Flag Protests–Who Is to Blame?

The actions of the many disgruntled Unionists who have taken to the streets over the past week need to be looked at in the context of how things have been moving politically in Northern Ireland.

Undoubtedly the Republican PR machine led by Sinn Fein has been in overdrive for a long time now. Declan Kearney reaching out the hand of friendship to Unionist, asking for wee quiet fireside chats. Remember Gerry talking about his Unionist brothers and sister? The headlines made by Niall when he was Mayor and visited the bottom of the Shankill as one of his first engagements. Martin McGuiness hand in hand with his bedfellow Peter Robinson condemning armed Republican actions. The examples go on and on. Yes they have been milking any and every opportunity to look like the great peacemakers.

 

While this public display of reaching out to ones enemies goes on, in the background the Sinn Fein mask is off and their actions show their true beliefs. A request for the Equality Impact Assessment which has led to the recent removal of the Union flag from the country’s City Hall. Niall removing British ‘paraphernalia’ from his office and replacing it with Republican paraphernalia. McGuiness’ actions and lies surrounding events in Claudy and his association with the IRA. Not to mention the fact Gerry was never in it. The on-going and continuous lies from the leadership of Sinn Fein regarding people from their own community ‘the Disappeared’, people such as Jean McConville; Columba McVeigh and Danny McIlhone. The savage beating to death of Paul Quinn in 2007. Robert McCartney beaten and stabbed to death in 2005 in the company of SF members. The refusal to change the name of a children’s play-park instead keeping the name of an IRA sectarian murderer. Connor Murphy’s discrimination against a Protestant worker.

The list of lies and hypocrisy shown by Sinn Fein goes on and on. Yet despite this they are rarely challenged by the media or Government. Instead they are treated with kid gloves, courted by foreign leaders, molly coddled by the media all the while unashamedly lying to all and sundry.

This is the background to the demonstrations and violence being displayed by Unionists all over Northern Ireland over the past week. The very real feeling that Republicans are pandered to while Unionism is losing out and being slowly eroded while history is re-written through the rose tinted glasses of the Republican movement.

The flag is not the main issue here. Indeed if any of those who have taken to the streets over the past week did not bother to vote in the last elections then they have no one but themselves to blame. It is the Unionists disinterest and lethargy towards voting which has led to the Union Flag being removed from City Hall. You can’t blame the Republicans for its removal. Why would you expect anything more of them? Unionists have no one but themselves to blame for the removal of the country’s flag from City Hall.

However, once again the bias of the media and the PSNI together with the republican like murmurings from the DUP and Alliance raises its head when there is any public disorder.

As John Kyle stated, Unionists suddenly become Loyalists when the trouble starts. Now we have the likes of Paul Givin, ACC Will Kerr the narcissistic Gerry Kelly etc etc stating Loyalists are behind all the trouble and now it’s being orchestrated by Loyalist paramilitaries – deja-vu all over again!

I would say to ACC Will Kerr, stop being such a puppet for the political lovers, DUP and Sinn Fein. Stop coming out with the same old unsubstantiated claims! Most of the public will be assuming they mean the UVF because the UDA, much like Sinn Fein/IRA are only involved in peace building according to the media.

Even more, if as he says, Loyalist paramilitaries are behind this trouble, then obviously the PSNI have been given names or witnessed individuals they believe to be involved in Loyalist paramilitaries. I would say to the PSNI ‘go and lift them then’. Let’s see some action taken against these people orchestrating all of this trouble.

The UVF’s statement of intent states, ‘We encourage our volunteers to embrace the challenges which continue to face their communities and support their continued participation in non-military capacities.

We reaffirm our opposition to all criminality and instruct our volunteers to cooperate fully with the lawful authorities in all possible instances.

Moreover, we state unequivocally, that any volunteer engaged in criminality does so in direct contravention of brigade command and thus we welcome any recourse through due process of law’.

So rather than once again coming out making statements for SF, DUP etc about negative behaviour of Loyalist Paramilitaries let’s see the PSNI take some action.

The organisation going by the name of ‘United Protestant Voice’ were allegedly behind last Monday’s protest. Do they have any responsibility for the civil unrest which has followed?

Today’s protest at City Hall was addressed by Jim Dowson. For those who didn’t recognise him, Jim Dowson is a one-time associate and fundraiser for the BNP leader, Nick Griffin. He has been described as a “rent-a-cause” extremist who had been kicked out of the Orange Order. After being forced out of his local Orange Lodge in Scotland he took part in demonstrations against fellow Orangemen, attacking them as “atheists and boozers”, after he became “born again”.

Is ACC Will Kerr, Jim Givin etc now telling us that the UVF are following and acting for the likes of the United Protestant Voice and ex-BNP activist Jim Dowson?

PUP Leader Billy Hutchinson has been out tirelessly along with other PUP members encouraging the Unionists involved in the unrest to get politically active, not violent. Do they receive any credit for this? No.

All this going on just when Hillary flies into town. Hilary was in Belfast to speak to an audience of 500 select politicians, and others from NI society.

Selected by the Worldwide Ireland Fund, in a ballroom in the Titanic Centre, these 500 applauded when Hillary told them ’what we have to do is get out of the ballrooms, out of Stormont and into the communities where people live, where they do not have that lasting hope of optimism’.

Many of this 500 have their hands on the purse strings in this country. The irony seemed to get lost with them that they applaud what Hillary says while refusing to fund organisations in Loyalist working class communities who are doing the work Hillary is telling us we need to do.

Community based organisations like Northern Ireland Alternatives and the ACT Initiative struggle for funding while those who applaud Hillary fund statutory organisations to try and do work in the same communities Alternatives and the ACT Initiative are embedded.

ACC Will Kerr and his colleagues are very slow, if they ever, come out to praise the positive work being done in Loyalist Communities across Northern Ireland by the likes of the ACT Initiative and those across NI who are involved in it. If the UVF and RHC weren’t behind and supportive of programmes such as the ACT Initiative then maybe the civil unrest would be much worse.

These organisations are seeking positive community roles in their communities yet they continuously get blamed and castigated for any and all unrest.

Let’s hear the politicians, media, PSNI etc come out and praise the positive work going on in the Loyalist communities by the likes of ACT participants.

Why doesn’t someone up there in Stormont update Hillary that there are people who never get asked to the ‘ballrooms’ who are doing very positive work in the communities she’s described. But, and it is a fact of life, if funding isn’t given to the right organisations in these communities, the work will soon cease.

Let’s hear ACC Will Kerr etc. praise the good work of the likes of the PUP in appealing for people to act politically not violently.

And let’s see ACC Will Kerr arresting those involved in criminal behaviour. At least this way it can be shown that loyalist paramilitaries are not orchestrating this violence.

 

Robert Allen

 

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