Friday, 14 December 2012

Compare and contrast

Here's what loyalists did for 8 days following the democratically-elected Belfast City Council decision to fly the Union Flag only on certain days of the year rather than every day:


And here's what happened when the British Government admitted that its secret services, the Army and the police organised the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane by gunmen in their employ, then covered it up afterwards.


OK, this is an illustrative picture rather than reportage, because it's hard to find a picture of people not rioting but remaining dignified in response to state-sanctioned murder. But the difference between the two groups' actions is instructive. I don't think the individuals involved are any more or less civilised for coming from one or the other communities in the six counties: but clearly a subgroup of one is prepared to meet democratic change with violence whereas the other has committed to peace in the face of the most outrageous provocation.

What was really disappointing was the Progressive Unionist Party's approach. They're the political wing of a loyalist armed organisation but – like the Official IRA in the 1970s – seemed to be developing a socialist class analysis of the situation. But over the past few days they've been calling for 'Protestant unity': further entrenching the sectarian divide at the expense of proper progressive politics. 

2 comments:

Peter Gray said...

All good points, but since the PUP dumped Dawn Purvis as leader last year (after she condemned continuing, if low-level UVF violence) it's basically abandoned all pretence at being a leftist party.
On the bigger point, the loyalist violence of late has been very much paramilitary orchestrated. True however that this is drawing on the violent anxieties of a demographically collapsing group - the Protestant working class - and the fury is directed mainly at Protestant middle-class liberals ('Alliance Lundies') believed to have betrayed them.
No Shinner street demos over Finucane (why let the loyalists off the hook?). Political capital will be made out of it, but given the Shinner leadership was so deeply implicated in its own dirty war and/or was I also in the pay of MI5 that this will be muted.
All in all it's been a pretty shitty fortnight over here in NI, but thanks to the BBC we can still remind ourselves it used to be a lot shittier: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7792046.stm

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