The bonfire of the inanities

After the all-consuming flames all that remains is a smouldering smelly mess that someone else has to clean up.

That seems an appropriate analogy for the Northern statelet created by Lloyd George and Churchill almost a century ago.

Pastor Lucas Parks was, of course, correct.

Anywhere else but Norn Iron and the burning of an effigy of the Virgin Mary would be a hate crime.

The symbolism of a public burning, given in the dark history of schismatic Christianity, is powerfully redolent the sectarian chaos that the rest of Europe left behind centuries ago.

Scroll to 09.50 to hear the anguish of a genuine Christian looking at the forensic evidence of a community spiralling into nihilism.

This is a belief system that only believes in hate.

Moreover, this is no cultural celebration, but a deeply insecure underclass trying to convince themselves that the future belongs to them.

It doesn’t.

This an ugly stupid sub-culture that suffocates the potential of the people that is socialised by it.

Highly talented people born within the operational area of this self-harming insanity get out as quick as they can.

If they do not, then they are slowly destroyed by it.

James Galway took his musical baby steps in an Orange band, now he is an internationally feted flautist and self-defines as Irish when abroad.

Here the musician gives an analysis of the tainted legacy of Ian Paisley that would not be out of place in the pages of An Phoblacht.

On the subject of British imperialism in Ireland, he doesn’t miss.

“Well, let me put this to you – would you not think that 800 years ago what the British did was immoral and kept doing it and it is still immoral?” He talked about his Irish identity and how he felt brainwashed by Presbyterianism when growing up in Belfast.

On the issue of his own national identity he is unequivocal:

“I would like Ireland to be Ireland. People ask me where do you come from and I say Ireland.

“And they say ‘are you Irish?’ And I say ‘yes I’m Irish’.”

If someone from that background proclaimed their Irishness within earshot of the bonfire builders, then the outcome would not be a reasoned debate, but a life extinguishing beating.

I am reminded of something said to me almost twenty years ago by a very senior Republican in Derry:

“If we get parity of esteem then Loyalism is finished. They won’t be able to handle equality”.

It was brilliantly prescient as well as being rather tragic.

What these flames of hate are about is that the out-group in their belief system are visibly no longer materially inferior.


Nationalists in the Six Counties now have comfortable lives with the possibility of social mobility through education and employment.

This is at clear variance with what it should be according to the worldview of the bonfire builders.

The bonfire builders who erect these life threatening stacks do so not out of a triumphalist swagger, but rather because of pitiable insecurity.

They see themselves in a culture war where they are besieged by those who seek to extirpate them as a people.

In fact, it is the bonfire builders who are constructing their own cultural funeral pyre.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion