Week of mixed fortunes for image of loyalism

Posted By: July 04, 2014

“Unionist politicians skip, hop and jump around issues any normal person would condemn unequivocally. They are more worried about votes rather than the welfare, image or future of an entire community.”

Week of mixed fortunes for image of loyalism
Allison Morris. Irish News ( Belfast). Tursday, July 3, 2014

IT’S BEEN a week of mixed fortunes for loyalism and its image in general. On the one hand a ‘mini Twelfth’ in north Belfast passed off without incident and for the first time in many years Nationalist residents didn’t hold a protest after an agreement over the playing of hymns was reached.
It was a success of sorts and one that can now be built on for the Twelfth and other parades that pass the Donegall Street area throughout the year.
While security has always been tight around Carrick Hill tensions were heightened following an incident outside St Patrick’s Church on July 12 2012, followed by disgraceful scenes by some bandsmen and their supporters on the last Saturday parade in the August of that year.
An apology by the Royal Black Institutions followed and work has been quietly ongoing since to try and mend relationships. The successful result of which was seen on Tuesday night.
On the flip side the mindless morons who scaled a lamppost to place a flag depicting the insignia of the Ku Klux Klan served the people of east Belfast a massive disservice. The KKK flag was placed in Island Street where a number of families from an ethnic background live.
The flag was not placed there by accident, as one unionist laughingly tried to insinuate, but was there to frighten and intimidate.
While the KKK dates back to the late 19th century, the modern ‘Klan’ as most people would recognise it came about in the early 1920s and demanded the ‘purification’ of an all white, Protestant America.
While the Klan was associated with acts of violent racism against African Americans it was also an anti-Catholic organisation, targeting first black and later white Eastern European and Jewish settlers in the US.
Part of the subversive activity carried out by KKK members was to target any influential person including elected political leaders of colour.
They shot through the windows of houses and firebombed the businesses of black residents, staging riots in order to draw attention to their far right cause.
And so the appearance of KKK flags in east Belfast following an upsurge in racist attacks and the targeting of Alliance Party MLA Anna Lo while depressing is not that surprising. Loyalists have become the archetypal caricature villains, easy to demonise, easy to write off as thick-minded thugs. Unfortunately there are those within that community who seem determined to help promote this negative image.
Unionist politicians skip, hop and jump around issues any normal person would condemn unequivocally. They are more worried about votes rather than the welfare, image or future of an entire community.
The KKK flags in east Belfast were removed but only after police issued the most jaw-dropping of statements saying: “Following discussions with local residents and local representatives the flag was removed”.You can read that twice if you need to.
Police asked permission to remove the most offensive of racist flags in an area where they have an entire unit tackling racist attacks. Permission from whom? Here’s an idea, take it down and if anyone objects there’s your key suspect in terms of who was most likely to have put it there in the first place.
I’ve worked in east and north Belfast for many years and the knuckle dragging, tattooed loyalist with his gold chains, steroid assisted muscles and GStar T-shirt two sizes too small is not representative of the majority. That’s not to say they don’t exist, they lurk around like relics of a bygone time spreading the myth that their ‘pradestant culture’ is under attack.
But they’re given far more credit than they deserve for the majority of people, like any working-class community Catholic or Protestant, are simply trying to get along, raise a family and do the best they can.
The lady on the Newtownards Road who I watched run into the middle of a riot with no thought for her safety looking for an elderly neighbour who’d gone to the shop – she was representative of working-class Belfast mentality.
The young people from the Shankill who spent a night sleeping rough last week along with friends from Ardoyne to raise money for the city’s homeless people. The journalism student from inner east Belfast who told me he was studying to be a reporter to give his community a voice.
Linda Ervine promoting culture through education, Dawn Purvis highlighting and campaigning to eradicate underachievement in young loyalist men.
These people are representative of loyalism. Not the idiot with the ladder and the stockpile of offensive flags. For he may as well be riding around on a horse dressed in a bed sheet and pointy hat for all the relevance he has to the working-class of east Belfast.
Pity the unionist politicans who continually excuse the actions of these idiots couldn’t see that.