Protestants Riot in Northern Ireland.

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Ben W, Sep 11, 2005.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Protestants riot in Northern Ireland
    Sep 11, 2005

    Rioters have fired gunshots at police and soldiers and hurled bombs in some of the worst violence seen in Northern Ireland for years, after a march by a Protestant group in Belfast turned violent.
      
    Demonstrators threw petrol bombs and home-made explosive devices at security forces, with police saying six officers had been injured. Among those hurt was one officer with serious injuries to his face, caused by a blast bomb.
      
    The head of Northern Ireland's police force, Chief Constable Hugh Orde said his officers and the British Army troops backing them up had "come under sustained attack" from bombs and bullets.
      
    Police and soldiers had "acted like heroes" during the rioting, which lasted for at least five hours, he said in a statement.
      
    Bullets struck a number of armoured police cars, forcing officers to shelter behind them, while other rioters hijacked cars and set a bus alight. One civilians was also taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to the shoulder.
      
    Officers responded to the attacks with water cannon and non-lethal plastic bullet rounds. Security forces also fired some live ammunition, a police source said.
      
    "This is the worst violence I have witnessed in Northern Ireland for years," the source told AFP.
      
    The annual Whiterock parade is one of a series of processions held in Northern Ireland every year during the so-called "marching season" by members of the Protestant Orange Order.
      
    The order - which takes its name from Protestant King William of Orange, who defeated James II's Catholics in Ireland in 1690 - represents hardline opinion in the Northern Ireland's Protestant, or loyalist, community, which wants to keep British rule.
      
    Marchers were angered by a decision by Northern Ireland's Parades Commission to reroute the Whiterock march to keep it out of areas dominated by Catholics, who generally favour a united Ireland.
      
    The Orange Order called on Protestants to take to the streets to protest at the decision.
      
    Catholic activists and marchers taunted each other as the march passed near the sectarian divide, before demonstrators clashed with police.
      
    A spokesman for the Orange Order claimed nationalist Catholics attacked marchers in east and west Belfast, calling the police response "scandalous and pathetic".
      
    But Chief Constable Orde said the decision to protest at the march being rerouted had directly caused the violence.
      
    "They (Orange Order leaders) publicly called people onto the streets. I think if you do that you cannot abdicate responsibility. That is simply not good enough," he said.
      
    A local councillor for Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland's biggest Catholic party, said the trouble was caused by 500 marchers who managed to evade police blockades and get into Catholic neighbourhoods.
      
    The violence illustrates the continued tensions in Northern Ireland despite the landmark announcement in July by the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, that it was renouncing violence.
      
    The decision by the main Catholic paramilitary group was seen as an opportunity to break the political deadlock that has dogged Northern Ireland in recent years following the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

    http://www.tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411319/610317
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

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    Now, could our members who are closer to the action explain this to us outsiders (Matt, for the moment, please act as counsel for the Orange Order.)

    To me this looks like the sons of the Grand Army of the Republic (the veteran's organization for the Union Army) expecting to be allowed to march though Richmond, Virginia or Atlanta, Georgia on Apomattox Day or to re-trace Sherman's March to the Sea. After many years of being allowed to do so with Regular Army and police protection.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    The Orange Order have attempted to distance themselves - but there is compelling video evidence that they were involved in the violence.

    Laying aside rhe rightness or wrongness of the marching season, there is no excuse for the kind of mob thuggery which has been taking place the last couple of days.

    Both communities seem addicted to violence. The true tragedy is in the age of the offenders. The very first indications that trouble was coming was on Friday when children of 7-16 were throwing stones and bottles at the police. A seven year old was detained.
     
  4. The Galatian

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    I cannot see how any sane person could expect that there would not be trouble if such a parade went through Catholic areas.

    Some years ago, the American Nazis sued to get a permit to march through a predominantly Jewish suburb in Chicago. They got to do it, but it took huge deployments of police to protect them.

    There is another, compelling reason for the trouble. Catholics are an increasingly large portion of the Northern Ireland population, and will, in a decade or so, become the majority. They may not immediately vote to join Ireland, but Tony Blair has said that he would allow it, if that is what they wanted.

    At very least, it's a grim future for the Protestants in Northern Ireland, unless the hatreds can be reduced.

    And many of them are now leaving for England and elsewhere.
     
  5. Matt Black

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    Sorry, Keith, but you won't find much pro-loyalist advocacy from me at the moment as most people on mainland Britain are fed up to the backteeth with them; you summed up the situation admirably. Another way of putting it would be allowing the KKK to march through Harlem with police protection (OK that's a little extreme, but you get the picture). I find it odd that these people call themselves 'loyalists' when attempting to murder the servants of the British Crown - doesn't sound very 'loyal' to me!

    That said, there is a major problem in the Springfield Road area of Belfast with poverty and social exclusion - not perhaps as bad as in nationalist/ republican poor districts but then again the Catholics have been used to that for longer - which does need addressing by the Northern Ireland Office.

    I utterly condemn the last few nights' violence by Orange supporters backed by loyalist paramilitaries. The term loyalist is supposed to mean loyal to the Crown, but it was the agents of the Crown, the police and military who they were shooting and petrol bombing last night. This violence was sparked off by the police rerouting an Orange march by 100 yards to keep it out of a Nationalist street and it shows the depth of alenation in the Loyalist Community which feels that the concessions made at the Good Friday Agreement and its aftermath were a one way street out of which they have achieved nothing.

    But it raises other worrying issues. Dr Ian Paisley, leader of the DUP and probable First Minister of NI has repeatedly said that he won't negotiate the formation of a devolved government with Sinn Fein until the IRA is disbanded and all its weapons are verifiably out of reach. Yet his supporters managed to pull guns out of the night to shoot at police and the military last night. All paramilitary weapons need to be verifiably surrendered not only those of the Nationalists. If the Loyalists feel as bad as this about a rerouted parade, how will they feel about a united Ireland?


    A brief look at history (NB: it is impossible not to be biased when looking at history and that is especially true of Irish history):-

    If you were to ask an American what was the biggest conflict of the second half of the 20th century, they would no doubt say that between Communism and the free world. The threat of Communism brought out McCarthyism as well as meddling in the affairs as Central and South America in order to protect the back yard. Having a Communist in Cuba brought the Us government to a frenzy. What many Americans fail to realise with their rose tinted view of Irish history is that after the Reformation in Europe, the conflict between Catholic Southern Europe and Protestant Northern Europe was just as bad.

    Ireland was a Catholic enclave in Northern Europe just as Cuba was a Communist enclave in the Americas. Also, the population of Ireland in those days wasn't much less than that of England. Plots by the Spanish and French, with Papal backing to invade England often included using Ireland as a springboard. The English Channel was relatively easy to defend with a good navy, but the coast of Wales was long and relatively indefensible. In 1798, for example, there was a joint effort by Wolfe Tone's United Irishmen and the French to unsettle the English from Ireland and then invade England.

    So the English, later British rresponse was to try to supplant the Gaelic, Catholic population of Ireland with Protestants loyal to the Crown. This failed except in Ulster where after the O'Neills forfeited the land the Queen Elizabeth I, the area was opened up to lowland Scottish farmers who all but, but not quite, supplanted the locals. When Irelans campaigned for independence from the 1870's onwards, it was obvious to Ulster's Protestants that as a minority within the whole island they would be on to a loser. History has borne out that fear. The number of Protestants in the Irish republic went into freefall after independence. There were rules if a Protestant wanted to marry a Catholic: give up all rights to your children's religious education. In places like Donegal, which had 30% Protestant in 1922, as part of the original Ulster Province, the percentage of Protestants has declined to 6%, largely due to assimilation but also to persecution leading to an effective ethnic cleansing.

    After Irish independence, De Valera's government enshrined the sprecial position of the Roman Catholic Church in the Irish constitution and there are few places on earth where such a privelage has been so odiously abused. So the 1922 slogan, "Home Rule means Rome Rule" which terrorised the Protestants was a very real threat. Today things are different. Ireland has come out of the dark ages and is a modern, prosperous country which is taking in immigrants from Eastern Europe and other places. Rome's grip is now much loosened. So, IMO there would be no dangers for the Protestants now in becoming part of a united Ireland. Old attitudes die hard and just as Catholic Ireland has looked to Rome as its guardian, Protestant Northern Ireland has looked to the British Crown.

    The situaltion will, IMO resolve itself in the Nationalists favour within a generation due to demographis changes, ie the Nationalist population is growing father than the Unionist, and all parties are committed to the demoratic process, so sooner or later, NI will vote itself out of existence. But both Britain and Ireland will have quite a problem when it does. There will be hardliners among the Unionists who will form some sort of Ulster Separatist movement, which could prove as long and troublesome as the IRA has been.

    The partition of Ireland in 1922 was only meant to last for six years. A boundry commision was promised which would have concluded that the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone had Nationalist majorities, which would leave only Antrim, Down Armagh and Londonderry with Unionist majorities. The British, apart from some diehard Tories, were as anxious to get rid of Northern Ireland as the Irish were to acquire it. But De Valera moved the goalposts too quickly. The original Dail Eirann was still required to take an oath of allegiance to the King. Just as Gerry Adams can't take his Westminster seat for refusing, De Valera and all of Sinn Fein as he then was, refused to sit in the Dail and instituted a bloody civil war with no mandate, and I say that because in the 1922 General Election, pro treaty candidates supporting Michael Collins, won the election by a margin of two to one.

    Following De Valera's formation of Fianna Fail, his pathological ahtred of all things British came out in his policies. He pkanned to restore the Irish language as the county's first language within a generation. He gave special status to the Catholic Church. He initiated a trade war with Britain which just made Ireland poorer as most of the county's exports were agrricultural products sold in Britain. There was no way the Protestants in the North were ever going to agree to be part of this. World War II in which De Valera's government gave so much practical support to the Nazis while NI fought so valiently as an integral part of the UK effectively copper bottomed the partition. The formation of an Irish Republic in 1949 removed the last shadowy link between the two parts of Ireland.

    After many years of strife, I believe that politicians in Britain, Ireland and America have done their utmost to resolve what is essentially an irreconcileable conflict like Israel/Palestine. But while the politicians can agree a way forward, can they sell it to their people? Its hard to see. After the moderate UUP and SDLP worked so hard for peace, both of them have been politically obliterated by the hardline UUP and Sinn Fein. Perhaps I'm a pessimist but I can't see Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams forming a government together which would leave a dangerous power vacuum. One thing most decent people are sure of. They don't want a return to the horrors of the last 30 years, so when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, let's remember Belfast at the same time...

    [ETA: a couple of points about the Orange Order and why it is perhaps more of a social problem now than it was hitherto:-

    First, actually the "Orange Order" is far from homogenous, nor has it been a single body for many years. When I was very, very young (30 years ago) it was still, as in my grandfather's time, a middle class reserve (hence the bowler hats and suits) and at least as rural as urban. Now it is predominantly urban, and working class, or even unemployed/ underclass, which brings me back to the issue of urban deprivation in the Springfield Road and other loyalist areas of Belfast: where you have large groups of unemployed or under-employed young men with access to firearms and less sophisticated weaponry such as petrol bombs and pipe bombs, plus an excuse for violence, you are going to get violence unfortunately. The poverty issue does need to be addressed; these are housing developments which Northen Ireland's post-ceasefire renaissance has largely passed by.

    Second, the history of many of the marches is more involved than some here may wish to credit. For instance, in rural areas in the early 80's it was still known for marches to go silent when passing through Catholic areas, or even (rather bizarrely and rarely) to play the soldier's song (RoI anthem) as a mark of respect to an alternative view. Also, many traditional routes of march simply went along the main highways. Some of these traditional routes have now reached a crisis where a previously Protestant area has become predominantly Catholic. In Belfast, a number of such instances occurred when housing developments were built on redundant wasteland to house people who previously lived in the infamous Divis Flats. From an Orange point of view, placing hundreds of Catholics slap bang in a previously Protestant area on an established route wasn't something that happened merely by accident, if you buy into conspiracy theories at all...

    In Protestant circles, a particular distaste is usually held for "kick the Pope" bands who excel in confrontational bravado what they lack in social skills or, indeed, musical prowess. Given the political changes within Protestantism and also the rapid spread of "trouble spots" where long-uncontested routes suddenly became fierce subjects of debate, one has a powder keg which, allied with the deprivation referred to above, is a literally explosive mixture.

    Doesn't excuse any of it, of course, but I hope it helps explain it.]
     
  6. Squire Robertsson

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    I didn't think you'd be compeltely neutral in your comments. The best I hoped was my request would act as a sea anchor and keep you from sounding to much like the guys over at the Abbey Tavern. So, I thak you for your restraint.

    And I quite agree with you on De Valera's pure blind stupid anti-English actions. As I understand it, he went so far as to offer his sympathies to the German Embassy upon hearing of Hitler's death. Even the Swiss, the Swedes, and the Spanish were smarter. Worse to me than that was his refusal to allow American forces to set up bases in the South. Forget the Royal Whatevers. Erie could have made a mint off the USN, USAAF, and USA. Just think how much more air coverage the convoys would have had with USAAF Bases in the west of Ireland?
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Eire claims neutrality in WWII and I would have no problem with that.

    Not only did Dev sign Hiler's book of condolence - he refused to sign FDR's.
     
  8. Squire Robertsson

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    And that is my point. These United States gave the Irish Nationalists the support and succor over the years, from the time of the Great Immigration onwards. The latest manifestation of this support was all of the NorAid collection jars. And what De Valera did was turn his back on the country that gave him refuge.

    [ September 13, 2005, 03:19 PM: Message edited by: Squire Robertsson ]
     
  9. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    And his birthplace, btw.
     
  10. Ulsterman

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    Let me give you my take on the recent violence in Northern Ireland. Having been born and raised there, and having ministered in a loyalist community for 12 years I think I speak with some authority.

    The re-routing of the march is a minor issue, but proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back. The Orange Order (of which I have never been a member) traditionally marches to its Orange Halls. On this occasion the Orange Hall in question sits on Belfast's Springfield Road, an area where the demographics have changed over the years, so that what once was deemed a "protestant area" is now considered a "Roman catholic area". The Orange men march out of what is now the "protestant area" into what is now the Catholic area, to their hall, a walk of around 500 ft in distance. They would not pass by any Catholic homes en route as far as I can remember - it is a kind of a no man's land.

    The Parades Commission which polices these marches said the parade could go ahead, but no supporters would be permitted to follow the parade. But, due to Nationalist/IRA pressure they reversed later their decision. Now the loyalists are aggrieved, and feel this is part of an on going effort by the British Government to appease the IRA/Sinn Fein. Hence the frustration of the Orangemen.

    The violence comes from the so called loyalist paramilitaries who, like the IRA, have somewhat noble origins historically but have become over the years a gathering of drug dealers, despots, pimps, extortioners, thieves and murderers and ne-er do wells.

    Matt, speaks about these people being socially deprived, under or unemployed. Actually they are the scum of the earth who wouldn't want to work if you handed them a job on a plate, as there is no gainful employment you could offer them that could outpay the drugs, racketeering, prostitution etc. etc.

    Unfortunately, the Orange Order has a poor track record on policing its Institution and some of these characters whilst professing to be defenders of the Protestant faith (though in truth they are practical atheists) have latched on to the Order as parasites tend to do.

    Now the bulk of the Unionist/loyalisty people (of whom I am one) are law abiding and are sickened by the events of the past few days - but they do feel totally disenfranchised by a government which refuses to govern (else these paramilitaries would not be having free reign day in dayu out). Matt, I believe you are wrong to say that Pailsey's supporters produced guns in this recent foray - Paisley has outright condemned the actions of those who attacked the security forces, and the paramilitaries hate Paisley and the DUP.

    Hope this helps, though I must say I find this thread depressing.
     
  11. Squire Robertsson

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    IIRC, it was his US citizenship that saved him from a traitor's noose after the Easter Rebellion.
     
  12. Ulsterman

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