Those New Mossley tyres: empty heads, empty prospects


The Nolan Show last night discussed the hundreds of rubber tyres and pallets that have been dumped in New Mossley, where the young people are busily gathering them to make an early start for the Eleventh Night bonfire. Yes, you read aright. Five months before the event, the energies of young New Mossleyians are directed at building a fire.

Jim Wilson, described as a social worker, insisted to  Nolan that this was an expression of the alienation of these young people – they had nothing else to do. This was corroborated by a film clip of Nolan meeting with the young people. Nothing else to do.  And  then this sense of pointlessness was  conflated into the claim that republicans had made gains on every side while unionists/loyalists had been repeatedly short-changed.

Seated in the audience, I was asked by Nolan if loyalism had a chip on its shoulder. The answer was obvious: they had. Despite Nolan quoting figures showing Catholic/republican unemployment as several percentage points higher than that in  the Protestant/unionist areas,  Jim Wilson insisted that loyalist perception was what matters. They wanted to feel hard done by and they would feel hard done by, regardless of evidence.

There were two points that I managed to squeeze into the discussion. One is that the residents of New Mossley – the people who actually live there – don’t want hundreds of tyres and pallets polluting the eye for months on end, yet they’re powerless to do anything about it. Are they being well-served by their representatives? It wouldn’t appear so.

The other point I made was that I feel sympathy for the young people involved. Building the biggest (and illegal) bonfire in the world and placing an Irish tricolour on top at least has the advantage of sticking two fingers up to the better-off world of officialdom. The tragedy is that this is the best we as a society appear able to offer them. These young people have as much right to a decent education as you or I, yet here they are with burning tyres the focus of their energies. There won’t be too many of these New Mossley youngsters applying for admission to a degree programme in medicine or accountancy or business in a couple of years’ time.  Yet they are as deserving as we are of a decent education and decent job prospects. Instead, what does our society offer them? A chance to hoard tyres and pallets for five months, have a spectacular bonfire in July. And when the flames die down and nothing’s left except empty beer cans and a massive heap of ash, they’ll be exactly where they are now – stuck in the same social and employment cul-de-sac they’re now in. No progress. Not an inch. Going nowhere.

The ploy of measuring young loyalist alienation against that of republican areas is a distraction and a myth. The tyre-gathering is  a symptom of a twisted society which doesn’t give a damn about the lives or  life chances of these and so many other young people like them. The sooner we stop tut-tutting at their behaviour and address the deprivation that lies behind that, the sooner we’ll realise that their myopic world-view is our responsibility, our shame.


11 Responses to Those New Mossley tyres: empty heads, empty prospects

  1. paddykool February 26, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    Where do you start with this one Jude? We’ve talked about it before , of course and there you were at the heart of it and you could only get a few sentences in before Nolan rushed on to the next item ….Spandau Ballet. This needed a longer conversation but all we ever get on local television are soundbites and some wooly bitching. Nobody wants any of this to change…to really tackle it .Everyone wants to blame the people who succeed by dint of their own hard work . Anyone who rises to the pinnacle of their talent is soon knocked down or disparaged. So nationalists are blamed for making a success of their education. It didn’t happen by magic and not all nationalists are in clover anyway. The figures prove that. There are probably as many young feckless nationalists as there are loyalists, maybe more , but they are not building huge illegal bonfires .
    It was so obvious that the young men interviewed around the bonfire site were going nowhere very fast.Whose fault is it that building a big fire is the height of their ambition? You might argue that they need education but that’s not the whole story. Much education is a personal thing. You have to do it yourself for the most part. You might get a little guidance at school , but it’s like learning to play a piano…You’ve got to apply yourself to it and do the work.In other words , you’ve got to want to do it. Imagination is what’s needed and the ability to think beyond this sterile unchanging situation. None of these young men showed any signs of any of that.
    The actual physical presence of these huge fires and the materials that feed them should be tackled at source . That’s all illegal , so someone should nail that one first. There have to be many more projects that even young intellectually- challenged fellows could do . If they can build these great structured bonfires , only to burn them to ground again , surely they can be taught to build something constructive for their community that can give them a pride of achievement. If they can scavenge materials to burn , surely the can scavenge materials to build?
    Look at the wasted materials …the timber pallets and the rubber tyres….thousands of them . If this was third world country they would be converted into other materials or even artifacts to sell to tourists . We’ve seen it all . There are people who can sculpt tin cans into toys and make paper surrounds for mirrors out of waste – paper. Take a look in TK Max sometime … Look at the waste of materials.
    Can all that energy not be organised and used to build a community centre or something where they can learn and be be taught skills other than simply playing in a flute band? Maybe they could spend time building a playpark for the local children which they could take pride in and look after . The truth is that if they can spend months building useless monuments of wood and rubber, they can also build something more substantial like a Health Centre.

  2. Iolar February 26, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    The IRA and 67,060 + reasons for industrial action

    The 1971 Industrial Relations Act was based on proposals outlined in the 1970 Tory Party manifesto. The legislation resulted in mass protests, the use of riot police and the imprisonment of protesters. In 2015 there is evidence of alienation, unemployment, zero hours contracts, companies that fail to pay even the minimum wage, house repossessions and food banks. At the same time, there are repeated questions raised about the abuse of expenses by elected representatives and individuals “working below the radar.” What this appears to mean is that some individuals with electoral mandates abuse their status in order to earn even more money. Some politicians fiddle while bonfires burn.

    In the past few months, Richard Needham, a former Tory Minister has been critical of the lack of proper government in the north of Ireland, the implication being that there was proper government on his watch. His solution on behalf of one of his current employers, the Rank Group? …a casino. This comes at a time when sterling efforts are being made to address serious social problems associated with gambling. Lives, families and careers have been destroyed by virtue of this particular addiction. While some elected politicians abuse their mandates, trade unionists are left to challenge what passes for economic and social policy.

    There is a crisis in the public sector. It is rank folly to advocate cutting jobs when schools and the health service face unprecedented pressures. Some Trade Union leaders are articulating grievances about staffing levels, pay and the working conditions of their members. While our MLA’s skate around Stormont for pre-electon photo opportunities, they do not have to worry about their salaries, expenses, parking fees or the cost of meals. As they slide into the next election, perhaps MLA’s should reflect on the reasons why people who have to work for a living are forced to engage in industrial action. It is the straw that will break the camel’s back. They are left with no choice. Reactionary voices are beginning to rail about proposed industrial action. The same voices are strangely quiet about the concentration of unearned wealth in fewer and fewer hands. It is not by chance that most of the critics of industrial action earn well in excess of the minimum wage. Mr Rifkind may have spare time to undertake additional work of a lucrative nature, others have no choice in the matter.

  3. fiosrach February 26, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    I can remember back to the dark days of the 70s and 80s when the CNR community were trying to give one of their fallen soldiers a dignified burial. The roads and townlands around the funerals were,literally, swamped with heavily armed RUC gunmen. Families and supporters were batoned to the ground at wakehouses and graveyards. Yet, they can’t stop a bunch of aimless lawbreakers from burning tyres etc. As a matter of fact the councils give them money to do it _ our rates money! The councillors etc who perceive themselves to be British and hence law abiding cannot find the words tocondemn them. It’s our culture. Well it is their culture. To defy their government and cause mayhem if things don’t go their way. Yes we can.

  4. Am Ghobsmacht February 26, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    First of all, how is this allowed?! Surely the environment Stasi or insurance drones should be out en masse?

    I know some one who couldn’t organise a rubber duck race because the public liability insurance was astronomical, yet this doesn’t raise any such concerns?

    Whilst I agree that perception is important I would also propose that this perception is a vehicle of convenience for the rather more cynical elements of political unionism.

    ‘Tell them they’ve been sold a pup and they will follow’.

    Who would it benefit to straighten out this misconception?

    Certainly not political unionism (though ironically it would probably benefit pragmatic unionism…)

    Anyway, I thought one of the major selling points for loyalist bands was that they filled this cocial vacuum and consequently offset anti-social behaviour (certainly was my memory of the band scene anyway).

    I’m sure this must also be costing the tax payer, where for art thou Nelson McCausland, he who opposes waste in public expenditure (when ‘themuns’ are asking for it).

    If you want jobs and investment in your area building illegal temple-pyres that would intimidate the bejesus out of potential investors may not be the smartest way to go about it.

    I’m alarmed and ashamed at how loyalism is taking to MOPEry as a vindication or explanation for its ills.

    • Antonio February 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

      In answer to your question ” First of all, how is this allowed?” I think part of the explanation is a fear on the part of the P.S.N.I to challenge Loyalists in the wake of the bad feelings that erupted between the police and loyalists during the Flag protests/riots. They don’t want to pour any-more petrol onto that simmering fire (pun intended)

      You were saying

      ”I’m alarmed and ashamed at how loyalism is taking to MOPEry as a vindication or explanation for its ills.”

      Loyalists are talking a lot more about being abandoned but they fail to articulate why they feel that way and who has abandoned them. They are loyalists which is a term used to describe working -class Protestants.

      I am not sure at what precise point Loyalist came to mean specifically working -class unionist but that has become the case. In the past the terms loyalist and Unionist were used interchangeably to describe the one group of people. For example Paisley would often be described as a Loyalist leader while leader of the Democratic UNIONIST party. Actually the D.U.P were usually denoted as the Loyalist party until sometime in the 1990’s when they began to catch up on the official Unionist party and eventually overtook them in the 21’st century at the elections.

      The D.U.P became more Unionist and a little less Loyalist during this time. That is to say they were more often described by society and the media as Unionist despite changing little in their attitude. Presumably somewhere along the line the Middle-class embraced the D.U.P and they became Unionist. Did they move up the social ladder? or were they perceived as having done so in the eyes of the Unionist middle-class?

      What is a loyalist other than a working-class unionist? maybe it means underclass unionist now that unemployment and academic underachievement is quite high amongst working class protestants.

      So the word Loyalist is used to describe poorer Protestants rather than the more middle-class Protestants who are Unionists.The word Loyalist is also used to denote paramilitary. Loyalist has two meanings. Working-class and UVF/UDA.

      I sometimes wonder if there are young Protestants born just after the Troubles in the Gold Coast or Belfast’s suburbs. Children who go to Grammar schools and private music lessons and hockey and rugby games. Politics is a dirty word that means silly old men arguing about the colour of flags and they are all as bad as each other. And they also think that a poor Protestant is also Loyalist is also paramilitary. That to be from the ‘Loyalist heartland’ of Tigers Bay or the Shankill road is to be a paramilitary is to be poor is to be loyalist.

      Republicans like myself often speak of ‘Unionist paramilitaries’ because we do not see why working-class unionists should shoulder all the blame for Unionist violence. I think on some level Middle-class unionists designate all violence from their ‘side of the fence’ as ‘Loyalist’ so as to deflect responsibility for it away from themselves and onto working-class Protestants.

      Blame the lower orders for our sins for they are too stupid to defend them selves and will fail to see that their oppression is a class oppression perpetrated by the respectable middle class onto the poor and uneducated. Keep them uneducated because then they will believe us when we tell them it is all the republicans’ fault.

      So in a way maybe you are being a little harsh in saying they are mopery victims. They are oppressed to some extent and they have been abandoned but they don’t know who their real enemy is.

  5. Sherdy February 26, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    Jude, I hope Nolan is paying you well for your brief appearances on his show.
    I thought after your previous 30second exposure when you didn’t get the chance to complete one sentence, you would have had the sense not to walk into the same abusive situation.
    You should be wiser than to expect decent or proper treatment from Nolan – everyone is there purely for his use/abuse, without any qualms of conscience from him.
    You mention Jim Wilson’s comment that the kids had nothing else to do as the reason for spending months building these tyre-pyres, but nothing seems to have changed in these loyalist areas, because in my lifetime time for collecting kindling has never been a problem.
    And the perception that loyalists got nothing out of the peace process has been fostered by their own politicians as a distraction, because when you bluff your own people in this way, you are not going to be blamed for any lack of work or success by the elected represented.
    So many loyalists are education-shy because before the troubles they didn’t need it to get a job in the shipyard, Mackies or Sirocco, all you needed was to follow your da into the job or to have your Orange sash.
    Then all through the troubles you didn’t need any A or O levels to get into the UDA or UVF protection rackets where you could make unlimited money in the protection rackets or selling drugs. Education was just surplus to requirements.

    • Jude Collins February 26, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      Paying me well? Nothing could pay me for staying up past my bed-time (10.00 pm. sharp)…

  6. ANOTHER JUDE February 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    Piling up tyres may be against the law but since when have loyalists, community workers or otherwise, been overly concerned with keeping within the law? I suppose we should be grateful they`re no longer beating people to death. When our genial host pointed out to Jim Wilson that the figures proved Catholics were still worse off than Protestants he simply shrugged it off and said it was all about perception. Another wonderful soundbite to place alongside the likes of Democracy Isn`t Working.

  7. Perkin Warbeck February 26, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    As the Hausfrau Saxe-Coburg-Gotha visited the fillum set of the Game of Thrones last summer it is fit and proper that She will visit the annual production of The Princes of Tyres this summer.

    To be followed dutifully of course at a regulation six paces by her own one man Greek Chorus Chappie. As usual, he will don his trademark Mask of Meaningful Interest which first came to prominence at curtain up on opening night in the longest ever running West End production:The Oedipus Rextrap.

    In doing so Her Madge will but be following in a tradition first started by The Unionist Times. Back in the halcyon days of the Seventies and the Eighties there was a mass-evacuation every 11th July from the editorial offices of the loyal Liffeyside organ of grinders with axes to hone.

    At Tara Street station they boarded the Orange Blossom Special to travel northward to capture the unique flavour of the bowler, sash, drumbash and brolly brigade.

    Look a-yonder comin’
    Coming up the railroad track.

    All hands on board the proto-type Press Release Train from Mrs. Mop to the top scribe of the Editorials (known as TUTorials in the trade) as they puff puffed to the Orange Free Stateen, Chuffed with themselves that were about to garner their annual bumper harvest from the cultural extravaganza of The Twalfth

    Well, we’re going up to Finaghy
    To get some Sandy Row between our ears.
    It’s the Orange Blossom Special
    Bringing their rabies back.

    Once, when asked by a curious foreign correspondent from the Katmandu Daily Chronicle how TUT reconciled its hoity toity ambience with this annual excursion into the realm of rude and cattle-prod incursions, the forlorn for cor was given short shrift. As Mrs.Mop (an Eng Lit grad of TCD with a double burst appendix – see above) snootily referred him to the prologue of Shakespeare’s celebration of the missing piece in the Land of Ire’s cultural jigsaw: Pericles, the Prince of Tyre:

    But custom what they did begin
    Will with long use account no sin.

    This goes a long way to explaining the contemporary slim coverage of The Twalfth by TUT as evidenced by the Orange Blossom Special’s downsizing to a P.C.(People Carrier).

    The reason of course is that the Cultural Osmosis is complete: in this The Year of the Sheep, the bleaters of the Free Southern Stateen have been successfully converted to the benign notion that the bonfires of the brolly and bowler brigade are to the Tricolour Rag what orange-flavoured tablets are to indigestion, dyspepsia and heartburn.

    Rennies, as it were, from heaven.

    And for those who wonder about the odd sounding New Mossley name, wonder no more. The campaign of Cultural Osmosis which The Unionist Times relentlessly conducted on their wooly-backed ruminant readership is the key.

    According to the dictionary, osmosis means ‘the gradual and unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge etc’.

    It was the same type of campaign conducted by, (gulp) Oswald Mosley in the 30s. He was married in the suburban house of Goebbels in Berlin with Onkel Dorf as guest of honour. The Os Mos sis in law, Unity Mitford was in attendance. Keep an eye on that Unity one. Mossley is Mosley with the SS.

    Os Mos is………the Blackshirt which every Blueshirt aspires to.

    And folk wonder why gorm means both black and blue in that lingua franca du jour of the bruiser: leprechaun.

    Go figure, as they say today.

  8. Francis February 27, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    When working class Protestants/Unionists have representatives of the Calibre of Jim ‘Skinz’ Wilson…or retrospectively proud Sectarian Murderers like Hutchinson, then they have no leadership at all….This is a great tragedy for the whole community whatever side of the Peace Lines we hale from….Working class Protestants especially have little in the way of positive influences to inspire them and divert their energies to more positive and progressive endeavours….depressing alas….perhaps the PUP may change within and a challenge to the status quo mounted for real against the DUP, TUV et al. Unlikely alas that such a change can be effected from the outside in….Time and patience will tell

  9. Mick February 27, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    Could it be they are still in the same mind set their Protestant parents and grandparents were in? They could simply walk straight into a job without education often putting a better educated Catholic out of a job. I’m of the opinion this is why Catholic children seem to be doing somewhat better than Protestant kids in these areas but this still does not explain why Loyalist/Unionist politicians are not working harder to stop this kind of environmentally destructive behavior. Oh but its culture……….

    I also find it strange how Loyalist communities can receive grants to burn ‘beacons’ rather than tyres and pallets yet they are still permitted to burn the Irish Tricolour on them even though the councils are paying for them with public monies and with many of those councils having Catholics and indeed Republicans within their communities I fail to see why these councils are permitting this. For the last three years in Larne there has been a Tricolour and additionally last year, as appeared everywhere it seems, posters of the local Sinn Fein candidates. Surely this isn’t the equality and respect we desire from people we’re sharing government with and they certainly are not instilling much confidence in those who feel Unionism is dragging its heels against a Sinn Fein who is more willing to give and take and negotiate than any Unionist.