosion of  Loyalist Working Class Culture, by the belligerently intolerant, IRA/Sinn Fein and the treacherous Alliance party.

In South Belfast,  the DUP and the UUP, are both betraying the clearly expressed wishes of the Loyalist  Working Class. They are both selfishly running  totally uninspiring candidates, neither of whom have the  credentials , or the record of service  required, to inspire the sort of  Loyalist working class response that would be required, to return this seat to Unionism.


One option would be, for the United Working Class Loyalists of South Belfast , to select a well respected,  local Community worker, with a proven record of sincere Community service within the Loyalist Working Class Community of South Belfast, to stand as a United Unionist Candidate.  Then force the DUP and the UUP, to engage with the Loyalist Working Class Community of South Belfast, with the sincere determination to select  one agreed United Unionist Candidate for South Belfast.  Thereby ensuring that the South Belfast Electorate returns a genuine agreed Unionist  MP, for South Belfast.


IF the DUP and the UUP, refuse to co-operate, then the seat will be as good as lost again, to Irish Republicanism. In that case, the local Community selected United Unionist Candidate ,should then go ahead and stand for the seat, thereby giving the Loyalist Working Class Community of South Belfast the opportunity to register a protest vote against the selfishly divisive, party before People and party before Country,  actions of betrayal by  both the DUP and the UUP.

Charlie Freel.     



Easter Fighting for Life: Chritianity Needs to Act: Dr. John Coulter

Easter fighting for life: Christianity needs to act


(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Christian Churches need to shout louder about the Biblical meaning of Easter otherwise this week’s commemorations will be nothing more than a republican coat-trailing exercise or another secular holiday.

Today and tomorrow – as well as the 99th anniversary of the Easter Rising – also marks the official start of the loyalist marching season with flashpoints such as Ardoyne Shops and Drumcree unresolved.

Easter, like Christmas, is in danger of losing its true Christian message and will become nothing more than a glorified May Bank Holiday.

The Christian Churches have a moral duty to protect the significance of Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The bitter reality is that the Christian faith in Ireland is under siege. The Churches can begin the fightback this week with every place of worship on this island hosting a screening of a film which shows the Crucifixion.

Regretfully, there are thousands of Irish people across the Emerald Isle for whom the words ‘Jesus Christ’ are mere curses, and the Biblical Third Commandment about not taking the Lord’s Name in vain is a joke.

Easter, like Lent, is becoming a totally commercialised event and there is the real danger the true meaning of Christ on the Cross could be lost amid the Easter eggs, Easter sales and holidays.

My appeal to the Christian Churches across Ireland this Easter is simple – get your flocks to watch a true Biblical film about Jesus this Easter!

As the members of the Protestant Loyal Orders don their sashes today to kick off a new season, they need to remember their initiation vows.

As republicans march to recall those patriots who fell in Dublin during the bloody Rising fiasco, they need to ask themselves – what did they really die for?

But perhaps the Churches need to get their oar in first this Easter Monday and remind both sides what Christ died for.

Top of my flick list for Christian clerics to push is Mel Gibson’s 2004 outstanding tale of the crucifixion, The Passion of the Christ.

It is a no-punches-pulled depiction of the torture and execution of Jesus. It is such an absorbing film, I watched it three times before writing my review.

I loved that film, but I recall one cleric handing me a document detailing more than 50 reasons why he opposed the movie – even though he hadn’t seen it!

But if the Christian Churches want controversy, then director Martin Scorsese’s highly contentious movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, is perfect.

However, you could always stick with the old faithful, the 1959 Ben Hur starring Hollywood legend Charlton Heston.

It may not have the same blood and guts as Gibson’s Passion, but it still gets across the true meaning of the Cross.

This specific time of the Easter celebrations also mark how Christ rose from the dead to save the world.

Easter should, therefore, be a joyous time for the Christian community, so dare I mention the Monty Python version of the crucifixion in the 1979 comedy, The Life of Brian.

The hit single, Always Look On The Bright Side of Life, remains one of the most popular renderings of the Christian faith, but many conservatives and fundamentalists dismiss both film and song as total blasphemy!

Before republicans and loyalists unleash another summer of sectarian tension on us, please do one thing – watch one of these crucifixion films and ask yourselves – what would Jesus do? I live in hope.

April 8, 2015________________


This article appeared in the April 6, 2015 edition of the Irish Daily Star.


Westminster: Expect the Impossible: Dr. John Coulter

Westminster: Expect the Impossible


Expect the impossible. That’s the lesson which Northern Ireland can give British voters as they help shape the next Westminster government after May 7.

Remember the late Reverend Ian Paisley’s “Never, never, never” speech in the wake of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Democratic Unionist Party’s “Smash Sinn Fein” council campaign? In 2007, Paisley and his party formed a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein.

Over the years since its formation in 1905, Sinn Fein has systematically dumped abstentionism towards taking seats in Dublin’s Dail and Stormont.

Sinn Fein is in government in the Northern Ireland Assembly and predicted to be a minority coalition partner in the next government in Leinster House.

So take with a pinch of Irish salt statements that the Scottish Nationalists would never enter a coalition with Labour, or that Unionist MPs from Northern Ireland would only align with the Tories.

The DUP will not wish to repeat the same disastrous mistake as the rival Ulster Unionist Party when the latter entered an election pact with the Conservatives in Northern Ireland and ended up with no MPs.

Unionists will also be mindful it was Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath who axed the original UUP-dominated Stormont Parliament in 1972, and Margaret Thatcher who signed the Hillsborough Agreement in 1985, giving the Republic its first major say in Northern Irish affairs since 1921. Another Tory PM, John Major, signed the 1993 Downing Street Declaration which had the long-term impact of undermining traditional Ulster Unionism and signalled the political end of then UUP boss Jim Molyneaux.

So if the DUP’s expected eight MPs do not pussyfoot with the Tories, could they cosy up to Ed Miliband to ensure a Labour-led coalition? Ironically, such a scenario could work to the DUP’s advantage.

Since becoming the main Unionist party in 2003, the DUP has faced constant criticism that it has virtually abandoned the loyalist working class, which since the party’s formation in 1971 was the traditional heartland.

To become top dog in Unionism, the DUP had to eat substantially into the UUP’s core middle-class Protestant vote. It achieved this by slowly turning its back on working-class Protestants.

Sinn Fein, however, did not make the same mistake. It ate into the SDLP’s middle-class Catholic vote while at the same time, keeping its traditional working-class base on board.

A pact with Miliband could well be the path which the DUP follows to win back working class Protestants.

If the DUP can enter an executive at Stormont with Sinn Fein, it can side with Labour at Westminster. That could even prompt Labour to change its mind on a pact with the SNP and Plaid Cymru – especially if it keeps the Tories and UKIP out of government.

There have been suggestions that the DUP has put a £1 billion pound price tag of additional funding for Northern Ireland for the support of its MPs.

And the fact that the DUP could be a kingmaker after May 7 will also put pressure on Sinn Fein to ditch its long-held refusal to take its Commons seats over the royal oath.

That said, Sinn Fein’s priority is not just to hold on to its five MPs in Northern Ireland, but also to use the British election as a springboard for the expected 2016 general election in the Republic of Ireland, where the party needs to break through the 20-seat barrier to stand any chance of being included in a coalition.

The DUP could also be a powerbroker at Westminster to encourage Labour to out David Cameron.

The DUP may also count on the support of North Down Independent MP Sylvia Hermon, who quit the UUP over the party’s link with the Tories. Her strong personal vote in the constituency should ensure her victory in May.

All this could have knock-on consequences in the Republic. Currently, no one wants Sinn Fein as a coalition partner –t he scars of the Irish Civil War of 1921-22 still run deep. But if the DUP can share power with Sinn Fein, why can’t Fine Gael or Fianna Fail in Dublin?


Loyalists: The last socially acceptable group to discriminate against: Jamie Bryson

Loyalists- The last socially acceptable group to discriminate against!

Posted on by jamiebrysonadmin

Loyalism bears the brunt of much criticism, abuse and downright vilification. This comes from sections of the media, elected politicians, online satire sites, bloggers and wider civic society.

During the flag protests the term ‘flegger’ became common terminology. It was a mocking of the speech of working class loyalists, yet it was gleefully adopted and became a running joke for the media, politicians and civic society. It became a ‘fun and fashionable’ term for the great and good to use, a term that allowed a label to be attached to a community that felt isolated, misunderstood and without a stake in the current political process. A label that allowed the blame for all of society’s problems and frustrations to be lumped onto one community.

Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment- what if a derogatory term arose that was used to mock the Chinese community? There have been many unacceptable terms used to describe Chinese persons, some which wrongly mocked their race and some their accent, yet these terms have rightly been viewed with distain by the great and good and if one was to publicly label the Chinese community using one of these terms then the public outcry would be enormous. The great and good and wider political and civic society would be the first out of the traps condemning it, and rightly so. Yet when loyalists are mocked because of their speech, their education or cultural expression, it is seen as fair game- all a bit of craic.

When online sites such as LAD spent over two years targeting the loyalist community with jibes, jokes and mocking- political and civic society largely joined in with this. The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has often used the term fleg or flegger, as have vast numbers of journalists, bloggers and members of civic society. This has gone unchecked, it is seen as acceptable, but why? Would it be acceptable if the Chinese, Polish or Muslim community were mocked because of their speech or accent? Would it be acceptable for a website to set up an online campaign targeting the migrant community with jokes, mocking videos and cheap jibes? I would safely say that political and civic society would be up in arms, as would the media, so what is different when it is the loyalist community who is the target of the jokes and jibes?

Pastor James McConnell made some comments about Muslims and there was outrage, yet when Loyalists are mocked and derided the media and society either join in for the ‘craic’- or stay silent.


The imbalance is startling. Loyalism needs to challenge this unequal treatment and the attitude of wider society. Loyalism needs to challenge the accepted norm of labelling and abusing our community for a bit of ‘craic’. It isn’t a bit of craic when jokes are made about the migrant community or the disabled community, so why should society have a different tolerance level when it comes to loyalists?

Loyalism also needs to open up to the media and engage. Stereotypes and mistruths need to be challenged in the public battlefield, not from the trenches.

I can imagine the self righteous bloggers and satirists sitting sipping their gin and tonic during one of their gatherings or summer BBQ’s, laughing and mocking the loyalist ‘fleggers’, people they are unlikely to have ever met or had a conversation with.People who have very real fears and concern for their culture but who have no way of expressing that due to continued exclusion. People who have normal concerns and worries about feeding their families, paying rent or heating their homes.The jokes and mocking remarks directed against loyalists on twitter pages or blogging sites, met with an approving chuckle by the political class who are more than happy to look haughtily down their nose at one section of the community.Imagine if someone at one of these gatherings of the self righteous stood up and began to label the Polish community using derogatory terms or joked about the racial complexion of the Chinese community? The rest of the jolly good fellows and self appointed ‘politicos’ would immediately distance themselves from the remarks, heaping scorn on the vile racist who dared to make such a joke. So I ask again, why is it acceptable to target the loyalist community?

The onus is on society as a whole, but especially those who champion equality, to ensure that there are no double standards, that there is no hierarchy of who can be abused and who can’t.

Either every community is fair game to be targeted by jokes and jibes-for the craic- or else everyone is respected equally. The great and good can’t have it both ways.

Jamie Bryson