PROTEST? by Harry McAvinchey

jobs not creed

It’s crazy isn’t  it ? Marching …marching…marches ad infinitum….Years and years of it . The nationalists aren’t nearly as possessed by it as the riven unionist community .What do they call themselves now …the “PUL”…isn’t  it ? Protestant Unionist Loyalist…community.

Well if you are a “protestant” you’ve got to” protest” …haven’t you? That’s what a protestant is all about isn’t it. It should be part of the DNA. although I’m not sure that some of these Creationist Protestants actually believe that DNA exists at all . It’s all too mixed up  with  that evolution stuff to be healthy….too much like  the Devil’s Buttermilk if you go down that road….  Then there’s the “Loyalist” bit too .Nobody is sure anymore what that’s all about anyway . Loyal to what? Loyal to whom? it’s a bit vague now, that one .There used to be a loyalty to the Queen but she’s messed that all up now by consorting with the old republican enemy .She’s even made friends with Martin McGuinness . She’s had a laugh or two with him which is likely to have had many a Women’s Institute member choking on her cress sandwiches.She  seems to enjoy the idea of getting a look around the  Irish Republic every now and then  too. You can imagine , can’t you .? Her living just an hour away for eighty odd years and  she couldn’t have a wee dander around Ireland. A wee holiday down around  Achill maybe? Just to get the head showered.I’m sure the curiosity was killing her too .There’s all that mad wild beauty and scenery to take in and she had to wait until she was an old lady to get a look around. The next thing you know she’ll be lecturing about the misuse of her flag in Northern Ireland and William and Kate will be buying a summer home in the Irish Republic as a quiet getaway hideout. Is nothing sacred anymore?

 Anyway , now that she’s gone over to the Dark Side , what are they going to be loyal to now? Maybe they’ll have to come up with a new label .Maybe PUU would do? Protestant Unionist Ussuns or something like that might work .

Anyway . the Nationalists haven’t  a whole lot to get up  and and protest about or march about .There ‘s the Internment Rally, of course  .I remember a whole lot of them…the Nationalists… were interned back in …9th August 1971. I had just started my first proper job in Belfast  then  . That was a rowdy time , no question. “Operation Demetrius”, they called it. You didn’t have to bother with trials and and all that old nonsense back then.  The British mounted an operation in which they arrested  342 people from the Nationalist community.There were an awful lot of innocent people locked up in the two days of the operation. There was no one from the protestant community taken even though a lot of them were involved in violent acts for the previous five years or so . That was because the PUU….{Are we calling them that now?} ….were “the  People” .They used to paint that up on the walls didn’t they? “WE ARE THE PEOPLE” in BIg White Letters on gable walls . That meant that laws were for us and anybody who wasn’t in our gang could take a running jump through a flying doughnut! In fact , the rest  of those buggers weren’t really proper people anyway. What’s the expression?….Oh yes, they weren’t really “properly house-trained”, were they? They never scrubbed their doorsteps well enough, did they? Somebody said their eyes were set differently too. There were too close together …or was that too far apart ?  People would make those kind of observations. They’d talk about the state of their garden or how they dug with the Left Foot. Left Handers ..Now they called them “Kitterpaws”.. A sure sign of Satan’s Spawn if ever there was one .You have to watch those Left Handers…the Paul McCartneys and the Jimi Hendrixs…Left Handers to a man …I have a daughter like that …..You have to keep an eye on them all right!

 We are  “the People” after all.Ussuns All the rest of them weren’t worth the price of  a trial.  Courts and that were for us. Those Nationalists didn’t need to waste their time on courts and lawyers.It  was simple just locked them up ..Simple…that’s not too complicated , is it?. Well …there were ructions after that.Some 7,000 people were either forced out of their homes or fled, frightened that they’d be burned out of their houses  or killed anyway. They went all over the place , but many settled miles away or over the border. Refugees everywhere that year. Myself and a mate were hitch-hiking down south that year and we pretended to be refugees. A lovely couple picked us up and gave us food and shelter for the night down near Killarney.. Well…it could have been true , couldn’t ? They were a lovely couple anyway and we were very appreciative.

There were about twenty four people killed at that time  and a lot of those who were interned were tortured by the British authorities. Ach well , you can only do these things for a while before some busybody in another country notices and sticks their oar in …

Then the women and the children used to get the metal bin-lids out every year and bash the hell out of them on the ground every 9th August . They used to use the lids like warning , war drums when there was a possibility that soldiers would break into anyone’s house. There were no cell-phones then, remember….. The Troubles might have been a whole lot different if the cell-phone had existed .Mind you , the authorities would probably have banned them in Ireland anyway . Remember those CB radios …Citizen’s Band Ten Four….? No …They didn’t much fancy those either, but every cowboy you came across , had one in his car.

The bin-lids were a bit noisier than smoke signals , but very effective for a while anyway. They made a racket like  Ginger Baker on  steroids {I know…look him up!}…. in a scrap- yard. That went on for years afterwards ..every 9th of August….The Fenian Lambeg Drums!! Then they brought in rubber bins with rubber bin-lids .

Now , the conspiracy theorists will have you believe that rubber bin-lids were brought in pretty quickly to stop those folk protesting every year .You can’t make a lot of noise with a rubber bin-lid after all .  Ha ..that slowed them down a bit.Then they put the tin hat on it by bringing in those German wheelie bins .You can’t do a lot with them besides hiding the odd dead body , can you? I suppose you could play a paradiddle on the side with a drumstick if were so inclined. I suppose they have some of those metal bin-lids in a museum somewhere up some wee side street. A whole story about “the Bin-lid and its place in the Armed Struggle” would be written up on the walls on Big Charts.. That’s probably why they don’t want to do that big Maze Development Project at Long Kesh . The Nationalists  want somewhere where they can gather together all those old bin-lids so that they can have an annual “Lid -Bashing Festival” every 9th of August. Peter Robinson and the DUP are having none of that. No Protestant Unionist Ussun every bashed a bloody bin-lid , so we’re having none of it !!.I wonder what kind of letter he’ll send from Florida this year….just an aside ….a wild thought….

Now you’d really wonder why “protestants” didn’t” protest” at the introduction of internment. You’d think they’d want to “protest” at the drop of a hat , wouldn’t you ? They really are very selective about this “protesting” lark when you get down to it. .I suppose that’s down to the fact that no one started locking any of them up until 1973…a couple of years later .

The policy of internment was to last until December 1975 and during that time 1,981 people were interned…..1,874 were Catholic/Irish /nationalist/republican, while 107 were Protestant/loyalist/ Ussuns. That might leave a sour taste in the mouth in many homes.

 The Ussuns were always a bit slow on the the uptake really, weren’t they?.It took  the mention of flags to wake them up .You’ve got to have something worth  protesting about …after all.

9 Responses to PROTEST? by Harry McAvinchey

  1. ben madigan August 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Where to start Harry? So much to comment– so little to say!

    “Marching …marching…marches ad infinitum….Years and years of it” .
    “Two hundred years ago the founding fathers of the Orange order decided that parades were an appropriate medium to witness for their faith and to celebrate their cultural heritage”.

    And you’re surprised nobody amongst(note Biblical preposition) us has had a better idea since? Explanation: We didn’t need ideas – we had power

    “Loyal to what? Loyal to whom? “
    First principle about Loyalty – it’s conditional. Remember them ole Scottish Coventanters? Loyal as long as you do what we want. 2nd
    and 3rd principles can be found here
    Loyal to the Crown or the Throne but not Elizabeth II

    “William and Kate will be NAT buying a summer home in the Irish Republic”.
    They’ll be moving intil Carrickfergus Castle as soon as they can get the British taxpayer or Stormont to stump up for the renovations .Remember they spent millions on their wing of Kensington Palace and their country mansion – which also had to be upgraded. OK as long as someone else pays (insurance, taxpayer, government grants) which we in the Executive will be honoured to do !The joy of having them reside with us for a day or two every year is woth paying millions of your money for

    Internment: “That meant that laws were for us”
    Of course they were! Why act surprised?

    “Left Foot. Left Handers .” – you forgot “the other sort” as in “s/he is one of the other sort” – that’s the praper way of referrin to themmuns

    “burned out of their houses or killed”

    PULeeze – Why do you think this particular leopard would ever change its spots when no other has ever done so?

    Furthermore, us Loyalists think we have a Licence to Kill Catholics

    “I wonder what kind of letter he’ll send from Florida this year”
    There’ll be no letter from Florida this year. “House sold at a loss”

    Best for now .
    Peter/Willie/Sammy/Ornge Lil,/Are Sadie

  2. William Fay August 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    Jude, I have to commend you on your use of terminology and how you can be economical with the truth when it suits you. Operation Demetrius or Internment, which ever name you care to use, took place at a time when the rule of law had totally broken down in NI. Granted the NI government should have also interned a limited number of Loyalists, but when one considers the impetus from whence the violence was coming from, one can can at least have some understanding of the decision making. Of the recorded Troubles related deaths during the years 1969, 70, 71 up to 9th August, Republicans were responsible for 42 murders out of a total of 72, Loyalists murdered 5. The supposition is that Internment increased the level of violence, and the statistics will bear that out, unfortunately hindsight was unavailable to the Stormont government at that time.
    I also think it is unhelpful to the debate by being increasingly condescending and rude towards the Unionist population of NI. The acronym PUL is used by a limited number of people to suit their debate and terminology, it is not in general usage and is not liked by the Unionist people.
    In relation HRH, it does amuse me to hear the debate in relation to HM meeting Martin McGuinness. Do you actually believe that she would have any time for that man whatsoever, other than having to deal with her head of state responsibilities in a responsible manner. He probably had a direct involvement in the murder of Lord Louis and I don’t think Prince Philip is going to forget it.

    • paddykool August 13, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

      Aaah William and Ben …lovely to spend an evening in your company…..It’s good to laugh , isn’t it? …Sometimes it seems like a lifetime at the circus , mind…..Now, “the Rule of Law” ,William….that’s an interesting expression …whatever it might have meant.As an eighteen or nineteen year old it seemed like a very flexible concept back then on the streets.It was easily set aside or bent when the situation suited.As long as you wore the right uniform you were free to jump out of cars and shoot into crowds to your hearts contentment.In fact if you fancied it and could get enough people interested onto the streets , you could dress up and march and take over towns and cities….We’re back to that old theory about locks being made for honest people….robbers just kick in the door anyway….yes….the rule of law and it’s breaking down….that is interesting…..

    • Ceannaire August 13, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

      William, could I just point out a small flaw in your “Jude, I have to commend you on your use of terminology and how you can be economical with the truth when it suits you.”

      Proper reading, taking in what you have just read and then engaging requires you to understand who the author is. You don’t. AGAIN.

      Not taking in basic information undermines your argument because you obviously miss so many little details.

      What is it called? Oh yes! A bull in a china shop.

      • William Fay August 14, 2014 at 8:38 am #

        Oh yes, sure, it was Harry, wasnt it!

    • paddykool August 14, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      William . Most of these things are simply commentaries and personal memories of those times .I would really enjoy hearing your own re-collections and see how your perspective and memory of the events compares.It is always interesting to hear differing viewpoints and how they are arrived at.Jude has spoken several times of sharing any stories he finds either entertaining or literary worthy with the rest of us. He is an excellent storyteller himself so he ‘ll have some perspective on what works and what doesn’t.You should give it a try..

      By the way , it has already been pointed out that the PUL moniker is one of unionism’s own making as if in an attempt to bind all the strands of that community together. It’s fair game to have a little fun with it . There’s the Shinners and the Dupers after all . It’s a little bit of fun..The piece was written in a deliberately flip way in any case and is not to be taken too po-facedly….even if it is very true from a personal perspective.

      As to the references to the Queen , Prince Philip , Lord , Mountbatten and Martin Mcguinness…..Well if you have some inside information on any of those connections , i’m all ears . I’m still waiting to hear Perkin’s Maggie and the Donkey story too….I don’t really know about the inner workings of those old groupings, other than what I’ve come across in books but would imagine that what happened in South Armagh, Tyrone Derry or Belfast were unique to those areas in many cases. A case of one hand not worrying what the other was doing in many cases. It’s fairly well-known that the South Armagh IRa was a different thing to the urban Belfast grouping. A bit like the differences to the urban and country Orange Order in that respect, I imagine. like I say William , if you have a story or too let it rip…

      • paddykool August 14, 2014 at 11:07 am #

        ..and of course that should be “two” and not “too”….

  3. michael c August 13, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    William,what happened to the other 25? Surely “that fine band if men” in the”security forces” could not have been involved in murder?

    • paul August 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      The 50,000 euro question. BTW note to Dr Collins, you have woken the slumbering , see McCaulands aricle in todays telegraph. nelson really doesn’t understand ‘irony’. Flag protests , orange marches, Royal black marches and the list goes on. Maybe Mr McCauland should work on fixing the housing issue and while hes at that , he should take a walk(march?) down memory lane.