THE LID LIFTS ANEW ON THE SEETHING VIRULENCE OF LOYALISM

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time main text: 5 mins.)

Many public figures have been condemning the content of a video live-streamed from an Orange Order Hall in which people were singing lyrics mocking the murder of an Irishwoman on her honeymoon in Mauritius.

There is nothing new I can add to the condemnations of this disgusting exhibition. But what a great many of the condemnations lack is context; i.e they treat this exhibition as though it were some aberration from the norm of Loyalism – it was not, it was exactly in line with and an expression of the backwardness, sectarianism, right-wing racism, homophobia and general phobia that is the very essence of Loyalism.

BACKGROUND OF LOYALISM AND THE ORANGE ORDER IN IRELAND

The planters and settlers that English1 colonialism installed on Irish soil were intended to control the indigenous population along with those “gone native” descendants of the Norman conquerors. A number of attempts were made to correct those Normans who had been ‘corrupted’ by the Irish and had become “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and one of the most infamous attempts through law, the Statutes of Killkenny in 13662 laid out a long list of behaviours expected of the “degenerate English”, mostly in terms of things they were to cease doing: in sum they were to cease integrating with the indigenous people in custom, language and law.

Outside of the Pale3, the cities, such attempts failed in the main and the next big effort was the Plantations. Using the failure of the Norman Irish and Gaelic lords to adapt to the Reformation, now an English state religion, their lands were confiscated and parcelled out to big landlords who then rented them out to smaller landlords and small-holders – and none of those were to be Irish. In fact, they were required to be English-speaking, Protestant in religion and to build their towns and important buildings as strongholds4. And not to even employ native Irish, in case these should corrupt the settlements from within.

The intentions of the Plantations were made quite clear and the settlers were, from the outset to be a means for a tiny minority of feudal and financier elites to control and exploit the vast majority indigenous population through the use of a middle stratum which was to be separate from and considered superior to natives in religion, culture, custom, landholding, legal rights – and allegiance.

These plantations met with mixed success – one of the problems being the scarcity of labour against a prohibition to employ the natives – but the problem of a conquered but not reconciled native majority remained, even after its cultural, legal, political and military leadership had been eliminated. And then a section of the settlers themselves, many descendants of Cromwellian conquerors and their supporters, began to have aspirations to control their own markets. They attempted to expand the Irish Parliament – then open only to adherents of the State religion, the Anglican communion — to include representation from the larger group of dissenting Protestant sects5 and of the huge majority of Irish Catholics.

The attempt, under the leadership of the moderate and ultimately Crown-loyal Henry Grattan failed, through a mixture of sectarianism, fear of being eventually dispossessed of their stolen lands – and outright Crown bribery. The most determined of the Protestant patriots then turned to revolution and led the United Irishmen in the uprisings of 1798 and 1803, with a credo of unity for an independent and republican Ireland, regardless of religion6.

CREATION OF THE ORANGE ORDER

But the British ruling elite saw which way the wind was blowing, foreboding its overthrow in Ireland if its garrison population joined with the majority and, as well as making military and spying preparations, the British took important ideological and social action.

Created in 1795 as what might be seen today as a kind of independent Ku Klux Klan organisation to keep down the ‘uppitty native niggers’7, the Orange Order quickly became (as the Klan did in some areas too) a police force on its own dissidents. And, as the Klan enjoyed the tacit support of the patrician Southern US elite, the Orange Order has been supported by the settler elite in Ireland from its inception. This was formalised with the Order’s central control over all previously independent lodges in 1798, the year of the first United Irish uprising.

After the defeat of the United Irish uprisings, the Order became an active persecutor of any sign of resistance not only among the native Irish majority, the Catholics but also – and in some areas chiefly – a hunting down of any signs of Protestant allegiance to the United Irish or other ‘suspect’ behavour such as tolerance of Catholics. Those Protestant followers of “Unitedism” that did not emigrate to the USA and Canada had to keep their heads down or face the consequences, as did Roddy McCorley, hanged on Toombridge in Co. Antrim on 28th February 1800.

March 1995: Two future First Ministers of the colonial statelet on the sectarian Orange march along the Garvaghy Road: David Trimble (left), First Minister from 1998 to 2002, and the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) from 1995 to 2005; Ian Paisley (right), leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from 1971 to 2008 and First Minister from 2007 to 2008. (Sourced: Irish News)

REACTIONARY IN INSPIRATION AND TRADITION

The Orange Order drew its colour and other visual paraphernalia in association with William of Orange (1650 – 1702), who was crowned King William III by the British Parliament, the forces of which, along with his own Dutch ones, he led in the British civil war against those of King James II of England and the latter’s Irish and French allies. Orange was the colour of the Dutch royal family of Orange-Nasseau and therefore of the royalist party in Holland, in opposition to the republican party there8.

Following his defeat of the Jacobite forces in Ireland William III brought in the Penal Laws, the body of Anglican supremacy and anti-Catholic legislation which were to survive in greater or lesser form from 1695 to 1829.

Loyalists celebrate annually with sectarian triumphalist parades in the Six Counties the victory of the Williamite forces at the Battle of the Boyne on July 12th 16909. Loyalists imagine the Boyne victory was of the Protestant religion over Catholic “Papism”, unaware that the victory was celebrated by special mass in the Vatican and in some other Catholic cities. The Jacobite war in Ireland was part of the Nine Years’ War in Europe and forces of Protestant principalities and kingdoms could be found on either side, as could those of Catholic persuasion.

Loyalists attacking their own colonial police for eventually, in 2002, impeding their “right” to march in triumphalist sectarianism around Drumcree and to harass and terrify children attending a nearby Catholic school. (Sourced: Belfast Telegraph)

Their unequivocal message to their non-unionist neighbours is “This is our place, not yours. If you want to live here, accept what we give you and keep your heads down.” This fostered sectarianism has penetrated even trade unions, ensuring that wages and social conditions in the Six Counties have been the worst in the whole of the UK.

Mickey Hart and daughter Michaela celebrating the Gaelic football 2008 All-Ireland victory of Tyrone over Kerry (Sourced: Internet).

WHY THE LOYALIST MOCKERY OF THIS MURDER?

The video which directed such recent public attention on the behaviour of some Loyalists was of a song sung communally in which the lyrics mocked the murder of Michaela McAreavey who apparently surprised a thief in her Mauritius hotel room on 11th May. Probably not a single person celebrating that murder knew the woman or had any reason to hate her for anything she had done. What they knew was that she was the daughter of Micky Harte and that he was the manager of the Tyrone County Gaelic Football team10. Gaelic football11 is an Irish traditional sport and, since Loyalists eschew anything knowingly Gaelic, Harte is also probably of Catholic background; therefore almost certainly would have been his daughter Michaela too. Incredible though it may seem to many, that was enough to inspire that outpouring of hatred – a hatred that is always and has always been there in Loyalism.

The scene in the Orange Hall with Loyalists singing in mockery of the murder of Michaela McAreavey (Sourced: Internet)

It seems clear that the song, the lyrics with which much of the audience in the video seem familiar, was sung in the Orange Hall in Dundonald12, Co. Down which, like Tyrone, is one of the Six Counties currently forming the British colony in Ireland.

According to media reports, a spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland criticised the video and also confirmed that an investigation would now take place. The video currently circulating on social media relating to the murder of Michaela McAreavey is utterly abhorrent and the Orange Institution condemns the content without reservation,” a statement read. The behaviour of those involved and their actions have no place in our society and certainly do not reflect the ethos of our organisation.”

On the contrary, as people who live in or near areas where the Orange Order holds sway will know, the behaviour exactly “reflects the ethos of the organisation” and of the general ideology of Loyalism.

Dundonald Orange Hall photo on its FB page (Sourced: Internet)

The central ideology of the Orange Order has always been not only a phobic hatred of Catholics but also of anything that might smell of egalitarianism, equality or progressive social ideas. It and its adherents for generations have held triumphalist sectarian marches deliberately routed to march through predominantly Catholic residential areas and past Catholic churches, these marches escorted by the sectarian colonial gendarmerie13, often forced through against local opposition.

For decades, the Orange Order and Loyalism in general opposed equal treatment and civil rights for Catholics in terms of employment, housing, franchise, education and law. That breeding ground gave rise to the Loyalist terror murder squads, operating for decades in conjunction with colonial police and British Army14.

True to its reactionary origins, the Orange Order and Loyalism in general have a strong emotional attachment to British Royalty and to an ethos of British Empire and colonialism. But Loyalism has also opposed all progressive social innovations and legislation, even those emanating from its supposedly ideological homeland, the rest of the UK and, in many cases delayed its implementation in the colony for years15.

Loyalism has been a sectarian influence in the game of soccer not only in Ireland but in Britain, with a triple alliance of sectarianism and racism between fans of football clubs Linfield, Rangers and Chelsea.16 The racism and reactionary ideology of “Hillbillies17” in the USA are also attributed to origins in Irish Loyalism.

Loyalism has also been characterised by racist attitudes and attacks on ethnic minorities in parts of the Six Counties independently of religion. Loyalism lines up to oppose anything they feel that is supported by the hated “taigues” or “Fenians” (their codewords for Catholics), for e.g Palestinians, Basque nationalists, inquiries into killings by the British Army ….

Despite the scrambling of Unionism – the Orange Order, politicians, Linfield FC management — to disassociate itself from the disgusting exhibition of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic hatred expressed in their ‘humorous’ mocking of the murder of a young woman, the song and video were a completely cogent expression of Loyalism, the social prop of Unionism. They were a true reflection of the history and underlying ethos of the Orange Order and of the sectarian statelet created by the British ruling class as a garrison and permanent foothold in Ireland.

End.

FOOTNOTES

1Later one can talk of British colonialism and imperialism but in the beginning it was the English feudal and financier classes that set out to conquer their neighbours in Britain and across the sea in Ireland. The Crown was always primarily the English Crown, even when it became also formally that of Scotland and, later, of Ireland.

2i.e not even two centuries after the Norman invasion in 1169.

3The area of administration of the occupation, originally a fortified area with Dublin Castle at its centre.

4One can still see the pattern of settler towns with the buildings constructed around a square or “diamond” becoming easily converted into the walls of a fort, the main roads leading in and out fairly easily barricaded even with carts and waggons. Native Irish towns had no such construction, often running along a street or gathered around a crossroads, river bank, port etc.

5In particular the Presbyterians but also Methodists, Unitarians, “Quakers” (Society of Friends) and others.

6The unity of “Protestant (i.e Anglican), Catholic and Dissenter”.

7“Uppitty niggers” was a racist white term in the USA to describe Americans of African descent who were unwilling to be treated as second-class citizens or even worse. For such people to become thought of as “uppitty” frequently meant a range of punishments that included beating, jail and lynching. The Ku Klux Klan is a white Protestant supremacist and extremely right-wing organisation in the USA, formed after the defeat of the Confederacy and understood as having three distinct phases, the last one being also current. Despite a history of using extreme violence, it is not banned in the USA.

8Such as the Patriots of 1785 (https://ern.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriottentijd).

9July 1st according to the old-style calendar.

10 Mickey Harte (born 1952) is a Gaelic football manager from County Tyrone, Ireland who currently manages the Louth county team, having managed the Tyrone county team from 2002 and, at his resignation in 2020, was the longest-serving manager then active with the same team in inter-county competition.

11Gaelic football is one of four traditional sports regulated by the Gaelic Athletic Association/ Cumann Lúthchleas na hÉireann, with 2,200 clubs spread over all of Ireland and, with high community involvement is the largest amateur sporting association in the world

12Their FB page is currently down.

13Armed police force, formerly the Royal Irish Constabulary, later the Royal Ulster Constabulary, currently “Police Force of Northern Ireland.”

14See for example Lethal Allies – British collusion in Ireland (2013) by Anne Cadwaller. Loyalists killed the most people in one day during the 30 years’ war with the Dublin & Monaghan Bombings, 17 May 1974. Despite their self-promotion as fighters against the IRA, nearly all of their victims have been unarmed civilians, often randomly-chosen in Catholic residential areas.

15For example, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act only applied to England and Wales – it was resisted in Scotland and the Six Counties colony. Decriminalisation reached Scotland in 1980 and, after a complaint to the European Court of Justice and a judgement against the statelet in 1981, homosexuality in private was finally decriminalised in the Six Counties the following year – 15 years after its original decriminalisation in England. Similarly with lesbian and gay rights to civil marriage, introduced in England and Wales in 2013; in Scotland in 2014 but couples in the Six Counties had to wait until 2020, seven years after its introduction in England.

16Linfield FC is based in south Belfast in the British colony, Rangers FC in Glasgow and Chelsea FC in SW London. But there are also sectarian divisions among fans such as those of Rangers/ Celtic to be found also in Edinburgh between and Hibernian and Hearts (Midlothian) clubs and even between Everton and Liverpool as well as Manchester City and Manchester United.

17As in “Billies”, i.e followers of King Billy (William of Orange) who are living in the hills.

SOURCES & FURTHER READING

Mass media report: https://www.thejournal.ie/michaela-mcareavey-video-song-criticised-northern-ireland-5782011-Jun2022/

The Ku Klux Klan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

Social equality in the Six Counties:

https://www.bl.uk/lgbtq-histories/lgbtq-timeline

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-in-dark-ages-on-equality-laws-commissioner-tells-mps-40967176.html

BRITISH STATE TERROR-BOMBING OF DUBLIN COMMEMORATED

Clive Sulish

(Reading time: 4 mins.)

The 1974 British Intelligence and Loyalist bombing of Dublin and Monaghan towns, with the highest number of people killed in one day during the 30 Years’ War, was commemorated in Dublin today at the Memorial in Talbot Street, near the corner with Amiens Street. The commemoration, organised by the perennial Justice for the Forgotten campaign, was addressed by the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) and elected representatives of Dublin and Monaghan municipalities. A poet and two musicians performed, wreaths were laid and one former politician gave a strong oration highly critical of the Irish, British colonial and British authorities.

On 17th May 1974, around the work-leaving and shopping-ending busy time of 5.30pm, three car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in the centre of Dublin. The car bombs had been parked in the mainly working and lower-middle class sParnell Street, Talbot Street, and South Leinster Street (as distinct from such streets as Henry, Grafton or Dawson streets, for example). Twenty-six people were killed in Dublin. To cover their way back across the British border, another car-bomb was set off in Monaghan Town, killing another seven. Even excluding a full-term unborn child, the total death toll was 33, the highest number killed in any one day of the three decades of conflict. Around 300 were injured.

Suspicion should naturally fall in the first place on the British Loyalists, since they had been planting bombs in Dublin since 1969 and in 1972 and 1973 their bombs had killed Dublin public transport workers. But the authorities had pretended to believe that the IRA was responsible for the 1972 bombing and used the panic around it to steamroll repressive political legislation through the Dáil, thereby setting up the no-jury Special Criminal Courts to sent Irish Republicans to jail.

However, it is believed that Irish Army Intelligence and Garda Intelligence were quickly aware that the Dublin and Monaghan bombers had in fact been Loyalists of the Ulster Volunteer Force and even knew the names of a number of them.

The Irish parliament‘s Joint Committee on Justicecalled the attacks an act of international terrorism involving British state forces.The month before the bombings, the British government had lifted the UVF’s status as a proscribed organisation.

No one has ever been charged with the bombings. A campaign by the victims’ families led to an Irish government inquiry under Justice Henry Barron. His 2003 report criticised the Garda Síochána‘s investigation and said the investigators stopped their work prematurely. It also criticised the Fine Gael/Labour government of the time for its inaction and lack of interest in the bombings. The report said it was likely that British security force personnel or MI5 intelligence was involved but had insufficient evidence of higher-level involvement.” (Wikipedia)

Incredibly, despite long-standing allegations of collusion between the colonial police, the RUC (now the PSNI) and Loyalists, the Gardaí sent the car-bomb remnants to the RUC for analysis. Shortly after that, Ned Garvey rose from the Deputy position to Gárda Commissioner and met with a British secret agent in his office – without informing his superiors. When the agent began to blow the whistle on his past activities he exposed Garvey as a British “asset” – Garvey of course denied it but had to admit he had indeed met clandestinely with the agent in his office. When the Fianna Fáil goverment came in, they sacked Garvey as “not having confidence” in him but did it so baldly and outside established procedures that Garvey was able to take the Government to court, have his pension secured and have damages awarded to him!

BRITISH POLICY OF COLLUSION WITH LOYALIST MURDER GANGS

Most experts have been clear that construction of the type of bomb used was beyond the capability of the Loyalists at that time and, in any case, it is clear that British Intelligence and military were working with Loyalist gangs, as were the RUC (some of whom were members of the gangs) and RUC Special Branch. In addition there were reports of British accents in connection with suspects.

Collusion of that type had been openly advocated by a British military expert on counter-insurgency, Major (later Brigadier) Frank Kitson, for example in his “Gangs and Counter-gangs” (1960), based on his experiences in fighting the Kenyan insurgency for national liberation.

Frank Kitson (now Brigadier) in 1971 (Photo source: Internet)

Brigadier Frank Kitson was operational commander of the occupation forces in the British colony from 1970-’72 and left a substantial legacy of military assassinations and collusion with Loyalist murder gangs, along with other “dirty war” operations before he went on to lecture at British military training college.

….. the de Silva Report (2013) on collusion with loyalist paramilitaries led to two further ‘unconditional’ British apologies for the behaviour of its security forces in Northern Ireland. In November 2013, a BBC ‘Panorama’ investigation into British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s revealed that members of a special covert operations unit known as the Military Reaction Force (MRF) admitted to the murder of suspects and unarmed Catholic civilians. These admissions by the state or its agents confirm previous claims by critics dating back many decades. Such abuses were not merely low-level tactical excesses by undisciplined and racist troops but were institutional, systematic, and approved or covered up at the highest levels ….”1

The British State has admitted it has secret papers relating to this atrocity but has refused to hand over copies to successive Irish goverments.

THE LARGEST MASS MURDER IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE”

Maureen O’Sullivan, ex-TD (Member of Irish Parliament) for the local area gave the main oration for the Justice for the Forgotten Campaign and called the bombing “the largest mass murder in the history of the State”. She went on to castigate successive governments and most of the political class for their lack of interest in pursuing the planners and perpetrators of the massacre over the years. In her repeated reference to their “ignorance”, O’Sullivan inferred that the legislators’ lack of interest was such that they could not even be bothered to inform themselves of the known facts.

Maureen O’Sullivan castigating the authorities (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

In addition to the Taoiseach, the Ard-Mhaora of Dublin and Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Council spoke and a Catholic priest delivered a short blessing. The event was chaired throughout by a representative of the Justice for the Forgotten campaign group.

Rachael O’Hegarty introduced and recited one of her collection of poems about the victims, this one about Maureen Shields who was 44 years of age when she was killed in Talbot Street.

Rachael O’Hegarty speaking and reciting her poem (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Cormac Breatnach and Eoin Dillon on whistles played Sí Beag, Sí Mór and later Dillon playing the lament known as Táimse I Mo Chodhladh (I Am Asleep), accompanied by Breatnach on whistle, concluded the event.

Cormac Breatnach and Eoin Dillon on whistles (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
Eoin Dillon on uileann pipes and Cormac Breatnach on whistle (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

THE BOMBINGS EXPOSED THE NEO-COLONIAL NATURE OF THE IRISH CAPITALIST CLASS

In summary, a foreign power — which is also occupying by force one-sixth of Ireland — carried out a number of terrorist attacks in the capital city of the Irish State culminating in a massacre intended to cause maximum loss of life and limb – “the largest mass murder in the history of the Irish State”, as Maureen O’Sullivan correctly characterised it.

The Irish ruling elite failed to stop the escalating attacks and turned the investigation of the massacre into a farce. The Irish ruling elite failed to prevent the foreign power subverting the highest rank of its police force (and no doubt other levels in other areas).

Section of the crowd at the commemoration, the Taoiseach, Mícheál Martin speaking (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

The Irish ruling elite failed to take a full range of diplomatic and legal action to condemn the UK, the foreign power over its actions and failure to respond to requests for release of relevant secret papers. The ruling elite continues in that failure today as can be read into the weak speeches of Government Ministers at this ceremony – this time by the Taoiseach and last time the Minister for Justice.

No self-respecting elite or ruling class of any independent state would permit such violations of the security of its capital city and citizens without taking resolute and persistent action. The Irish ruling class is a neo-colonial capitalist class, undeserving even within capitalist terms to be in charge of any Irish state.

The north side of the Memorial (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
The south side of the Memorial (Photo: Rebel Breeze)
The clock on the tower of Connolly (formerly Amiens Street) Station — British soldiers fired a machine gun from that tower at Irish insurgents in 1916. (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

FOOTNOTES

SOURCES & USEFUL LINKS

Justice for the Forgotten campaign: http://www.dublinmonaghanbombings.org/home/

Media reports of commemoration:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/dublin-and-monaghan-bombing-failed-in-its-objective-says-taoiseach-1.4880954

https://www.lmfm.ie/news/lmfm-news/event-takes-place-to-commemorate-dublin-and-monaghan-bombings/

Taoiseach Mícheál Martin speech: https://www.gov.ie/en/speech/3b971-speech-by-the-taoiseach-micheal-martin-td-at-the-48th-anniversary-commemoration-service-for-the-victims-and-families-of-the-dublinmonaghan-bombings/

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/taoiseach-criticises-british-government-inaction-on-48th-anniversary-of-dublin-and-monaghan-bombings-41658511.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_and_Monaghan_bombings#Allegations_of_British_Government_involvement

British military collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries: https://www.historyireland.com/frank-kitson-northern-ireland-british-way-counterinsurgency/

Kitson tactics: https://www.kalasnyikov.hu/dokumentumok/frank-kitson-gangs-countergangs.pdf

1https://www.historyireland.com/frank-kitson-northern-ireland-british-way-counterinsurgency/

BERNADETTE TAKES ON THREE AND WINS

Introduction by Diarmuid Breatnach

The right-wing patrician UStater William F Buckley (despite the Irish surname) and two dogs, one of them the imminently slappable racist Tory Roger Evans, take Bernadette Devlin (now Devlin-McAlliskey) on and she wipes the floor with them. She was a month short of 25 years of age when she sat this interview in late March 1972, without any notes to hand, keeping up with the arguments, never losing her temper, reeling off historical facts and financial figures. It was a stellar performance.

Even more remarkable, not two months had passed since the Paras had shot 26 unarmed marchers in Derry, murdering 14 men at a march she had herself attended and, though then an MP, she had been refused permission to speak on it in the House of Commons, while lies were being stated by people who had not been there. Also, her interview took place only a month after the travesty of an inquiry into the murder by Lord Widgery who completely exonerated the gunmen and their officers, maintaining they were acting in self-defence against all evidence except the soldiers’ and Widgery even claimed a march of at least 30,000 was at most around 3,000! It seems that there must’ve been an agreement not to mention Bloody Sunday, perhaps as a condition for the interview, otherwise what else can explain its omission?

Bernadette Devlin, Member of Parliament for Mid-Ulster, speaking at a rally in Trafalgar Square, London, on June 1, 1971. (AP Photo) (Note: Trafalgar Square was later banned to Irish solidarity demonstrations for decades).

Bernadette came out against the Good Friday Agreement when it was born, not pushing armed struggle as an alternative but stating that the GFA institutionalised sectarianism and because she accused the Provos of seeking alliances with the Right and capitalism rather than with the Left and the working class. She would have been a powerful voice against the GFA and could not be accused of being in a ‘dissident’ armed group but the British State held her daughter Roisin, who was pregnant, hostage and Bernadette stepped back from that issue. She was marginalised by the Republican movement in the 1970s and 80s, along with being shot 14 times in front of her children (her husband shot too) in 1981 and lost to us as a national leader again in the first decade of the GFA.

Watching this discussion brings back to mind all the economic and political issues that were around at the time, especially as Bernadette reels them off, many of them largely forgotten. All the fudges and lies of British governments avoiding doing anything fundamental to improve things even within an illegitimate colonial context.

End.

https://ansionnachfionn.com/2021/03/27/bernadette-devlin-mcaliskey-versus-william-f-buckley-jr/

IS IT A CRIME TO HATE YOUR OPPRESSORS?

(Reading time: four minutes)

Diarmuid Breatnach

Some might say it more of a democratic duty!

A recent article of the Belfast Telegraph, a British-Unionist paper, reports that nationalist youth have built a bonfire and decorated it with, among other things, a banner representing the Parachute Regiment and another representing “Soldier F”. The article reports that the Police Service of Northern Ireland are treating this as “a hate crime”.

August 2019 Soldier F Bonfire
The bonfire preparation referred to in the Belfast Telegraph article (Photo source: Internet)

The newspaper comments also that this bonfire is associated with “anti-social behaviour” the nature of which however they neglect to specify. Although the article treats the PSNI statement as unremarkable and neglects to interrogate it as responsible journalism should do, the police statement is actually not only totally inaccurate in terms of law but also discriminatory and oppressive.

One definition of “hate crime” from an on-line dictionary is a crime, typically one involving violence, that is motivated by prejudice on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds.

Wikipedia posts at greater length and depth: A hate crime (also known as a bias-motivated crime or bias crime is a prejudice-motivated crime which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of their membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group or race.

Examples of such groups can include, and are almost exclusively limited to: sex, ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation. Non-criminal actions that are motivated by these reasons are often called “bias incidents“.

“Hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the social groups listed above, or by bias against their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, mate crime or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

Now, how does placing an emblem or banner to represent the Paratroop Regiment constitute a “hate crime” under any of those definitions? First of all, is it a crime to burn the banner? Not in itself, no and therefore it cannot be a hate crime. But even if burning a banner were defined in law as a crime, how would it fit the definition of “hate crime” as given above? It is none of those categories above that leads to the Parachute Regiment being reviled.

It is interesting, since the issue of “hate crimes” was brought into law, how incorrectly they are being ascribed by people in authority and by mass media and, curiously, applied to people struggling for national self-determination against repressive states and also to those opposing fascists. In other words, it is progressive forces that are being accused of “hate crimes” because of their resistance to oppression and resistance. Not the reactionary forces one might suppose were the object of the classification.

Certainly, it is the discriminatory and repressive behaviour towards its large Catholic minority of the ‘Northern Ireland’ statelet since its formation which clearly fits into the definitions of “hate crime”, although often its actions were not defined as crimes since they were authorised by its repressive legislation. Nevertheless, even within the parameters of that body of legislation the Statelet and its police committed thousands of crimes, including petty harassment, beatings, torture, perjury, arson, collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries and murder.

The British Army became an active participant in those crimes when it was sent into the Six Counties to bolster the crumbling government and exhausted sectarian police. Chief among those in criminality was the Parachute Regiment, responsible for an admitted list of unarmed civilian fatalities which includes 10 in Ballymurphy in August 1971, 13 in Derry in January of 1972 and another five in July of that year on the Springfield Estate.

Book Cover Impact Parachute Regiment in Belfast 1970-73
Booklet published by the Pat Finucane Centre documenting the murderous activities of the Parachute Regiment in just four years in Belfast. The bonfire preparation referred to in the Belfast Telegraph article (Photo source: Internet)

It is perfectly reasonable, natural and, I would say healthy to hate the people who carried out those massacres. And to hate them cannot reasonably be called a crime.

Soldier F” is the only member of that regiment to have been charged with the crime of murder and to be facing trial. As a representative of that murderous regiment he did not become a public target of hate until the Loyalists chose to publicly flaunt their support for him with banners, graffiti and badges. None of those, motivated by hate for the nationalist community, were charged with committing a hate crime. However, when nationalist youth, responding to that hateful campaign of the Loyalists, place the soldier’s alias on a bonfire, suddenly it is they who are accused of perpetrating a “hate crime”.

Portadown Stands with Soldier F street bannerGarvagh Supports Soldier F Banner

Lisburn Supports Soldier F Street Banner
Photographs of a small selection of prominent street banners in different areas of the Six Counties supporting ‘Soldier F’ and the Parachute Regiment erected by Loyalists (and over which no action was taken by the authorities). The bonfire preparation referred to in the Belfast Telegraph article (Photos source: Internet)

Unfortunate it may be that the nationalist youth have focused on this individual soldier but it is not a hate crime. They are targeting him not because of race, ethnicity, colour, religion, sexuality, disability etc, etc but because of his membership of a murderous regiment and, furthermore, in response to a campaign of provocation by Loyalists against which the sectarian PSNI and Statelet authorities have taken no action whatsoever.

And you know what? Although I am not from Derry or Belfast, I hate the Paratroop Regiment too. And the sectarian Statelet and its sectarian police force and the Loyalist bigots who support it and try to suppress the democratic rights of the nationalist population, as well as of migrants, women and LBGT people.

I could get to hate the Belfast Telegraph as well.

End.

REFERENCES:

BT article: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/bonfire-adorned-with-parachute-regiment-and-soldier-f-banners-lit-in-derry-38408117.html?fbclid=IwAR2__W8lONddIRoU61aTPtGw2CKJo_oxaytKKIK1FKRs8RM_8PPHQp2Ryv0

Definition hate crime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_crime

Short review of book about the Parachute Regiment in Belfast: https://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2018/08/09/news/new-booklet-explores-the-impact-of-the-parachute-regiment-on-belfast-1403186/

THROUGH RAIN, WIND, LOYALIST ABUSE AND MISSILES — MARCHING AGAINST INTERNMENT

Diarmuid Breatnach

The crowd stood in the rain and gusting wind in Ardoyne, Belfast. In front of them, the gable end of a house shrouded in black. The crowd was dotted with uniforms of the various Republican marching flute-and-drum bands from Scotland, some green and some black. Irish Tricolour flags fluttered and here and there the Starry Plough and the Palestinian flag was in evidence, including above the shrouded mural.

After what seemed like a long wait, the MC, life-long Republican activist Martin Óg Meehan, called forward those who had commissioned the mural, the Independent Principled Ex-POWs group; around thirty of them, all dressed in black, carrying a banner with their group name on it, they formed a kind of honour guard during the ceremony. As indicated by its name, this is a collective aligned to no political party or group; it was established earlier this year by North Belfast Republican ex-prisoners.

Then after a short dedication speech, the shroud was pulled down to unveil the newest Republican mural in Belfast, which is surely Ireland’s city of murals (certainly of political murals). The centre-piece was a section of The Rythm of Time poem, written by Republican prisoner and hunger-striker to the death, Bobby Sands; around that central piece a number of panels depicted scenes from the struggles of Republican prisoners from the 1970s onwards. A special mention was made of the families and relatives of Republican prisoners, those who bore much of the brunt of the system that encarcerated their loved ones. One of the Scottish bands was then called to play The Soldiers’ Song, the Irish national anthem written and composed by two Republicans and which had been sung by some of the insurgents during the 1916 Rising against British colonial rule.

Section of the Anti-internment march in Belfast 10th August 2014
Section of the Anti-internment march in Belfast 10th August 2014– The Dublin Committee banner is the high narrow blue one behind the marching band.

Some time after this ceremony, the primary purpose of the day was attended to as people assembled for the march against internment organised by the Irish Anti-Internment League. The British colonial statelet abandoned internment without trial after four-and-a-half years in 1975 but since then has been finding other means to remove its active political opponents from the streets. Some ex-prisoners who were released under Temporary Licence as part of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 have been returned to jail without charge, trial or right of appeal. Others have been faced with ridiculous charges — of in some way “assisting terrorism” — and jailed while awaiting trial; when eventually found not guilty, they have nevertheless already spent between one and two years in jail. Still others, after periods in jail awaiting trial, are being found “guilty” on highly suspect evidence in the special courts and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment (some of these too have eventually been released on appeal against conviction).

After outlining the order of march, Dee Fennel warned the participants that Loyalists had gathered in the city centre on the route of the march to oppose us. Dee urged us to obey the stewards and not to permit ourselves to be provoked into responding to Loyalist provocation. “The law is on our side, for a change,” he stated, meaning that permission for the parade had been applied for and granted, so that the police, if carrying out their duty, had to prevent others from attacking or obstructing us.

The march was headed by the prisoners’ relatives group and followed in sequence by the Justice for the Craigavon Two Campaign, Wolfe Tone RFB (Republican Flute Band), Anti-Internment Group of Ireland (including the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee), Independent Principled Ex-POWs, Parkhead RFB, IRPWA, Vol.s Patricia Black and Frank Ryan RFB, Cabhair, Vol. John Brady RFB, Cógus, Erin Go Bragh RFB, Éirigí, 32 CSM plus other groups bringing up the rear. The Vol. John Brady band is from Strabane but all the rest are from Scotland: two from Glasgow and the Wolfe Tone and Erin Go Bragh bands from North Lanarkshire.

We worked our way down from Ardoyne in driving rain and strong gusts of wind, through the streets in twists and turns towards the city centre. Along the route we noted occasional Palestinian flags hanging from windows of people’s homes and from some flats in tower blocks. As we turned into Donegal Street coming in from the east and heading for Victoria Street, what sounded like a bestial howl arose ahead of us – the Loyalist mob had sighted the relatives’ group leading the march. There we halted for what seemed a long delay, while our march organisers brought the stewards up to the front. Tension mounted, the worse for the wait and not being able to see what lay ahead. Then the march started forward again.

The howls grew louder and then we could see the Loyalists, about 400, many waving Union Jack flags, straining against yellow-jacketed PSNI, the British colonial police, who faced them. Then a line of colonial police in full black riot gear, including shields, facing us (!). Between us and them stood a line of our stewards, their backs to the police and to the Loyalists. A number of police were videoing the marchers, intelligence-gathering, but I saw only one filming the Loyalists.

Two loud fireworks exploded fairly close ahead, presumably aimed at the relatives or the colour party of the band. The storm of abuse was so loud and varied that it was hard to make out any actual words. On video recordings one can hear us being called “baby killers” and – no doubt totally unconscious of the irony — calls in support of Israel! This last no doubt a response to a number of Palestinian flags showing among the marchers.

In front of our contingent, the Wolfe Tone RPF band marched without playing but to a steady rap …. rap … rap …. of the side-drums. One of the mature members of the band called out some words of encouragement to the younger members and, in time, began to call out “clé …. clé …. clé, deas, clé …” (“left … left … left, right, left …”). Behind me in the crowd, somebody began to shout “the I … the I … the I, R, A” in response to the Loyalists.

By now other missiles were flying from the Loyalist crowd and, not surprisingly to us, the police seemed to be making no effort to arrest the perpetrators. I saw a plastic bottle full of water land ahead – a marcher picked it up and threw it back; an orange or red umbrella landed among the marching band and a tall bass drummer stooped, picked it up and threw it back almost without looking and without breaking stride …. Some police struggled with a very large Loyalist woman, her face contorted in rage, as she tried to break through to attack us. Those of us carrying the Dublin Committee banner brought it to flank between a section of the band and the Loyalist missiles while one continued to film the event. One of our contingent was struck on the head by a flying object but continued to march. Another firework exploded somewhere behind. The band continued marching, facing forward …. clé …. clé …. clé, deas, clé …

In a short enough time (though it seems longer watching the video later), our section of the march had passed the hostile mob but the roaring continued, aimed at the marchers coming behind us. On the main road heading up to the Falls Road, a fierce gust of wind caught us – we failed to lower the banner quickly enough and one of the bamboo poles snapped. We carried our banner the rest of the way, on up the Falls Road, past the Cultúrlann, then past Milltown Cemetery.

As we approached the Felons’ Club, stronghold of Provisional Sinn Féin, the band began to play “Take It Down from the Mast”, a Republican song from the 1930s castigating Republicans who had abandoned the path of fighting for independence. Originally the lyrics had been aimed at the Irish Free State government, then at the Fianna Fáil party; since then they have been thrown in turn at Official Sinn Féin, the Workers’ Party and now, at Provisional Sinn Féin. After Fianna Fáil, each party had sung the lyrics at those considered traitors before them, only for each to become, in turn, the target themselves.

Take it down from the mast, Irish traitors,

It’s the flag we Republicans claim;

It can never belong to Free Staters,

For you’ve brought on it nothing but shame.”

As we passed the Felons’ Club, a number of their patrons leaned on the rail watching us go past. I wondered what they thought and felt. Before 1998, presumably it would have been them participating in the march – perhaps even having organised it. What did they think of a march for civil and human rights in their heartland of which they were not a part? Of 5,000 demonstrators marching in driving wind and rain on an issue around which PSF no longer organises? An issue, in fact, which they find threatening, now that they are part of the colonial administration … This is perhaps the reason for their dismissal of those independent Republicans and groups they call “dissidents” and “micro-groups” who, they say, “have no programme”. No doubt they are aware that it is a long time since Provisional Sinn Féin were able to mobilise 5,000 people to march on any issue.

The march came to an end at the Andersonstown shopping centre, the participants to be congratulated by Dee Fennel; we stood to one side, applauding the soaked marching bands as each one passed us. A couple of speakers were announced but, too cold and wet, some of us decamped to our coach, which had been summoned to meet us nearby. There we found that our thermos flasks of coffee and tea had fallen inside the coach and that the linings had smashed – so no hot drink for us.

When all our Dublin party were at last aboard and some had changed into dry clothes, we headed back up the Falls Road in search of food. Some of us were annoyed to find the Cultúrlann, in the restaurant of which we had looked forward to a cooked meal, closed and had to be content with a Chinese take-away for some hot food at last. Then back to Dublin; in our own city, our publicity and organising work as an anti-internment committee awaited us, as well as whatever other political work we might undertake as individuals or as members of other groups.

End.

Links to videos and photos:

Video of many of the participants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4V8ZbUPbY5Q#t=782

Short video as Dublin Committee approaches and passes Loyalist demonstration (available only on Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=682736298478617&set=vb.100002267588752&type=3

Additional information:
IRPWA is the Irish Republican Prisoner Welfare Association and is linked to the 32-County Sovereignty Movement and campaigns for political prisoners.

Cabhair is an Irish Republican prisoner welfare and campaigning organisation linked to Republican Sinn Féin.

Cógus is also an Irish Republican prisoner campaigning and welfare organisation and linked to the Republican Network for Unity.

The Anti-Internment League and the Anti-Internment Committee of Ireland are campaigning groups independent of any political party or organisation.