A letter that was sent into the Belfast News Letter
Unionism has been betrayed by their ‘Tory Friends’ and now when we should be devoting our time and energy searching for a home we have the unedifying spectacle of the unionist community squabbling and bitching like adolescent school children.
Instead of providing leadership we are witnessing an ongoing tragedy played out by light-weight politicians and their camp followers engaged in raking over the past, settling old scores and apportioning blame as “the vultures” are gathering to devour them.
If Boris has done nothing else, and he has done little, he has brought into much sharper focus what the unionist community has always known, we are only as British as mainland Britain says we are; and a majority of them believe we are expendable.
Our future and the future of our children resides at Westminster and is at the whim of fickle and unscrupulous politicians who see us as a bargaining chip to be used as a makeweight, and added to tip the balance in their scramble for power.
We are mere pawns to be sacrificed as Britain and Europe move us across the board to bring more powerful pieces into play.
The situation is so reminiscent of 1912, but we had leaders then and a united and God fearing people. We now worship mammon and a myriad of other gods and live in hope they bring comfort and ease our pain.
We need leaders who have vision and are capable of thinking outside the box, even thinking the unthinkable, but prepared to play hardball to protect our traditions, our faith and our culture.
With one or two exceptions, we don’t have them.
If we are not prepared to take responsibility for our future it will be taken out of our hands by people who will go over our heads, have no scruples in looking after self-interest and treat us with the contempt they feel we deserve.
The Protestant community lost its dignity and self-respect a long time ago and is now in mortal danger of losing its soul. I’m not convinced our politicians are capable of steering us through this crisis; some of the candidates chosen to fight this election are better equipped for comedy. As for the smaller parties they don’t even know there is a crisis.
When it’s all over they’ll continue to celebrate in North Down at the winter solstice.
As things stand we have been cast adrift, are hostage to fortune and at the mercy of the political elements.
Clive Maxwell, Bleary
With many thanks to the: Belfast News Letter for the original story
A UVF poster in east Belfast notes: ‘Our British identity cannot and will not be sacrificed to appease the Irish Republic.’
A series of meetings has been organised across the Province, with one of the organisers stating: ‘(The) key commitment from political unionism at recent meetings; if the Betrayal Act goes through the Belfast Agreement is dead. All of the structures and mechanisms of governance will be deliberately made unworkable. Northern Ireland will face into a generation of instability and strife.’
Unionism is rattled in a way it hasn’t been since the Anglo-Irish Agreement almost 35 years ago. There are growing concerns about a new generation of young loyalists turning their backs on the current peace/political process and exploring other – as yet unclear – options.
All of this activity and angst raises a number of key questions. Why do so many people across unionist/loyalist communities (and, as I keep saying, there isn’t and never has been one clear, moving-in-the-same-direction unionist family) believe their British identity is about to be sacrificed? Why do they think a UK government would choose to appease the Irish rather than bolster the Union and stand shoulder to shoulder with its fellow UK citizens in Northern Ireland?
This is a question which has been asked many times in my lifetime, most notably in 1972 (prorogation of NI Parliament); 1974 (Sunningdale); 1985 (Anglo-Irish Agreement); and 1993 (British government has ‘no selfish, strategic or economic interest in NI). So far, unionism has never agreed upon the answer.
What is to be gained by the prospect of a ‘generation of instability and strife’? If Theresa May and Boris Johnson were prepared – knowing what the unionist reaction would be – to allow Northern Ireland to drift from its present constitutional moorings, why does anyone think they would recalibrate the relationship because of a threat? Northern Ireland was made ungovernable during the UWC strike in 1974, which saw the collapse of Sunningdale. But no UK government subsequently shifted on mandatory power-sharing and an ‘Irish dimension’. Within a decade de facto joint sovereignty was in the mix, and hundreds of thousands of unionists at protest rallies in 1985 didn’t overturn that. It will be no different this time.
Why is there so little obvious sympathy for ‘Ulster’ unionism across Great Britain, particularly in England? After almost 30 months of propping up two Conservative governments it looks like the DUP failed to sell unionism to a wider audience. Look at the national media coverage since 2017: Northern Ireland is still viewed as a ‘place apart,’ not quite part of the broader pan-UK unionist family. Poll after poll suggests that the vast majority of Conservative Party and Brexit Party members/voters accept that the loss of Northern Ireland is a price worth paying for Brexit.
Every single Conservative MP voted for a deal which, if implemented, would result in the constitutional relationship between Northern Ireland and Great Britain being significantly different to the relationship that has existed since 1921. Even the crises of 1972, 1974, 1985 and 1993, not to mention the concerns of some unionists about the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, did not change the constitutional dynamics as much as Johnson’s deal will do.
So, why has the DUP escaped with so little criticism? It cannot wash its hands of the present mess: it was, after all, played for a sucker all along. There were always other routes and strategies it could have pursued after June 2016 (and particularly after the confidence and supply arrangement in June 2017), yet it stuck to the same one.
I argued that Johnson was the sort of man who would offer to take your Alsatian for walk and then return with a one-legged Chihuahua. And I also noted that the ERG had inherited their sense of loyalty from the Borgias. But the DUP insisted on putting and then keeping all their eggs in one basket. A recent piece in The Economist noted: ‘The decision to sacrifice the Tories’ long-standing ally, the DUP, in order to solve the problem on the Irish border will go down in the annals of realpolitik.’ Yes, the DUP was betrayed. But it almost acquiesced in that betrayal.
As ever, when unionism is faced with a crisis, there are a number of responses. The DUP is talking about ‘new generation unionism’ (a term which was repeated a number of times during the annual conference two weeks ago), while also falling back on that old election favourite – circling the wagons. Some elements of loyalism have gone down the public meeting/poster propaganda route, complete with the sort of language and imagery which suggests they are looking at the tactics of 1912-14. The UUP has tried to find a place somewhere in the middle, but Steve Aiken’s inaugural speech as leader on Saturday suggests that it has yet to fully identify that place. Meanwhile, the vast majority of ordinary unionists are asking the same question: ‘How did we get into this mess and, more important, how do we get out of it?’.
The DUP – although, as I have said before, it couldn’t ever admit it – will be praying for just one outcome on December 12; namely, Johnson gets hammered and his deal, along with him, makes it to the ditch he talked about dying in. A comfortable victory for him would be a nightmare. A victory for a Labour/Lib-Dem/SNP coalition raises other problems, of course, but it’s probably the best option for killing off the Johnson deal and maybe even Brexit itself (which also suits the DUP).
Caution and measured response is what is required from all of unionism in the next few weeks. It need friends on December 12. It needs a majority in the House of Commons which understands it. This is not a moment to up the ante and issue warnings about dire consequences. Northern Ireland cannot survive without support from Westminster and understanding from Great Britain. And nor can it survive without majority support for the Union among the local electorate. Unionists ignore those facts at their peril.
With many thanks to the: Belfast News Letter for the original story
UDA chiefs have pledged to do “all that’s needed to ensure a DUP election victory in North Belfast.
The paramilitary group has thrust itself into the heart of the battle in the north of the city – the most contentious seat in the country. They have followed up threats issued to the Ulster Unionist Party members by removing Sinn Féin election posters across the constituency. Masked UDA men armed with ladders took down John Finucane posters during the week and it is understood they intend targeting posters wherever they can.
Sitting MP “Deputy” Dog (Nigel) has condemned threats against UUP staff but this week Sinn Féin called on the party to make clear its opposition to loyalist paramilitary groups. North Belfast is a straight shoot-out between Dodds and Finucane with the DUP deputy leader defending a narrow 2,000 vote majority. The party has long had the support of the UDA. In the past paramilitary leaders have ordered their members to vote DUP and in some instances members have distributed election literature. There are now fears election canvassers campaigning for Finucane may come under pressure, with concerns being raised about personal security.
Masked UDA men remove SF candidate’s posters
The revelation that Shankill bomber Sean Kelly is on the ground campaigning for Belfast Lord Mayor Finucane has further fuelled tensions. There is fury the mass killer has been given a high-profile role in the campaign a stone’s throw from the scene of the 1993 Shankill bomb which cost nine innocent lives and that of Kelly’s fellow bomber Thomas Begley.
Loyalist sources in the north of the city say the UDA leadership sees victory in North Belfast as essential. Hundreds of people attended a public meeting in the area last week (organised by Jamie Bryson and his cohorts in the UVF) to express opposition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The previous week a number of high-profile paramilitary figures attended a similar meeting in the east of the city. According to sources there is genuine anger and unease at the Johnson proposals, but they were quick to dismiss fears of a return to violence. “Anger is one thing but we know resorting to violence will be like shooting ourselves in the foot,” said one source.
“But we will not stand back and let Sinn Féin have a free run and we will do whatever we can to impede their campaign.” Former Stormont minister Carál Ní Chuilín said Sinn Féin had complained to police after the banners were taken down on Belfast’s Oldpark Road. “Only last week, the UDA threatened members of the Ulster Unionist Party simply because the party had indicated it might field a candidate in the election in North Belfast.
“Those threats were made only days before the UUP said it would not enter the contest, giving a clear run to the DUP.” The incident came after Sinn Féin contacted the police on Monday about “vile posters erected by loyalists” in the Shankill Road area attacking John Finucane, his family “and the memory of his father Pat, who was murdered by a UDA death squad colluding with the state”. Ms Ní Chuilín said that in the latest incident, men with their faces covered mounted a ladder to remove Sinn Féin election posters from the Oldpark Road”. “Our party has made a complaint to the police about this criminal act of theft,” she added. “There is a responsibility for these threats and attempts to demonize John Finucane to be condemned across the board and a duty on the police to take these actions seriously. “It’s time for the DUP to make it clear it supports without any equivocation the democratic process and to put distance between itself and active loyalist paramilitary groups engaged in intimidation and threats to kill.”
With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Richard Sullivan for the EXCLUSIVE original story
Judge Neil Rafferty told the pair it was time for them to “grow up”
A man who was caught with balacavas and UDA documents was jailed yesterday as a judge told him and his co-accused to “grow up”.
Judge Neil Rafferty branded those who persist in living in the terrorist past as “wrong-headed”.
He told Desmond John William Lundy, 41, and 52-year-old Brian David Dean: “Both of you have reached an age where it is long since past time for you to grow up and put away childish things.
“Such days are in the past and in the past [they] must remain.
“Terrorism, from whatever extreme, from either side, is a scourge and blight on our community.”
The pair had initially been charged with being, or proporting to be members of the UDA but this was not proceeded with after they pleaded guilty to possessing articles and documents useful to terrorists.
They included balaclavas, gloves and jackets with UDA emblems and documents, some to be used in a form of “swearing-in” ceremony “for those foolish to consider joining such an organisation”.
Judge Rafferty told Belfast Crown Court some of the documents were “almost laughable” in that the section identifying the UDA and UFF was left out but which was something even “a child would have made out”.
Prosecutor Sam Magee said Lundy and Dean’s fingerprints were found on the documents which included a “Code of Conduct of the Ulster Defence Association”, a “Plegde of Allegence” to the terror group and a copy of the “Monkstown Agreement”– allegedly between the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commandos.
Lundy, of Abbey Ring, Holywood, Co Down, who had possessed 10 balaclavas, 18 pairs of black gloves and multiple UDA emblemed jackets, in addition to the documents, was sentenced to 15 months, split equally between custody and parole.
Dean, from Ainsworth Avenue, West Belfast, who had three balaclavas and documents received a nine-month prison term suspended for three years.
Counsel for both men said the offences dated back to September 2016 when police officers raided their homes and there was “no tangible reason” for the delay, described as “huge” in dealing with their case.
With many thanks to: Belfast Live and Michael Donnelly for the original story
Ian Óg Paisley (God help him) only was able to raise £500
Brexiteer Ian Paisley has been fighting for Brexit and for our Union for years in Parliament. This election is key – make sure he gets returned on December 12 by backing his crowdfunder at