Guest Blog: CULTURE OR KULTURE? by Harry McAvinchey



Bandsmen being expressive outside

Limavady parish priest’s house

What does culture mean in Northern Ireland anyway?There’s much talk and pontificating about culture recently .There’s especially much talk from the unionist or loyalist community about their culture being under attack, but what does that mean? Are they talking about the fact that their culture appears to consist of how many times they can fly a flag , beat a large drum, light a bonfire or march anywhere their hearts desire and urinate or aggravate anyone they care to aggravate?Well let’s tease that idea out in terms of culture.

I don’t think those ideas would fly as cultural aspirations anywhere else in the world.They’d actually be laughed at and dismissed with much head scratching. It’s one thing for mummers or Morris Dancers to semi -jokingly evoke the ancient pagan spirits of yore.To copiously  wassail a poor beleaguered tree with their urine to bring summer fertility to the coming crops or to dance in the cool , spring dawn.That’s all part of a renewed ritual harking back to a less than golden time when real supernatural fear ruled the hearts. It’s quite another thing to piss on the gates of a catholic church while playing a sectarian song and call that culture.There’s a not so subtle difference. There’s also cause and effect to factor into the mix.This ancient ritual of urinating on your enemies may have been fine back in less civilised times but it is seen as the barbarity it is by any right-thinking modern person.

So what exactly do these loyalists think culture actually is?

What is this culture that finds no problem in insulting everything that isn’t white Anglo Saxon and of course Protestant?A culture that appears to easily take clear-eyed pride in  insulting intellectualism, that can support the nonsense of creationism,that can claim that the earth is 6000 years old ,that can insult whole communities should they be Muslim, Catholics, Jews or of  any assorted colour or race.A culture that can ban a  musical performance ,play or a book seems to be if anything, anti culture.In recent years we’ve all seen the banning of the ELO rock group and more recently , the attempted banning of a comedy play .As for taking anything away from their culture ,they have been allowed unfathomably to insult the very person, the Queen herself, by not following her edicts to fly the union flag on her appointed days. She has also failed to convince her loyal “subjects”s to make similar rapprochements  to their neighbours that she has ,herself, made to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland. Her example and plea has gone unheard  and her Great Example  has fallen on stony ground. Anything “Irish” is still scorned. Indeed ,in the past year, flags other than the Irish one have begun to appear on loyalism’s cultural bonfires. This is a sure sign of loyalism’s cultural separateness.

That still does not get to the bottom of what this culture means.Where is the ….association with the beleaguered in society …Where were these people when South Africa needed support during apartheid?.Where were they when the civil rights activists in America needed support? They certainly didn’t lend their support to the Civil rights campaign when it was needed either in America or here in Ireland . The support of the downtrodden seems anathema to them. There’s a self -deceptive  innate superiority complex at work here.If anything , they took the opposite view at every turn and opposed cultural reform.  What do they support that is life-enhancing?

What painters, poets, music , literature,….what cultural totems do they hang their hats on?

 Is the “culture” just a facade for an apartheid of sorts where young men and women are taught to hate from an early age..taught to play music and sing songs that are designed to insult and disparage their neighbours?It harks back to a pre-modern time of insecurities and superstition but it seems to be regarded still as a living truth.

Culture usually means high concept art or music, like perfectly sung opera  or possibly lower art like folk music ,  pop music ,entertainment ,or a variety of popular passions of the here and now in society.Something like comics were at one time regarded as lower on the totem pole in the art stakes than say  a Picasso painting. in some respects they still are…but then there was Pop Art ….and comics were embraced with the unsaid acknowledgement that it was not so easy writing and scripting something as complex and understated as Watterson’s  “Calvin and Hobbes” or Herriman’s surrealist  “Krazy Kat” as was first thought. These things were featured culturally in popular newspapers but when the artists/writers left or died , their vision was irreplaceable…..Let anybody try to emulate the artistry of a Herriman or a Steve Ditko…..just let them try and then compare hands.

Someone like Hitler had no love for cultured artistry like Picasso or Matisse. The little failed Chaplinesque “house painter” had his own issues with the new revolutionary and extremely suspect and unfathomable, degenerate , artistry of this new communistic, left-wing , free- thinking, new wave….probably something to do with his own deficiencies as an artist or maybe his penis size or his flatulence. His idea of culture was not life-affirming by any means.

Who knows which such minor augurs can be the spur to a mid-life crisis or the invasion of another country like Poland…..

I suppose at one time, in the deep south of America, and elsewhere world wide, slavery and stealing people for profit was seen as a seemly  , cultural and cultured thing to do.The idea of hanging negroes from the trees for minor intolerances was seen as a normal part of the cultural life in some southern American states.Let’s not forget that the great and the good such as Scarlett O’Hara  in “Gone with The Wind” were good old Irish slavers.Billie Holliday sang of the “Strange Fruit” hanging from the southern trees. The hangings of negroes still resonated with the Ku Klux Klan  in the 1960s, even while those same black men were being fed into the machine of the Vietnam war..

So what do loyalists mean by their culture? Will it die away if their attachment  to a coloured cloth flag is stymied by a democratic vote?. They are now just like their English brothers and sisters in that respect. The flag flies respectfully on designated days . The queen has as much as rubber-stamped that fact.Will their culture wilt on the vine if they are not allowed to traumatise entire streets  and snag up traffic for entire summers ? Can their culture flourish when the antagonism is removed? Can they actually shake hands with their neighbours and share their culture in a loving way?  Or must they hold it tight to their chests and keep it for themselves alone?

I suppose the tootling of the fife and the paradiddle of the lambeg drum can be construed as  a part of Irish folk culture.Lest we forget that the ancestors of those same musicians , alongside  other irish and Scottish fiddle players and parlour room/gospel hall  pianists were the very genesis and the begetters of  that anarchic and errant , bastard child, rock and roll.

The low culture that ate the world.

 Will loyalism take the poison out of their culture and see  if it can learn to fly?

28 Responses to Guest Blog: CULTURE OR KULTURE? by Harry McAvinchey

  1. Am Ghobsmacht June 15, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    The ‘culture’ argument is just façade.

    It’s a way of trying to legitimise a complete hash that has come about from people being to scared to police and criticise what was/is going on within the unionist, loyalist and Protestant confluence.

    In the 90’s it was ‘religious and civil liberity’.

    That has died a death as some don’t really want civil or religious liberty for some other groups.

    I think some are now starting to parrot SF with regards to ‘equality’ but they’ll hang themselves with this noose soon enough (incidentally, I believe SF will be hung out on it too some day).

    So ‘culture’ and its preservation has been wheeled out like some old gnarly, haggard elderly relative.

    That too will come a cropper as anyone who examines the cultural history of Protestantism and unionism will notice how much of the culture has been allowed to perish:
    Gaelic, shinty, harp playing, fiddle playing*, bodhrans*, dancing*, Uilleann pipes, Belfast’s bagpipe bands…

    It is a farce.

    They don’t care for culture, they care for whatever tag can save them from their own self inflicted predicament.

    Burning tyres on a fire is not longstanding culture, it is a recent event.
    As is worshipping terrorists and terror groups.

    These are somehow above reproach and you’re a traitor if you criticise them.

    If you subscribe to the old (and dare I say ‘original’) cultures of the various Protestant groups well, you’re just weird and probably a bit of a Lundy as old Protestant culture is quite ‘taigy’.

    Indeed, free Presbyterianism in the highlands and islands is VERY taigy in that they play folk music and speak Gaelic.

    I understand the appeal of the parades, I truly do, but it is in NO ONE’s interest to keep the offensive elements.

    No one can defend it, no one does defend it (they prefer to either deflect or lie) and no one will.

    The leaders are just too scared to speak out against the mutation that now passes for culture.

    The irony is, if they did sort out the marching underbelly and embrace aspects of the old cultures too, then NI could have some of the richest cultures in these islands.

    The problem is though, that would involve compromising aka ‘surrendering’.

    *I acknowledge that the Ulster Scots movements are addressing these areas.

  2. Maggie May June 15, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    probably symbolic of the ‘British Values’ BBC Radio 4 were expounding this morning

  3. giordanobruno June 15, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    That is hardly a genuine assessment of the culture or lack of it in unionism.
    You threw in a couple of bits about the Nazis and the KKK without explaining the relevance.
    Are Unionists just as bad as the Nazis, or was it just throwing some mud to see what sticks?
    The urinating bandsmen are hardly claimed by any Orangeman as part of their culture so I don’t know why you discuss it as though it is
    If you think they did not condemn it that is another matter though I’m fairly sure they did.
    I fully agree there are many problems with the expression of PUL culture, especially in the Belfast district, but you are asking what their culture is,and suggesting the answer is the worst behaviour of the stupidest members.
    As though St Patrick’s Day was exemplified by a bunch of drunken louts in the Holyland area.
    Did you ask any members of the OO or bands what they thought their culture was?
    What did they say?
    Marching bands,parading, and eating traybakes in a field does nothing for me, but it is culture of a kind, although it is all too easy for us clever sophisticates to look down our noses at it.
    The real issue is how the expression of their culture impacts on the rest of society, and getting the Unionist community to acknowledge that.

    • paddykool June 15, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      Hi Gio :

      I think that would be in reference to the perception of what a cultured activity can be seen as in various times and places , depending on who has control of the levers of power in a society at particular times.

      For example The KKK thought it was a perfectly acceptable part of their culture to hang negroes in trees and thought it was quite the thing to do because they were taught within their culture that the negroes were on the same level as any other beast of burden and were treated as unclean human beings , unfit to share in “Society” on equal terms….

      Hitler and his Nazis thought it was quite alright to steal all of civilisation’s artistic artifacts which appealed to their ideas of “Art” but anything that presented itself as an affront to their narrow reading of “Art” was seen as “degenerate” and only fit for a bonfire .Artists such as the Impressionists or the Fauves were fair game and Verboten in their “culture”…the rest of humanity saw that as an example of “anti-culture”. The burning of books and knowledge is not what culture is all about

      .The Nazis and the apartheid regime in South Africa used the selfsame analysis as valid reason to also destroy people who offended their sensibilities as to what was a valid human being .Hitler’s regime consigned whole communities of Jews, Gypsies, homo-sexuals, writers, artists and other “deviants” and so on to similar bonfires.

      The KKK did something similar again in the 1960’s when they burnt “degenerate ” Beatles records when John Lennon had the affrontery to make the very true statement that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus….well Mr. Lennon was right. They were!

      that kind of behaviour is not seen as “cultural”. It is seen as “anti- cultural”
      In respect to this kind of analysis, it’s a given that the references might be picked up by an informed reader and clear parallels can then be drawn…wishing no disrespect Gio, it’s how we sort the chaff from the wheat.
      In reference to pissing bandsmen and the location of their evacuations…. that’s the responsibility of the people who invited them to their party. You’ll always get some idea of a man by having a look at the company he keeps.If the Orange Order cannot or will not control their fellow travellers , are we to accept it as their cultural right that they be allowed act in an anti-cultural way on our streets. I think not somehow.

      • giordanobruno June 15, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

        Thanks for the reply
        Did the KKK consider hanging black people to be “an acceptable part of their culture”?
        Maybe but I doubt it.
        And in the same vein, do the OO think it a cultural activity to piss in front of a place of worship?
        Again I doubt it. I have never heard anyone defend this type of behaviour by saying it is an expression of culture.
        Of course,many might privately think it amusing but the vast majority would I am sure see it as having brought shame to the organisation. Unfortunately Harry did not interview anyone or provide any quotes from any representatives to back up his point.
        So while I agree with the broad thrust that the OO is damaging our society, it is not because their parades and music are not culture it is because of the manner in which they,or at least some of them, express it.
        It would be hard to describe the flag flying as cultural in any way, but again if they kept it to their own community no-one would care very much.

        • paddykool June 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

          Gio: Not to put a fine tooth on it , the KKK found it perfectly acceptable in every way to hang up negroes and made no bones about scaring the bejabers out of them at any given opportunity. They proudly embraced every Nazi trait.

          That’s not really the point here anyway. This is about what “Culture” as an abstract concept means to someone who’s claiming that it is being taken away from them.Those are their words….no one else is talking about “Culture” being removed.What is being asked is …what does this removed “thing” look like. No one knows how this “Culture” is being extricated from loyalism.i don’t think th Orange Order was ever mentioned in any of this, to be honest. It’s all about the meaning of the word and how that understanding of its role in society is being understood.

          The Orange Order and it’s ideas about Christian principles, law and order, right and wrong, civil responsibility ,civic duty and morality are a whole other debate that could swallow a universe of time.

          • paddykool June 16, 2014 at 7:56 am #

            Gio : Here’s something you ‘ll find of interest about the Ku Klux Klan.. Bear in mind that these same people are from original immigrant stock, not long native to the country they lived in . .The parallels to our own society and culture are very striking and still salient….

            “Lifting the Klan mask revealed a chaotic multitude of antiblack vigilante groups, disgruntled poor white farmers, wartime guerrilla bands, displaced Democratic politicians, illegal whiskey distillers, coercive moral reformers, sadists, rapists, white workmen fearful of black competition, employers trying to enforce labor discipline, common thieves, neighbors with decades-old grudges, and even a few freedmen and white Republicans who allied with Democratic whites or had criminal agendas of their own. Indeed, all they had in common, besides being overwhelmingly white, southern, and Democratic, was that they called themselves, or were called, Klansmen.

            Historian Eric Foner observed:

            In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.”….
            Now , does any of that sound in any way familiar?

          • giordanobruno June 16, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

            I know what the KKK did and the Nazis. Not in dispute. It is the use of these ‘trigger words’ as Jude might say in talking about the OO and loyalist ‘culture’ that jars with me.
            There is a difference in scale that should be glaringly obvious.
            Bonfires are ugly and intimidating in my view, but people are not routinely being tied to them and burnt.
            My point is we need to talk sensibly about the problems caused by these groups and how we can move forward.
            Harry is inviting us to draw a comparison with the KKK and the Nazis. So do you truly think what we have here is the same?

  4. paddykool June 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    I always thought this Ulster Scots business was a bit of an artificial construct anyway. It was pumped full of air only recently ….scant years ago…around the time that the Good Friday Agreement was being nailed together.
    When a “tribe” have lived in a place for centuries and inter-mingled with the native population for several centuries , it’s a bit rich to stil refer to them as “Half and Halfs” like an Englisman’s pint of “Mild and Bitter” down in the pub. You might as well start referring to New York as New York /New Amsterdam . That changeover in name happened a few scant years before the Battle of the Boyne, but most people don’t go on and on about the Dutch input in its past. It’s New York now, plain and simple and anyone born there is a native New Yorker…an American.
    Washington Irving used to refer to New York, disparagingly , as” Gotham City”{ literally “A safe place for goats”…for” goats”….. read…. “fools”} back in the early 1800’s , but the nickname drifted into common slang usage and stuck , finally getting a whole new lease of life in the 1930’s as The Batman’s fictional home in the comic book. We know what happened then and how a new myth became fact!
    This Ulster /Scots label is no more relevant than Irish/Viking or Japanese /English. It’s making a sub-cult out of precious little thin air. If you’ve been born in a country ….any country, you may harken back to your ancestral roots through Europe , right back to your African origins somewhere in the mists of time, eons ago, but the fact is, every human being can do that too. It doesn’t make any difference .If you are born in France from Chinese? Arabian stock, you’re still a Frenchman…..
    So back to the Ulster /Scots debacle …where was I ? …oh yes…they’re all really Irishmen now!! End of.
    When are they going to get the picture ?You may try and invent all new , all dancing secret identities , but when the mask comes off…there you are “Born in Ireland “, stamped on your backside!

  5. RJC June 16, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    I think one of the issues here is that there is no Nationalist/Republican culture per se, rather that those of that persuasion have the wonderfully rich world of Irish culture to look to. Everything from Táin Bó Cúailnge to Jedward(!) stopping off along the way at Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, O’Casey, Synge, Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien (from Strabane), Behan, Heaney et al. This only really skims the surface of what constitutes Irish culture, although it is perhaps worth noting that a number of these writers and playwrights came from an ‘Anglo-Irish’ background.

    There appears to be quite a siege mentality within Unionist/Loyalist ‘culture’ at present. Anything Irish is obviously out. Anything British seems not to be entirely trusted either. Am Ghobsmacht is one of the only people I’ve seen who gives a good account of what Unionist/Loyalist culture could be, although I fear his words may fall on deaf ears (and met with shouts of ‘LUNDY!’). There are tyres and flags to be burnt you see. I’ve heard Loyalism referred to in terms of a Cargo Cult – which seems not to be a million miles away from reality. The problem within Unionism is again, one of leadership. Or lack thereof.

    Efforts to convince people that Ulster-Scots is a language as opposed to a dialect are doomed to failure. Ulster-Scots is not a language. Never was, never will be. Most people can see what is going on with that one.

    I do not think SF are blameless in these ongoing culture wars. The attempted politicisation of the Irish language by SF does not, to my mind, seem inclusive enough. I feel we should be looking to Linda Ervine in this regard. Although no doubt, she is considered a ‘LUNDY!’ by those within Unionist and Loyalist circles. So instead, off they go to burn some more flags and tyres…

    • paddykool June 16, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      RJC : A “Cargo Cult” …..Wow! Now there’s something to put in the pipe and spark up!!

      The creative people you mention are very relevant.I’ve come across them all in my household,… growing up and in my schooling and further in my reading throughout my life. That all forms a background well as lots of other stuff from other diverse cultures , literature, arts , musics , foods…from throughout the world.

      Put it all in a pot and I’d call it my “Culture”.

      If someone was to tell me i couldn’t read an enlightening book or play by James Joyce, Synge or even Christopher Hitchens, I’d be up at arms about someone taking my “culture” away.. Like i said , Civil Rights were marched against that kind of censorship that was part of the disease in Ireland…..the banning of Edna O’Brien’s “Country Girls”, for example , which was denounced from pulpits throughout Ireland….

      We’re now at a position, partly because of those Civil Rights efforts where the thrust is to allow everyone to enjoy their literature and arts uncensored.
      This brings me back to what “culture” is and what is being removed ….instead of being added to.

      • paddykool June 16, 2014 at 8:58 am #

        A thought occurred …There are many creative people from the unionist persuasion but i’m not sure that”loyalism” really trusts that creativity, which by its nature means thinking outside of a tight wee box …seeing a bigger picture ….looking at life from new unique angles. …None of that really sounds like part of Loyalism’s credo.

        • Am Ghobsmacht June 16, 2014 at 10:25 am #


          I agree, unfortunately, when a culture is more focused on 1690 rather than 2090 then what’s to be expected?

          Ho hum.

    • Am Ghobsmacht June 16, 2014 at 10:23 am #

      Howdy RJC

      Just a quick thought on your comments there:

      “I think one of the issues here is that there is no Nationalist/Republican culture per se, rather that those of that persuasion have the wonderfully rich world of Irish culture to look to. Everything from Táin Bó Cúailnge to Jedward(!) stopping off along the way at Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, O’Casey, Synge, Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien (from Strabane), Behan, Heaney et al”

      I see where you are coming from but would disagree to an small extent.

      Yes, Irish nationalism (by it’s very definition I suppose) does go in tandem with Irish culture but I would say that nationalism has (for the last century e.g. The Gaelic League) has steered Irish culture away from a common area that many Protestants would perhaps feel comfortable with.

      Indeed, you astutely mention that a number of the cultural heavy weights are from an Anglo Irish background, some of the lesser known Anglos were scrubbed from Irish history altogether (Brian Walker mentions it in ‘Dancing to History’s Tune methinks).

      But as the years passed and things ‘normalised’ down south then they were welcomed back into the fold, likewise I believe there are no real issues down south with Protestants in the GAA.

      Unfortunately, unionism doesn’t really have a reference point for normality (unless you look over at Britain, in which case there’s evidently a LOT of catching up to do) and therefore there’s nothing to trail it along by the scruff of the neck.

      So, Irish nationalism of the Northern variety at least has the steadying hand of a normal society down south.

      Unfortunately, whilst there was a heavy nationalist wave washing through the Republic (one that involved designating certain Irish tunes and dances as ‘foreign’ etc) this served to further isolate unionists (by this stage ‘British nationalists’ who needed little encouragement) further away from their Irish roots e.g. more Craigavon, less Carson.

      I think (just my opinion, not a fight to the death ideal or belief) that Irish culture should be the centre ground with various unionist, nationalist, Catholic, Protestant and Ulster-Scots (I prefer the term ‘Scots-Irish) slants on it.

      As you say, all those chaps and stories that you mentioned are for all to claim and enjoy (‘cept Jedward!).

      Ironically, as uber-British as many loyalists try to be, you don’t have to look too far to find Gaelic influences: The red hand, shamrocks, the RHC’s mottos ‘Lamh dhearg abu’ (apologies if I spelt it wrong…) and there was (maybe still is) a mural or two of Cuchullainn/Setanta kicking around Belfast.


      Also, I deplore the way the ulster-scots malarkey is being handled, it should NOT be a Protestant only club, on the contrary, the Gallowglass descendants of co Antrim should be the pride of place on the Ulster Scots mantel piece but I can’t see how any of it would appeal to any of them in it’s current form (apart from Willie Drennan, I’m a fan of Willie Drennan, a very nice and switched-on man).

      Unfortunately RJC, the potentially very rich ‘Ulster Irish’ culture will have to wait, there’s too many tyres needin’ burned!!!

      What’s the going rate for a wooden pallet these days?

      • Pointis June 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

        3 Pallets for a statue!

  6. paddykool June 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Am Ghob :
    Great stuff! I don’t know about wooden pallets but I saw good old wooden apple boxes for sale recently at a fiver a pop.S…Can you imagine?

    In passing, someone mentioned elsewhere in relation to tyres that we are currently being charges when buying new ones , for the disposal of the old ones in proper way, so how come many of those old “paid for” tyres are ending their lives in an environmentally unfriendly way atop blazing bonfires .Surely there’s a case to be answered there. surely it’s a criminal waste too not to recycle those thousands of wooden pallets. the stuff that could be made from all those timber planks….?
    On some of your other points , it’s funny too how some of the anglo/Irish writers and poets can be re-claimed by a society so long as they are seen as a winner in the end. James Joyce struggled to get “Ulysses” published in his day .It crept into the consciousness through the route of small incremental installments in little literary “fanzines” before eventually finding a Parisian publisher {If my miscreant memory serves me well}’
    It was initially seen as a “dirty book” initially …, unfit for polite society …like Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” in the UK. Of course, now it is embraced as great Irish literature and has spawned a little tourist industry of its own. The irish are no different from anyone else in that the love to keep a winner and that winner to their breast .
    The great and the good , the priests from the pulpit , basically drove Joyce into exile in France, though.

    Fair-weather friends always follow a winning team. Oscar Wilde suffered much the same fate because his homo-sexuality was seen as an affront . He too is now re-claimed as one of Ireland’s own . The truth is though that creative people live in a landscape without cultural or land bound barriers or borders. they live in orbits and universes of their own making which others revolve around.

    They are the makers of the “Culture” after all…

  7. RJC June 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    Am Ghobsmacht – definitely some food for thought there from your good self. I’m still new here, so not fully aware of to what extent Northern nationalism has (intentionally or otherwise) made certain areas of Irish culture unpalatable to large numbers of Protestants. That said, I went to a South Dublin school where the only sports played were rugby and cricket so there are perhaps elements of this sort of mindset all over Ireland. Where/when I grew up Gaelic games were filed under ‘things that boggers do’ I’m ashamed to say.

    With regard to the Irish Republic’s appropriation or rejection of certain aspects of Irish culture, this Julian Gough piece from a few weeks back is worth a read

    • Am Ghobsmacht June 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

      Interesting article RJC

      BTW, I’ve a friend down here also from South Dublin who is still completely unrepentant and unashamed when regarding Gaelic games as ‘things that boggers do’…

      Also, if you’re interested in charting some of the influence and manoeuvres of the Gaelic League as well as looking at what ‘Protestant’ culture was like at one point then I recommend a book called ‘Handed Down’ by Nigel Boullier

      It shows how much the cultures had in common a century ago and how they parted ways.

      And on a more vain level, if you want to see how much ‘Protestant’ culture has changed then feel free to peruse my own offering of Lundyism:

      (skip to the table near the bottom for a quick comparison)

  8. paddykool June 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    Gio: I had a perfectly constructed reply all ready but the bloody machine swallowed it …sorry! anyway..I do believe that the KKK and the Nazis have many similarities with our own right wing hoodlums on either extreme ..all cut from similar malleable cloth.It’ s only a matter of scale and application but anyone who has witnessed the feet on the ground during the UW Strike when the threat was there on the street or Paisley’s thugs with jtheir blackthorn sticks on the 1960’s streets should have no problem understanding the bloodlines.If brutalism is encouraged as it regularly is here in Ireland, the end result is a form of fascism on your streets.
    burning flags and popes on bonfires is only one step away.Take a look at the recent racist attacks within this past month….who do you think these people are?

    • giordanobruno June 17, 2014 at 8:42 am #

      Yes the racism in our society is very concerning. And yes there is a strain of right wing fundamentalism here. The balance of power has shifted though and there is no going back to one party rule and the conditions for such supremacism to flourish.
      What we have now are frightened angry people manipulated by gang bosses and weak politicians.Their inherent suspicion of the’other’ is easily stoked up.
      We should be careful not to demonise a community as uniquely evil, which is why I do not like the lazy comparisons to Nazis and Klansmen.
      To illustrate my point, the vast majority of Orange parades are peaceful and uncontentious. Are all those rural farmers donning their bowlers on a Sunday for a parade really to your mind just the same as the Nazis?

      • RJC June 17, 2014 at 9:40 am #

        Gio, I’m not sure that I agree with your assertion that the “vast majority of Orange parades are peaceful and uncontentious”. Peaceful perhaps, but uncontentious? Where I live, roads are closed and the town is festooned with red, white and blue whenever one of these parades takes place. I find that contentious, and I know many others who also do (from both ‘sides’ if it matters). This gets back to the idea (paddykool’s?) of taking the parades off the roads and out of the towns and into purpose built small stadia or fields with bandstands.

        I live in a rural area, and the OO own plenty of land around here yet insist on marching through the town, causing disruption to businesses, offence to many and everybody is stopped from going about their daily business, albeit for a few hours.

        The flags all went up a couple of weeks back, and if past years are anything to go by they won’t come down until the start of September. These flags blight the town during the Summer months, and paint it in a deeply unflattering light. I appreciate that you are talking about parades rather than flags, but it seems that the two go hand in hand.

        Personally, I would find the parades themselves less contentious if the OO, bandsmen and parade’s participants didn’t also feel the need to ‘decorate’ the town first. The Loyalist Arch which goes up in the centre of the town pays tribute to (amongst others) the great men of the B-Specials. Do you consider this to be uncontentious?

        • giordanobruno June 17, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

          Fair points. They are mostly peaceful though. I would imagine the majority take place in towns and villages where they are welcome.
          It is true that many of us tolerate these things when we do not especially like them nor their hangers-on nor their aftermath. That is something Orange and Unionist leaders fail to grasp.
          I don’t lump them in with the KKK and the Nazis and I think it is unhelpful exaggeration to do so.
          Unlike Jude I would not want to see them banned..
          They need major reform if they are to survive and the rotten branches especially in Belfast District need to be cut out.

          • RJC June 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

            I admire your pragmatic approach to things, Gio. That said, I’m not sure why many of us should tolerate that which we do not especially like. I do not believe that people have a God given right not to be offended, but so much Unionist/Orange ‘culture’ is based upon notions of supremacism, which is in itself a root cause of division and unrest not just here, but in many parts of the world.

            There is a lot of sense spoken by many of the commentators on this site. I sometimes wonder how many readers this blog gets and I would hope that the viewpoints put forward here do not fall on deaf ears.

          • paddykool June 18, 2014 at 9:59 am #

            I would only lump them in with the KKK and the Nazis in the sense that there is a precedent. or historical example as to how an entire community or country can so easily be led and influenced to the point that their very morality is twisted inside out .Right and wrong is blurred to the point where any errant cause can be lived and died for.

    • giordanobruno June 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      It has just dawned on me that you and Harry are the same entity. Boy do I feel stupid.
      You might have declared it though!
      Here’s me thinking that Harry boy is too full of himself to reply to comments.

      • paddykool June 17, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

        Sometimes the alter ego slips out of the housel!… No stopping him!

  9. Jude Collins June 16, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    THIS AIN’T ME, despite appearances. It’s Michael L, who’s having temporary (I hope) problems posting his responses:

    The fact that Loyalism must erect flags on every lamp post and add to that the fact that Unionism supports this surely shows that they condone the littering of lamp posts with flags of the UDA, UVF, UFF, YCV, the Union flag, the Ulster flag and many many other variations of said flags.

    On top of this various other national flags such as Israeli flag as well as the Rangers Football Club flag, Royal Irish Regiment flag, Irish Guards flag and the Black Watch flag and many many others are now showing up on the lamp posts of the North of Ireland. I can only see this as some kind of insecurity issue Loyalism has. Surely this cannot be considered ‘culture’ as such as you do not see anything like this in England except for certain days. I fail to see why a proper flag pole isn’t erected in a central spot in a community so the Union flag may be erected upon said pole instead of littering lamp posts with flags which inevitably because tattered and torn beyond all recognition.

    I’m also confused as to why Loyalism deem their parades as part of their culture. Does their culture include irritating minorities and Catholics? I can only say it does as this seems to be an integral part of their parades. Instead of celebrating their ‘Britishness’ in their own communities they must force it on Catholics at every turn. Parading past a Catholic Chapel and playing a very insulting song (yeah yeah it was the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B, of course it was) was blatantly done solely to insult Catholics and to a greater degree Irish and to, again, force their ‘culture’ on others who don’t really care to take part in it.

    So why would we take part in a parade that is seen as British if those of us who choose not to do so, see ourselves as Irish? Well it seems the reason for this is because we live along traditional marching routes.

    All I can say is, people move on, Sinn Fein have moved on, and certain Unionist political parties TRIED to move on but hey, that backfired. Unionism, Loyalism and in some cases Protestantism must move on and join the rest of us in the here and now for they are being left behind in terms of social and economic strategies.

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