Loyalist Violence Is A Backlash Against Equality, Says US Priest

Posted By: March 29, 2013

By Michael McHugh
Belfast Telegraph
Monday, September 19, 2005

Irish America sees echoes of the anti-civil rights protests of the 1960s in the recent loyalist rioting, the head of the Washington-based lobby group has said.

Fr Sean McManus from the Irish National Caucus claimed
memories of the white backlash against the civil rights
movement among black people in America’s Deep South had
been jogged by recent events in Belfast.

The loyalist blocking of roads and fighting with police has
been linked to deep-seated frustration about the peace
Some unionists have portrayed the Agreement as a stream of
concessions to republicanism but Fr McM! anus claimed their
reaction was in response to the introduction of equality
into local society.

“People in Irish America are seeing this through the lens
of US history and the problems with the civil rights
movement,” he said.

“They will be conscious that once the movement started to
make progress there was a white backlash.

“The problem is that whenever there has been a system of
discrimination, anywhere in the world, where there are
attempts to change that, the people who saw themselves as
being in a privileged position unfortunately tend to think
that progress for disadvantaged groups means a reversal of
their fortunes.”

Fr McManus said he was disappointed by the ‘lack of
leadership’ from unionist leaders.

“I find it remarkable that Reg Empey is now absolutely
breaking his neck to repeat the same mistakes of David

Sir Reg said: “It is all very well looking through rose-
tinted glasses! from 4,000 miles away,” he said.

“We can pontificate but we have to keep in touch with
sections of the community which are suffering greatly.

“There are no excuses for what has happened and I abhor
that and have called for people to abide by the law but I
will not abandon those people.”