Loyalists to kick up a Stormont! Welfare reform must happen
Young dissident loyalists will spark a bloody Irish Civil War if politicians cannot agree a package which saves Stormont.
While London and Dublin quite rightly point out that older loyalists from the mainstream terror gangs no longer have the appetite for violence, the lust to get the guns out again is coming from hardline Prods who were only crapping their nappies when ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement emerged in the 1990s.
It was only a decade ago I interviewed a senior mainstream loyalist who in 2005 issued the chilling warning – bomb first, talk later!
During this year’s contentious marching season, photos have appeared of masked loyalists with ‘weapons’, issuing threats against police officers and Parades Commission members.
Politicians would be wrong to dismiss such photos as publicity stunts by ‘two men and a dog’ outfits, which are purely designed to ‘up the ante’.
Such crap appeared in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement from a group calling itself the ‘Black Friday Brigade Strategic Army Command’.
It claimed: “We pledge ourselves to repel with absolute resolution any endeavour by this tyrannical Assembly to impose its laws upon us. At every turn we will thwart its attempts to execute its policies.” After this, it was never heard off again.
But the rising tension in the loyalist community should not be dismissed as merely working class Prods pissed off that they are not gaining as much benefit cash as their nationalist counterparts.
If these young Turks who are supposedly buying weapons using cash from the sale of drugs decide to implement their agenda, it will make the notorious Glenanne Gang from the 1970s and 1980s seem like a Sunday School picnic.
This gang, which allegedly included members of the British security forces, was blamed for some of the worst sectarian slaughter of the conflict, including the Monaghan and Dublin car bombs which murdered over 30 people.
Speaking to a loyalist close to the leadership of the Young Turks, he chillingly warned: “Older loyalists who would have been in control during the Troubles are coming under pressure from middle class Protestants to get the guns back out again. They don’t want to.
“The problem is that these younger loyalists have not the same respect for evangelical clerics as the older generation.
“The Christian faith had a much bigger sway then than Protestantism today, which is more pluralist. There is not the same conscience among a section of the Protestant community about killing.”
During the Paisleyite era, a number of loyalist paramilitaries were formed, such as Ulster Protestant Volunteers, Ulster Third Force and Ulster Resistance. Apart from prancing about loyalist roads and streets, they didn’t bomb or shoot like their counterparts in the Provos or INLA.
The Christian conscience of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ always kicked in at some point. The source close to the new loyalist leadership indicated that IRA gunmen and bombers could always seek absolution from priests when they killed.
This could be compared to a scene from the blockbuster ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’, in which a Catholic priest hears the confessions of IRA members before they attack the Tans. No such confession facility exists within the Protestant faith.
I first came across this embryo Protestant jihadist thinking in the 1990s when I interviewed an Orange Chaplain for my masters degree in politics.
Granted anonymity, he said: “The reality of this Protestant ‘jihad’ is that it should not be bound by Man’s laws, especially if those laws are contrary to the inspired Word of God as outlined in Holy Scriptures.”
Calling for Stormont to be axed is idiotic. The Assembly is the stop-gap in the dam, which if removed, will unleash the dogs of war from inside the loyalist community.
Attacks on Protestant activists within the Alliance Party demonstrate there is just as much hatred for liberal Protestantism within the ranks of these Young Turks as there is for republicanism and the Irish republic.
One section of these Young Turks favours attacks on dissident republicans; the other wants a Glenanne Gang-style blitz on the South.
The only solution to cool the tempers of the tooled-up young Turks is for Sinn Féin and the DUP to make the Assembly work – and that means making welfare reform work.
August 4, 2015________________
This article appeared in the August 3, 2015 edition of the Irish Daily Star.