On 09 April 2018 a Loyalist Statement ahead of 20yr anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland was read out in The Linenhall Library, Belfast.
Linenhall Library Belfast assembled group.
Rev. Harold Good, Jim Wilson, Retired Archbishop Alan Harper, Jackie McDonald, Rev. Norman Hamilton.
Combined Loyalist Military Command, Fernhill House Belfast, Ulster Defence Force, Ulster Volunteer Force, Red Hand Commando.
The delivery of a Statement by the CLMC grouping in conjunction with several Religious enablers on 9 April 2018 took place in the Linenhall Library Belfast.
Below extracts are extracts from the Statement removed for my comment.
The context is unaltered.
‘For too long we have been berated for our past.’
There is always expectation such history need be included in discussion.
No one has a eraser for the past.
No one is impressed by apologists but in factually correct acknowledgement of their past.
The GFA already has provided a get out of jail free card.
It does not dispense with seeking the untold truth or compensate for absence of concluding information.
The words – ‘in the context of republican reliance on divisive identity-politics’ – disregard the very same conditions loyalist and unionist politics chooses to identify itself by.
Having a teapot and calling it a coffe-pot. The point being the tea leaves not coffee are used in it still.
Other metaphors are available.
Democracy enables no-one to be excluded. It is proven.
‘We have made this clear many times and have indeed contributed to previous work on dealing with the past.’
Yet when an informer gives evidence against his former allies he is threatened with violence.
Other opportunities in respecting the need for a truth process have been undermined by the ongoing challenges and threats made to Ed Maloney and for what is contained in the Boston Archive which is in part accessed by the PSNI.
‘We further declare that any engagement in criminal acts by any individuals within our organisations will be regarded as placing those persons outside the memberships.’
This implies the criminal acts will be found through due process of the Law and post conviction.
It fails to go on to say any information concerning criminal activity will be passed on by the ‘loyalist group’ to the PSNI should they become aware of unlawful activity.
‘Loyalists must have ownership and control of their own future.’
There is no removal of ownership to require this statement.
The elected representatives – council – assembly – parliament – are the carriers of the future aims of citizens. In recent elections even endorsements of the preferred candidate has been underlined in publications, press statements by loyalist groupings so it is who they elect to represent them that responsibility is to be shared.
‘Now is the time for a renewed loyalism, with a new impetus to meet the challenges ahead.’
This statement again is not cognoscent of the available currency of process and outcomes presented within ‘loyalism’ regardless of timeframes supposed or not. Nothing is altered by this set of words. The context is made to seem uplifted by this nebulous meaningless phrase.
It avoids Civil Rights, Human Rights referencing and therefore is unconnected to any direct policy or concept.
‘We want to see a better future for all in Northern Ireland and where the residual effects of conflict are recognised and addressed in a reparative manner.’
It is only reasonable and just to expect nothing less and this should indeed be axiomatic given the broad church of the people in Northern Ireland.
It has long been held a conflict resolution process is in need of a resolution path.
The UK Government undermine this and the HET has as the film ‘No stone unturned’ shows provided only partial answers to and are not complete or with intent to complete.
The actions against any actor of violence including security forces persons are not without culpability and require to face Court trial as those who were freed under the GFA were processed through Law.
The difference is the actors not yet facing trial whose cases are live and intact need face justice at the earliest opportunity.
Comparison should not be made and is not made here with the premature release of Prisoners first sanctioned by Secretary of State Mo Mowlem in Agreement with Prisoner Groups outside local process of consultation.
The release of Prisoners under the GFA was a de facto proposition made possible by the Secretary of State after her discussions on the prospect with those in prison.
The proposition was a brokerage point – unjust, unfair and failing in criminal process – under which Law is maintained presently.
To conclude the statement on a note of sectarian exclusivity with no progression to mixed communities sought or acknowledged this merely parks division interminably. It asks it to be aided by others who accept this condition of insulararity politicised and not to undermine gained peace.
The main item taken from this statement by most observers is the element concerning criminality.
The fact other items on truth and justice for victims and parties bereaved by acts of violence by paramilitaries and in some cases in conjunction with Security Forces remains outside this statement as unaddressed.
The remainder of the text is positional marking of the GFA twentieth anniversary and is a choreographed exercise presumably organised by the NIO and British Government with ROI input to ensure the optics of Loyalism has a functional presence at the date of the Anniversary.
It is also noted most local newspapers have been advised and given notice of the ‘theatre’ of Political underpinning in order to converge on a unity of purpose – that of analysis fed by prompt avoiding ‘fake news’ diversity.
The orchestration included the ‘adoration’ of the City of Belfast by conferring the Freedom of Belfast on two American participants and enablers of the GFA.
The currency of the GFA is hugely undermined by the timeline underpinning the main lack of progress in eradicating sectarianism and failure to meet levels of social equality.
The excluded are further undermined by Political stalemate and economic (Euro/Sterling) argument predicated in withdrawal from the EU.
A footnote exhibition opened one week before the GFA anniversary at the Ulster Museum on a redesign of ‘The Troubles’ curation. Within it are numerous very poor exhibits and very badly written text which give a wrong historical narrative to coincide with the false political optics presented by the statement and events surrounding it.
It is an indictment of generations of naysayers and lying to the public remains the States priority.
The words of Suzanne Breen in the Belfast Telegraph on the day the great and the good came to remember the Good Friday Agreement of twenty years previously to the day, put this work in context.
“It appeared yesterday that loyalist leaders were just trying to join the Good Friday Agreement anniversary circus. The public want real change on the ground. Not much chance of that.”
Like all of us we will believe it when we see it.
‘There is a pressing need for both loyalists and unionists to see beyond their own horizons and to connect with others to build external networks and courses of action. A more open and confident sense of Britishness would help facilitate this evolution.’ Graham Spencer/Rev. Chris Hudson. Belfast Telegraph 10.04.18
During ‘The Troubles’ is was Britishness, confident and open that drove the sectarianism led defence of community of their identity into violence. The invasion and burning out of Catholic families were loyalist protection of their community. Later ‘Spokespersons’ came to the fore in Loyalism justifying tit for tat murders and the Glenanne gang were aided by security forces. Army bases were used for training under the umbrella of TA and UDR tags. Membership was based around an assured identity under threat. Those such as David Ervine, later to renounce his violent past; he took the road of violence following the Bloody Friday Bombings, were cheer leaders for hatred and ensured recruitment and loyalist districts became terrorised just as they are now by opportunists and criminals in the name of their cause. Alongside was intimidation and internecine warfare where a loyalist would shot and kill a disobedient loyalist. Others who disagreed in a provocative way by speaking out were executed.
The words ring hollow as they did back then when Ministers and Priests saved lives by giving shelter and guidance to those who chose not to become involved in violence and by acting as mediators but those actions were few and far between though it would have been a whole lot worse had they not. Families were split and divided on fundamentalist lines. Like Religion differences the Clergy made their trademark distinction exactly that. A distinction without conformed unity. The Rev. Roy Davey, a man ahead of his time set up before the conflict called ‘The Troubles’ began the Corrymela foundation for peaceful reconciliation and love among races.
Prominent compacts have come and gone. The Women’s Coalition is no longer around. The Civil Rights Movement no longer exists. The Nationalist Party, Northern Ireland Labour Party all have left the stage of Socialist politics and silo politics rules the province and without a representative Government.
This is the context in which the statement and the past theatre of resolution politics is to be seen.
13 April 2018
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