By Danny Morrison (for Daily Ireland)
Love Ulster. Express your Orange culture. Wreck the Shankill.
Love Ulster. It will fight and it will be right.
Love Ulster. The British army must stay. Drive it out.
Love Ulster. Save the Royal Irish Regiment. Shoot at its soldiers.
Love Ulster. Support law and order. Bomb the police.
Love Ulster. Set fire to its businesses.
Love Ulster. Put out its lights.
Love Ulster. Terrify its tourists.
Love Ulster. Scare its investors.
Love Ulster. Block its roads.
Love Ulsterbus(es). Burn them (after robbing the passengers).
Love Ulster. Hijack its cars.
Love Ulster. Stone its journalists.
Love Ulster. Drug its kids.
Love Ulster. Kill other Ulster lovers.
Love Ulster. Fracture babies’ skulls.
Love Ulster. Break your neighbours’ windows.
Love Ulster. Stab your neighbours’ children.
Love Ulster. Firebomb your neighbours’ churches and schools.
Love Ulster. Piss and vomit in your neighbours’ gardens.
Love Ulster. Wear a hood or mask or Rangers top with your sash.
Love Ulster. Thou shalt not have strange gods -- like God -- before it.
Love Ulster. It’s a Protestant paradox fornenst a Protestant people.
Love Ulster. No surrender.
Love Ulster. What we have we hold.
Love Ulster. No pope, no hope and no scope here.
Love Ulster. Except for Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.
Love Ulster. It was a great wee place before 1969.
Love Ulster. It’s at crisis point.
Love Ulster. It’s as British as Finland.
Love Ulster. But not an inch the British government, the Parades Commission, Sir Hugh Orde, Peter Hain, the international press or the rest of the world.
Love Ulster. A bigger drain on the economy than the Iraq war.
Love Ulster. In the 1970s they came for the B Specials.
Love Ulster. In the 1980s, they came for the UDR.
Love Ulster. In the 1990s, they came for the RUC.
Love Ulster -- 2005 and they’ve come for the RIR.
Love Ulster -- 2006 and they’re coming to take me away, ho ho, he he, ha ha, to the happy farm...----- EXTENDED BODY:
Are we living in a 32-county, democratic socialist republic under an IRA government? Has Protestantism been suppressed and the Orange Order banned? Has the centre of all commerce, banking and administration been shifted to Carrickmore?
Whatever became of Reg Empey’s contribution to political stability, his cocky, provocative claim after the setting up of the executive under the Belfast Agreement, that “the hunger strikers had died for nothing and republicans were administering British rule in the North”?
Whatever became of Ian Paisley’s claim to unionists just four months ago that, by voting for the Democratic Unionists, the Ulster Unionist “sellout” would end and be reversed and that under him there would be “no more concessions to the IRA and no more rewards for IRA/Sinn Féin”?
Empey had claimed that unionism had won, that republicans had surrendered and been defeated. Paisley was claiming the opposite and successfully played on his own people’s often irrational fears so that he could be crowned king of the unionists and march them up to the top of a hill. But after last weekend’s outburst of rioting, organised by the paramilitaries as part of a disastrously ill-thought out political strategy (perversely aimed at gaining sympathy), Empey and Paisley are now singing from the same hymn sheet. IRA/Sinn Féin are getting everything (because of the IRA’s campaign) and Protestants are getting nothing so, out of frustration, Protestants are turning to violence to improve their lot.
It is a complete fallacy that only the nationalist community has gained from peace or that nationalists have triumphed.
The real impact of reform is that it is aimed at producing a level playing field in Northern politics, not a united Ireland. Reforms are aimed at reversing the sectarian advantages that unionists historically abrogated to themselves in government, throughout the economy, in the judiciary and police. Reforms attempt to create equality, including equality of aspiration (but with unionists having the advantage given the current constitutional status quo). The North clearly isn’t as British as Finchley. A majority in Finchley cannot separate Finchley from England whereas a majority here can bring about Irish reunification. In that sense, I’ll certainly go along with unionists -- they are second-class British subjects.
Whilst armed struggle -- at a terrible price all round -- certainly improved the negotiating muscle of the nationalist community, it did so because the grievances of nationalists were deep and real, not imagined, and were recognised as such by the international community.
However, whilst unionists certainly suffered at the hands of the IRA, nationalists are not responsible for their grievances, real and imagined. People in deprived areas such as the Shankill or Glenbryn should ask themselves how their areas became so rundown and what their elected representatives really did for them. Those areas have also been undermined and demoralised by loyalist paramilitaries, by endless feuding and by drug barons, not by Sinn Féin.
Unionists are resisting a level playing field because such a transformation transcends the old Northern Ireland state to produce a new hybrid state. And the king of unionism, Ian Paisley, hasn’t a constructive idea in his head and certainly not one that enthuses or includes nationalists.
The political metamorphosis in the North is taking place in a completely transparent fashion. There are no secret deals between republicans and the British government. The IRA is departing the scene and, of course, republican strategy is to use the Belfast Agreement, cross-Border and all-Ireland bodies and the national political influence of Sinn Féin on the Dublin government to peacefully pursue republican objectives. That’s what republicans were told they could do in place of armed struggle -- only for unionists now to complain that republican speculation about what year there might be a united Ireland is unsettling them.
Last week’s rioting shows that unionists still remain leaderless and have learnt little from the clear PR disasters that were Drumcree, Harryville and Holy Cross. Against the background of the widespread rioting and destruction, it should be remembered that Orangemen marched to Whiterock Orange Hall and marched back from it last Saturday.
What is revealing about the Orange mindset is that marching to the hall wasn’t as important as marching through a Catholic area to get to the hall. Therein lies the malaise of unionism. To love Ulster, they have to destroy it.