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In the North… October 29, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Northern Ireland, The North.

From one of our contributors in Belfast…

…there is real fear in Belfast of big trouble on Sunday with the RIR return parade and no less than 4 republican demos. Loyalists are mobilising as well. The Andytown News has come out against a counter-demo, which is usually significant.


1. Garibaldy - October 29, 2008

There’s a lot of talk about this on Slugger, where some unionists are clearly hoping for trouble so they can say they told you so. The dissidents are mobilising, probably with the intention of forcing the cops to call on soldiers for back up, so they can say nothing has changed. Having said that, the Provo plan for their demonstration is actually a fairly restrained one.

I don’t think all the other protestors do want a riot. I expect what will happen is that the parade will pass off peacefully, partly due to policing but with trouble later that evening, especially at the Short Strand, as loyalist blood is liable to be up too. As long as it isn’t filmed the impact will be limited.

Oh, and bomb scares to disrupt the army parade are also highly likely.


2. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2008

It’s very messy, one way or another.


3. Joe - October 30, 2008

Depressing stuff. I hope Garibaldy’s predicted outcome happens and that the trouble is kept to a minimum.
I’m against the war but no way would I support demos like this one on Sunday in which republicans are using “anti-war” as an excuse to stick it to the Prods. They want to drag us back and we should never let them.


4. Jer - October 30, 2008

Joe, Thats a bit catch all to just say republicans are trying to stick it to the Prods ( as you say) and drag the situation back to worse days.

There are very valid reasons to protest the marching of British soldiers in Belfast. The nationalist community has earned that right the hard way.

Brian Feeney commented that many British cities had decided not to have such home comings due to opposition to the war. It is the Councillors who have decided to hold this march who are politicising the event. Joe, Do you feel they are sticking it to anyone or even dragging us back. Are you going to let them or does your focus extend only to the nefarious republicans.


5. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2008

I hope we were all Republicans, at least in a broad sense… as regards coat trailing, well, it seems – as Garibaldy has noted – that Sinn Féin is attempting to keep that to a minimum for those it influences. Those beyond SF are a different kettle of fish and who knows what they plan, but I take Jer’s point, opposition to the war is obviously going to be more pronounced in the North for various reasons, not least because it still is linked to the UK and the soldiers are fighting on behalf of the UK.


6. Andy McNob - October 30, 2008

SF have had to call the demo because they were being outflanked by Eirgri. The Ri-ras and another dissident group are also calling demos in the Markets and Short Strand. The anarchists are demonstrating as well (or maybe its Down GAA supporters, black and red flags anyway). The Shankhill is covered in Royal Irish Rangers flags, ironic given that lots of that regiment are southern Catholics.


7. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2008

That should be ‘we all are’, in number 5. Interesting Andy… the turnout will be telling.


8. Baku26 - October 31, 2008

Unfortunately, the entire situation has given rise to the baser sectarian instincts of the tribal elements on both sides.


9. Joe - October 31, 2008

“I hope we are all Republicans.”

I’m not. I’m a socialist.

Jer, you have a point. It’s probable that some of the unionist Councillors who decided to have the march might have been motivated to some extent by a “stick it to the Taigs” attitude. What I am saying is that the primary motivation of the dissident Republican demonstrations is not anti-war in Iraq or Afghanistan but rather a “stick it to the Prods” mentality which hopes that trouble on the streets will help to bring us back to the horror of the late 20th century in the North. I believe that people should not fall for this. As a socialist I oppose the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but I believe, in the case of Belfast next Sunday, that people who oppose those wars, should ignore the RIR march because joining the protests gives succour to fascistic dissident republican elements who want civil conflict in the North.


10. Jer - October 31, 2008


As regards the dissident protest then I agree with you that its probably looked at as a strategic opportunity to demonstrate that nothing has changed. I raised my objection as I felt you needed to make the distinctin between the mainstream Republican movement who rightfully opposes the march and the dissident groups who, with equal justification, oppose the march for stategic reasons that will not help realise their actual goals.
The march is being downgraded now though – the fly over is gone.

The mind boggles as to how anybody thought having every branch of the British military marching around in the modern day equivalent of a Roman triumph in a city where their forces spent three decades in action would be a good idea.
IMO the unionist councillors love having the opportunity to “stick it to the taigs” and the British Army, who dont mind that either, also have the added benefit of having positive publicity for their actions in Afghanisatan and Iraq. Positive publicity which, according to Brian Feeney, has not been accorded them in Britain. Now they are denied that positive publicity in the North as well.
The protest is about the conflict in the north but is is equally about the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.


11. NollaigO - October 31, 2008

“I hope we are all Republicans.”

I’m not. I’m a socialist.

A very illogical counter position !!

How does protesting against British Army parades shows that dissident
republicans are “fascistic”?


12. Joe - October 31, 2008

NollaigO a chara,

The term republican is a carryover from the 19th Century. Around the world, the people that I would identify with politically call themselves socialist. In Ireland, the term republican is now forever connected with the nationalist murder campaign in the north 1970-2000. It’s well past time for socialists in Ireland to ditch the term republican and move on. Socialists shouldn’t touch the term with a barge pole. In the US context, would saying “I’m not a republican, I’m a socialist” be illogical?

On the use of the term “fascistic”. I didn’t say protesting against British Army parades shows that dissident republicans are fascistic. I said elements of dissident republicanism are fascistic. The specific elements I’m referring to are CIRA and RIRA. I agree the term fascistic isn’t accurate enough to describe them. Please help me out here CLRers – neanderthal, barbaric, murderous? More words please to describe a tiny bunch of people representative of less than 1% of the population who believe they have the right to murder people they see as their opponents to further their political aims? More words to describe people whose fervent wish is that Northern Ireland can be returned to the hell that was the conflict of 1970-2000?


13. Jer - October 31, 2008

I read “I hope we are all Republicans.” I’m not. I’m a socialist in the same sense but it did put me thinking that there is merit in what he says. It is possible to argue in the broadest sense that Republicanism is a movement more focused on style of govt. whereas socialism is more focused on redistribution of wealth. Thats not to say that Republicanism does not mesh closely with socialism of vice versa. The key is in the broadest sense.
If Republicanism is a question of what governance then by neccessity it needs to add an economic component to it that serves its goals. Socialism would mesh closely then with Republicanism but would actually be a method drawn to it to meet its goals.
That in my mind does not mean republicans are faux socialists, not socialists etc but simply that Republicanism was not born socialist but saw in socialism a philospohy that would allow it to further articulate its vision.

Its an interesting point he raises.

I agree 100% with your point on fascistic.


14. Jer - October 31, 2008

I cant support your description of the conflict in the north as a nationalist murder campaign. You may not support the Republican movement but it would be a mistake to allow that to colour the conflict in that manner. Its simply inaccurate and borders on unintentional propaganda for one party to the conflict.

“In the US context, would saying “I’m not a republican, I’m a socialist” be illogical?”

True but then we are not in the US. In the US context to say you were a socialist would be to attempt to destroy you politically, a la Obama, but in Europe to say you are a socialist is to stand in the same room in a group as diverse as Proinsias to Joe Higgins. All terms are loosely, and contextually, defined whether they be socialist, republican or even liberal – a word that is so twisted its almost worthless as a description.


15. Garibaldy - October 31, 2008


What is your alternative description of the Provisional campaign? And does it differ from how you would see that of the INLA and its offshoot the IPLO?


16. Garibaldy - October 31, 2008

The Provos have announced they are changing their route. It’ll be on the local news at 1.30


17. Garibaldy - October 31, 2008

Basically the Provos have decided to hold their protest at the bottom of the Grosvenor Road after walking down it, which will keep them well away from the Army march, and away from the other protests. Clearly this is a welcome attempt to ease the situation.


18. Jer - October 31, 2008

I disagree with Joe’s description for the lack of breadth that is also inherent in the selection of groups listed in your comment. This strikes me as being very similar to commentary in the 80s whereby much paper was used in condemning the republican campaign *. If such commentators were asked what about the loyalists then the stock answer was typically yes, they are to be condemned as well. A case of condemning all violence but effectively ignoring half of it. Having your cake and eating it too come to mind.

The conflict in the north was not a nationalist murder campaign.

If it can be summed up as such then the following is true:

(1) The British Army selflessly intervened to save lives.
(2) Loyalist violence is essentially defensive.
(3) As the campaign was a nationalist campaign then all members of the nationalist community are indeed legitimate targets.

* the question here is fairness and accuracy not the justification of any campaign.


19. Garibaldy - October 31, 2008

Ah ok. I had taken Joe to be referring specifically to the violence emanating from nationalism, whereas you had taken it to be a reference to the Troubles more broadly. I’ll leave it to Joe to tell us what he meant, though looking at it again, I still think he was referring specifically to part of what went on rather than the whole thing.

To clarify my own position, I agree entirely that the Troubles cannot be reduced to any one side’s actions.


20. WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2008

Joe, I mean Republicanism in the broad sense, hence I said ‘in the broad sense’ 🙂

But there is a serious point here, my socialism is very much of the Republican (in the broad…) variety. Indeed I see the two as hugely intertwined. I understand your concerns, but I can’t help feeling that being away from the localised situation makes it more difficult to judge such matters, which is equally true for me as well.

I would say that I think SF has played a positive and constructive role in this… oddly enough though I’m sorry the BA called off the RAF flypast. If they replaced the march with that I’d be a lot happier. I like jets.


21. Roger Ramjet - October 31, 2008

Joe, do you consider the ‘nationalist murder campaign’ to include the killing of the British soldiers, policemen and civilians by the Official IRA? Because in my experience the WP tends to have a bit of a blind spot in that regard.


22. Joe - November 3, 2008

Firstly, well done to the Shinners yesterday in holding a peaceful protest. And well done to everyone who helped to keep the day overall fairly peaceful.

I didn’t describe the conflict in the North as a nationalist murder campaign. Of course there were a lot more aspects to the conflict than that. But that’s for another lifetimes debate and discussion. (And yes I have blind spots and prejudices and motes in my eyes, but I’m working on it, see the start of this comment.). What I did say was that the term republican (in Ireland) is in my view forever connected with the nationalist murder campaign (which was part of the conflict). So why would socialists want to risk misunderstanding by calling themselves republican?

Ah WBS, jets. Another old Sticky story. Apparently when the IRPS were splitting from OSF, the Ard Comhairle or Army Council or something was meeting and Garland was giving a full report of who was splitting, who was staying. Poor old Tomás always suffered from stomach ulcers and when Seán came to the Derrry situation and the list of inlaws who were splitting got longer and longer, Tomás grabbed his stomach as the ulcer couldn’t take any more. “Don’t worry”, says Seán, “it’s not all bad, the airforce is staying with us.”


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