The Troubles just won’t slip conveniently into history. In recent weeks anyone confident that Northern Ireland has “moved on” will have received multiple jolts to such complacency. A car bomb (and last night a fire bomb, pictured left) and Loyalist protests have disrupted shopping in Belfast’s city centre in the run up to Christmas. And as for the Troubles themselves, they have been a prominent part of the news headlines. Revelations UK army units operating beyond the standard rules of engagement in the 1970s. Outcry over the fate of the “disappeared” and over the strenuous denials by Gerry Adams over his own involvement. Shock over the detail of collusion between members of the Garda and the Provisional IRA in the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal. The risk of more bloodshed today running hand-in-hand with blood continuing to seep under the door marked “the Troubles” with every new revelation. Continue reading “Lost in Time? Controversy over Police Powers in Northern Ireland”
“The past invades the present, The present lives in the past, The future will never come.” The closing words of Robert Greacen’s poem, Procession, lamented the atrophy of unionism in the aftermath of partition. In the last week, the troubled passage of the Special Advisers Bill through the Northern Ireland Assembly and the UK Government’s fight through the US Courts for records of an oral history project held by Boston College (pictured left) indicate just how far Northern Ireland hasn’t come in tackling the Troubles’ legacy. Continue reading “Living History: The Boston College Case and the SPADs Bill”
Last week I wrote a post dealing with the apparent demise of the political voice of Loyalism, the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). In the week that has followed the other side of the Loyalist coin, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), has orchestrated sectarian riots in Belfast by attacking Catholic homes in Short Strand. The ongoing violence has lead to three shootings, including that of a journalist. On the surface this rioting represents a repugnant but containable throwback to the ‘bad old days’ of sectarian strife. However to examine Loyalism in isolation would be a mistake, throughout the ‘Troubles’ the tit-for-tat interplay between Republicans and Loyalists defined the conflict.
An attempt has been made by political Loyalists such as those in the PUP to imbue Loyalism with a more positive identity. Documents such as Principles of Loyalism attempted to distil Loyalist thought and forge it into an identity which could apply in times of peace as well as of conflict. However this rebranding exercise, and political Loyalism with it, has largely failed. The Ulster Democratic Party(UDP), the political wing of the Continue reading “The ongoing crisis within Loyalism: A serious threat to peace”