Friday, April 18, 2014

What Nationalism Doesn't Get (Or maybe just doesn't care about)






I spend a pathetic amount of time thinking of where unionism has gone wrong, how much  Irish culture has been lost (or abandoned)on the Protestant side of the fence and generally how can we mend things in the grim north?

I sometimes despair that people can't (or won't) see the correlation between playing anti-Catholic tunes in a Catholic area and the general resentment that this causes:


"But it's only a song about how great things would be if there was no Pope! It's nothing personal".


Wise. The. Bap.

Or how people can't see that using a flag much loved by loyalist paramilitaries might not be the ideal fleggy representative for Northern Ireland.


I spend a fair whack of time criticising unionism and of course have been labelled a republican or a Lundy for my trouble.


Examples of my 'treachery' include:


http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/10-things-that-unionistsprotestants-do.html


or


http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/the-ulster-flag-banner.html


or even this rambling piece:


http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/ulster-scot-or-simply-ulster-protestant.html



Fair enough, it's to be expected.



Lundy:

AKA "yours truly"


I assumed things would be much more clear over on planet Nationalism.


We'll soon see.


Here are a few things that I believe (only an opinion like) that nationalism (or at least a fair whack of nationalists) have missed:



The Nationalist Plan: It's cunning



1/ That the 'plan' might be flawed:


Simply put, Northern Ireland exists despite the following factors:


a/ That Unionists are outnumbered by 4-5 million people on the island


b/ The mother ship sees NI as an expensive and very bothersome black hole that it would do better to be rid of.


c/ The unionist leadership is bereft of vision and long term pragmatism


d/ Worldwide sympathy for the Irish nationalist cause


e/ A small but significant percentage of the unionist voting base are open to the idea of a united Ireland


Now, surely this is a promising platform for anyone ready to advance the cause of reunification?

"If we can't get them out we'll breed them out..."
Yet somehow we're still at a numbers game.

Demographics 'should' sort it out, but by golly it's taking its time.



Is there no other way that could maybe involve proselytising voters of a Protestant background (start off with  a weekend in Galway maybe...?)?


(FYI, I'm equally scathing of the unionist 'plan')



2/ The Tricolour





Yes, yes.
It's the national flag (of the Republic) and cherished by millions of people.

However, does it enhance or hinder the cause of reunification?

Think about it carefully, think of when your typical Protestant is likely to see a tricolour.

For me, I only ever saw them when travelling through an area I didn't feel comfortable in or when the news was reporting on some one who had been blown up or shot in the head (or when I lived in Dublin...).

Pavlov's dogs would be less likely to eat if he rang the bell, displayed a tricolour and then kneecapped them.

Same for Protestants and the Tricolour.

Don't blame me, them or their 'bigotry', it's a human condition. (Well, dogs too apparently...)

3/ MOPEry

Its not factually accurate, helpful or indeed sexy.

Trying to convince people of a proud Celtic warrior history is one thing ('one of the world's finest fighting races' according to Churchill) and one that I'm 'down' with.




Celtic Warrior: "Cool"
From the raiding Gaels to the Wild Geese to Wellington's Irish men to the top 5 'British' generals of WWII Ireland has an impressive military CV.

But then this impressive CV is pawned to pay for the label of 'Most Oppressed People Ever'.

Like a kid in a toy shop "you can't have both!".

Personally, I choose the great warrior history over 'victim' any day.






Celtic Warrior: "Cool"
The Croats were renowned warriors yet they didn't have their own country for 1000 years or so.

 And yes, they also endured foreign monarchies, oppressive nobles and plantations/settlements.



The Tibetans, a peace loving people managed to throw off the shackles of Mongolian overlordship after a few centuries.



Keltic Kevin: "Not Cool"
Yet according to some of the more fanciful nationalist tunes, the Irish (great warriors) have been struggling to do the same with 'the English'(scone eating jessies) for 800 years (also ignoring the point that the English were under Anglo-Norman & Angevin control for centuries).

Something somewhere isn't right. 

Perhaps we AREN'T great warriors after all? 

Or something else....?










Not listening to criticism of The Precious


4/ Not Listening I - GAA

One of the most infuriating conversations that I can have is a particular unionist orientated palaver.

Usually it's to do with applying some sensitivity to a particular topic such as parades or even listening to the points of view of others.

Using parades as an example, I would state that there are absolutely NO drawbacks to a parade if the bands didn't play sectarian tunes, didn't play outside chapels and did away with paramilitary paraphernalia.



Mr Bandsman: Upset, so he is....
However, Mr Bandsman usually gets quite upset. 

NOT necessarily at the outrageous suggestions but at the notion that this might please Sinn Fein and 'the Provos'.

Hmmmmm.

Apparently the views of ordinary Catholics are not actually their own views when they highlight their problems with the sectarian aspect of parades.









Instead these views are apparently parroted snippets fed by nationalist HQ.

Cos all the kafliks are the same like....



Kafliks: They're NOT the Borg Collective

Of course this is hokum.

But Bandsman won't listen.

His view is unimpeachable.

So too apparently is the position of the GAA.

No matter how many people sincerely offer criticisms, opinions, observations or advice on how the GAA might iron out its controversial aspects and be elevated to the status of 'sports for all' there's never any acceptance that these critics (or 'helpers') may have a point between them, hence the Joe Brolly hissy fit.

Bandsmen and OO: people are telling you what you are doing wrong.

GAA and its advocates: People are telling you where you are dropping the ball (no pun intended).

Shankill Hurlers: A welcome step.


5/ Not Listening II - Irish Language

This is even more sensitive as there are many people who have worked hard over the generations to keep the language alive.


Not easy when it is permanently in the cross-hairs of unionism's gutter snipers, QED in a David McCann interview with Edwin Poots:


"On his time as Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure he (Poots) told me that his greatest achievement was ‘burying the Irish language act’ as he believes there was ‘precious little demand for outside of republican circles’... "


http://sluggerotoole.com/2013/11/27/mccann-meets-edwin-poots-mla/


It is unfair.


But it's not entirely unpredictable.


One of the main obstacles regarding the widespread acceptance of the Irish language is it's opportunistic usage by Sinn Fein.




This is why we can't have nice things...


Sorry.


You need to hear this.


(Though I am given to understand a fair whack of people resent SF sticking their oars in and using the language as some sort of republican fashion accessory).


If SF members want to work for the Irish language behind the scenes then great, the more the merrier in fact.

They can still work heroically behind the scenes for the language whilst diluting their public association with the language.

It's the public face of the Irish language that they blemish (in the eyes of many unionists and Protestants).

In the business world such a PR handicap would not be tolerated.

People say it's daft that a language can be a thing of offence but it's not unique to Ireland.

Look east and in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar there is a similar controversy.


Vukovar was smashed up by in the wars that followed the fall of Yugoslavia.


Destruction, massacres, the works.




Vukovar: 2 cultures
Now the Serbian residents wish to promote their identity and culture by means of erecting signs written in Serbian Cyrillic.

On one hand, fair enough.











 They live there, have lived there for centuries so why not promote their culture?

On the other hand, it evokes painful memories to the resident Croats who were traumatised by the fall of their city and its destruction.





 (I'm not taking sides either way!!!).




Many see it as a politically crafted 'get it up themuns'.



Every time republicans use Irish in their literature, marches and interviews the same view is pinned on the Irish language.

I think this is unfair but it is also how things are.


If we want Irish to belong to all Irish people then there is definitely room for a very frank discussion and examination of Irish as it is handled now.




Ignore this if you must, doesn't make it any less true.





6/ Two Flags or No Flags

I agree with the designated days ruling.

I think other unionist councils should man up and do the same (like most of the rest of the UK).

What I would also like to see is consistency from nationalist politicians.

Preferably in the form of sending a negotiating team down south and demanding a similar 2 flag/no flag policy for all sports that are all Ireland based e.g. the rugby.

Yup, that's right. 

Irish Rugby games with no flags or a Tricolour AND a Union Flag to represent the island and its peoples.

Sod it, lets stick to our principles and do the same with Croke and Casement Parks too?

Let's see how rigid these principles actually are....

Or we could just drop the charade and come up with a better idea.

( Just indulging now: http://amgobsmacked.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/three-flags-real-compromise.html)





                    Yes, I'm calling the bluff.




(NOTE: I don't actually want to see Union Flags at Lansdowne or wot not, but I'm just trying to point out that the idea of 'equality' that is argued for by nationalist politicians might not be so easy to stomach when applied to other spheres e.g. the Irish rugby team is meant to represent everyone on the island and the GAA claims to be inclusive)




7/ Memorials and Commemorations

In Northern Ireland we have to remember 1690, Cromwell's expedition, WWI, WWII, the Easter Uprising, the Somme, the Siege and Relief of Derry, the United Irishmen, St Patrick, various memorials for volunteers, UDR men, RUC men, the Famine, the Civil War, a myriad of murders from the troubles and more besides.

Is it any wonder I can only remember half of my shopping list each time I head to the shops?!

If we really do wish for a brighter future then the past needs to be put in its place.

Behind us.


Columba: Catholic?
Not if you're from the Western Isles of Scotland...

8/ Talking About the Celtic Saints as if They Were Roman Catholic

(To be fair, this is more for Irish Catholic Nationalism, still part of the nationalist family though).

I simply assumed they were Roman Catholic too.

The truth is a great deal more tricky than that.

And not particularly palatable if you're a die hard believer that they were.

Best leave sleeping dogs lie in that case....

OK, as far as issues go it's not a 'biggie' in general but tagging Irish identity to Roman Catholicism isn't really conducive to a harmonious environment if there is a track record of sectarian shenanigans.

(Which there is BTW)




9/ Confusing Irish Nationalism for Irish Culture/'Irishness'


They're not the same thing.


For example, the Tricolour is AN Irish flag.


As are St Pat's Cross, the Ulster Fleg, the Independence Flag and the 'Erin's Harp' (even though they may have had foreign influences, just like the Tricolour)



Not 'Irish' enough?

Accepting the Tricolour is not accepting Irishness per se, merely an aspect of Irishness.


To have problems with Irish nationalism is not (necessarily) to have problems with Irish culture.


For example, James Joyce.


He is an icon of Irish culture and disliked (aspects of) Irish nationalism to the extent that he never gave up his British passport and refused to get an Irish one.



James Joyce: A 'hater'?
A traitor?
Or maybe he had a point...?





10/ Taking Criticism

This of course applies to everyone (myself included) but I have come across some belters whilst browsing through twitter conversations.


Brian John Spencer in particular seems to attract the occasional screamer.

For those of you who don't know, he is a man of a unionist background who (like an increasing number of us) is coldly critical of knuckle dragging loyalism.

He considers himself Irish and writes many articles about backwards unionism.

http://brianjohnspencer.blogspot.co.uk/

Yet even he can be branded an 'uber Brit' if he says anything remotely critical of nationalism





As well as this little snipe at the pair of us:

Ruaidri Ua Conchobai @****_*****
@brianjohnspencr @AmGhobsmacht You can't deny you're anti-RC & anti-Irish forever demonising both using historical material

*If you read my stuff you'll see I'm actually 'pro-Irish' to the extent I would like to see the Northern Protestants become reacquainted with their lost/abandoned Irish culture.
 If the Roman Catholic church sometimes gets it in the neck too well then so be it.
 I'm not religious and if I think any of the churches have done anything to compound matters then I'll say so, people shouldn't be scared to criticise wrong-doing, regardless of what 'holy men' may say
I don't so much cherry-pick historical facts as pick up the ones that have been chucked away by supporters of the nationalist and unionist narratives.
Don't blame me that Edward Carson spoke Irish, that a Pope was King Billy's ally or that some priests behaved terribly during the Potato Famine, it just happened and I'm highlighting it*

This of course is nothing that one would not see in Fleggerland, a place full of anger, paranoia and one that is impermeable to reason.

I just happen to think that there are some in nationalist quarters who are equally baffling.


Life up north could be much improved if the fleggers could be calmed.


Same applies to the hysterical quarters within the ranks of nationalism.



Priests Compounding Matters??? "NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!
 (Well maybe....)"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Don't chase dinosaurs chase unicorns


Get to know the person before voting for the politician

Am I a unicorn? I have been called many things since becoming involved in NI politics. This was the most frightening. If I am a unicorn i.e rare and on my own then I have no hope of helping change the landscape of our society.


Is it always a bad thing to be a unicorn? Whilst attending an international business school in Holland we were schooled that to be the first to create an open new market ensures you normally get to lead the way. Maybe then, NI21 are leading the way for others to tread more easily.


I myself confuse a lot of people. I hear them inadvertently question whether I'm orange or green? "How can she have been in a "republican" family yet support a "Unionist" party?... What are her real motives? Does she have another agenda?". The truth of the matter is that I am neither green nor orange.



I grew up in a family -- like most other families in NI in 1970s and 1980s -- with deprivation, the Troubles, and an adrenaline-filled community spirit. The experiences I remember are might be surprising to some people who know me today. 
 

At the age of eight I remember looking at the British soldier on the Andersonstown Road firing shots into the crowd. He did not scare me but the fear in the eyes of the screaming people and the shaking of my mother’s hand scared me. I (like most families in my area) was attending a funeral of a neighbour who had died in the H Blocks.


Monthly on a Tuesday, I would go up to see my ‘chocolate Daddy’, as we called him, and see what he thought about it all. My Daddy had been in Long Kesh since before I was born, he was the man who always had Dairy Milk Chocolate when we visited.


The RUC plays in my memories too. The slam of the jeep doors in the middle of the night. All 6 of them. For some reason, there were always 3 jeeps, 2 British Army and 1 RUC. I still jump when a door bangs. This was the noise that would waken us as children when the front door was about to be knocked down. Within minutes, many men with different coloured faces would be in our room shouting and pulling back our bedcovers. This was part and parcel of the life we had. I know I am very lucky compared to many when it comes to the Troubles -- I was never a victim. But even as a child I wondered what the neighbours were thinking of us. I didn’t know why, but I remember feeling the shame.


As I got a little bit older I felt another shame. Shame of realising that we were poor. If I’m really honest with myself, it is still one of the things that drives me today. Of course, it is easy for me to admit this now that I have come on such a long journey proving myself to myself. I feel deeply for all those people who feel shame. I still carry a little myself. This must be the worst of all feelings to have, feeling helpless and humiliated. The mother who cannot afford to fill the oil tank yet buys her son designer trainers so that he does not feel shame with his classmates; the business person who re-mortgaged for the new car and takes loans and credit cards for clothes and holidays just so his family don’t feel the shame. All shame feels the same, it knows no class nor religion.


I could have gone one way or the other. I could have easily dropped into the culture of Republicanism. Goodness knows, I had many, many reasons to feel angry. Instead, I was more interested in ensuring that I did not feel helpless or ashamed again. I decided to go to University and work, and work, and work until I became successful.


I was lucky that people believed in me and that great people have allowed me to lead them in business. I have worked many years in Northern Ireland with many in my team from different backgrounds. I secretly loved that my little Belfast team was my own little peace project back in 2001. I knew all of their backgrounds. One of my team came from a family who for generations had been in the police, another was English and her family served in the army here, another’s father was blown up by his own bomb, and another’s father had secretly helped negotiate the 1998 Agreement. We all had a fun environment. We worked hard and were extremely successful and we all still keep in touch. 
 

Of course my own childhood and background was a closely guarded secret, especially as I had been discriminated against at my first job after University. The organisation I was working for reneged on my promotion because of who I was related to and where I was from. They told me though not to worry because they knew it was nothing to do with me! I packed up a few weeks later and went to London to build a life away from this. I did not know it then but I was running away from my past. 
 

Some of my international colleagues reading this will be surprised! I learnt when climbing the greasy corporate ladder that you never ever let people see your weaknesses. This is where I missed the game because in fact the great leaders I was lucky to work with were very open about their weaknesses and pasts. This in fact is what courage really is and courage makes good leaders great.


Coming Out


My “so called” success didn’t give me the courage to “come out” -- it was the people in my life that love me for who I am and not anything else. 
 

Coming out for me meant being honest and saying I actually having the courage to openly state my political opinion. Here goes again: I, Tina McKenzie, think Northern Ireland is better placed within the UK. I did consider other people before declaring my view. If I openly joined a political party supporting the notion of staying within the UK, would it look really bad for my family? Would it look really bad for my business? After all of the heartache my community went through, am I then hurting this community more? What will people think of me? Will I feel ashamed again, because I had worked so hard to build a core of protection around me to ensure that was never coming back. 
 

I am not a disloyal person, in fact the opposite, but surely loyalty starts with being loyal and true to oneself. 
 

I decided if I was going to do it, I would do it well. I quickly became one of the leaders of a new liberal political party. I knew I would be called names. The worst day came when the leading Belfast papers’ headlines screamed “IRA Bomber Daughter is Chief Unionist”. I didn’t know which part of that headline was worse. 
 

The world did not stop. I did not feel shame, although I did feel fear for my little children (I also never want them to feel shame because of me). As time went on I became more and more proud of looking shame and fear in the eye and challenging myself and everyone else to feel the fear and do it anyway.


Don’t judge a book by its cover! That goes for me and NI21. I believe we have a platform to build a United Northern Ireland that does not ask us to choose between our politics and our culture. I am as Irish as any Republican. We want a party that stands up and celebrates all of our cultures and does not deny who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Celebration of one culture does not mean dismissal of another but we must respect our neighbours and be mindful that we live in an evolving and diverse society. 
 

I have one more secret. It will be revealed fully next week but in short it is this... If people still think I’m a unicorn, I know I’m not the only one. There are so many of us in Northern Ireland who have our own stories -- who live outside of the orange and green dichotomy and who are fed up with conversations that leave us out. We are the people too! But we’ve been silent for a long time. Good news is we’re finding our voices, we’re joining together, and we’re finding our own way to change the conversation. It’s official: we unicorns need to stand up and be heard, so I hope to meet you all soon.


Tina

Follow Tina on Twitter @ Tina for Europe

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jim'll Fix It


Does anyone remember Jim (Dodgy) Dowson?

The Scottish shit-stirring windbag was very prominent in the early days of the fleg protests and was likely to be seen at Belfast City Hall wielding his trusty bucket collecting money for "loyalist prisoners" or whatever cause he was "supporting" that week.

 
Jim Dowson, shit-stirring Scottish C.U.N.T. (Citizen Under Nationalist Threat)
So successful was Dodgy at the old shit-stirring thing that he was swiftly arrested by the peelers - pretty much at the same time as fellow C.U.N.T.s (Citizens Under Nationalist Threat) Wee Jamie Bryson and Willie (The Tazer) Frazer.

Before getting involved in saving Belfast from the horror of Belfast City Hall only flying the Union Fleg on designated days (in common with other U.K. cities) Dowson (a former Calvinist Minister) had been involved in all sorts of dodgy money making schemes exposed by anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate.  His so-called Life League - an extremist anti-abortion group specialised in sending photographs of foetuses to schools and the like.

Jim Dowson - photographs of dead foetuses not pictured
Most famously Dowson was fund raiser for the BNP and managed the membership of the right-wing organisation from his HQ in Dundonald. Dowson subsequently fell out with Nick Griffin over, you guessed it money, but not before some high profile industrial tribunal cases, claims that Dowson "owned" the BNP and rows over European funding. Dowson finally 'quit' the BNP (he claims he was never a member!) " after being accused of groping a blonde activist".


Before leaving the BNP in 2010 the Scottish Daily Record published an expose of Dowson detailing his criminal convictions including breach of the peace in 1986, possession of a weapon and breach of the peace in 1991 and criminal damage in 1992. He was forced out of his local Orange Lodge and took part in demonstrations against fellow Orangemen, attacking them as "atheists and boozers" after he was "born again".

Dowson subsequently set up a rival far right racist group called 'Britain First' in 2011 with fellow BNP outcast and trusted lapdog Paul Golding using the database of contacts he had gathered in his Dundonald operation to secure support - and funding.

After his arrest in March 2013 Dowson set up an offshoot of Britain First - the Protestant Coalition with fellow hardliners Wee Willie Frazer, former UPRG man Davy Nicholl, Tiger's Bay Loyalist Bill (Bollocks) Hill, Woodvale self-confessed "dangerous man" Rab McKee and notably Paul Golding.

Dowson claimed that everyone was welcome to join the Protestant Coalition!

Protestant Coalition registration forms showing Jim Dowson as 'Leader' and Paul Golding as 'Treasurer'
Before long Dowson (and his new friends) were up to his old tricks:

1. The Bucket is Back

Jim Dowson and Paul Golding collecting money for Help The Heroes at Scarva in July 2013
2. Claiming victory over the PSNI

The Protestant Coalition, claiming violence against the PSNI is justified
3. Putting up misleading shit-stirring photographs

The Protestant Coalition: shit stirring bollocks
 4. Exploiting the tragedy of Omagh

The Omagh Bombing: All Catholics were to blame
Jim Dowson's time at the Protestant Coalition came after a very public row on social media with the PUP's Izzy Giles when he launched a series of homophobic tirades.

It's worth pointing out at this point that as part of Dowson's bail conditions he is banned from using social media. Izzy was unconvinced that Jim was obeying this ruling.

I'm not Jim Dowson - honest officer
Not long after the Protestant Coalition apologised for Dowson's rant and quickly thereafter Dowson ostensibly left the party. We have it on very very good authority that Dowson was told to step down by "the boys".

Dowson has due to his bail conditions been quiet in Northern Ireland of late but has found other ways to stay active notably via the Facebook account of one 'Alice Dowson'. Other loyalists (even Twat King Cole) have been quick to pick up on this but to the best of our knowledge no action against 'Alice' has been taken by the authorities.

I'm still not Jim Dowson, my name is 'Alice', said Jim
Yesterday the world was rocked to learn that one of the few remaining members of the Protestant Coalition, Rab McGee had quit citing "health and family problems" (but no mention of a run in with some paramilitaries last week).

With Hill, Golding and Nicholl leaving during 2013 that only leaves Willie Frazer (and possibly So It Is Sam) from the remaining "Gang Of Shite".

Rub McGee, surrender monkey
But what of Dowson?

As 'Alice' he continues to share the fascist filth peddled on Britain First's vile Facebook page.

Alice Dowson - definitely NAT Jim Dowson. Really
And the big news: Jim is back in the fleg game telling Britain First's 131,000 gullible Facebook followers that "every town in Ulster has 'British zones' and in these areas people feel united and safe" - try telling that to the people of Carrick and Larne Jim! 


Jim Dowson and Britain First. Horseshit.
We hope Dowson's bail conditions are relaxed soon and he is allowed to speak in public. He is the greatest advertisement for a liberal, tolerant, progressive pluralist society anyone could hope for.

The way we were. The Protestant Coalition: (L-R) So It Is Sam, Rub McGee, Wee Willie, Billy Bollocks, Cher (guest shit-stirrer), Dodgy