The last two nights have seen the Short Strand, a small catholic enclave in east Belfast, attacked by loyalists. The PSNI have alleged that the attacks were organised and directed by the local UVF unit.
Hundreds of masked men armed with pipe bombs and petrol bombs. Like a re-run of 1970 St. Mathews Church was among the buildings targeted. Thankfully, unlike 41 years ago, there were no armed men in the church grounds waiting for the attacking mob.
Reasonable people have asked the question ‘why has these attacks taken place?’
Jim Wilson of the PUP (the UVF’s political voice) said:
“Loyalism at the minute feel unrepresented, they need representation. They need people to listen to them and if they don’t listen and I’m not saying that I know everything and that I’m Mister Smart but if they don’t listen to the concern from within those communities things like what happened there last night are going to continue to happen. Loyalism feels outside the process and do you know why? Because we’ve been pushed outside the process. Nobody is trying to bring us in out of the cold. We were part and parcel of what’s happening up at Stormont. But you know something? It’s like still a cold house for loyalism. No one seems to want to help the communities that I come from and this to me is a result of it.”
Outside the process?
Loyalists were given pride of place at the recent Island bridge commemorations attended by President McAleese and the British Queen. This was much to the annoyance of some politicians from Northern Ireland. Loyalism, despite their minuscule electoral support, get asked to the top table in this Republic at any function that remotely concerns them.
That said they are held in utter contempt by middle class unionists.
So what do they do?
They attack a small nationalist area like the Short Strand.
Plus ca change…
The PUP stands at elections however very few of their own community trust them with a vote.
In what way then is Loyalism “disenfranchised?”
Because people won’t vote for them?
That isn’t being disenfranchised that is just being a political failure.
Is Fianna Fail currently “disenfranchised” in the Republic?
Now they got hammered at the last election.
The worst election result in their history.
The old Norn Iron is gone. The new dispensation symbolised by the enforced partnership at Stormont means that the “Protestant parliament for a Protestant people is never, ever coming back.”
With the shipyards almost entirely gone they have to compete in a fair jobs market with well-educated Kierons and Siobhans.
This isn’t how it was meant to be in Sammy’s Wee Ulstur.
Equality is a terrifying thing for bigots everywhere.
The major sociological indicators for working class Protestant communities in the Six Counties are grim, especially for young protestant men.
The late David Ervine attempted to develop a class consciousness among his UVF comrades.
He tried to stop them obsessing about working class Catholics and instead fix their steely eyes on the unionist business class that so rapaciously exploited them while banging the tribal drum.
Sadly he failed. The loyalists remain locked in a good ‘ol boy mind-set that sees the terrifying of Taigs as an answer to all of their community’s ills. The resignation of his successor Dawn Purvis from the party last year was a clear sign that the UVF were not going to leave the stage in the way that the Provisional IRA had done.
While that sub culture exists the only response from the state must the iron fist. Failure to do so would see the authorisation of a 21st century Billy McKee and no one should want that.