Have a Bushmills? No thanks

Say ‘Bushmills’ and what do you think? Whiskey, of course. Black Bush and all that.  Irish whiskey, what’s more. Been going for centuries. But Bushmills is well known for something more than whiskey. Something that leaves a sourer taste in the mouth. It’s called bigotry. There was a good instance of it recently. But bear with me – the story’s not all black. 
It seems that the Chair of Moyle District Council, Cara McShane, was to be at an unveiling ceremony in Bushmills recently. She was met by a protest group, led by Bushmills loyalist Derwyn Brewster, who is the chair of something called the Bushmills Residents and Environmental Group. They were angry and protesting, he said, because Sinn Féin were attacking Orange culture. The police had to hold back protestors from crossing the River Bush to where the unveiling ceremony was taking place, but they managed to unfurl a banner saying ‘No Sinn Féin in Bushmills’ and shouted insults at the Council delegation. 
So what about the chink of light? That came in the form of DUP councillor Robert McIlroy, who had the courage to stand by the council Chair during the protest. In fact, Chairperson McShane described him as ‘a real hero’ for his backbone, and for putting his head above the parapet. She added that remarks posted on Facebook about her and Councillor McIlroy were disgusting. 
There’s a pattern emerging here. Belfast’s Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir a few weeks ago was met with even more hostile protest, which ended in an attack  which left him and several PSNI officers in need of medical treatment. What we’re seeing now is legally-elected public representatives being hounded, insulted and even attacked if they show their faces in parts of their constituency. This is done in the name of defending loyalist culture. 
That’s the bad news. The good news is that a DUP councillor like Robert McIlroy exists. He said there was ‘no reason in the whole world’ why the Chair and Vice-Chair shouldn’t go anywhere in the Moyle district. It was time, he said, to get rid of the ‘broken-ness’ and time to get rid of all bigotry. Councillor Willie Graham (Ulster Unionist) said he’d like to ‘strongly condemn’ the Bushmills protest.
Nationalists and republicans sometimes feel uneasy when faced with men like McIlroy and Graham. They are aware of the political courage required for speaking out but they feel that to praise them may add to the hatred their response might arouse in the unionist community.  That’s to undervalue both the courageous men and the unionist community. There are unionists – a considerable number, I believe – who are sick to death with the insistence on tired, nasty attacks on everything that doesn’t fit a narrow vision of the world. People like McIlroy and Graham have put their shoulders to a door which could open on a door on a better future, not just in Moyle, but throughout this state. They have guts and vision, and they are in fact serving the interests of the Union much more effectively than their benighted colleagues. 

7 Responses to Have a Bushmills? No thanks

  1. Aidan Mooney August 22, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I enjoy reading your blogs jude. However I could hold up this story http://www.ballymoneytimes.co.uk/news/local/ballintoy-band-anger-at-fun-day-row-1-4158932
    as a direct opposite to what your blog above details. It seems that to come from an angle exclusively and continuously that one side is always right and the other wrong places one in the same position as those to which you cast opprobrium. How about adjusting the narrative/bias sometimes?

  2. Jude Collins August 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Aidan – I take your point. However, it’s my distinct impression that the mainstream media is heavily weighted against republicanism, so it makes sense to me to try to right that balance even a little, and as you imply at the risk of sounding one-note. I sometimes blog on matters further afield but it almost always produces a less than overwhelming response.

  3. Anonymous August 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    Why is the mainstream media(as you allege)heavily weighted against republicanism ? Do you see it as a conspiracy ? Why did Daily Ireland not flourish if there is some much right and virtue on the Sinn Fein side.?Perhaps a lot of the younger generation no longer buy and read newspapers in the way their parents did.

  4. Aidan Mooney August 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Thanks Jude – Balance is always good but to call people out for bad leadership at one level or on one side and then to fail to highlight it at another point reflects bias not balance.

    If the overall aim of republicanism is to win over the hearts and minds of people to the idea of a united ireland surely it behoves republicans to demonstrate that they can be impartial and can apply the principles and standards to themselves that they frequently find lacking or accuse of find lacking in others.

    To imply that balance can be achieved by having equal amounts of bias ignores that balance is achieved by highlighting the inadequacies and contradictions of both sides in our political landscape. People will be better predisposed to the benefits or ideals of republicanism if unadjusted analysis is applied to all – not just the other side. Otherwise we all fail in leadership and become reflective carciatures of the demons we see on the ‘other side’

  5. Ryanm29 August 23, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    Jude I think your comments would hint towards a bit of a persecution complex.

    I dont see how it is possible, after the events of the last year you can feel that republicans are portrayed in a worse light than Unionists. The unionists have, you’ll agree, shot themselves in both feet every time they did anything.

    Surely you mean that the media have a dislike for hangers-on of the past 40 years and those who fail to realise that most people on this island, europe or the world, just want to get on with their lives?

  6. Anonymous August 23, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    People looking for balanced reporting here on this particular subject assume one side is as bad as the other and only unionists are being put in a bad light,I beg to differ,not only have there been no cases of any unionist politician being attacked in any Nationalist area of the north in the last 25 years as far as I can remember(if I am wrong please inform me and I will stand corrected) but in contrast to Bushmills, members of the DUP,PUP and UUP have spoken at events in Derry’s Bogside and in the Falls area of Belfast at the invitation of the locals and were always greeted with respect,civility and in a courteous manner as it should be.

  7. Leanne Abernethy August 30, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    I feel that before reporting on this issue it would have helped to have got all the facts, people are reporting on an issue without actually speaking to the people of Bushmills or the community group involved. If you had contacted us we would have had a chance to explain the reasons behind our request for sinn fein to stay out of the limelight at this event, they were still more than welcome to attend but this seems to be conveniently forgotten amidst all this.