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October 11, 2005

ARA Mess

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News about Ireland & the Irish

DI 10/11/05 ARA Mess
DI 10/11/05 IRA Decommissioning Has Freed Our Future
IT 10/12/05 Ahern & Blair Move To Reduce Obstacles To Deal
SF 10/11/05 Harryville Primary School Targeted
BT 10/11/05 Wife-Beater Adair Could Face ASBO
UT 10/11/05 SDLP: 'SF Must Choose - Crime Or The Law'
SF 10/11/05 Durkan An Apologist For British Securocrats
NE 10/11/05 The War Is Over - Is Coalition Next?
OD 09/28/05 Mad Dogs & Ulstermen: Crisis Of Loyalism (Pt I)
OD 09/30/05 Mad Dogs & Ulstermen: Crisis Of Loyalism (Pt II)
OD 10/11/05 Loyalist Culture, Unionist Politics: A Response
UT 09/28/05 BNP Ditches NI Election Plans


ARA Mess

"For the first time in my life, I've agreed with Gerry
Adams when he said there was a political agenda. There is a
political agenda with a small 'p' for the Assets Recovery
Agency to push their own agenda. I also happen to think
there is a political agenda by the NIO and Peter Hain and
this government in the way they are now dealing with these
matters" Mike Kenyon, solicitor for Manchester-based
businessman Dermot Craven, speaking to Daily Ireland last

Jarlath Kearney

A solicitor acting for Dermot Craven, the prominent
Manchester businessman targeted by the Assets Recovery
Agency (ARA), has said his client is the victim of "a
political agenda".

Mike Kenyon spoke to Daily Ireland last night and declared
that his client is completely innocent.

Mr Craven's upmarket Manchester home was raided last
Thursday morning. Other premises were searched, including
his business offices. Searches were also reported to have
taken place under the supervision of the Garda in Dundalk,
Co Louth.

After orchestrated media briefings to selected journalists,
it was widely alleged the raids were linked to the finances
of a Co Louth-based farmer with no previous convictions.
Anonymous ARA briefings last week led to media allegations
that 250 properties worth up to £30 million (€44 million)
were being investigated.

In stark contrast, Mr Craven (44) yesterday told reporters
that his company had managed only seven properties
purchased by a firm involving a brother of the Co Louth-
based farmer. The total portfolio is worth £700,000 (€1
million), Mr Craven said.

Mr Craven said the last time a property transaction had
taken place involving the parties was "approximately two
years ago".

Mr Kenyon last night blasted the ARA for having
"successfully manipulated the media".

He questioned why tens of thousands of pounds was spent on
targeting his client.

"It is clear that the ARA have been deliberately feeding
the media in a way designed to enhance their own profile
without any proper consideration for my client's rights,
and for the fact that they are innocent – as anyone can see
because they are not accused of any crime.

"The ARA have fostered a belief or an approach which
clearly suggests otherwise and quite frankly, that is

"If you glance at this £30 million [£20 million], it is
complete rubbish. The 250 properties is complete rubbish.
The reality is it was for their own benefit and they have
spent tens of thousands in a wasted way."

Mr Kenyon hit out at the extensive police support given to
ARA raids at his client's home and business premises.

"They sat in the waiting room, drinking tea, smoking
cigarettes and burning the carpet.

"It was the easiest day's dossing work for those police
officers in a long time," Mr Kenyon said.

"For the first time in my life I've agreed with Gerry Adams
when he said there was a political agenda. There is a
political agenda with a small 'p' for the Assets Recovery
Agency to push their own agenda. I also happen to think
there is a political agenda by the NIO and Peter Hain and
this government in the way they are now dealing with these

"They are playing politics with people's lives. That's why
Gerry Adams is spot on. Huge amounts of taxpayer's money
have been used to villify my innocent clients. Dermot
Craven has had the courage to speak out because he's
innocent," Mr Kenyon said.

He also said that the British government had indulged
paramilitary and criminal activity for too long.

The ARA operates throughout Britain and the North. It is
responsible for seizing the assets of criminals through
civil court orders. The ARA's controller in the North is
the former senior RUC and PSNI member Alan McQuillan. Mr
McQuillan was acting deputy chief constable of the PSNI
prior to becoming the agency's deputy director in January

Conor Murphy, the Sinn Féin MP for Newry and Armagh, said
yesterday: "It is very clear that the ARA raids in
Manchester last week were politically motivated and based
entirely on innuendo, spin and malicious briefing.

"There is a clear responsibility on the two governments to
sack those securocrats responsible for using their
positions in organisations like the ARA to undermine the
peace process.

"Such individuals not only undermine the political process
but also undermine public confidence in the impartiality
and ability of groups like the ARA to properly carry out
the important job of seizing criminal assets," Mr Murphy


IRA Decommissioning Has Freed Our Future

By Jarlath Kearney

I only recall hearing the volley of shots. It created a bit
of commotion at the end of the lane. And then there was a
loud round of applause.

The funeral of Francis Hughes in May 1981 was the first
occasion on which I witnessed IRA weapons being fired.

At the age of eight I wasn't even tall enough to see the
firing party.

However, the previous evening I saw other guns being fired
– up close and personal.

Several hundred men, women and children had been marching
in support of the hunger strikers into Toome village,
converging from southwest Antrim on the east of the Bann
and south Derry on the west side of the Bann.

As we entered the village, stewards were running towards us
shouting for all the women and children to get off the road
into the chapel grounds.

Seconds later a distinctive high-pitched revving revealed
half a dozen RUC Land Rovers speeding past, dozens of
plastic bullets being fired, Wild West-style, in all

A number of men lay unconscious and injured after being
struck by plastic bullets – some were arrested.

Like many people, as the IRA left the political battlefield
yesterday, I thought about the period of the hunger strike.

Some of the people who formed the IRA guard of honour at
Francis Hughes' funeral are now dead. Some were imprisoned.
Some were killed in direct military action with British

Without doubt, their relatives – and many others who have
lost loved ones on all sides during the conflict – will be
sitting this morning in a turmoil of quiet, tired, confused
emotion: utterly uncertain about the present; deeply hurt
about the past; nervously hopeful for the future.

Thousands of republicans across Ireland may be experiencing
similar feelings. And yet they will be also be coming to
terms with the IRA's initiative by looking into the eyes of
their children or their grandchildren.

For whatever view republicans take of the IRA's actions in
putting all weapons beyond use, no republican will argue
with efforts to provide a better future for all the people
of Ireland.

A gilded image of that growing opportunity for peaceful
political transformation on the island emerged at the
massive republican rally in Dublin last Saturday.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 people from across the country
assembled in Ireland's capital city for a confident,
colourful spectacle to mark the 100th anniversary of Sinn
Féin's foundation.

The 100-foot long banner at the head of the march read: 'We
are the people of struggle, ours is the culture of change'.

The following day, Michael McDowell attacked the event with
obnoxious and offensive language. He also devoted an entire
page in a Sunday newspaper to assert that he was a true
republican (on account of the actions of his forebears)
and, more significantly, that it was time to recapture the
vision of Irish unity from Sinn Féin.

In other circles yesterday, a variety of observers
questioned how republicans would react to another unionist
pogrom, like the burning of Bombay Street, without the
backing of a well-armed IRA.

Each of these perspectives actually highlights the
transforming approach adopted by the republican leadership
since April 2005.

Republicans have embarked on a course over recent months
which is not concerned with responding to other agendas or
with planning for every contingency.

In fact, it is Sinn Féin's conservative political opponents
who are furiously reacting to the republican agenda for
Irish unity and independence. And in the remote possibility
that there is another Bombay Street, republicans say they
will assess the prevailing conditions at the time.

Small wonder then that hardline unionism is in a state of
delayed shock at the reality that the IRA has delivered.

It's not just Sinn Féin's political opponents who are
sleepwalking through the nightmare of a peaceful and
accountable power-sharing government, based on equality in
a transformed society, with republicans north and south.

Just consider how the scores of political detectives within
the North's security superstructure must feel this morning.
These are figures whose entire raison d'etre was predicated
on the existence of a fully operational IRA maintaining its
military capacity. They have built their careers on the
IRA. Their mortgages have relied on the IRA. They have
gained power to spy and harass and ruin lives, largely by
virtue of the IRA's existence. Yet, in just six months, the
IRA has wrapped up its tent and gone away.

In the act of leaving the battlefield, the IRA has been
more effective in destablising the cosy conservative
cartels across the island than a lifetime of bomb attacks
and shootings.

Some will wonder whether the rifles used to honour Francis
Hughes have been put beyond use. But that must be
considered in the context of Francis Hughes' struggle after
being captured.

In the torturous hell-hole of Long Kesh, Francis Hughes had
no guns, no rank, no uniform. He was symbolically and
literally naked. And yet his peaceful, dignified, non-
violent protest – alongside those of his comrades – was so
convincing and powerful that it resounded around the world.

While no one knows how someone like Francis Hughes would
view the current IRA, a large majority of those republicans
incarcerated in Long Kesh and elsewhere have thrown their
weight behind the current republican leadership.

That leadership yesterday urged republicans to "think
beyond the moment".

"It is not the leap itself but the place it takes us all
that is important," Gerry Adams said.

The root cause of IRA activity in the last 35 years was the
partition of Ireland.

Partition has imprisoned our past. The IRA has now freed
our future. Tomorrow is a new country.


Ahern And Blair Move To Reduce Obstacles To NI Deal

By Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent, at Downing

The Taoiseach and British prime minister have agreed to
try to reduce the obstacles to a political deal in the
North before Christmas in advance of a push to restore
powersharing institutions next year, writes Mark Brennock,
Chief Political Correspondent, at Downing Street

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and Northern
Secretary Peter Hain will meet this day week to plan
meetings with the North's political parties. They will try
to resolve disagreements on policing, the parades
commission, restorative justice and other issues.

To add impetus to their efforts, the two governments may on
the same day publish the latest report from the Independent
Monitoring Commission, which is expected to say the IRA has
been observing its commitment in the July 28th statement to
end all activity. The governments will receive the report
next Friday and the Cabinet will discuss it on Tuesday.

Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair discussed their plans for 45
minutes at Downing Street yesterday. It was their first
meeting since the decommissioning body reported that the
IRA had put its weapons beyond use. They are understood to
have discussed DUP demands for the police board to be
reconstituted to give them more representation; DUP demands
for the Parades Commission to be reconstituted and its
terms of reference changed; Sinn Féin demands for
"restorative justice" projects; and what the governments'
response will be to the monitoring commission's initial

Mr Ahern said Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern and
Northern Secretary Peter Hain will meet next week and will
"start talking with the parties and working with them to
make as much progress as possible on these issues".

Mr Blair said the two governments were "looking to create
the circumstances in which we can get devolved government
back to Northern Ireland". What had happened in September,
when the IRA put its weapons beyond use, was "very

Strategists in both governments and in the North's other
political parties are sceptical about whether the DUP and
Sinn Féin are committed to agreeing to restore power-
sharing by Easter, as envisaged by the governments.
However, by clearing as many issues as possible out of the
way before Christmas, the governments hope to be able to
push for a powersharing deal should the opportunity arise
after the Independent Monitoring Commission's second report
in January.

On decommissioning, Mr Blair said: "It was a genuinely
significant change in the politics of Northern Ireland and
the whole of the island of Ireland." He also placed last
week's police raids in Manchester, reportedly designed to
seize IRA property assets, in the context of building a
belief in the North that the situation had been
transformed. "What people in Northern Ireland want to see
is that there isn't any tolerance for that kind of

"There isn't any no-go area, any tolerance, there is no
ambiguity about what is right and what is wrong. Anybody
who supports criminal activity from whatever part of the
spectrum, whatever organisation they come from, our
agencies are going to get after them." Mr Ahern added: "The
fact that there is a clampdown on criminality, on money
laundering, or the sales of any goods, illicit goods or
products or anything . . . The citizens on the island of
Ireland and everywhere else will see that that is a good

© The Irish Times


Harryville Primary School Targeted

Published: 11 October, 2005

Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan has
expressed his concern after the discovery of home made pipe
bomb devices on the premises of a Primary school in
Harryville linked to the recent campaign by Unionist
paramilitaries in the area.

Mr McGuigan said:

"This clearly is another indication that Unionist
paramilitaries in North Antrim are intent on creating
difficulties and dangers for the community in this area.

"To leave these deadly devices in public is worrying, but I
would have to ask what these people thought they were doing
when leaving these things on the premises of a children's

"As a society we need to challenge the sectarian attitudes
that exist. There can be no excuse for the targeting of a
school whether it is catholic, protestant or indeed any
other type of school.

"It is also essential that we close down the political
vacuum that is being filled by loyalist sectarian
violence." ENDS


Wife-Beater Adair Could Face ASBO

By Jonathan McCambridge
11 October 2005

Exiled loyalist boss Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair could be
slapped with an ASBO after he admitted in court to beating
his wife, it emerged today.

It could be the latest in a series of embarrassments for
the one-time feared UDA leader since he was flown out of
Northern Ireland and into Bolton.

Adair pleaded guilty in a Bolton court last week to hitting
wife Gina hours after he had been released from prison
where he had been serving a 39-day sentence on a harassment

Among the penalties available to the court is a community
service order or an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), on
top of an existing restraining order for harassment of
members of his former gang who have tried to resettle.

If an ASBO is served Adair could be publicly named and
shamed as a nuisance and have his face plastered on posters
outside police stations

Greater Manchester Police's most senior officer in Bolton,
Chief Superintendent Dave Lea, whose officers had already
smashed a major drug network in the area, was determined
that Adair and his "Bolton Wanderers" should not get any
foothold in the area.

"Around here he is just a thug and a wife beater. He is
broken, he cannot hold his head up in town," said Mr Lea.

"He has no fiefdom here."

Adair's closest allies set up home in Bolton in 2003
following a vicious feud with former UDA associates which
culminated in the murder of loyalist Godfather John "Grug"

Adair joined them in January of this year when he was
released from Maghaberry Prison and immediately flown out
of Northern Ireland in an Army helicopter.


SDLP: 'SF Must Choose - Crime Or The Law'

Sinn Fein must decide if they support the law or crime as
they deliberate over policing in Northern Ireland, a
nationalist rival claimed today.

By:Press Association

In a hard hitting attack on Gerry Adams` party, SDLP leader
Mark Durkan said recent investigations into IRA involvement
in money laundering and racketeering fuelled fears about a
Mafia style culture developing in the province.

And he also claimed the only time republicans co-operated
with police was when it suited them such as protecting
their no claims bonuses following car accidents.

"The fact is that there are people in the paramilitaries up
to their necks in racketeering and money laundering," the
Foyle MP said.

"That leaves people scared that we are headed for a
Sopranos culture here in the North (of Ireland).

"Faced with this threat, Sinn Fein have to decide where
they stand.

"Either they are for the law or they are for crime. Either
they are for policing or they are for criminality.

"The choice is as simple as that, and Sinn Fein are running
out of excuses to duck it."

Mr Durkan sounded his ultimatum to Sinn Fein on policing as
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern prepared to meet for the first time since the
IRA completed its disarmament programme two weeks ago.

The meeting in Downing Street was also taking place
following last week`s probe by the Assets Recovery Agency
and the Irish Republic`s Criminal Assets Bureau into the
Provisionals` link to a £30 million property portfolio in

The British and Irish governments have, in recent weeks,
been heartened by the Provisionals` declaration in July
that its armed campaign was over and hope it will enable
them to entice the Rev Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists
into power sharing with Sinn Fein.

Two reports on paramilitary activity by the four-member
Independent Monitoring Commission will have a critical role
to play in this regard.

The first of them, which is due to be handed over to the
Governments this week, is expected to say the Provisionals
have been inactive since announcing the end of their armed

However unionists and moderate nationalists insist Sinn
Fein must also sign up to police reforms in the province
which the SDLP signed up to in 2001 but republicans have
criticised for not going far enough.

"Originally Sinn Fein said that they would only sign up for
policing when there was new policing legislation," Mr
Durkan recalled.

"When it was passed, Sinn Fein decided to keep their policy
of boycotting the police anyway. Suddenly they found a new
excuse, that there had to be date for the devolution of

"Many suspect that behind these feeble excuses is a simple

"Sinn Fein know that IRA members are involved in crime and
money laundering. Their policy of stonewalling the police
helps protect them, like it has helped to protect the
murderers of Robert McCartney.

"In fact, the only time that Sinn Fein co-operates with the
police is when it suits them.

"Senior Provisionals deal with the police when they have
had a car accident. The one time that it seems to be okay
to deal with the police as far as they are concerned is
when it comes to protecting their own `no claims` bonuses,
so much for an Ireland of Equals."

Sinn Fein general secretary Mitchel McLaughlin accused Mr
Durkan of sour grapes.

"For the most selfish party political reasons Mark Durkan
is regurgitating tired and unfounded propaganda lies and
myths peddled by British securocrats," the Foyle MLA

"Margaret Thatcher`s criminalisation policy failed in 1991
and despite the SDLP`s efforts it will not succeed in 2005.

"The SDLP still find it difficult to come to terms with the
fact that the majority of nationalists and republicans
endorse Sinn Fein including our position on policing.

"Their resentment is the real reason for their singular
focus on Sinn Fein at a time when loyalists and British
securocrats are attempting subvert the peace process.

"Sinn Fein wants proper policing. We will not settle for
less than people deserve because sectarian political
policing must become a thing of the past.

"Sinn Fein will not be deflected from our responsibility to
ensure that get policing right."


Durkan Accused Of Being An Apologist For British

Published: 11 October, 2005

Sinn Féin General Secretary Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has
accused Mark Durkan of sour grapes and being an apologist
for British securocrats.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"For the most selfish party political reasons Mark Durkan
is regurgitating tired and unfounded propaganda lies and
myths peddled by British securocrats.

"Margaret Thatcher's criminalisation policy failed in 1991
and despite the SDLP's efforts it will not succeed in 2005.

"The SDLP still find it difficult to come to terms with the
fact that the majority of nationalists and republicans
endorse Sinn Fein including our position on policing. Their
resentment is the real reason for their singular focus on
Sinn Féin at a time when loyalists and British securocrats
are attempting subvert the peace process.

"Sinn Féin wants proper policing. We will not settle for
less than people deserve because sectarian political
policing must become a thing of the past. Sinn Féin will
not be deflected from our responsibility to ensure that get
policing right." ENDS


Irish Anarchist Analysis Of The IRA Statement To Dump Arms

From Anarkismo.

An Irish Anarchist analysis of the IRA statement to Dump

The War Is Over - Is Coalition Next?

The statement from the IRA is formulated to clearly comply
with the various demands made by the British and Irish
governments over the last year and to so try and expose the
Unionist political parties as the ones opposing progress.
As such it not only prepares the ground for Sinn Fein to
re-enter government in the north but also for it to go into
coalition in the south.

The years of the peace process have seen a real growth in
electoral support for Sinn Fein in the south so that it
would now be in the position to be a junior partner in a
coalition government. By definition this would have to
include one of Irelands right wing neo-liberal parties as
the major partner. It is notable that the IRA statement
lacks even a rhetorical reference to any sort of socialism
- not even in the watered down form of the 'equality
agenda' used in recent elections by Sinn Fein.

The other side of the peace process has been the ditching
of much of the radical left rhetoric of the republican
movement of the 1980's. Pragmatism became the new watchword
whether that meant meeting with George Bush at the height
of the invasion of Iraq, imposing education and health cuts
as part of the government of northern Ireland or voting for
the bin taxes in Sligo in order to get power in the
council. There is still a radically inclined grassroots in
Sinn Fein, in particular in the urban areas, but it is a
well disciplined one - accustomed to following the
pragmatic line coming from the top.

The 'whiff of cordite' was always part of the reason this
was possible - this and the lack of any serious and
sizeable alternative. Now as the IRA disarms and the
libertarian movement grows the space may open for a
dialogue with many rank and file republican activists. This
will be a major challenge for Irish anarchists in the years
ahead. The article 'After Nationalism... A WSM member on
leaving Sinn Fein' is one example of the sort or reasons
why some rank and file republicans may take this step.

Today's statement is the culmination of over 11 years of a
public process and more years of secret negotiations with
the British government. Irish anarchists have written in
considerable depth about this process. I reproduce some
extracts from key moments below but see the archive of
articles at
for more

When the cease-fire was broken in 1996 the Irish anarchist
Workers Solidarity Movement said that

"As anarchists we welcomed the cease-fire but condemned the
Peace Process in the sense that it has never at any time
concerned itself with the reality of life that faces
working class people in Ireland, both north and south of
the border. Unemployment remains high in Ireland, as do the
levels of poverty and inequality. This disastrous situation
is one that has been created and 'managed' by two of the
most important players within the Peace Process - the Irish
and British Governments. They have never been offering
anything else throughout the last eighteen months other
than more of the same. These social conditions, and the
fertile grounds they offer to the politics of sectarianism
within Ireland, are the real problems that must be faced if
a lasting peace is ever to be attained. Nationalism doesn't
recognise this; it offers no solutions to capitalism. It
seeks to bind us together on the basis of 'Irishness' or
'Englishness' - so that we may be properly and securely
exploited by both Irish and English bosses. This has been
the underlying basis of the Peace Process from its
inception. The Workers Solidarity Movement rejects it.

The real peace process that is needed is the development of
a new politics within the working class communities - a
politics that will recognise that anti-imperialism need not
be the same as nationalism. The elitist and militarist
armed struggle should be abandoned and replaced with mass

We are working for a new Ireland, an anarchist society
where production is to satisfy needs and where control
rests in the hands of the working class. The colour of the
flag that flies over our heads is not important, but the
quality of our lives is. Compared to the possibility of
real socialism and real freedom, republicanism is
politically bankrupt."

In 1988 in advance of the Good Friday / Belfast agreement
the WSM wrote:

"The people of Ireland, North & South will be asked to vote
on the 'Good Friday' agreement. There is a great desire for
peace which is being used to pressurise us into choosing
between two completely flawed alternatives. The agreement,
which was drawn up in secret by our so-called
'representatives', does not challenge the sectarian
divisions which have bedevilled this country.

In fact the structures proposed in the agreement actually
institutionalise sectarian divisions. Politicians elected
to the proposed Assembly must declare themselves either
'unionist' or 'nationalist' - those who refuse will not
have their votes counted in measuring the cross community
support necessary for passing legislation. We are supposed
to line up behind Catholic/Green or Protestant/Orange
banners and seek the best deal for 'our community'. The
concept of working class interests is not even considered.

What the agreement proposes is bringing some nationalist
politicians into a power-sharing arrangement with some
unionist politicians. The division between rulers and
ruled, between bosses and workers, between rich and poor
remains. The biggest change will be a few nationalist faces
sitting down with bigots like Trimble and Taylor, to make
laws which preserve the dominance of the rich over the

After three years of Stormont rule in 2001 the WSM
observered that:

"These politicians have spent their time in government
proving to the British government and to international
business that power is in safe hands. Thus we witness the
farcical situation where parties supposedly ranging across
the political spectrum from republican socialist to right-
wing unionist can agree - with no controversy whatsoever -
a programme of government. The only rows they seem to have
are over what flags should fly and when, and what flowers
should be put in the hall display!

The level of political debate and disagreement on economic
and social issues is non-existent. From the DUP to Sinn
Fein, there is effectively no difference as to the way
forward. When disagreements arise, it is along sectarian
lines - whether or not the Jubilee or the Royal Victoria
Hospital should be closed, for example. Needless to say
none of them were putting forward or fighting for the
proposition that both should remain open. No, it was more
important to prove to Tony Blair that Northern ministers
were as good at implementing cutbacks as their London

It is also true however that the years of the cease-fire
were a period in which Irish anarchists discussed, debated
and changed their understanding of partition. This is not a
process that is over by any means but the WSM positions
paper 'The partition of Ireland' reflects much of the
changed understanding that has been developed in that time.
From this

18. The Good Friday Agreement came about as the culmination
of Sinn Féin's strategy for over a decade which was aimed
at building various broad fronts around different issues in
an attempt to gain respectability by pulling in Fianna Fáil
members and church figures. This involved dropping all
references to socialism to maintain unity with "the broad
nationalist family". This strategy was never going to
deliver a united socialist Ireland, or any other
significant improvements apart from those associated with
"demilitarisation". It represents instead a hardening of
traditional nationalism and the goal of achieving an
alliance of all nationalists - Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil,
SDLP, the Catholic Church and "Irish America". Such an
alliance has nothing to offer working class people, North
or South, and we oppose it outright.

The Good Friday Agreement offered nothing except a
sectarian division of the spoils and in fact copper-
fastened sectarian divisions. We called for an abstention
in the referendum on this deal, refusing to align ourselves
with those calling for a 'no' vote, pointing out that they
have no alternative to offer, just more of the same
conflict that has ruined tens of thousands of working class
lives. The republican forces of the 32 County Sovereignty
Committee, the Real IRA, Republican Sinn Fein, Continuity
IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army has nothing but
increased communalism and sectarianism to offer. The
loyalist opponents-whose rallies were attended by vocal
supporters of the Loyalist Volunteer Force death squads -
wanted a return to the time when Catholics lived on their
knees in fear.

The Assembly set up under the 'Good Friday Agreement'
demonstrates quite clearly the fact that the net effect of
this agreement is to copper-fasten sectarianism, with
elected members having to declare themselves 'nationalist'
or 'unionist' in order for their votes to count. The
political parties have shown that they are capable of
plenty of agreement on economic issues - with no
disagreement over budgets or spending plans, but issues
such as what flowers should be put on display in the lobby
or what flags should fly over Ministerial buildings are
used to hype up the divisions between the two sides

The huge vote, North and South, in favour of the agreement
-whatever else it might have indicated - showed quite
clearly that the vast majority of people do not want a
return to pre-ceasefire violence. Any return to armed
struggle will deliver only more hardship and repression for
working class people in the six counties.

We reiterate our view that permanent peace and an end to
sectarianism will only come about after a British
withdrawal and that working people from both communities
must be convinced of the need to make the fight one for
anarchism, not for 'national rights'.


Mad Dogs And Ulstermen: The Crisis Of Loyalism (Part One)

Stephen Howe
28 - 9 - 2005

Behind recent violent unrest in Loyalist working-class
communities in Northern Ireland is a story of promiscuous
cultural borrowings attempting to shore up a collapsed
political identity, says Stephen Howe. In the first part of
a two-part essay, he examines their manifestations in
music, visual display and political rhetoric.

The riots, paramilitary assaults, car-hijackings, road-
blockings and widespread mayhem which swept Northern
Ireland in the second week of September 2005 were the worst
for many years. They involved, almost exclusively, working-
class Loyalists in Belfast, Ballymena and other parts of
County Antrim battling the police and army. It was hardly
the first time that "Loyal" organisations had been in
violent confrontation with the state. But the depth of
hatred and alienation on display still struck many
observers as unprecedented. There is no sign that any
political development in Northern Ireland – including the
report of the Independent International Commission on
Decommissioning two weeks after the riots that the IRA had
put all its weapons beyond use – is working to diminish it.

"For some years now, a complex, sophisticated discussion
has been proceeding about the nature of modernity in
Ireland…(but) northern Protestants, Unionists and
Loyalists, are simply absent from the debate."

openDemocracy publishes part two of Stephen Howe's major
essay on Friday 30 September

If you find this material valuable please consider
supporting openDemocracy by sending us a donation so that
we can continue our work and keep it free for all

Much media and political comment has "explained" the
profundity and rootedness of this feeling in terms of
bigotry and criminality, of archaism and atavism. Defensive
Unionist politicians speak in terms of Protestant
disillusion, even desperation, at a peace process which
they think has invariably favoured Catholics. None of those
labels is entirely wrong – yet what lies behind the events
of recent days goes much deeper. It engages the whole
nature of Britishness in Ireland and beyond, and the very
ideas of identity and community, modernity and tradition
most of us use so routinely. And as I'll try to show, the
songs Loyalists sing, the pictures they paint, even the
tattoos and t-shirts they wear, tell us a lot about what's
going on and what might happen next.

Back in August 2000, the excellent Irish Times columnist
Fintan O'Toole reflected on the cultural significance of a
notorious paramilitary figure, Johnny Adair. He argued

"A culture is a more or less coherent set of values and
assumptions. A tradition is an array of skills, images or
beliefs handed down more or less intact from history. In
the kind of analysis that tends to be applied to the
Northern Ireland conflict, people like Johnny Adair are
regarded as stuck within a particular Protestant culture,
and their tendency to violence is seen as an expression of
their need to defend that culture...

Yet what is most obvious to anyone looking at the symbols
in which Adair has wrapped himself is that 'culture' and
'tradition' are somewhat beside the point. What you see in
Johnny Adair is an extraordinary mish-mash of confusion and

O'Toole pointed out that a slogan which Adair, despicably,
employed about Catholics, "Kill 'em all. Let God sort them
out", actually derived from a medieval Catholic bishop's
words about proto-Protestant heretics in southern France.
Obviously, Adair and his fellow gunmen must be unaware of
this. O'Toole went on:

"In anything that can be called a culture or a tradition,
this phrase can only be heard as a warning about the
consequences of a religious intolerance that generates
insane violence... That it can end up as a slogan on the
wall of a self-styled defender of Protestant culture is a
sign, not of the persistence of a historic tradition, but
of the idiocy that comes with a fragmented culture that has
lost both memory and meaning."

What political gangsters like Johnny Adair represented,
then, was not immersion in cultural history, but "a mind
shaken free of any real connection to any coherent set of
cultural connections". As O'Toole pointed out, Adair did
not march down the Shankill Road to the tune of God Save
the Queen or Rule Britannia, but to the sound of Tina

"The slogan on their T-shirts isn't 'For God and Ulster'
but 'Simply the Best', the title of Tina's gooey pop hymn
to some standard-issue fantasy man. Over this T-shirt,
Johnny's sweatshirt proclaims, not the dignity of
Protestant Britain, but the virtues of Nike Athletic. The
tattoo on his arm isn't of Carson or Paisley, but of Mickey

So, O'Toole thought, the cultural influences at work were
"not Britishness and Protestantism, but Hollywood, Top of
the Pops and the Sun… the flotsam and jetsam of movies, pop
songs, brand names and tabloid TV…a jumble of commercial
clichés and meaningless slogans."

Fintan O'Toole has latched on to something important, which
surprisingly few other commentators have noticed. I want to
suggest, however, that he is wrong to dismiss the phenomena
he discusses as "commercial clichés and meaningless
slogans" and counterpose them to "proper" traditions and
cultures (though the anger and scorn towards sectarian
gangsters which leads him to make those judgments is not,
of course, in the slightest wrong.) They are, rather, part
of what happens when the decay of one form of cultural
modernity (the northern Irish variant of an urban, working-
class Britishness) clashes with the rise of another (a
north Atlantic, if not global, popular culture) and the
resultant hybrid is refracted through an intensely local,
territorial, violent and sectarian milieu.

Stephen Howe is professor of the history and cultures of
colonialism at Bristol University. His most recent books
are Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (Verso,
1998), Ireland and Empire: Colonial Legacies in Irish
History and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2000), and
Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press,

Also by Stephen Howe in openDemocracy:

"Edward Said: the traveller and the exile" (October 2003)

"American Empire: the history and future of an idea" (June

"An Oxford Scot at King Dubya's court: Niall Ferguson's
Colossus" (July 2004)

"Dying for empire, Blair, or Scotland?" (November 2004)

"The death of Arafat and the end of national liberation"
(November 2004)

"Israel, Palestine, and campus civil wars" (December 2004)

"Boycotting Israel: the uses of history" (April 2005)

If you find Stephen Howe's informed, acute, and fair-minded
analyses of contemporary global issues valuable, please
consider donating to openDemocracy to help us keep our
content free

What ensues is truly an "alternative modernity" which,
however unattractive it may appear to most observers,
almost disconcertingly echoes the cliches about what is
supposed to characterise the culture of postmodernity. This
is a world marked by the collapse of old certainties and
grand narratives: one of marginality, fiercely asserted
locality, obsession with identity, difference, otherness;
united only in its fragmentation, its assertion of
multiple, unstable identities; finding expression via
pastiche, bricolage, promiscuous cultural borrowings of all

Fintan O'Toole thus misses a crucial point. The features of
Adair's, or the lower Shankill's "culture" which he finds
both so feeble and so objectionable are just those which
make it contemporary – or even postmodern – from top to
bottom. It may be a portent, not a relic, in the terms Tom
Nairn once applied to Northern Ireland's political culture
as a whole.

Landscapes of identity

What formed in Belfast and other northern Irish urban
centres in the course of 19th-century industrialisation was
a variety of Britishness, not only in its stridently
proclaimed nationality-claims, but in the texture of
everyday life. Belfast, its youth and its working class had
a great deal in common with similar cities "across the
water". Many of its characteristic features were shared
with English, Scottish and Welsh industrial centres. It was
intensely localised, with social networks and loyalties
focused on very small, usually densely inhabited urban

It was often seen as an anti-educational culture: even more
so than was the norm for English or Scottish working-class
communities reliant on heavy industry; where the expected
post-school route was not to social mobility via education,
but to a secure position within the community through
apprenticeship in a skilled manual trade. Equally
evidently, it has been a profoundly masculinist culture –
again perhaps even more so than its equivalents elsewhere,
in ways that decades of violence could only reinforce. Both
the (partial) ending of paramilitary violence, which
threatens to deprive "hard men" of their raison d'etre and
aggressive youths of their role models, and the precipitous
decline in industrial employment, must intensify the
"crisis of masculinity" which many commentators identify as
a more generally pervasive western, post-industrial
phenomenon. This has, as yet, been little analysed in
Northern Ireland.

It could be seen as an utterly stifling environment. The
pressures to conformity were intense: anyone inclined to
question the shared truths of the community found
themselves labelled a Communist or a Fenian. Loyalty to the
crown, to Britishness, and to the Ulster Unionist Party
(which repaid its working-class supporters with total
indifference, perpetuating some of Europe's worst social
conditions) was almost unquestioning. Traditions of
military service were strong: yet the liberalising
influence of the Northern Ireland Labour Party – surely the
unsung heroes of modern Ulster history – was also felt, as
were ideas further left. And there were, at least before
the late-1960s eruption of violence, more links with
neighbouring Catholic communities, including ones of
marriage, than outsiders often think.

Despite such connections and cross-currents, there was a
dreadful naturalness, even inevitability about young men in
working-class Loyalist areas seeing any manifestation of
Catholic discontent as an IRA plot, and hitting out at it.
In that environment it is not the early violence or bigotry
of such men that is remarkable, but that some later
repudiated it. Crucially, some influential ex-gunmen came
to feel that "respectable" Unionist politicians had
manipulated them by first inciting their violence, then
indignantly disclaiming it. The people of the Shankill and
other poor Protestant districts, so it was ever more
assertively, even bitterly said, must no longer act
brutally at others' behest, but start thinking for

Perhaps that realisation came too late. The working-class
Loyalist communities of west and north Belfast are in a
probably irreversible territorial, demographic, economic
and political retreat – hence, in large part, the rage and
fear of those who mobilised in autumn 2001 against the
"threat" of Catholic schoolchildren passing through their
streets, who repeatedly battled over Drumcree, and who have
fought the police and army in recent days. Paramilitary
warlords and drug barons fight over the ruins. De-
industrialisation, demographic decline, the tendency of the
more enterprising or successful to move out to the suburbs
if not further afield, low rates of educational achievement
and very high ones of family breakdown, petty crime,
domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse – all these are
features which the poorer Protestant districts of Belfast,
Portadown or Ballymoney share with those of Liverpool,
Glasgow or Swansea, and indeed those of Dresden and

On that level, their crisis is generic, a variant on the
crisis of socio-economic modernisation which afflicts large
sectors of the older industrial economies everywhere. Not
only has "globalisation", in many of its aspects and
especially those which enthusiasts hail as positive,
enabling, freedom-enhancing, never fully penetrated those
sectors, but in a sense it has already been (it was there,
for instance, when Belfast could truly claim to be at the
centre of worldwide networks of trade and manufacture),
offered its tantalising promises, and then gone again.

Thus we should perhaps even speak of such districts as
undergoing demodernisation, in tangible and socially
damaging ways. Belfast-born poet Gerald Dawe writes well of
how Belfast's nightlife (and, one could add, its
consumption patterns) "is today indistinguishable from
Bristol or Birmingham, or, for that matter, Temple Bar. We
all live, more or less, in the same postmodern heaven." But
in Belfast, as in Birmingham or Dublin, many people
resentfully find they cannot afford a place in postmodern
heaven. The syndromes of "Protestant alienation" and
defeatism, including their additionally intense, working-
class Loyalist versions, are in these senses phenomena of
and explicable in terms of Charles Taylor's and Dilip
Parameshwar Gaonkar's "acultural", socio-economic
modernisation processes.

Yet their culturo-political origins and expressions are, of
course, more obvious and more widely remarked. These are
crises also of collective identity. Dawe's essay goes on to
remark that, simultaneously with the globalised "postmodern
heaven" of Belfast nightclubs or shopping malls there
flourishes, or festers, "a lifestyle based upon the
conscious pursuit of cultural identity; a pursuit, if you
like, of authenticity, of 'Irishness', or 'Britishness', or
'Ulster-Scots' which are no longer the preoccupations of
the fathering or mothering homelands."

This operates across communities and classes; but it is
generally agreed that the pursuit of "authenticity" is most
fraught, even desperate, among working-class Protestants.
As Marianne Elliott summarises the conventional wisdom:
"Catholic culture and identity is far more secure and all-
embracing than that of Protestants"; while more affluent
Protestants, with transferable skills and very often
experience of non-local education or employment, can more
readily assimilate to contemporary kinds of Britishness.
Indeed almost three decades of direct rule from London
greatly furthered that middle-class assimilation, in a
variety of both material and less tangible ways.

On the Shankill and Sandy Row, in Portadown and
Carrickfergus, in the myriad bleak housing estates where
grievance festers and violence rarely hides far beneath the
surface, the cultural response has been the kind of
pastiche which Fintan O'Toole identified, but whose
complexity he greatly underrates. In the first part of this
essay, I shall explore this by looking in turn at three
Loyalist culturo-political expressions: Loyalist songs,
visual imagery (especially murals) and bodily self-
fashioning, and its racial imaginings.

The music of Loyalism

The musical subcultures of Loyalism remain – to my
knowledge – almost entirely unanalysed. Their best-known
aspect is of course the "tradition" of marching bands,
which accompany the numerous annual summer parades of the
Loyal Institutions. They feature in much reportage on
Northern Ireland; but discussion centres almost exclusively
on their political and ritual significance rather than the
content of their performances. Indeed they are generally
viewed as being, in strictly musical terms, a limited and
uninteresting phenomenon.

This is not entirely unjust, especially in relation to the
mostly young, technically unaccomplished and often overtly
sectarian "Blood and Thunder" or "Kick the Pope" bands,
which have been in the ascendant in recent years. Clearly,
music itself is only a small part of the point and the
appeal of such ensembles – as is made clear in the numerous
and rapidly proliferating websites maintained by such bands
in both Ireland and Scotland, where material on repertoire,
instrumentation or technique very rarely features.

The main focus is on generalised, and often highly
belligerent, culturo-political assertion (with the sites
maintained from Scotland often appearing more aggressive
and sectarian than the Northern Irish ones). The older-
established bands, however, often still feature an
intriguingly eclectic repertoire, drawing sometimes on
specifically Scottish themes, on Irish traditional airs, on
a wide range of popular forms, on hymn tunes, and on the
influence of British military band music.

The relationship of Ulster Protestants to Irish traditional
music has been much debated, as has the extent to which
music whose origins and essential character are in no way
religiously specific has come to be associated almost
entirely with one community. Some attention has also been
given to pop and rock music's treatment of the Ulster
crisis, including the work of local artists: but very
little has addressed pro-Loyalist sentiments in this music,
for the good and simple reason that few such sentiments
have been expressed.

The past three decades' Northern Irish rock music has
included some that is explicitly pro-Republican (most
notably, Sean O'Neill's That Petrol Emotion, which emerged
from the determinedly non-political Undertones); much that
insists on "not taking sides", in the sense of espousing a
sharply anti-sectarian, non-partisan politics (much Belfast
punk music, the best-known instance being Stiff Little
Fingers); but only one band which achieved even the most
minimal public success espoused pro-Unionist sentiments –
Paul Burgess's Ruefrex.

Some of the most admired and accomplished performers from
northern Protestant backgrounds, indeed, have entirely
eschewed any explicit local references at all in their
music, let alone political ones. Thus Neil Hannon of The
Divine Comedy – arguably the wittiest and most literate
songwriter to have emerged in Ireland in decades – has
never included either "Irish" or "Ulster" allusions in his
work (unless, that is, the delightful "Oh Danny Boy the
pipes are blocked", from Through a Long and Sleepless Night
on the 1996 album Casanova is included). He has, though,
featured a mock-heroic performance of Wordsworth's ultra-
patriotic lines from Lucy: English-patriotic, that is.

Loyalist song as such, however, has received only one
substantial published discussion: and that a sharply
hostile one, by Bill Rolston. One should not perhaps be
surprised at that fact; for this Loyalist musical culture
is an almost entirely self-contained one. The bands and
singers perform almost exclusively in specifically Loyalist
venues; often social clubs which are linked to paramilitary

The CDs and tapes sell only to the faithful, through
specialist outlets: they are not even sold in Northern
Irish branches of the major international music retail
chains. They receive no radio play (even the local
community station Shankill Radio largely eschews such
material); and even if any of the performers involved had
ever made a video, one doubts if MTV's producers would be
beating a path to their doors. It is, of course, an amateur
culture, and a markedly limited one. Apart from some of the
older-established marching bands – who are usually also
those with the broadest, and least sectarian, repertoires –
the only group in this milieu striking this listener as
even minimally competent is the Ulster Volunteer Force
(UVF)-linked Platoon.

Yet it is a remarkably vigorous "subculture". The "Union
Jack Shop" on Belfast's Newtownards Road, to cite just one
retail outlet, currently advertises over 200 cassette tapes
and CDs for sale. In the sense of being a musical culture
produced by, for and remaining within a relatively
restricted public, with almost no intervention from large-
scale commercial concerns or communications media, it fits
oddly well into the conventional, indeed even the
restrictive, definitions of "folk music" – more so, indeed,
than its Republican counterpart, which attains rather
greater commercial and international exposure, not least
through Irish-American support networks. But it contrasts
intriguingly with Republican music in another respect.
Whereas Republican song mainly reworks a well-defined
repertoire of "traditional" airs, Loyalist song involves a
remarkable, sometimes bizarre melange of old and
contemporary idioms.

Bill Rolston notes this hybridity, recognising that
"loyalist songs come in a range of styles: from folk,
through country and western, to pop, and what is termed in
the United States 'adult-oriented rock'." He might have
added that today, trance, rave and other dance-oriented
(not to mention recreational-drug-oriented) remixes –
albeit often painfully amateurish ones – can also be
encountered. In so doing, he raises the possibility which I
am exploring here, only summarily to dismiss it:

"It could be argued that such hybridity is a healthy sign,
revealing loyalism's postmodernist credentials or its
multiculturalist ideals. However, there would be great
difficulty in sustaining such an argument. Instead, the
range of styles in loyalist tunes is in fact symptomatic of
a more general problem within loyalism: that of defining
identity. As a result, there is often great incongruity in
loyalist songs."

The antithesis is surely false: while few would wish to
argue that militant Loyalism is "consciously" inspired by
postmodernist, let alone multiculturalist, theory, the
instability of identity-claims and the internal formal
"incongruity" to which Rolston points are often in other
contexts thought characteristically, classically

Undoubtedly, though, the mixture of styles and genres in
this music is striking, as on occasion is the seeming lack
of "fit" between tune (or the memories evoked by the song's
original words) and lyrics. A "shock of misrecognition" may
be evoked by hearing the young Bob Dylan's anthem of
generational revolt, The Times They Are a'Changing
transmuted into:

"Come on you young brethren and listen to me And pledge
that your country stays loyal and free And step proudly
forth each 12th of July And let Dublin know now that Ulster
won't die."

It might be yet more surprising to hear John Denver's
sentimental country-pop ballad Take Me Home, Country Roads
reworked into a bitter litany of Ulster's sufferings from
the IRA, or a well-known Republican rallying cry like The
Men Behind the Wire drastically reshaped to appeal for
solidarity with Loyalist prisoners (one of several examples
of green "party tunes" being repainted bright orange).

The diversity of themes is as great as that of styles. If
some Loyalist songs evoke a broad sweep of the past – often
visualised in terms of eternal recurrence, with nationalist
threat, siege and fear of British betrayal reappearing,
essentially unchanged, across the generations – the very
point of others is their topicality. Some, indeed, are
regularly updated. Thus Thatcher-era references to
"Maggie's" treachery in the 1980s become allusions to
"Blair" in performances after 1997. Each new Loyalist
"martyr" will be mourned and celebrated in a rash of
rewritten ballads: most recently, those in memory of
Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) leader Billy Wright.

Maudlin sentiment abounds, some of it in older ballads,
some in the numerous songs about dead comrades. Songs
relating to the experience and sacrifice from the "Great
War" of 1914-18 are numerous, especially from performers
associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force. There such
anthems serve, among other purposes, to strengthen the
(largely fictive) bond between the "original" UVF which
lost so heavily at the 1916 battle of the Somme, and the
modern incarnation.

By no means all are unquestioningly jingoistic. Anti-war
songs like Eric Bogle's famous modern ballad No Man's Land
(also known as Willie McBride) about the useless sacrifice
of the western front are performed, alongside more
expectedly vainglorious invocations of the Somme. They
appear especially in the repertoires of performers linked
to the UVF. These, and the song lyrics reproduced on
websites associated with that group, differ substantially
though not absolutely from the Ulster Defence
Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters ones: the former are
more prone to evoke tradition, suffering and self-
sacrifice, while overt belligerence and sectarianism is
more evident in the latter's music.

Pro-UVF performance also appears more often to adopt ballad
forms and traditional tunes – whether Orange or generically
Irish ones – with UDA songs drawing on a more promiscuous
and contemporary range of sources. These are accompanied by
differences between the organisations' cultural repertoires
in relation to visual imagery and to political rhetoric,
which are explored below.

Some of the modern heroes are multiply invoked. Ballads
about assassinated Loyalists like the UVF's Trevor King and
Brian Robinson, the UDA's Joe Bratty and Lindsay Mooney, or
the Loyalist Volunteer Force's Billy Wright each exist in
several different versions. Among the most remarkable
transcultural borrowings in Loyalist song commemorates UVF
"Colonel" Trevor King in an adaptation of Marvin Gaye's
civil-rights anthem Abraham, Martin and John – which
becomes "…and Trevor".

But sometimes even in these works of ostensible remembrance
one is stopped short, and chilled. A UVF song, The
Battalion of the Dead, celebrates numerous fallen members
of the organisation. Some died in the course of what were,
by the UVF's own lights, legitimate operations: killed by
Republicans or in a few cases by British forces. But the
names of nakedly sectarian murderers, supposedly repudiated
by the group and, indeed, probably killed or "set up" by
fellow Loyalists, are also there. Lenny Murphy, Robert
Bates and other unequivocally sinister figures are part of
the battalion of the honoured dead. By what foul magic have
they been assimilated into the pantheon?

Here, far more than in Republican song – with which the
parallels are otherwise, again, very evident – the sordid
is transmogrified into the heroic and elegaic. Elsewhere,
different kinds of sentimentalism – the pop-cultural and
the "traditional" British military – are mingled. It is
reported that at the funeral of murdered UFF man Jackie
Coulter in August 2000, the public-address system blared
songs by Percy Sledge and Take That, followed by a lone
bugler playing the Last Post.

And alongside this sentimentality – and especially in UDA
songs – is a swaggeringly in-your-face glorification of
violence, which goes far beyond that to be encountered in
Republican song. In the latter, the actual business of
killing, and especially any hint of overt sectarianism, is
euphemised, poeticised, hidden. In some Loyalist song, it
is asserted with a kind of desperate bravado. The attitude
is, as in the reported slogan on a Loyalist t-shirt: "No
one likes us – and we don't give a fuck".

Bands carry names like The Young Guns, The Battalion, The
Armagh Brigade. Some lyrics do not commemorate the honoured
dead or the sufferings of Loyalist prisoners, but glory in
their own menace and brutality:

"Their time will come for, mark my words, they'll pay the
price one day, They'll be cut down like mad dogs by the men
of the UDA."

The final minutes of Peter Taylor's impressive BBC
television history of Protestant paramilitarism, Loyalists,
are shot in a west Belfast drinking club. (The occasion,
though not stated in the film, is a post-parade celebration
by the Shankill Protestant Boys, a marching band closely
linked to the UVF – and apparently heavily involved in the
September 2005 events.) Two songs are featured – and they
mirror two dramatically contrasted sides of the Loyalist
musical world.

First, behind Taylor's commentary, can be discerned Daddy's
Uniform: a sentimental though also militant celebration of
the Ulster Volunteer tradition being handed down through
the generations, which ends with the ageing father

"So take this gun, my only son, And join the Volunteers!"

Seemingly the entire packed room – including a well-known
west Belfast political figure – sings along with the rather
plodding two-piece band. Then, though, a hulking, shaven-
headed, black-clad figure takes the little stage. He
begins, in a tunelessly roaring voice:

"I was walking up the Falls With my fucking tommy gun I
grabbed a Taig and told him There was fuck all that could
stop me. Then I shot him. And I watched that bastard die."

The room erupts in applause; in which this time the
politician, perhaps aware of the cameras, apparently does
not join.

Some sources for Stephen Howe's critique and overview of
the crisis of Loyalism:

Colin Crawford, Inside the UDA: Volunteers and Violence
(Pluto, 2003)

Gerald Dawe, "Re-Imagining the Urban Landscape" (Fortnight
385, May 2000)

Ruth Dudley Edwards, The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate
Portrait of the Loyal Institutions (HarperCollins 1999)

Marianne Elliott, The Catholics of Ulster (Penguin, 2000)

Roy Garland, Gusty Spence (Blackstaff Press, 2001)

Paul Gilroy, Between Camps: Nations, Cultures, and the
Allure of Race (Routledge, 2004)

Henry Glassie, Passing the Time in Ballymenone (Indiana
University Press, 1995)

Billy Hutchinson, Hard Man, Honorable Man: My Loyalist Life
(Dublin, 2003).

David Lister and Hugh Jordan, Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of
Johnny Adair and 'C' Company (Mainstream, 2003)

James McAuley, The Politics of Identity: A Loyalist
Community in Belfast (Avebury, 1994).

Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, UDA: Inside the Heart of
Loyalist Terror (Penguin, 2005) ? Fintan O'Toole, "When
Bigotry Takes on a Life of its Own" (Irish Times 29 August

Bill Rolston, "Music and Politics in Ireland: The Case of
Loyalism", in John P Harrington and Elizabeth J Mitchell
(eds.) Politics and Performance in Contemporary Northern
Ireland (Massachusetts University Press / American
Conference for Irish Studies, 1999).

Michael Stone, None Shall Divide Us (Blake Publishing,

The visual imagery of Loyalism

Contemporary Loyalist visual display is marked by the same
heterogeneities, incongruities and promiscuous cultural
borrowings as the musical. Mural painting in Northern
Ireland is, as is well known, itself a modern rather than a
"traditional" phenomenon, first emerging in the early years
of the 20th century. The images depicted were, before the
1970s and the contemporary conflict, drawn from a very
limited range of Orange motifs: most obviously and
frequently, William III at the 1690 battle of the Boyne.

Murals were also, until the 1970s, an almost exclusively
Loyalist phenomenon. As Republicans adopted the practice,
however, a far wider range of themes and images began to be
employed; and it was not long before Loyalists began in
their turn to respond to this diversification. What has
developed since, though, indicates an intriguing difference
in the kinds of cultural resources drawn upon by the two

A crucial resource of murals in Northern Ireland is
Jonathan McCormick's increasingly comprehensive online

The majority of Loyalist paramilitary-related murals have
continued to adopt a fairly restricted set of explicitly
militaristic motifs: uniformed, often masked gunmen,
accompanied by slogans urging defiance, naming members who
have been killed, or simply identifying the "battalion" or
"company" whose territory the mural's location is claimed
to be. A high – though not quite so high – proportion of
Republican murals are in similar style.

Beyond that, there is sharp and apparently increasing
divergence. Nationalist and Republican wall-paintings are
almost invariably realist in style – sometimes, indeed, as
with several of the most famous Derry murals, taken almost
directly from photographs – and depict scenes from the
Nationalist pantheon of Irish history, the past three
decades' conflict, or invoke international solidarity with
the IRA's struggle. Allusions to or images of contemporary
popular culture are very rare.

Although cultural theorist David Lloyd sees use of the
"iconic traditions of post-Marvel comic books" in
Republican murals as part of the "intersection of non-
modern, modern and postmodern practices" involved in
"inhabiting, outwitting and resisting the systematically
graduated violence of the state's incursions" in Northern
Ireland, it turns out that the "post-Marvel" imagery he has
in mind is derived from graphic artist Jim Fitzpatrick's
Book of Conquests – that is, a pseudo-archaic Celticism.

More contemporary cartoon images are not entirely absent
from Republican visual culture – two depictions of then
secretary of state Peter Mandelson as Pinocchio appeared on
Belfast's Falls Road and Divis Street in 2000 – but they
are not an important part of the repertoire. Conversely,
historical and "cultural heritage" imagery – Cuchulain,
Finn McCool, the Ulster-American connection – has, since
the 1990s, begun to feature more heavily in Loyalist

Many of the newer "cultural" murals that have been
appearing in Loyalist districts, however, have apparently
been commissioned not by the ghetto communities themselves,
but by bodies such as the Ulster-Scots Heritage Council.
Where this is not the case, the historical themes invoked
are often ones specific to the Ulster Volunteer Force – in
some districts indeed, in 2003-05 the UVF moved to replace
explicitly militaristic murals with more pacific ones.

UVF murals, by contrast with the UDA's, have appeared ever
more often to take historical themes, with an especial,
renewed emphasis on first world war experience and the
Somme – as with the organisation's songs. The texts
accompanying UVF murals, too, are more likely to evoke
ideas of military tradition than are other groups'.
Quotations from first world war poetry are popular: and
again, they are not only the heroic or glorifying. A
bitterly anti-war text by Siegfried Sassoon, of which
former Volunteer leader Gusty Spence was fond, appears on a
UVF memorial on the Newtownards Road:

"You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when
soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never
know The hell where youth and laughter go."

Other sources are more surprising. On Mersey Street in east
Belfast, a UVF mural carries the legend: "We are Pilgrims,
Master. We Shall Always Go a Little Further". The message
has a Biblical or Bunyanesque ring to it – but the actual
source is James Elroy Flecker's poem The Golden Journey to
Samarkand. More direct as a likely source for the UVF's
painters, it is inscribed on the clocktower at the SAS's
headquarters in Hereford.

The most prominent shift, however, is the increasing use of
cartoon and other popular-cultural imagery in Loyalist
murals. An image from a heavy-metal record sleeve, Iron
Maiden's Eddie – a terrifying, avenging figure advancing
across a blasted landscape littered with Fenian dead –
appears at least five times on UDA/UFF murals: including on
Derry's Waterside (apparently the oldest); at Monkstown,
Tullycarnet; as part of the mass of new murals that
appeared in summer 2000 around the lower Shankill,
associated with the UFF's "C" Company, 2nd battalion, and
its then leader Johnny Adair; and (at the time of writing
the most recent) on Dee Street in Belfast

That complex also included – before it aroused bitter
criticism and was hastily removed – an unusually explicit
celebration of purely sectarian killings (such as Greysteel
and the lower Ormeau bookmakers) and captioned with another
popular culture reference, Van Morrison's line (from his
song Coney Island) "Wouldn't it be great if it was like
this all the time…" There were also paintings of Billy
Wright, and of the British Queen Mother and Princess Diana
(the Official and the Provisional wings of the Royal
Family, one might say). After the expulsion of Adair and
his key supporters from both the district and from the UDA
in 2003, much of this complex was erased or defaced.

"Eddie" and "King Rat", the traditionally revered "Queen
Mum" and the more contemporary "pop" icon of the "People's
Princess", all juxtaposed with overt celebration of
sectarian murder and all purportedly part of a "Festival of
Protestant Culture": the pick'n'mix heterogeneity of
current Loyalist cultural imagining could hardly be better

Other cartoon characters abound on Loyalist murals.
"Spike", the dog from Tom & Jerry, appears on at least four
(apparently all UDA-linked) images: in Tullycarnet, Martin
Street, the King's Road, and as another part of the Adair-
initiated lower Shankill complex. Donald Duck is displayed
on Templemore Avenue in east Belfast; and the cartoon
Viking Hagar the Horrible on Donegall Pass. On the
"Bridgeton Wombles" website (the "Wombles" name derived
from the furry-animal characters in a 1960s childrens' TV
show and was an early if obscure nickname for the UDA) Bart
Simpson proclaimed "Bart Says Free Johnny Adair". The
website is Scottish and, like several others there and in
Northern Ireland, combines support for Glasgow Rangers
football club and for the UDA.

Bart also appears, waving an Ulster flag, on a Ballymena
mural from 1991. The United States bald eagle is
appropriated for a Red Hand Commando painting in Bangor,
North Down. Even the much-televised UVF 3rd battalion mural
on Belfast's Shore Road, with its two menacing masked
gunmen and its slogan "Prepared for Peace – Ready for War"
has a distinctively cartoon-like character, with an evident
inspiration (direct or indirect) from the pop art of Roy

The worlds of paramilitarism and pop culture mix on many
other fronts. Football enthusiasms frequently intermingle
with sectarian ones, especially among some supporters of
Belfast Linfield and of Glasgow Rangers. Several of the
Loyalist "tartan gangs" of the seventies named themselves
"Kai" gangs. The name apparently derived both from then
Rangers hero Kai Johansen and from "Kill All Irish". Of the
Shankill today, local politician Chris McGimpsey remarks:
"It's like this: some kids love David Beckham and some kids
love Johnny Adair. Some love both." An Irish Times reporter
found that the cult status of lower Shankill hard men
evoked yet stranger parallels: "'I know them all', boasts
one boy, in the way other children boast about Pokemon
characters. 'Even with their balaclavas on'."

Even in bodily self-presentation, some remarkable cross-
fertilisations are to be encountered. Loyalist militants
seem to have a strong taste for tattoos; and although these
often include "traditional" motifs like the Red Hand or
Union Jack, they may jostle against pop-culture images like
the Mickey Mouse which O'Toole noted on Adair. Clothing has
tended increasingly towards the global uniform of brand-
marked sportswear, sometimes supplemented by t-shirts and
other accessories of more localised – and often sinister –
provenance. Popular t-shirt images in recent years have
included "Reservoir Prods", from the cult Quentin Tarantino
film, Fred Flintstone as a Loyalist gunman - sometimes with
the slogan: "Yabba Dabba Doo…" (Fred's trademark yell)
"…Any Taig Will Do"'; and the west Belfast UFF's slogan
from Tina Turner: "Simply the Best".

Heavy gold jewellery is also popular: a fashion which owes
little to either local or indeed British influences, much
to African-American "gangsta" chic. So too, perhaps, does a
characteristic emphasis on a muscular hyper-masculinity,
the preoccupation with "working out" and "pumping iron"
which seems to have taken so strong a hold among Loyalist
prison inmates. The emblematic image of the Republican
prisoner is as an emaciated hunger-striker: the Loyalist is
a hypertrophied body-builder.

This appears indebted to United States-originated but
globally commercialised iconographies of the black male
body, which have been sensitively analysed by Paul Gilroy.
Gilroy argues to effect that such African-American imagery
and associated disciplines of the body, ostensibly
celebratory and empowering, are in fact deeply disturbing;
updated versions of classic tropes of "the black man" as
body rather than mind, and as dangerously, uncontrollably

The adoption of similar forms of self-fashioning among
Ulster Loyalist men is little if any less retrograde. The
parallels are indeed startling; not only in the cultivation
of fetishised images of the ultra-muscular physique, with
associated notions of "aristocrats of the body" which, as
Gilroy proposes, have clearly Nazi roots, but even in the
shared, pervasive canine imagery – compare the iconography
of Adair as "Mad Dog" with the strangely persistent
invocation of canine self-comparisons in 1990s US rap.
(Adair's own dog was named Rebel – an intriguing choice
given the historic near-monopolisation of the "rebel" label
in Ireland by Republicans. Did Adair imply that, through
his dog, he was appropriating the designation from his
enemies, and that his was now the truly rebellious stance?
Or was the animal called Rebel so that Adair, when ill-
treating it, could imagine he was kicking Fenians around?)

The racial imaginings of Loyalism

This parallel points us towards something wider and still
stranger: the racial imaginings of Loyalism. Amidst all the
heterogeneity of Loyalist musical culture, all the varied
borrowings, one common feature stands out. Whether the
sources are traditional Irish or Scottish, bubblegum pop or
mainstream rock, American folk-rock or country & western
(the last, of course, itself a genre with substantial
northern Irish roots) they are almost all white. I know of
no Loyalist equivalents to the various pro-Republican,
mainly Irish-American attempts to perform reggae, rap or
hip-hop, as by Black 47, Marxman or Seanachie. Yet some of
the anthems now adopted are from black music: most
obviously, Tina Turner's Simply the Best.

The seeming contradictions or incoherences go further.
Johnny Adair's formative milieu was clearly a racist one,
anti-black as well as anti-Catholic. The core of the Lower
Shankill UDA came together as teenage neo-Nazi skinheads in
the 1970s, affiliated to the British National Front and
following a "white power" rock band in which Adair played,
Offensive Weapon. Contacts and mutual sympathies between
British fascists (including the paramilitary Combat 18) and
some Loyalists have continued or been renewed into the
present. They have mainly involved elements in the UDA –
though certainly not reflecting that organisation's
official policy or most members' views – and now the LVF.
Yet it was while attending a concert by UB40 (a mixed-race
band playing Jamaican-inspired music) that Adair was shot
in the head in an assassination attempt; and reportedly his
first holiday after release from prison was in Jamaica.

Perhaps, it might even be said, the affinities between
Ulster Loyalists and American or even British black
communities now go further than barely-acknowledged
cultural borrowings. The former increasingly see themselves
as underprivileged, ghettoised, embattled, defending a
threatened space of cultural identity and of physical
territory: their 'hood. For the defence of localised
territory is of course fundamental. In principle it could
be any outsider, not necessarily Catholic, that is seen as
menacing it.

It could, most obviously, be blacks or Asians – hence, in
part at least, the UFF's and LVF's affinities with British
neo-Nazi groups. But it could also be rival Loyalists: the
2000-1 UFF-UVF feud, the 2002 UFF-LVF one (complicated by
the former's internal schisms), the 2003 split between
Adair's followers and the UDA/UFF "inner council", and the
2005 renewed UVF-LVF war, were all in large part about
physical control of urban space, especially in north and
west Belfast.

The threatening force could even be envisaged as being the
entire surrounding society: an unholy alliance of the
Republican former insurgents and the state which Loyalists
once saw as their ally, but has now turned against them. In
part two of this essay, I note how pervasive the latter
perception has recently become in militant Loyalist
circles. The consequent ethos of cultural and physical
resistance against a hostile, encroaching world brings the
urban Loyalist vision strangely close to recurrent themes
in transatlantic black politico-cultural rhetoric.

The invocation of parallels between African-American and
Northern Irish civil-rights struggles, especially in the
late 1960s and early 1970s, is well known and well
documented. At least as familiar – quoted to the point, by
now, of cliché – is the defiant outburst in Roddy Doyle's
The Commitments: the Irish are the blacks of Europe,
Dubliners the blacks of Ireland, Northsiders the blacks of
Dublin. Today, with Dublin's (even much of the Northside's)
new prosperity and cosmopolitanism, and the growing
cultural confidence of northern Catholics, set against the
desperate defensiveness of urban Loyalism, the imagery
could almost be reversed. The gunmen of the UDA or LVF are
unlikely soon to "say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!"
But it may yet be that the old Irish trope of referring to
"the black north" will take on a new, ironic, "postmodern"

Equally, though, we could reverse the imagery and say that
Loyalists are not Ireland's new blacks: they are instead
the last of the Whiteboys. Loyalist paramilitarism, perhaps
more clearly than its Republican counterpart, is strongly
in the Irish tradition of the "public band", which goes
back to the Whiteboys and other rural rebels of the 17th
and 18th centuries: secretive but intermittently self-
advertising, highly ritualised but lacking in effective
central organisation, often mingling political violence and
"ordinary" criminality.


Mad Dogs and Ulstermen: the crisis of Loyalism (part two)

Stephen Howe
30 - 9 - 2005

The combative cultural and political worldview of Northern
Ireland's working-class Protestant communities is not an
atavistic residue but part of a complex response to modern
global conditions and national pressures, says Stephen Howe
in the second, concluding part of his panoptic essay.

In the first part of this openDemocracy essay I examined
the crisis of Northern Ireland's working-class Protestant
communities, as exemplified in the severe rioting of the
second week of September 2005, through three of their
cultural expressions: music, visual display, and political
rhetoric. In the second part, I extend the argument by
framing these phenomena in the context of contemporary
discussions of identity, modernity, and postmodernity in

The religious intolerance and insane violence of political
gangsters like Johnny Adair are "part of what happens when
the decay of one form of cultural modernity (the northern
Irish variant of an urban, working-class Britishness)
clashes with the rise of another (a north Atlantic, if not
global, popular culture) and the resultant hybrid is
refracted through an intensely local, territorial, violent
and sectarian milieu."

openDemocracy published part one of Stephen Howe's
incisive, challenging essay on Loyalism in Northern Ireland
on Wednesday 28 September

For some years now, a complex, sophisticated discussion has
been proceeding about the nature of modernity in Ireland.
Numerous political, social and cultural theorists,
politicians and literary critics, songwriters and
filmmakers, media pundits and contemporary historians have
intervened in and helped to shape it.

These contributors may come from a broad variety of
intellectual and political positions – often, indeed,
sharply antagonistic ones – but nonetheless all have
largely concurred that concepts like "tradition",
"modernity" and "modernisation" (or for that matter
"postmodernity" and "globalisation"), have taken on unique,
complicated, perhaps especially problematic inflections
under Irish circumstances. Simple, linear models of change
- from tradition to modernity or postmodernity, or from
colonial to postcolonial – are still encountered in the
literatures of Irish sociology, history and political
economy (and even more in journalistic comment), but this
discussion has subjected them to ever more vigorous

In Ireland today, assumptions that the traditional is
merely residual, that modernisation processes are unitary
and unidirectional, are widely questioned if not largely
discredited. A far more complex conversation has taken
their place. Popular debating positions within this
conversation have included three claims:

that "modernisation" in Ireland has been an inherently
flawed, inauthentic or doomed project

that Irish society in some sense moved straight from the
traditional to the postmodern without ever fully
experiencing modernity (or modernism) on the way

that Irish "modernisers" are vainly trying to catch up with
someone else's past, and that it is the upholders of
certain kinds of cultural tradition who actually hold the
keys to the future

The first two claims carry an especially direct political
charge: namely, that modernity, postmodernity and/or
globalisation in Ireland have been (or should be)
associated with becoming "post-nationalist", with embracing
cultural hybridity, with European integration, and with
fundamentally reappraising discourses of gender and of
organised religion.

Some critics see in these propositions an association with
a "universalist", post-Enlightenment philosophical stance,
and a liberal or social-democratic politics; others draw
the conclusion that the alleged failure of modernity in
Ireland is precisely attributable to its association with
"universalist" intellectual and political attitudes of this
kind. In this perspective, Ireland's "postcolonial"
position and unended embroilment in the legacies of empire
("a first world country, but with a third world memory", in
the words of one such critic, Luke Gibbons) make stances of
this kind peculiarly inappropriate or damaging there.

Between Dublin and Belfast

Almost all these intense and complex arguments, however,
have taken place in and about the Republic of Ireland. Even
where they have referred to earlier history (including the
period before the partition of the country in 1920-22),
their analysis of culture and society has focused almost
exclusively on nationalist, Catholic Ireland – and is
infused with a pervasive assumption that this is all of

Despite several recent attempts to think of developments on
both sides of the Irish border as parallel or linked
"crises of modernisation", the north is almost entirely
missing from the conversation. Northern Catholics play a
minor and rather inglorious role in the republic's
discussions, one framed by a pervasive (and ill-evidenced)
assumption that they are more "traditional" in their
social, cultural and religious attitudes – and (naturally)
in their views on the "national question" - than their
southern co-religionists. As for northern Protestants, for
Unionists and Loyalists, they are simply absent from the

Modern writing about the republic thus engages in intense
argument on the meanings of the modern, the postmodern, the
traditional, the emergent, the residual, and such complex
alternative coinages as David Lloyd's "non-modern". Yet for
almost all analysis of the north (and especially of
Unionism and Loyalism) a simpler and cruder picture still
suffices, counterposing the traditional to the modern and
reducing each to a few simple stereotypes: the sash, the
bowler-hat, the lambeg drum, intolerance, fundamentalist
Presbyterianism (and violence and sectarianism) versus
dialogism, New Unionism, integrated education, parity of
esteem secularism (and peace, and tolerance).

The very terms of debate – "modern", "modernist",
"modernising", "postmodern", "traditional", "archaic" – are
themselves problematised and closely interrogated in
relation to the Republic of Ireland (and for that matter,
almost everywhere else in Europe, if not the world), but
largely still accepted and deployed almost uncritically for
Ulster. The predominant attitude is that expressed in
Maurice James Craig's oft-quoted Belfast poem:

"O the bricks they will bleed and the rain it will weep,

And the damp Lagan fog lull the city to sleep,

It's to hell with the future and live on the past:

May the Lord in His mercy be kind to Belfast."

Meanwhile the recent wave of "anti-modernist" and/or
postmodernist argument in and about the republic, offering
positive reappraisals of tradition, of the supposedly
archaic or residual – as represented by very influential
critics like Seamus Deane, Luke Gibbons or David Lloyd –
has no apparent equivalents among northern Protestants.
Among them, defence of "tradition" can be heard not in the
sophisticated cadences of transatlantic cultural theory,
but only in the dour or strident tones of the Orange Grand
Master, the Free Presbyterian preacher, even the Loyalist

The branding of a culture

Some of the roots of this bifurcation seem obvious, indeed
over-familiar. Three evident facts, which henceforth can be
taken as read, suffice to make the point:

that much even of the best scholarly writing about Northern
Ireland, and especially about Loyalism, misunderstands,
oversimplifies and stereotypes its subjects

that Loyalists are routinely condemned to be thus
misunderstood both by others' ignorant hostility and by
their own immobility and inarticulacy

that scholarly debate in and about the Republic of Ireland
has long taken roads utterly divergent from those travelled
by students of Northern Ireland

Yet there are also undeniably good reasons for the lack of
sophisticated interrogation of "alternative modernities" in
Northern Ireland; for some of the stereotypes are not
entirely misplaced. Northern Irish society is, indeed, in
important and obvious ways old-fashioned: both inward-
looking and backward-looking.

Moreover, it is not entirely wrong to observe that Loyalist
self-understandings and self-presentations of their culture
and history – not only others' claims about them – are
often rigid, narrow, even bigoted. The sectarian elements
in Ulster Protestant popular culture - from Orange parades
to Loyalist songs, emblems and murals - can neither be
ignored nor easily "separated out". To say that Loyalist
culture is only about sectarianism and supremacism – as
commentators like Ronan Bennett have repeatedly done – is,
bluntly, a lie. Yet as historian Joseph Lee once said of
stereotypes about Irish history more generally, "half the
lies are true".

In short, if Irish nationalist cultural expression has
appeared more fertile, more diverse and vigorous – and
infinitely more globally marketable - than its Loyalist
counterparts, this is not only, or perhaps even mainly, a
result of media bias. By the same token, if rich and
complex expressions of "alternative modernity" have not
been discerned in Belfast or Ballymena as they have in Cork
or Clonakilty, this does not stem solely from the myopia of
analysts in the republic or elsewhere.

The difference appears in almost parodic form in recent
west Belfast cultural events. The annual festival centred
on the Catholic working-class heartland of the Falls Road
has a strongly Republican (that is, supportive of Sinn Fein
and sympathetic to the Irish Republican Army) and cultural-
nationalist agenda; and few would dispute that it is, in
effect, organised and controlled by Sinn Fein itself. But
it is also highly successful, well-established and
artistically diverse. It features many international
performers, and attracts many tourists as well as
(deservedly) substantial Arts Council funding.

In stark contrast, an attempt to mount a "Festival of
Protestant Culture" on the neighbouring Shankill Road in
2000 was not only a far smaller, shabbier affair that
seemingly made no effort to appeal to non-locals; it was
almost exclusively – and overtly – paramilitary in
orientation. Indeed, its climactic parade dissolved into a
riot, which in its turn precipitated a bloody feud between
rival Loyalist paramilitary groups.

Stephen Howe is professor of the history and cultures of
colonialism at Bristol University. His most recent books
are Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes (Verso,
1998), Ireland and Empire: Colonial Legacies in Irish
History and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2000), and
Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press,

If you find Stephen Howe's informed, acute, and fair-minded
analyses of contemporary global issues valuable, please
consider donating to openDemocracy to help us keep our
content free

It was not always thus. For the most striking paradox of
"alternative modernities" in Ireland is that it was
Protestants and Unionists who once saw themselves as the
main modernising force there – appropriately so, since
their social experience was intimately linked with
industrialisation, commercialisation, secularisation and
indeed modern political nationalism. All these phenomena
were, in their origins and early elaborations in Ireland,
disproportionately Protestant.

Now, northern Protestants are quite generally seen – from
London as well as from Dublin, and by many from within
their own ranks - as the most archaic, backward-looking of
all social groups, forces or currents of opinion in
contemporary Britain or Ireland. With the Republic of
Ireland's dynamic, pluralistic "Celtic tiger" (if slightly
tarnished by social strains and worries) on one side, and
multicultural "Cool Britannia" (if slightly worn after
eight years of Blairism) on the other, Northern Ireland's
economy and its Unionist culture are visualised as uniquely

Variants of modernity

How to disentangle this paradox? One approach may be via an
influential formulation of the wider, global argument on
"alternative modernities". Both Charles Taylor and Dilip
Parameshwar Gaonkar suggest a crucial distinction between
socio-economic modernisation and cultural modernities.

For Taylor, there are two basic ways of understanding
modernity. The first is culturally based: it sees the
advent of modernity as the introduction of new languages
through which ideas of personhood, of the good or of what
is natural are understood. The second is "acultural": it
sees "modernisation" as "development" – as the ending of a
traditional society and its replacement by scientific and
bureaucratic rationality, secularisation, the doctrine of
progress, individualism, industrialism, contractual and
market-based relationships.

The dominant theories of modernity, says Taylor, have been
of the acultural type (and this is surely true of the
"classic" sociological discourses of modernisation in
Ireland). But the dominance of this understanding has had
its costs; not least in that culture-based views of
modernity are at least potentially pluralist – we can see
"our" modernity, based on a particular language, as just
one among several – whereas acultural ones tend toward the

Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar pursues a similar train of
argument, suggesting that ideas of cultural modernity, as
opposed to societal modernisation, are critical, indeed
oppositional. They originated in an aesthetic – initially
Romantic – protest against the "philistinism" attendant on
the socio-economic modernisation process; and although
their critical edge may have been much blunted by
subsequent mass-media appropriation, it retains potential

It is readily apparent that this train of thought fits at
least the self-images of Irish culturalist critics of
"modernisation", from Patrick Pearse to Seamus Deane. But
in applying it to northern Loyalism, an ironic counterpoint

Urban, industrial northeast Ireland developed only
relatively few and thin distinctive (as in "unique to that
region") expressions of cultural modernity. These were the
kinds of cultural displays and artifacts nowadays
ordinarily celebrated, or derided, as "Protestant culture":
the loyal institutions, their parades, banners and rituals;
local variants of British military marching-band music; a
specific repertoire of mural paintings, popular songs and
so on; above all, a set of historical narratives and
images. There was nothing at all unusual in the fact that
these were rarely understood as artifacts of cultural
modernity, but rather as ones of "tradition".

Also far from unique in a comparative perspective, but
perhaps unusually (indeed disastrously) intense, was the
extent to which many of these expressions came to be
understood – at least by outsiders - less as modes of self-
interpretation, self-definition or celebration than as
means of exclusion, control or aggression: in short, as

There was a good reason why these formulations of a
distinctive cultural modernity among northern Protestants
were relatively few and thin. The "work" they were designed
to do was fairly restricted: it was not required to go "all
the way across" the terrain of the modern, for a large part
of this terrain was already occupied by four other cultural

The first was cultural forms and self-understandings which
were not specifically "Ulster Protestant", but generically
Irish: though the extent of this shared cultural territory
was steadily eroded through the first home-rule crises,
partition, differential experience during the second world
war, and the post-1969 conflicts. This dwindling sense of
shared "Irish" cultural space – to which the post-partition
cultural policies of both Dublin and Stormont governments
actively contributed – has been well traced by historians
like Dennis Kennedy and Gillian McIntosh.

The second was trans-communal conceptions of a regional
identity specific to the north. Various writers have at
different times sought to emphasise and build on this
portion of the cultural landscape, following the
influential example of Ulster poet John Hewitt; their work
involves a search for a way to de-sectarianise the idea of
Ulster and link it to a renewed sense of place, of physical
environment and of trans-communal (largely rural) folkways.

The most recent serious effort in this direction is
Marianne Elliott's attempt historically to trace an Ulster
identity which once embraced the region's Catholics, and in
her eyes could and should do so again.

A third district of northern Protestant cultural territory
– which, too, has been the site of strenuous recent efforts
at revival – was closely affiliated to Scottishness.

The fourth – and more significant than the first three –
was mainly English, then British, then increasingly north
Atlantic. This succession of interwoven influences came to
dominate not because it was of intrinsically greater worth
or appeal than the others, but because in it, a particular
variant of the cultural modern was most powerfully
associated with societal modernisation – and, indeed,

The implication of this approach for the attempt to explain
what has been happening to the cultures of Unionism and
Loyalism is that the main focus should not be on the
specific forms of cultural modernity which Ulster
Protestants developed, but on the way in which socio-
economic modernisation impacted on these; not, once again,
on Orange parades, lambeg drums or the revival of Ulster-
Scots dialect, but on how a particular local variant of an
international (though naturally, mainly British) urban,
working-class culture grew up in the north – and toward
what has been happening as that culture decomposed.

Nation, class, politics

The paradoxes and ironic reversals, the heterogeneities and
incongruities, the minglings of archaic and contemporary
exemplified in Loyalist culture are just as evident in its
political rhetoric. Here too, a "pick'n'mix" approach often
seems in evidence, with Loyalist paramilitaries and their
political spokesmen adopting fragments of everything from
an "old Labour" brand of social democracy to neo-Nazism.

Theirs has not been a very literary or theoretical
political culture: certainly not when compared to its
Republican counterpart. The "Union Jack Shop" on the
Newtownards Road, for example, advertises a huge range of
Loyalist merchandise – jewellery, clothing, sportswear,
flags, badges, teatowels, mugs, keyrings, music tapes – in
support of the different paramilitary groups. It does not,
however, stock more than a handful of books; and those few
are popular works on the Ulster conflict, not on cultural
or other historical themes, nor ones reflecting a
distinctively Loyalist worldview.

Its equivalent on the opposing side, the Sinn Fein shop on
the Falls Road, also sells a fair amount of nationalist and
paramilitary kitsch; but it also offers a substantial, and
politically quite diverse, range of books, pamphlets and
journals. The few Loyalist militants who have become
authors – such as Billy Hutchinson and Michael Stone – have
not matched the commercial success of Gerry Adams or Danny
Morrison; nor has their tendency produced intellectually
weighty prison writings of the kind that nationalists and
Republicans, from John Mitchel to the Irish Nationalist
Liberation Army (Inla's) Thomas "Ta" Power, have. And
although many Loyalist prisoners – especially from the
Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF's) ranks - pursued higher
education behind bars, this was never on the same scale as
among IRA inmates, nor was it accompanied by anything like
the Provisional IRA's impressive prison library.

In part, the difference is to do with class. Loyalist
paramilitaries were recruited almost entirely from urban,
blue-collar - or even "lumpenproletarian" – backgrounds.
Middle-class, rural and small-town Protestants, if they
wanted to "fight back" against the IRA, were far more
likely to join official state forces than underground
gangs. IRA volunteers, too, have been mainly working-class:
but their ranks clearly included people from a wider range
of backgrounds. And partly as a result of the legacy of
sectarian job and housing discrimination itself, poorer
Catholic districts contained more diversity of occupation
and aspiration than their Protestant equivalents.

Moreover, working-class Loyalist communities probably
exerted more internal pressures towards social and
intellectual conformity, against educational aspiration or
political dissidence, than their English or Scottish
counterparts (and, perhaps, their Catholic neighbours).

The result was that independent political thinking from
within Loyalist paramilitary ranks emerged relatively late,
and often in fragmentary or uncertain forms. Its evolution
and varied manifestations still await an adequate account;
here, two specific themes are especially relevant to the
discussion of Loyalism and modernity in Ireland –
discourses of threat and identity.

Discourses of threat

The first is the response of Loyalist political discourse
to the sense of threat, decline and fragmentation in
working-class communities in Northern Ireland.

Some elements have sought to embrace this as containing
positive potential. The UVF-linked Progressive Unionist
Party (PUP), in particular, seeks to make a virtue of
diversity, repeatedly emphasising the "many and complex
layers" of Protestant identity in the north. The party even
admits an "insurmountable difficulty" in clearly "defining
what specifically constitutes our particular cultural
identity"; it continues that Loyalist identity "is a
particularly elusive entity to track down, constantly
shifting, subject to a myriad of influences, opinions,
beliefs and external trends."

This is uneasily combined, however, with a kind of
organicism: based, now, on claims about class rather than
national identity. The 1998 words of the first modern
Loyalist armed militant, Gusty Spence, sounded like – and
perhaps were, given Spence's wide reading of Irish history
while in prison – a direct echo of one of Eamon De Valera's
more notorious statements:

"When we want to know what the people want we ask
ourselves; when we want to know the people's priorities we
just look at our own hearts; when we want to know of
hardship we just look at our own plight because whatever
adversity faces the common man faces us too since we live
and move and have our being in the working class districts
of Northern Ireland."

Another Loyalist way of dealing with the perceived crisis
of tradition is to attempt a rallying reconsolidation
around conceptions of threat, a recurrent, even endemic
feature of Loyalist political discourse. The message is
usually simple and its language highly "traditional" (as,
perhaps most obviously, in the Democratic Unionist Party's
and its veteran figurehead Ian Paisley's constant recourse
to Biblical rhetoric to characterise the menace and
resistance to it).

Further recent manifestations, though, are more
interestingly heterodox in the nature of their analysis and
their appeal. Especially sophisticated, but also markedly
sinister, instances are the anonymous articles and essays
carried on the "Ulster Loyalist Information Services"
website, closely linked to the Loyalist Volunteer Force
(LVF) – now closed down. The very heterogeneity of this
material's language, mingling the ultra-contemporary and
academically sophisticated with the rhetoric of religious
fundamentalism and the nakedly threatening, is what makes
it important, and perhaps symptomatic.

These various currents were paralleled in the early 2000s
by political divergences in which the previously innovative
political thinking and proposals of the Ulster Defence
Association (UDA) and its political wing the Ulster
Democratic Party (UDP) gave way – under pressure of
internal feuding, the UDP's dissolution, and the end of the
UDA's ceasefire – to a distinct regression (including among
some to an old flirtation with neo-fascism).

Some sources for Stephen Howe's critique and overview of
the crisis of Loyalism:

Colin Crawford, Inside the UDA: Volunteers and Violence
(Pluto, 2003)

Gerald Dawe, "Re-Imagining the Urban Landscape" (Fortnight
385, May 2000)

Ruth Dudley Edwards, The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate
Portrait of the Loyal Institutions (HarperCollins 1999)

Marianne Elliott, The Catholics of Ulster (Penguin, 2000)

Roy Garland, Gusty Spence (Blackstaff Press, 2001)

Paul Gilroy, Between Camps: Nations, Cultures, and the
Allure of Race (Routledge, 2004)

Henry Glassie, Passing the Time in Ballymenone (Indiana
University Press, 1995)

Billy Hutchinson, Hard Man, Honourable Man: My Loyalist
Life (Dublin, 2003).

Neil Jarman, Material Conflicts: Parades and Visual
Displays in Northern Ireland (Berg, 1997)

David Lister and Hugh Jordan, Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of
Johnny Adair and 'C' Company (Mainstream, 2003)

David Lloyd, Ireland After History) (Cork University Press,

James McAuley, The Politics of Identity: A Loyalist
Community in Belfast (Avebury, 1994).

Jim Cusack & Henry McDonald, UDA: Inside the Heart of
Loyalist Terror (Penguin, 2005)

Fintan O'Toole, "When Bigotry Takes on a Life of its Own"
(Irish Times 29 August 2000)

Bill Rolston, "Music and Politics in Ireland: The Case of
Loyalism", in John P Harrington and Elizabeth J Mitchell
(eds.) Politics and Performance in Contemporary Northern
Ireland (Massachusetts University Press / American
Conference for Irish Studies, 1999).

Michael Stone, None Shall Divide Us (Blake Publishing,

All this fits with the picture suggested also by musical
and visual representations: of a UVF/PUP increasingly
seeking to articulate a coherent if complex idea of
tradition for itself, while the UDA/Ulster Freedom Fighters
(UFF)/UDP are ever more eclectic and fragmentary in their
sources of imagery and inspiration. Now, events over the
summer of 2005 – culminating in the ferocious rioting of
early-to-mid September - call that divergent evolution into
question (if not implying its total collapse). The UVF, or
major elements within it, seem to have abandoned their
progressive political path and reverted to an ethos of
inchoate violence.

Discourses of identity

The second type of Loyalist response relevant to the
argument here is about the identity-claims embodied in
Loyalism's crisis of culturo-political modernity.

Loyalist rhetoric and writing today – at least that which
is directed at wider audiences than the hardcore faithful -
seems hardly ever to refer to nationality-claims at all.
PUP and UDP writings standardly allude to "our community"
or (more ambiguously, but usually as effective synonym)
"the community". In former UDP leader Gary McMichael's
journalism and political commentary, for instance, I can
find only one, rather oblique, reference to nationality and
cultural identity – a complaint at the "self-imposed
cultural apartheid" represented by Catholic-nationalist
appropriations of St Patrick's Day.

That which is produced by and for the faithful, meanwhile,
refers almost invariably to "Ulster", occasionally to
Protestantism, almost never now to Britishness.
Specifically religious imagery or allusions are also rare –
though one of several "Ballads of Billy Wright" includes
the couplet: "Now Billy read his Bible / And so he knew no

For Loyalism, political Protestantism is no longer a
sustaining or adequately bonding force. But nor,
increasingly, is Britishness. The notion of Britishness
never really replaced, but rather overlay and even served
as a politically serviceable euphemism for, the distinct
national and sectional identities of the union's component
parts – on that such diverse analysts as Tom Nairn, Linda
Colley and Jonathan Clark broadly concur. Where such
writers disagree most sharply is over how far, how fully,
how "artificially" and how durably Britishness was
constructed: largely a top-down fabrication now in the
process of deconstruction, or something more organically
and sturdily developed?

I incline to the former view. But in any case, it is clear
that the process became intertwined with another, slightly
later one: the attempt to create a "Greater Britain", a
global Britishness, a sense of collective identity which
expanded the imagined national community right across the
empire and beyond. We may question whether such a
conception ever became universal, hegemonic or even
dominant: but it certainly helped form the distinctive
Ulster variety of British political identity, in part
through consciousness or cultivation of "settler" and
"frontier" status.

In this light, Ulster Loyalism - and through it most if not
all "available" Ulster identities - is indeed doomed to
imprisonment by an outmoded, archaic, terminally declining
form of Britishness (and hence in part to the ghost of a
settler origin). The socio-economic bases for a working-
class, "Ulster British" form of modernity have been eroded
by industrial decline, political defeat and demographic
retreat. Its cultural foundations, perhaps always fragile,
are also vanishing. So far as such foundations are always
based on a specific historical narrative, the conclusion
must follow that Ulster's narrative has experienced a
gradual but accelerating process of breakdown.

Indeed, commentators as diverse as Henry Glassie in rural
Fermanagh and James McAuley in Belfast have discerned a
weak or attenuated sense of history among Ulster
Protestants. The fragmentary and discontinuous evocations
of the past of contemporary Loyalist cultural
representations noted in this essay suggest a disconnection
from historical "grand narratives" yet more sweeping than
these authors propose.

The postmodernism of despair

It could even be said that the story Loyalism now presents
is an anti (or non-) foundationalist one; that Loyalism has
largely cut loose from the grand narratives of Unionist
history (1641, 1689, 1912, 1916…) and offers only very
contemporary and very localised "truths" and images. This
is a "postmodernist" approach to the past, perhaps, but is
an extremely attenuated vision on which to base any
positive political programme.

What remains will inevitably seem to most observers
increasingly negative. Loyalism is a culture ambivalent
about, when not aggressively resisting, Irishness. Yet,
whatever else it is, it is distinctively an Irish culture –
one that grew in, and exists only on, the island of Ireland
(it has offshoots in west-central Scotland, and more
tenuously in Canada, but is sustained there largely by
those with Ulster origins or family links).

Loyalism is in a sense the most "alternative" of Ireland's
alternative modernities: that sense being not so much
"other" (nor, as in much of the international literature on
the concept mentioned earlier, "in a different –
postcolonial - place") as "a different choice", or, in
another dictionary meaning, "outside the mainstream,
dissident, resisting".

"Resisting", though, with few resources and little
confidence. The essential cultural difference between
Loyalism and its foes is indeed that while Republicans
conceive of themselves as having an inherited, densely
woven tradition – however thoroughly and recently
reinvented that "tradition" may really be - Loyalists have
to make it up as they go along. If the result of that
heterogenous improvisation is a kind of untheorised
postmodernism, it is the postmodernism of despair. These
are the fragments they shore up against their ruins.


Loyalist Culture, Unionist Politics: A Response To Stephen

Graham Walker
11 - 10 - 2005

Protestant working-class identity in Northern Ireland is at
the core of a Britishness that is stronger than many
commentators allow, says Graham Walker.

Stephen Howe's two-part openDemocracy essay "Mad Dogs and
Ulstermen: the crisis of Loyalism" is largely concerned
with Loyalist cultural expressions and discusses them
illuminatingly and provocatively. However, the arguments
and speculations might have been more compelling if the
political dimensions had been drawn in more detail. By that
I mean the debates around Unionist politics in Northern
Ireland (what might be called "capital 'U' Unionism") and
those around the reformed and reforming United Kingdom
("small 'u' unionism") to which any discussion of Loyalism
must relate.

Graham Walker is professor of politics at Queen's
University, Belfast

He is responding to Stephen Howe's two-part openDemocracy
essay "Mad Dogs and Ulstermen: the crisis of Loyalism"

In this respect, I think Stephen's article is shaky on
political history. He refers to the Ulster Unionist Party
(UUP's) "total indifference" in the past to the Protestant
working class. Not so: the governing UUP prioritised the
working-class interest, as witnessed by its fidelity to the
"step-by-step" approach to social legislation and welfare
benefits emanating from London. This severely tried the
patience of the party's middle class and the bulk of its
activists, especially in the post-1945 era when the Labour
government's welfare-state legislation was reproduced.

When, by the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Unionists
showed themselves incapable of bringing the level of
unemployment down to the British average a serious loss of
confidence in the party was felt by the Protestant working
class. An always-brittle relationship was fractured and
never truly repaired.

This had significant consequences as the 1960s wore on and
the then prime minister Terence O'Neill struggled to keep
the already vocal and ambitious Reverend Ian Paisley in
check. The Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP), before it
was barged off the road by civil-rights protests, was
beginning to make the Labourist culture of the Protestant
working class an electoral asset. I agree with Stephen that
the NILP are "unsung heroes"; I would also suggest that the
Protestant working class should be given back the Labour
history to which they contributed as part of the UK working

A problem of perception

I think Stephen's point about Loyalists being misunderstood
and stereotyped is crucially important. In this connection
I would argue that it is time to question the promiscuous
use, in scholarly and journalistic writing, of the term
"privileged" as applied to the Protestant working class. It
is both inappropriate and unhelpful. The term is invariably
used casually and pejoratively, without any attempt to
specify or contextualise. The purpose of its use is to
condemn and belittle.

The historian Marc Mulholland has written of the Unionist
government "pampering" the Protestant working class during
the 1960s. I wonder if he would use this term to describe
the Conservative government's propping up of the
shipbuilding industry on Glasgow's Clyde in the 1970s?
Would those who are fond of labelling the Protestant
working class "privileged" use the same term about those
whose only realistic target in life was a job in a similar
industrial outfit in Clydeside, Merseyside or Tyneside?

The term "privileged" precludes a proper understanding of
the Protestant working class and the politics of that
class. It precludes appreciation of its own self-image and
view of the world. It prevents us appreciating the
dislocation and demoralisation suffered by the Protestant
working class over the past quarter-century, an experience
which Stephen acknowledges they shared with the working
class across the water.

Stephen's paper raises the issue of Britishness and the
strength of that identity. I think it is stronger than he
believes; in fact, given the lengths many commentators have
gone to in trying to convince Ulster Protestants that they
are not British, or don't deserve to be, the wonder is that
it remains so strong. For a long time, even sophisticated
scholarly analyses got away with setting Northern Ireland
speciously at odds with notions of British homogeneity
which were and are utterly misleading. The Unionist
community in general seeks only to feel that it belongs to
the UK as of right and that its contribution to the making
of the UK and to British history and identity is

This is not to deny that Britishness presents political
difficulties for Unionists/Loyalists. Part of the problem
is the amorphousness and "non-specific" quality of the
United Kingdom and the very diversity and complexity of
British identity (though these qualities can equally be
regarded as the identity's strength). There is little that
is solid to reflect back the strength of Ulster Unionist
loyalty and conviction.

In other parts of the UK local identities are usually
primary, with Britishness at best an overarching layer,
thought to be useful for protection in terms of the
National Health Service and the welfare state more
generally, or of a stronger voice internationally. Ulster
Protestants, however, seek the security and protection of
the British link because of the Irish nationalist threat,
and this makes them wish for a Britishness which is more
coherent, more conscious and proud of itself, more solid.
In this they are unlikely to get their wish, but I would
argue that they are nonetheless entitled to assume their
place in the multinational, multiethnic UK, forming one of
the series of partnerships which constitutes that entity.

The Protestant working class remains the cutting edge of an
identity and an outlook which has to be accommodated on its
own terms to a far greater extent than even the new
nationalism or new Republicanism seems prepared to accept.
The cultural manifestations of working-class Loyalism may
be many, various and incongruous but there is still a core
of political beliefs which is highly relevant to the
ongoing refashioning of the UK and of Britishness. There is
a need for more of an east-west focus in "Irish studies" as
well as in the contemporary search for peace in Northern


BNP Ditches NI Election Plans

The far-right British National Party has abandoned plans
for an electoral assault on Northern Ireland, it emerged

By:Press Association

Strategists have ordered members in Belfast and surrounding
towns to concentrate on financing its future advancement
plans in Britain.

The policy contradicts a pledge by BNP leader Nick Griffin
to stand at least five local government candidates during
his last visit to Northern Ireland nearly two years ago.

And a fierce opponent of the party regarded as neo-Nazi
extremists, SDLP Assemblyman John Dallat, was elated by the

He said: "The BNP or their sidekicks the National Front did
us no favours and did everything possible to ignite racism.

"Thankfully for once the main political parties gave them
the once up the posterior and I only wish the same level of
co-operation was available on all forms of sectarianism or

Mr Griffin had pledged to contest council elections in
Northern Ireland as part of a campaign to halt a mass
influx of immigrants.

His promise proved unfounded, however, when the May poll
passed without BNP involvement.

No explanation was ever given, and even today a former
spokesman said he had severed links.

But another party representative in Belfast, who asked not
to be identified, disclosed: "There was an internal debate
about whether any money raised should be used to fund
elections here and gain publicity but very few votes, or go
across the water where we are getting 25%, 30% of the vote
and winning seats.

"Greater pressure has been put on the local branch for
money to go centrally to fight campaigns.

"That`s the way it will be for the foreseeable future.

"For every pound spent you will get a better return on your
money in England, it`s as simple as that."

Mr Griffin, who was later charged with race hate offences
following an undercover TV documentary, last visited
Northern Ireland in December 2003.

At the time he said a man had already been selected to
represent the BNP in the north Antrim area.

He also claimed the extreme grouping has attracted
significant support among serving police and soldiers in
the province.

But since then the party chief has not returned to Northern
Ireland. A spokesman said he had been concentrating on
Europe and America, holding meetings with French far-right
leader Jean-Marie le Pen among others.

Although membership levels were not disclosed, the party
insisted they have not declined in Northern Ireland.

"It`s steady, but it hasn`t increased," the representative

"What happens is people who inquire about us believe the
media image and then drop out because its not
sensationalist enough.

"Northern Ireland is different, it`s as simple as that.

"It (contesting elections) will eventually happen, but it`s
going to be slow.

"The state of politics here is dreadful.

"The SDLP, for example, claims not to be sectarian yet it`s
Catholic this and Catholic that. They don`t mention
Protestants, Hindus or Muslims."

But Mr Dallat, who has defied threats to speak out against
racists operating in his East Londonderry constituency, was
astonished at the criticism.

He added: "There will be no weeping or gnashing of teeth
now that the BNP has copped on and is withdrawing from the

"However this motley crew is in no position to lecture the
SDLP on sectarianism given their disgusting association
with loyalist paramilitary figureheads who can`t make up
their mind who they hate more - Catholics or immigrants."
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