Fifty to a hundred guys – and a few girls – dressed mainly in black, hoods up and faces covered, swaggering in a column towards a specified location in any city sends a very clear message! And we all understand what that message is. We don’t all button up the back. Regardless of how Police Scotland treat Loyalists, it was right for the police to intercept this little army – and it wasn’t wrong of witnesses and folk on social media to think this was a repeat of the last Loyalist day out. This brigade, this battalion, looked like a duck and it sure as hell quacked like a duck.
It comes as no surprise, then, when she speaks of “our national life,” that there is precisely no mention of Scotland or Wales in her proposal. This is also why she has the boldness to claim that the people of Britain are “looking to the Conservative Party to deliver.” No one in Scotland and Wales is looking to the Conservative Party to deliver anything. She is not talking about Scotland and Wales. This proposal she has made is in England’s national interest and this is why it is so concerned – with a characteristic lack of concern – with Northern Ireland.
The presence of the Dutch far-right leader, Geert Wilders, along with representatives from other European far-right organisations, at the London rally makes it clear that the rise of the right is not simply a problem of the British white working class. Neo-Nazi and far and ultra-far-right groups are gaining strength and popular and political momentum right across the northern hemisphere; from central Russia, across Europe, to the rust belt of the United States. These groups and organisations are in communication, learning from and influencing one another.
Portadown’s Orangemen now no longer march from the Drumcree church and so the insistence on parading down the nationalist Garvaghy Road has ended. This parade made its way down “Protestant streets” – a reminder of the social segregation of Northern Ireland today – where union and loyalist flags were waving in the breeze.
We are being led to believe that an otherwise innocent and somewhat naïve British state is doing a deal with the devil that is the Ulster loyalist DUP. The truth is that this is a whitewash of Britain’s role in Ireland. It is another lie.
England and the entire British political establishment are in for a hell of a shock when they realise just who these “nutters on the backbenches” are. The DUP is the often hilarious hard core of political loyalist, sectarian Ulster unionism in the conflict zone that is Northern Ireland – bearing in mind that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, now in tatters, is only a ceasefire.
Until the Scottish independence campaign all of this has remained alien to my experience of Ireland and Scotland. Now I hear and say this word “unionism” every day. As a concept and as an identity it has become more real to me.
By voting to leave the EU and by insisting that the people of Northern Ireland leave with “Britain” regardless of their needs and interests, London has shown its true contempt for its loyal citizens in Belfast.