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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Northern Ireland's dischordant harp

The riots and marches in the Province over the flying of the Union Flag from Belfast's City Hall are something unusual; not the organised activity of the traditional nationalist political parties, but a genuine cry of hurt and frustration from the grassroots nationalist community. For these are a people under intense pressure. The flag decision may even be sufficient to lower the protestant birth rate another notch, the biological reaction of any highly stressed mammalian population. 

For many years now protestants have been out-bred by the Province's Catholic population, and although the 2011 census may show a slowing or convergence beginning to emerge, the Catholics have a large cohort of women just coming into prime child bearing age whilst protestant women are older. Catholic education and employment levels have increased dramatically whilst those of the old working class protestant population have not. Protestant voters are dying younger than their Catholic counterparts. And to cap it all, whilst Sinn Fein has maintained close working-class credentials with the Catholic population, the DUP and UUP have not done so - leaving the community feeling a leadership vacuum. Demographically and politically, those marching in Belfast know they're facing eventual minority status in the Province, perhaps within their lifetimes. 

There is no great appetite at present in either Eire or amongst the Province's Catholics for uniting the Island under a single State. Ireland's economic boom has also done much to weaken the influence of the Church; the Irish have become Rome's most disobedient Catholics, with pressure for women priests and married clergy also coming in the wake of a tsunami of abuse revelations about the religious communities. The religious and ideological differences between the nationalist and republican communities are becoming more blurred. And this, I hope, is the answer; a convergence in which both communities can share a Northern Irish cultural identity - for Ulstermen both protestant and Catholic died in windrows on the Somme, and fought shoulder to shoulder from Singapore to Murmansk in the second war. The harp that forms the fourth quarter of the sovereign's escutcheon is borne with pride by the United Kingdom; not the vain pride of conquest, but the fraternal earned pride of honour and dignity.


Ian Hills said...

So both Tory and Labour administrations pour money into republican communities to keep the terrorists quiet, all the while trashing the loyalists and arresting British troops.

Government needs to sticks two fingers up to Uncle Sam and treat republican communities as Israel treats Gaza, only with less fear of world opinion.

Terrorists must be treated as such, and so must their supporters.

Wildgoose said...

An alternative view was posted recently on English Standard that pointed out that Devolution works in Northern Ireland - after all, the DUP and Sinn Fein are in coalition, and so the answer is to simply change the state that Northern Ireland is devolved from.

The article (and some background) is here.

G. Tingey said...

Ian Hills - so you want to repeat the disastrous bloody mistakes (made by everyone) since 1886?

What is really needed in Ireland is a recognition that both (or all 3 or 4) "sides" screwed-up, completely, & that terrible things were done, by everybody. Certainly between 1886-1998.

Followed, a year or two later by a "Confederated union of the Isles" outside the EU, but with the "south" inside ......

Anonymous said...

The Union flag should fly above Belfast City hall.
God knows, they've all bent over backwards for the thugs and terrorists now posing as politicians, enough is enough and though I do not approve of the protesters methods, I strongly agree with the cause.
Most people in the Northern counties, do not want to be a part of the 'south' - Catholics in NI should stand up in solidarity with their brethren as proud Northern Irishmen - all part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

One does rather wonder what flag they're planning to fly instead - after a decent interval for the row to die down, presumably.

Could it possibly be the blue and yellow "Crown of Thorns"?

(As we know, but maybe the loyalists do not, UK planning rules were quietly changed recently to allow the EU's Quisling banner to be displayed on the same terms as our own proud emblem.)

Barnacle Bill said...

Might not what we are seeing played out in Belfast is a taste of things to come for the mainland?

Substitute us indigenous English for the Protestants.
For the Catholics use the EU allowed/nuLabor encouraged immigrants.

Put the clock forward a few decades.

Then might not we also be out on the streets rioting as the Green Crescent or, the EU flag, is hoisted instead of the Union Jack?

Ian Hills said...

There are many kinds of groveller, none worse than those who blame the victims for the terrorism inflicted on them.

"What is really needed in Ireland is a recognition that both (or all 3 or 4) "sides" screwed-up, completely, & that terrible things were done, by everybody."

Like the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism "screwed up" by not getting gassed in WW2.

Anonymous said...

Worst piece I've ever read on this blog. Riddled with nonsense and inaccuracy.

Elby the Beserk said...


So you say, but give no reasons. Do expand.

James Higham said...

Demographically and politically, those marching in Belfast know they're facing eventual minority status in the Province, perhaps within their lifetimes.

There's no fighting massive demographic change, as Labour well know from their policies of 1997-2010. Not a lot the loyalists can do except breed.

Anonymous said...

There is another flag they could use and that is the 9 county flag (or the flag of Ulster):

or they could revert to the old Ulster Banner:

Is there no end in sight to appeasing these murderous bastards who spent 30 odd years trying to kill us but now sit within and dictate to us.

Edward Spalton said...

I spent most of August in Ireland North and South - as a refugee from the worst excesses of the Olympic nonsense - not entirely successfully as it caught up with us now and again when somebody local won a medal.

I did business in Ireland for much of my working life from the Sixties onwards and the changes have been dramatic. In general, people are much more pleasant and better mannered than here. I think that has something to do with Ireland being far less overcrowded than England.

I had the pleasure of addressing the members of the Campaign for an Independent Britain near Belfast and they are very solid, serious citizens - overwhelmingly, of course, from the Unionist/Protestant community. One thing which struck me was that a high proportion were wearing SPUC (Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child) ribbons. There is a proposal to establish an abortion clinic in Belfast and, on this issue , these people and the RC Church were as one.

They have problems with immigration too. Whilst I was there, Polish flags were burned in the North and a Judge in the Republic got into serious hot water for describing the social security system as " a well-known Polish charity".

There is a great difference in political outlook between the Nationalist and Unionist communities but the gripes of ordinary people, North and South - shopkeepers, bed and breakfast providers stc were remarkably similar.

It is interesting to note that Sinn Fein makes more semi-eurosceptic noises South of the Border than it does in the North. In the North it holds itself out as the party which knows how to get on with the EU authorities and get the maximum grants out of them. In the South it is competing with parties and groups of the further Left who tend to make the running in the eurosceptic field. In the various referendums it is noteworthy that the working class areas tend to deliver the highest proportion of eurosceptic votes.

I had a long discussion in the Republic with a man who wants to launch a conservative, "leave the euro" party. A strong nationalist from the Free State/Michael Collins tradition, he was also fiercely proud of an ancestor who had won a VC in the British army! So the relationship with the rest of the British Isles is rather more complex than crude party labels would suggest.

This may sound far fetched in cynical mainland UK - but I think that the Queen's visit to the South either instigated or marked a more relaxed sort of attitude. A doctor said to me that it marked "the end of the post colonial period"

One thing I have learned over the years is that, when you begin to think you understand the place, you very quickly find that you don't!

Anonymous said...

As Edward Spalton hints your 'Nationalist' should be 'Unionist'; Nationalist is just the 'moderate' name for a Republican.

G. Tingey said...

Terrible & terminally stupid things indeed, by everybody.

In no particular order

The Curragh mutiny
The Easter "rising" taking German aid in the middle of WWI
The post-independance Civil War
The murder of Catholics by supposedly "British" securty fporces (The old RUC)
The unbelievable graft & corruption of the entrenched politico-religous establishments in both parts of Ireland 1924-2004.
The Phoenix Park murders.
IRA bombings too numerous to enumerate
The bombing of Dublin in (?) 1982 (?) - can't remember actual date.
The bombing of a hulrey match by the RAF 1919(?) or was it '21?
The murders & kneecappings carried out by the UVF, as well as the IRA ....
Etc, ad blooody nauseam ....

What Mr Spalton says is also very relevant.

Edward Spalton said...

I wrote a paper on Irish wartime neutrality in 2006, entitled

"Who was De Valera neutral against?" .

It appeared in both a Unionist and Nationalist publication. I tried to be even-handed.
It contains quite a bit of background out of which the present situation (both Irish and EU) has evolved.

In the nationalist publication, it provoked one really furious, fascist response which appears together with the original article under the title

"NAZISM alive and well in Ireland".

(I understand that the critical writer is well-known for his extremist rages). It is in the News section, dated 15 02 2006 in

if anyone is interested.

Thud said...

Fly the flag and sod the murderers and their apoligists.

G. Tingey said...

Indeed, NAZISM is alive and well, anywhere the RC church is still running around in any significant numbers!
Scroll down a few & you'll come to some really nasty crawling to Adolf by the priests.

No suprise there, I'm afraid.

erm, which set of murderers & their apologists?

Edward Spalton said...


Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.
There were utterly beastly fascist regimes where RC priests and other religious actually took part in death squads and concentration camps - specifically in Croatia and Slovakia (where the wartime head of the puppet state was a priest, Father Hlinka)
Fear of atheist communism (a quantitatively far more murderous creed than Nazism) drove many people in that direction.

My German colleague, Horst Teubert, who once studied for the Lutheran ministry, is of the opinion that the Roman Catholic Church in Germany was institutionally more steadfast against the Nazis than the protestants. There was no RC equivalent of the protestant "German Christian" movement which put swastikas on the altars.Of course, the brave protestant dissenters stood against this sort of thing but the persecution of RCs was intense. Numerous priests and laity were murdered.

Original information which I have seen showed cartoons of which your Godless friends might have approved with regard to priests etc and there were vicious cartoons in the Nazi press, depicting Cardinal Pacelli (later Pius XII) consorting with Jewish prostitutes etc.
Cardinal Faulhaber spoke out from the pulpit against the murder of those whose lives were considered "unworthy of life" and so on. Like all their other agreements, the Nazis tore up the Concordat, which was supposed to have guaranteed the functioning of the RC Church and its social organisations, more or less before the ink dried.

Looking at Hitler's background - he certainly used imagery and techniques from the RC Church to influence people - just as early Soviet propaganda parades have a very "Orthodox" appearance. But it was a Church which he detested. The politics of German Austria from which he emerged were divided largely between the Pan Germans (to which Hitler adhered), the Social Democrat/Communists and the "Clericals" who were the party of Church and Emperor.(whom Hitler particularly detested). The Pan Germans lead a "Los von Rom" (free from Rome) movement. One branch of it encouraged Austrians to become Protestants - so that they would get on better with the Prussians, another went into the rather New Age ideas of paganism, favoured by Himmler et al

The Austrian politician Schoenerer (on whom Hitler modelled himself) had the title Fuehrer and promoted the "Heil" greeting because the polite Austrian "Gruess Gott" (God greet you) was Catholic and Christian. He also wanted to replace "Servus" ("your servant") because it was Latin and because free, manly Germans shouldn't be anybody's servants!

So the picture, as usual is far more mixed and complex than you suppose.