Thursday, 13 July 2017

Celtic Fanzone disgrace

According to media reports West Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) has approved a grant towards a Fanzone for Celtic supporters at the Devenish Arms on Finaghy Road North.

This is to accommodate Celtic fans for tomorrow night's match against Linfield, with the match being shown live on the indoor and outdoor screens.

Councillor Matt Garrett
At the meeting of the West Belfast PCSP last month Sinn Fein councillor Matt Garrett tabled the proposal and said it had come from Feile an Phobail (West Belfast Festival) in conjunction with the Devenish Arms.

Sinn Fein is the dominant voice on the West Belfast PCSP so it is not surprising that the proposal was adopted.

The Sinn Fein councillor said the grant was supporting the 'external part of the Fanzone' and 'not any of the commercial elements of the Devenish'.

However most people will view the 'internal part' and the 'external part' as inseparable and certainly that is the case on the Devenish Arms facebook page. which features the logo of Feile an Phobail, the Fanzone and the name of the singers who will be providing entertainment for the Celtic fans.

Damien Quinn & Ronny Deila
The details of how the funding decision was taken will emerge in due course as will details of what information Feile an Phobail, the Devenish Arms and Councillor Garrett provided to the PCSP but what is particularly significant is the line-up of performers, Damien Quinn, the Irish Brigade and Gary Lawlor.

All three acts specialise in Irish rebel music and they are very popular with Celtic supporters.

Anyone wanting to sample the songs of Damien Quinn has only to check him out on youtube at one of his Rebel Sunday spots at the Rock Bar.  However I must warn you about both the sectarianism of the songs and the crudity of the lyrics. These Rebel Sundays are something of a republican 'hate-fest'.

There are lines about 'singing songs of the IRA' and his repertoire includes a particularly virulent version of the notorious Go on home British soldiers go on home.  It includes the lines 'Go on home British soldiers, go on home, Have you go no f.....g homes of your own. and 'F..k your Union Jack, we want our country back.'

Live performances often involve the audience shouting back 'F..k, f..k, f..k.'  This is just crude sectarianism at its basest and is it not the sort of song that radicalises young people?

Quinn was also a founder member of the rebel band Justice, from Newry, which wrote the song 18 Brits were blew to Bits, about the murder of 18 soldiers at Narrow-water, the murder of Lord Mountbatten on the same day, the murder of 9 police officers and the murder of Judge Gibson - a litany of murder for people to dance to!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twIZnVMD5jE&feature=youtu.be


The Irish Brigade has a similar repertoire with classics such as My old man's a Provo and My Little Armalite.

This group also sing The SAM Song, which they composed themselves.  It expresses the joy of an IRA man who is delighted that after years of Armalites and mortars the IRA has access to SAM missiles!

Again, like Damien Quinn, this material is all available on youtube.


The third singer on the bill, Gary Lawlor, was at one time a member of the Irish rebel band The Druids, who were the cause of much controversy a few years ago at the Ardoyne Fleadh.

However long before that he had teamed up with another group as Gary Lawlor and The Rebels.  One of their songs is Sniper's Promise and another is entitled Paddy the Sniper.

Most people will be astounded that public money, especially money from a Policing and Community Safety Partnership could be used to pay for a Fanzone that is in any way associated with such sordid and sectarian 'rebel music'.

In recent days Sinn Fein's northern leader Michelle O'Neill talked about an 'annual display of hate'.  So before the event tomorrow night, will the media interrogate Michelle O'Neill about what is due to happen at the Devenish Arms?  

Will they also ask the PCSP what they were told about the arrangements?

Will they interrogate Celtic Football Club about the association of their club name with this event?

Will they also ask the owners of the Devenish Arms about what is to happen on their premises?

Will they ask Feile an Phobail about their views on the performers and what about the Arts Council and Tourism Northern Ireland which part fund Feile an Phobail?

It's over now to Stephen Nolan, William Crawley and all the rest ...  Over the course of the past week the BBC has spent a lot of time on bonfires so how about this for a change?  And with that list of people they should have plenty of material for a few days.






The Twelfth in Broughshane

Text of my speech at the Braid district demonstration in Broughshane on 12 July.

The past year has been a remarkable year in politics around the world and here in Ulster and across the United Kingdom we have had our share of surprises.

The Assembly election in March was a black day for Ulster and for the Union.  There was a surge of votes for Sinn Fein in the Assembly election and the outcome was a shock to most unionists.

That was followed by the triumphalist gloating of Gerry Adams and his northern assistant Michelle O’Neill.

We were then faced with a Westminster election in June and republicanism threw everything it had at key seats such as North Belfast, their prime target, Foyle, another key target seat, and South Belfast.

We saw an army of Sinn Fein volunteers mobilised from both sides of the border and based on the reports from Londonderry there was also a significant level of electoral fraud.

However the unionist people responded and in June, while Sinn Fein retained that surge in support, there was a corresponding surge in the unionist vote in every part of Northern Ireland.

It was disappointing to see Tom Elliott lose out in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, although the result was closer that Sinn Fein would have wanted and that seat can be taken back.

However in our capital city unionism now holds three of the four seats.  Sinn Fein retained West Belfast but their hopes were dashed in South Belfast and North Belfast, as were the hopes of Naomi Long in East Belfast.  It was a good day for Ulster and for the Union.

This was the start of the unionist recovery and on this day especially we have a right to celebrate both the victory of King William III, Prince of Orange, at the Boyne in 1690 and the electoral success of unionism here in Ulster just a few weeks ago.  However we cannot afford to be complacent.

After a decade of electoral decline, Irish nationalism and republicanism have reversed that decline but I suspect that Sinn Fein will find it hard to build their vote much further.  When you have done almost everything, legal and illegal, there isn’t much left to do.

Unionism on the other hand has the potential to build the unionist vote even further.  With a systematic campaign of voter registration and greater attention to postal and proxy votes, replicating what Sinn Fein do, but without the fraud, we can increase the unionist vote.

We need electoral registration but we also need organisation, communication and motivation and that should be a priority for the unionist family, including the Orange Institution.  Many districts and lodges did valuable registration work in the days leading up to the Westminster election and they deserve credit for that but we must not rest on our laurels.  There is more to be done to build for the future.

Meanwhile we face the demands of Sinn Fein for a muscular stand-alone Irish Language Act.  That would be a recipe for disaster.  It would empower Sinn Fein and advance their cultural war.

That cultural war goes back thirty years to a time when Sinn Fein stated that every Irish word was another bullet in the freedom struggle.

The cultural demands of Sinn Fein were then rewarded in 1985 in the Anglo-Irish Agreement.  The Anglo-Irish Agreement said that the government would support the cultures of both traditions but in fact the only culture that was promoted was Irish Gaelic culture.

Many of us here today will remember protesting outside the Anglo-Irish secretariat at Maryfield but little did we know that inside the gates of Maryfield representatives of the Dublin government were pressing the Northern Ireland Office to make concessions to nationalist demands for the Gaelic language.

The situation was made worse by the Belfast Agreement, cobbled together by Tony Blair and his cronies, which ensured preferential treatment for Irish medium schools and Irish language broadcasting.  Indeed the advances made by the Gaelic language movement are the outworking of that iniquitous agreement, an agreement which the Orange Institution opposed.  Tony Blair has a lot to answer for!

Now we are confronted by Sinn Fein’s further demand for an Irish Language Act, a ‘muscular’ and ‘free-standing’ Irish Language Act.

The truth is that this is about much more than promoting a minority language.  It is about building Gaelic strongholds in Northern Ireland.  It is about building a Gaelic infrastructure to drive forward Sinn Fein’s Gaelic cultural agenda.

Furthermore, as one senior Sinn Fein politician said, they have to create jobs for Irish speakers to encourage more people to learn Irish.

An Irish Language Act is also about greening Northern Ireland to make it more like the Irish Republic and it is about demoralising unionists, by making them feel that they are strangers living in a foreign land, with Gaelic signage on street names, Gaelic signage on buses and trains, as has been proposed for Londonderry, Gaelic signage on government departments and institutions, and the Irish language embedded in every area of life.

They also want an Irish language commissioner to enforce it and for that commissioner to be backed up by the power of the courts.

An Irish Language Act would be very expensive but it would also be deeply divisive and damaging to Northern Ireland and that damage and division would be almost irreversible.  Culture matters to republicans, therefore it has to matter to unionists as well. 

We need a good cultural strategy, one that puts unionism on the front foot, rather than the back foot, and I believe that it is something we can achieve.

Just as Martin Luther stood against the errors of Rome, an anniversary we celebrate this year, and just as our forefathers won the day at the Boyne in 1690, so we today stand on the same ground of Reformed truth and on a platform of civil and religious liberty.

Sinn Fein often talk about human rights and about adopting a ‘human rights based approach’ to everything.  We even saw their election posters with demands for human rights, respect and equality.  However for Sinn Fein those words are simply weapons in their political arsenal.  They have weaponised the concepts of human rights and equality just as they weaponised the Irish language.

Gerry Adams admitted that ‘equality’ was simply a ‘Trojan horse’ to break unionism and as regards ‘human rights’, Sinn Fein didn’t care much about the ‘right to life’ when the IRA was bombing and murdering.

They even get worked up when a Sinn Fein election poster is burned on a bonfire.  Well whatever the rights or wrongs of posters on bonfires, they didn’t show the same level of concern when the IRA was burning people to death in terrorist firebomb attacks such as La Mon.  The IRA were burning real people, not posters, and Sinn Fein continue to glorify those who carried out that terrorist campaign.

This is a good day, when we gather as a Protestant and unionist community across Ulster, to celebrate the Glorious Revolution and the victory at the Boyne over tyranny and arbitrary power. 


We give thanks to God for His blessing on our land down through the years and in so many ways and we look today to Him who has been our help in ages past and who remains our hope for the years to come.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Green Party's judicial review


Ciaran McClean of the Green Party is taking the United Kingdom government to court because of the agreement between the Conservative and Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party.  That agreement will bring £1.5 billion to Northern Ireland but the Green Party is clearly unhappy and Caroline Lucas MP, the leader of the Green Party in England and Wales was particularly virulent in her attacks on the DUP.

Ciaran was the Green Party candidate in West Tyrone in the Assembly election in March 2017, when he polled just 412 first-preference votes.  He also stood in the Westminster election in June 2017 and polled 427 votes, which was just 1% of the votes cast.

At the May 2016 Assembly election he received 458 first preference votes.

His first Westminster outing for the Green Party was in May 2015 when he managed to get 780 votes.

In December 2014, when he announced he would stand for the Green Party for Westminster in 2015, the Ulster Herald (18 December) reported that the Sixmilecross man had 'previously stood without success in Assembly and local government polls.'  So what was his political record before that?

Ciaran Mcclean was a candidate in West Tyrone for the 2010 general election but there are contradictory accounts of whether he stood as an independent or for the Green Party.
The BBC website (21 April 2010) stated: 'Independent candidate Ciaran McClean stood for the Democratic Left in the 1996 election for the Northern Ireland Forum in Upper Bann,  The Democratic Left merged with the Irish Labour Party in 1999.  Mr McClean is active in campaigns against the proliferation of quarries around the mid-Tyrone area.'

However the Belfast Telegraph (3 May 2010) reported: ''Well-known environmental and community activist Ciaran McClean will represent the Green Party, having previously fought elections as a socialist candidate.'

The BBC reference is to the fact that he had stood for the Democratic Left in 1996, in an election where he received just 36 votes!  The Democratic Left was formed in 1992 from the Workers Party after revelations about the ongoing role of the Official IRA but it had little success in Northern Ireland and dissolved in 1999.

That association with the Democratic Left is not altogether surprising since Ciaran is a son of Paddy Joe McClean, who stood for election for the Workers Party back in the 1980s. [Ulster Herald 21 May 2014]

The Green Party in an interesting party and one deserving of more study.  It certainly came as a surprise to many people when Queen's University lecturer Dr Peter Doran, a member of the Green Party for 20 years, jumped ship and joined Sinn Fein.  That led to questions about the murder of Edgar Graham and Doran refused to condemn the murder.  So if he couldn't condemn the murder when he was in Sinn Fein, did he ever condemn the murder of the Queen's lecturer?

Adam McGibbon is another prominent figure in the Green Party but one who has made the journey from Belfast across to England, where he was campaign manager for Caroline Lucas in the 2015 general election.  He was also campaign manager for Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley to become joint-leaders of the Green Party.

McGibbon is now a significant figure in the party and describes his politics as 'Red-Green', a combination of Green and Left-wing beliefs.

So back to Ciaran McClean and his judicial review of the Conservative-DUP arrangement.

Perhaps, just as the Conservative DUP arrangement brought a lot of media focus on the DUP, we may see a similar focus now on the Green Party and their views ... or maybe not!




Thursday, 29 June 2017

A'm fair scunnered


As the Thursday talks deadline passed, I was interviewed on Radio Scotland, along with former Sinn Fein election candidate Chris Donnelly.  The interview, which was conducted by Bill Whiteford, covered various aspects of the political impasse but the Sinn Fein demand for a free-standing Irish Language Act received particular attention because it has been one of the republican party's 'red lines'.

Bill Whiteford
Chris Donnelly, why is Irish such a shibboleth?

Nelson McCausland:
It's not so much about language, it's about identity.


Chris Donnelly: 
Really at the root of it, The unionist opposition to the Irish language really comes down to a desire to frustrate expressions of the Irish national identity in the north of Ireland.

Chris Donnelly acknowledged that the Irish Gaelic language was an 'expression of the Irish national identity'.  As I  had said earlier in the conversation, 'It's not so much about language, it's about identity.'

That's why we need a genuine conversation about expressions of cultural identity, including the two minority languages, and a Culture Act that settles such issues on a basis of equality.  That conversation has never taken place and I suspect Sinn Fein don't want it to take place.

Sinn Fein talk about equality and their election posters included one that demanded 'EQUALITY NOW!' while another declared that they were 'STANDING FOR EQUALITY'.  

Then let them honour that commitment and accept that there can be no preferential treatment for the Irish language and an Irish national identity.  Or is it the case that they really do see equality as a 'Trojan horse'?

During the interview Bill Whiteford used the Scots word 'scunnered' and as regards the arrogance and intransigence of Sinn Fein, I can really say, 'A'm fair scunnered!'





Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Dae ye min the Jawbox?

Now don't worry, I haven't taken to the drink and I only became aware of Jawbox gin when I read an article in the summer edition of Ulster Grocer.

It stated that Jawbox Gin Limited had secured a major contract to supply 500 Asda supermarkets across the UK.

In fact it was the label on the bottle rather than the contents of the bottle that caught my attention.

According to the Gin Factory website: 
A Jawbox, more commonly known as a Belfast Sink, was a staple in Northern Irish households of old, used to wash near enough anything “from dishes, clothes, bikes, children and even sometimes their husbands,” said Jawbox Classic Dry Gin founder Gerry White. The sink was a busy place, with a lot of life and chatter revolving around it and as such has served to be one of Belfast’s most lasting legacies.

A sink or jawbox
So where does the word jawbox come from?  Well we can trace it in the Scottish National Dictionary and the word jaw appears in Old Scots as far back as 1513.  It can be a verb or a noun but as a noun it means a sudden rush or outpouring of water, 

The word jaw is found in Scots and in Ulster-Scots and from it we get the word jawbox, which means 'a water trough used for scullery purposes, or a sink in a kitchen.  It was recorded in Ulster in 1880 as was the term jaw-tub.  So this new Ulster product has an Ulster-Scots name.

The gin is produced by the Echlinville Distillery, which is situated in the grounds of the Echlinville Estate on the Ards peninsula and there's another Ulster-Scots story about the name Echlin forbye.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

The GAA is an Irish nationalist organisation

In the course of the current Westminster election campaign, four candidates in Northern Ireland have received endorsements from prominent figures in the world of sport.

First of all the Fermanagh GAA manager, who is also a former manager of Down GAA, endorsed the Sinn Fein candidate in South Down.

This was followed by three endorsements from people associated with local football teams, with the Ballymena manager backing the Ulster Unionist candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the Cliftonville chairman endorsing the Sinn Fein candidate in North Belfast, and the Linfield chairman supporting the DUP candidate in South Belfast.

These endorsements have been the subject of some comment in the media but there is one obvious point which I have not seen in any of the comments I have read.

The three endorsements from people involved with football were all for different parties - DUP, UUP and Sinn Fein.  This reflects the fact that football is indeed a sport for everyone, whether they are unionists, nationalists or neither.  It is open and inclusive.

Meanwhile the endorsement from a prominent figure in the GAA was for a Sinn Fein candidate.  Prominent GAA members can endorse Sinn Fein candidates, SDLP candidates or indeed any nationalist or republican candidates but they are not going to endorse a unionist candidate, from whatever unionist party.  

It's just not going to happen and there is a very simple reason for that.  You can only join a GAA club if you are an Irish nationalist or republican.  The constitution of the GAA includes a commitment to Irish nationalism and acceptance of that position is a requirement for membership of every club within the GAA.  In other words, unionists are barred from membership of the GAA.  A Protestant nationalist could join the GAA and there have been a few of them but every unionist is excluded.

For example GAA rule 1:2 states: 'The Association is a National Organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity in a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes.'

This morning's editorial in the Belfast Telegraph commented that the recent spate of electoral endorsements were 'bringing sport into politics' and that is a matter for discussion.

What is beyond dispute is that throughout its existence the GAA has brought politics into sport in a way that no other sporting body has done, even to the extent of barring unionists from membership.

The GAA may talk about reaching out but until the GAA abandons its aspiration for a 32-county Irish republic its door is shut and bolted and unionists are shut out.

Friday, 26 May 2017

'Knowing who we are' really matters


'Origin narratives form the vital core of a people's unifying identity and of the values that guide them.' Professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

So our origin narrative, where we come from, shapes our identity and our values!

Well if an 'origin narrative' is so important, what are children learning about their 'origin narrative' in the education system in Northern Ireland?

For those children from an Ulster-Scots tradition, do they learn about the following?
  • The arrival of Scottish settlers in east Ulster, under Sir James Hamilton and Sir Hugh Montgomery, which happened before the 'flight of the Gaelic earls'
  • The forced removal of many border reivers from the Scottish borders to Fermanagh by King James I
  • The role of the Earl of Antrim, a wealthy Roman Catholic landowner, who invited lowland Scottish Presbyterians across to become tenant farmers on his land
  • The official plantation of some of the counties of Ulster
  • The 1641 rebellion, when Protestant settlers were killed by Irish rebels or died from hunger and disease
  • The persecution of the Presbyterian Covenanters in Scotland, which led to more Scottish settlement in Ulster
  • The siege of Londonderry and the determination of the defenders to hold out against the Jacobites
If a radical American academic can recognise the importance of an 'origin narrative' why does our education system not give it the attention it deserves?