Burning the evidence

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Last year around this time an effigy of  Gerry Adams was hung from a bonfire. Mr Adams, I believe, asked his solicitor to report the incident to the PSNI on the  grounds that it was a hate crime. Odd – I don’t remember anyone being prosecuted for that over the last twelve months. Do you?

This year, as well as last year, effigies of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have been hung on a bonfire. The same bonfire has also featured an image of Bobby Sands in a coffin, and a related tweet inquiring “Would you like to try a cheese burger bobby sands?”

The Alliance councillor Michael Long has called on police to investigate after an image of his wife Naomi was among those erected on Eleventh night bonfires. Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said it was “very much a community matter” and explained that arrests would be unlikely since the evidence had been burned.

There are a number of disturbing facts arise out of those incidents. The first is that the PSNI is not prepared to interfere in any way with any bonfire, regardless of what’s placed on it – rubber tyre, pictures of politicians, flags of various states. It’s “a community matter”. In other words, the PSNI either sympathise with the bonfirers and don’t want to intervene or are afraid of the bonfirers  and don’t want to intervene.

Almost equally disturbing is that I don’t recall – and I’m subject to correction if someone can cite examples – I don’t recall a single unionist politician speaking up and saying that this kind of revelling in contempt for the political views of the other half of the community, and the obvious hatred that accompanies it,  is shameful, wrong and should be stopped immediately. Not one. Either they approve of this kind of primitive, goading behaviour, or they’re afraid to open their mouths in case their constituents mightn’t like it and choose not vote for them in March next year.

We really do live in a sad state. The representatives of the people refuse to give leadership when they see their followers indulge in primeval and mindless animosity, while the guardians of the law do their version of monkey hear no evil, see no evil.

Or maybe there are decent unionist leaders appalled by these effigy-burnings and who are at this minute preparing to give their people a more civilised lead, and we’ll hear from them any day now. Maybe.

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39 Responses to Burning the evidence

  1. paddykool July 15, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    ….and we’re not holding or breath on that one, Jude…

  2. billy July 15, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    nothings changed much except the name their still the specials,sf jumped to quick,

    • paul July 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      Agreed, PSNI does not represent both communities, new uniforms/Name same old sectarian force

  3. Emmet July 15, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    This is a bit scary and maybe I shouldn’t put it out there but… Maybe unionism needs this spell of abhorrent sectarian frenzy to boost an artificial ‘Ulster’ version of ‘Britishness’. If they did condemn it and it stopped maybe the Protestants would have nothing to feel British about and just turn Irish. With the evolution of social media the argument about ‘respecting culture’ from the Orange Order has been exposed as a nonsense. Does anyone know what happened the Ulster-Scots Identity? Has Unionism abandoned it? I used to think that could emerge to be a viable alternative identity when the current sectarian one died out.

  4. neill July 15, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    So last year Gerry Adams complained about his effigy being burnt ah rich irony indeed perhaps when he was younger he could also have condemned people and buildings being burnt by his colleagues….

    We have moved on nobody is being killed or burned alive due to violence today and for that we should be thankful as for burning posters its only paper and plastic.

    As the bible says those who are without sin can throw the first stone.

    • Ceannaire July 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

      “As the bible says those who are without sin can throw the first stone.”

      Delighted to see you have written this Neill. I take it that this phrase will inform your posts from now on? (Though you did manage to forget about it during the first part of your post.)

      Progress, of sorts, Neill.

      • Neill July 15, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

        Perhaps you can follow my lead Ceannaire and become my disciple and start spreading my words of wisdom as I am without sin! ; )

        • Ceannaire July 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

          No problem, Neill. However, it goes without saying that you’ll be turning lots of water into wine? Indeed, I’ll sign up for that! 🙂

          • neill July 16, 2015 at 11:18 am #

            Good Lord if I could do that I wouldn’t be in sunny Northern Ireland!

    • sherdy July 15, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

      ‘Nobody is being killed’ – but there was an attempted murder in Ardoyne this week.

      • Neill July 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

        That was a disgrace and hopefully the gentleman will grow very very old in prison

    • Gearoid July 15, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

      It’s a short walk from burning books to people as the nazis demonstrated in the middle of the last century and the same rule applies to incinerating flags or effigies of people whose allegiances you don’t share. No whataboutery here, these are manifestations of a warped sense of “britishness” which most people in the so called “mainland” would utterly reject as in anyway representative of their national identity. The time is long passed for political, civic and religious leaders within the unionist/protestant community to show genuine leadership in leading their people towards a constructive dialogue with their Catholic/Nationalist neighbors regarding peaceful co-existence and a respect for each-other’s religio-cultural identity.

  5. Séamus Ó Néill July 15, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    This hatred of the native Irish ( synonymous now with Catholics ) began a lot earlier with England’s attempt to control and mould the indigenous people . Theodore W. Allen in his book ,” The Making of the White Race ” explains it beautifully …….Under English law the term ” Hibernicus ” , Latin for ” Irishman ” was the legal term for ” Unfree ” in other words a slave to be bought and sold .In 1278 two Anglo-Normans , brought to court charged with raping a woman named Margaret O’Rourke , were quickly found not guilty because the woman was Irish….it was not a crime but a mere ‘Trespass’ on her masters property. Under Anglo-Norman law it also sufficed for acquittal in a murder trial to show that the victim in the killing was Irish. . Anglo-Norman ” priests ” also granted absolution on the ground that ” it was no more a sin to kill an Irishman than a dog or any other brute ”
    After the ” Plantation of Ulster ” when the natives were driven from from their lands and homes to make way for another wave of invaders this attitude prevailed…..any Catholic/Irishman was fair game. The foundation of the ” Peep O’ Day ” boys and its morphing into the Orange Order articulated the same base beliefs…..the Irish are no better than savages and this is perpetuated to this very day !

  6. Diarmaid Ó Mórdha July 15, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  7. Jim Neeson July 15, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    Why is there not an outcry from Ecologists about the bonfires, Should not the Green Party be highlighting this issue? Each time you buy tyres you pay a charge for their safe disposal !!
    Pallets? who gives them to the ” young lads” as apparantly this bonfire issue is created by the youthful exuberance of young boys and girls not the Orange Bigots we ordinary citizens suspect !!! .Fining Tyre suppliers and Pallet owners may well be a start.
    Sadly the Nationalist shithawks in Lower Falls, Beechmount and Turf Lodge are going to follow their counterparts in August. I hope I am wrong but I doubt it!!!

  8. Séamus Ó Néill July 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Neill a wee bit of whataboutery doesn’t alter whats happening.Why can’t you just condemn what is masquerading as culture here There is an intense hatred , pure sectarian bile directed towards 50% of the population and you complacently say nobody ” is being killed or burned alive ” Could I remind you that Unionists have killed many many people ( mostly from their own community ) since the Provos left the scene.The illegal UDA, UVF are still operating with the connivance of the totally ineffectual PSNI . and the ambivalent attitude of Unionist politicans give succour to all these abnoxious cretins ……why do your people fear equality ?

    • neill July 15, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

      I think I am on record condemning all deaths that occurred here unlike some on here however I wont condemn anybody for burning posters or effigies simply because it doesn’t hurt anybody its simply in poor taste in my opinion.

      Can I ask you was it in poor taste to burn effigies of Margaret Thatcher when she passed away?

      • Ceannaire July 15, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

        Martin Mcguinness asked those who celebrated her death not to, so he went further than the effigies thing. Coming where he came from that was a big thing to do.

        Ian Paisley took a similar leadership role, considering his history, on the death of John Paul II when he said “We can understand how Roman Catholics feel at the death of the Pope and we would want in no way to interfere with their expression of sorrow and grief at this time.”

        Burning the effigies was wrong, Neill – and this is from someone who despised the woman more than words can say.

      • Ryan July 16, 2015 at 1:00 am #

        “Can I ask you was it in poor taste to burn effigies of Margaret Thatcher when she passed away?”

        You should put that question to the English, Welsh and Scottish people too Neill, there was a lot more effigies of Margaret Thatcher being burned in England than in our wee statelet by Nationalists. Yet the “more British than the British” of Loyalists were shedding a tear at her passing….even though she signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement and let the Republic have an official say here despite furious Unionist protests. Then it was later revealed she didn’t care at all for Unionism here or hold any affection for them.

        You can really see the irony in all this….

        (Its important to note burning MT’s effigies was a one off occurrence, not something done every year on the 11th July and regarded as “culture”).

      • Emmet July 16, 2015 at 7:07 am #

        I think burning effigies is wrong. I think that people should respect even their worst enemies in death. Eg. funerals are sacred times British soldiers’, IRA, UVF etc. should always be allowed to take place in a dignified manner, For this reason I think people should have ignored Thatcher’s death, unfortunately some people (in lots of countries especially in northern Britain) took the opportunity to celebrate Thatcher’s death.

        Do I have any sympathy for her lasting image being people celebrating and ‘ding dong the..’ getting to number one in the charts? No. She oversaw the policy of attacking republican mourners including the deaths of people trying to pay their last respects. Others have other reasons for disliking her but that is my number one reason.

  9. giordanobruno July 15, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    Surely you are setting the PSNI an impossible task? Who should they arrrest for burning these images?
    The 14 year old who shinned (pardon the pun) up and put them there?
    His Dad? He will deny all knowledge
    The community leaders? They will say they are trying to stop such activities.
    Witnesses will be as short-sighted as the patrons of Magennis’s bar.
    I think it unlikely the PSNI have any love for these bonfires and their makers, but the problem is not so easy for them to solve..

    • Jude Collins July 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

      Gio – OK, I’ll accept that the PSNI may not have any love for these bonfires and their makers – MAY – and I’m not suggesting it’s easy to solve; but if you have a picture of a politician or politicians appearing year after year on bonfires, surely it’s not beyond the wit – if they have the will – of the PSNI to investigate and find out who was responsible? Just supposing some knuckle-draggers in W Belfast were repeatedly to burn effigies of unionist politicians, some in coffins, year after year – would the PSNI not move to investigate? Would SF/SDLP politicians remain silent on their contempt for such actions? You know the answer to that one, gio

      • giordanobruno July 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

        Were there many people arrested for burning effigies of Thatcher when she died?

        I am not suggesting these things should not be investigated I am simply saying it would be far from straightforward.
        How would they find out who is responsible? Give me a rough idea.
        You might have a picture on facebook of some lad with a scarf over his face setting fire to a poster of Gerry Adams, but beyond that where would you get evidence? It is a bit too easy to blame the PSNI who, don’t forget, have had plenty of confrontation with loyalism in recent years.
        On your general point about this behaviour,year after year, and failure by Unionist leaders to address it, I wholeheartedly agree.

        • Jude Collins July 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

          If unionist leaders are failing to address the problem, so are the PSNI. It’s one thing to burn the effigy of someone who’s dead (however distasteful), another to burn that of someone alive and a public representative. In fact in one case the Deputy First Minister of the state. And the police don’t even say they’d LIKE to do something, or that it’s an incitement to hatred – nothing. I take your point about PSNi being on the receiving end of loyalists, but isn’t there something weird that illegal organisations make it difficult/impossible for police to do their job? Sometimes I despair – seriously.

          • giordanobruno July 15, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

            I do share your despair.
            I think the police could be doing more in the building stage of these things,when children are plainly lighting smaller fires beside roads etc with no repercussions.
            If no individual or group of individuals is legally responsible for a bonfire then successfully prosecuting anyone would be very hard.
            Who would you arrest for burning an effigy?

    • Ceannaire July 15, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

      Gio, of course this would be difficult to police. But isn’t it about time that Unionist politicians, church men, business leaders etc condemned this and educated their people that this behaviour is not acceptable?
      The Unionist/Loyalist people need internal serious discussions to take place. Unionist leaders have been running away from this for too long.
      It’s not a problem for others to solve for them.

      • giordanobruno July 15, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

        I agree absolutely.
        My point was in regard to Jude’s criticism of the PSNI for not catching the culprits.
        Unless they are stupid enough to post video of themselves in the act I don’t see how they will be caught.
        And if a child is the one erecting the picture, who should be prosecuted?

        • Ceannaire July 15, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

          I’m glad we can agree, Gio. However, I think (and I can’t speak for Jude or others) that most would prefer education as opposed to criminalisation. Genuinely.

          We all agree that SOMETHING needs to be done – and quickly. I just wish that Unionist leaders would become persuaders, so to speak.

          Unionism/Loyalism has eyes that look but do not see.

  10. ANOTHER JUDE July 15, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    I don`t think Unionist politicians will ever condemn these people, Unionist `leaders` by and large think the same way as the bottom feeders who burn the tyres and throw the petrol bombs. Even a cursory listen to the words of Nelson McCausland or Gregory Campbell will show that to be the case. Campbell has made insulting remarks about the hunger strikers in the Stormont assembly, The weirdest sight of the whole sorry mess was that of an Orange leader engaging with the PSNI wearing his sash back to front, why? I do think it is better that Loyalists burn pictures and effigies rather than people or property, as has been the case in past years. During the Drumcree protests we had David Trimble discussing tactics with Billy Wright and so called `respectable` politicians like Jeffrey Donaldson helping to block roads. So I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies. One way to curb some of the excesses would be for the Orange Order to foot the bill for clearing the streets, it is ludicrous that rates payers who have no time for the Order and who see their religion insulted have to help cover the costs. A few big bills would soon make the Orange think long and hard about their actions every year.

  11. Séamus Ó Néill July 15, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    In total agreement AJ, money speaks all languages ( even Gaeilge ). If it was compulsory , before a march takes place, that one has to have ” Public Liability insurance ” and has to pay for the resulting cleanup ,police wages etc ,should things go askew ,similarly with bonfires ,I think reticence would set in and people would become more thoughtful …….this of course being applied across the board …. no exceptions

    • Jude Collins July 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

      Totally agree, AJ and Séamus. How come our law-makers haven’t given consideration to such an eminently sensible move??

      • sherdy July 15, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

        Ach Jude! Wise up, do you think any unionist politician is going to take any action which could be construed as being against the Orange Order and their bigoted bully boys?
        Never in a million years!

  12. Perkin Warbeck July 15, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    That the pallets piled as high as the sky in Northern I , Esteemed Blogmeister, may well not suit the palate of every guy and gal, not to meniton every ladyboy and pal is a given.

    Nonetheless, there is a disturbing tendency to assume that the blind eye (alleged) turned to the same bonfires down here in the FSS is evidence of a remote imprimatur. Nothing could be further from the t.

    In fact, one heard Frances Fitzgerald, TD of Fine Gael, our Minister of Justice on RTE Radio 1 as recently as today say she was in close consultation with her counterpart David Ford on some weighty imbroglio or other. to do with their common portfolios.

    As FG is the text for Effigy one is quietly confident that that the latter was soundly handbagged by the former over the Guy Fawksing of her fellow TD, G. Adams. (For one’s lady reader, bless her, Perkie’s inner fashionisto can reveal the h.b. of choice on this occasion was a Stella McCartney mini falabella faux fur tote bag).

    Simon Harris, TD of Fine Gael is another stark reminder of how FG is indeed the text for Effigy. Despite all appearances to the contrary, nonetheless there really is a pulse beneath his awesome straw boy exterior, be it a barely beating pulse itself.

    His silence on the effigy burning this Thirteenth of Never, has taken some observers unawares, as SH (which is decidedly not an abbreviation of Shhhhhhh. ) is generally recognised as the voluble Go-go Guy on the Government Benches when it comes to the Shinners and the stitching up thereof.

    Blessed as he is by Mother Nature with all the charm and charisma of an average domestic sewing machine, this stitching up of the Shinners is second n. to him. But then, there is a reason for this silence: our Junior Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform had had bigger mackerel to whack.

    He has been a busy boy of late, has our Simon.

    The cheek of the Greeks so piqued him that he fairly stitched it into them with all the geek-speak at this pipsqueaky clean disposal. And if he was to be critiqued on one aspect of his, erm, Harrisment – showing himself to be meek in the face of one particular Hellenic Fellow – well, time will tell a different story in due course in this regard.

    Beware, Phil the Greek (for it is he !) your time is nigh !

    For, not only was Simon the Pieman throwing custard pies at the opposite end of the, erm, European Project but indeed, he has been doing ditto at the back end of the last millennium itself.. One can only begin to grasp the full extent of his Winning Streak in the past week by scanning this headline :

    -Junior Minister Harris welcomes the repeal of 6,000 obsolete laws on the Statute Book.

    Among the appealing 6,000 (the Big Six as distinct from the Wee Six) laws, the repeal of which will entitle us down here in the Free Southern Stateen, to:

    -Badmouth the marriage of Fat Harry to Anne Boleyn; (1533)

    -Not claim the reward for the capture of ‘arch-traitor’ and OTR, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tryone (1601);

    -Ignore the proclamation ordering all Taigues along with their bags and baggage to hightail it pronto from their newly confiscated lands during the Plantation of Ulster (1618).

    This appealing Repeal gives the lie to that old RC myth that St. Patricia banished all ‘snaking regarders’ from the Free Southern Stateen.

    It is perhaps apropos that one now fast forwards to the proclamation of 1817 which indicated that ‘the consumption of spuds and oatmeal be confined to the lower orders’.

    Which brings one neatly to what the youngest male Fine Gael TD has his gimlet eye ultimately on: the seat currently accommodating the bottom of the oldest, oops, least youngest female Fine Gael TD (see above).

    The Mother of the House, as it were, and whose praises Simon H is never tires of singing in the corridors of p. Well, what else does one expect from a sewing machine but a, erm, singer.

    Take it away, Simon the Appalling:

    ‘She is just the sort of creature boys
    That nature did intend
    To walk right though the world me boys
    Without the Grecian bend’.

    (No fan of Athens, Frances the Fine Gael gal).

    ‘Nor does she wear a chignon
    I’ll have you all to know
    And I met her in the garden
    Where the Kuwatis sew’.

    IThe last line used to contain the p-word for ‘praities’ but CJH soon put a stop to that: Ole Charlie le Bon Viveur would have no truck with all that ‘folk memory of the Famine’ tosh).

    Simon Harris, TD, Fine Gael will not sit aisy till he becomes as the youngest ever Minister for James Robertson Justice in the FSS. A position which, alas, such is the gravitas required, demands a beard, unless there is a Referendum to repeal the Constitution. (Doing anything, Tuesday week?).

    Still young Simon, once his voice begins to break, he starts to shave and his bones commence to set completely, will be just Right for the job.

    We’ll see then just how keen our separated Breds will be to burn the effigies of Simon’s fellow TD.

    Tiocfaidh ar Law !

    • sherdy July 15, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

      Perkie, Frances may be in consultation with David about some possible legislative changes, but if they are not in the interests of the DUP and their loyalist bully boys, it will not happen.

      • Perkin Warbeck July 16, 2015 at 9:06 am #

        Both North and South, Sherdy, a chara.

        Confucius say: it take two to Black ‘n Tango.

  13. Roy July 15, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Obviously Unionist politicians incendiary remarks (pun intended) and actions toward their political opponents throughout the year stoke the smoldering hatreds of the loyalist vulgus.

    Tom Elliot’s ‘scum’ remarks
    Gregory Campbell’s ‘curry my yoghurt’ and constant berating of All things Irish.
    The childish behavior of DUP members in the assembly who refuse to act civilly toward their political opponents.

    And I know before you reply Neil, that Gerry’s ‘breaking the bastards down’ remark didn’t exactly endear himself or his party to the Unionist community.

    So, is one side as bad as the other?
    To paraphrase John Giles, you have to take each side on its merits.
    In the whole, the nationalist and republican community has had the hand outstretched to Unionism for the last 19 years.
    First was conceding of the Unionist veto, allowing a minority on the island of Ireland to override the wishes of the majority of the Irish people for sovereignty.
    Even though the Union flag was removed from City Hall, Sinn Féin councillors still voted to fly it.
    Moreover, they have attended commemorations of British war dead, something that would have been anathema some years ago.
    Peace and reconciliation programs always seem to be initiated from nationalist and republican communities.
    How have the Unionst community responded?
    Well, it might be unfair to say, not an inch, but certainly fair to say, less than an inch.

    Unionist politicians need to be prodded ( no pun intended this time) into having ‘uncomfortable conversation’ with the nationalist community, and stop biting the hands that are trying to reach out to them.
    Otherwise, Jude will be blogging about Orange intolerance 10 years from now, and I know Neil, you could do without having to read that.

  14. Iolar July 15, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    The proconsul has returned to lecture mode in relation to the ‘two sides’ in this part of the world. British policies helped create the annual ‘sectarian hatefest’ with the associated loss of millions of pounds arising out of civil disorder. To date, British policy in Ireland is part of the problem. Sectarianism and racism remain potent symptoms of partition.

  15. Ryan July 16, 2015 at 12:43 am #

    “Oh Jude! you silly billy! That’s not hate of the other community, that’s just culture! I repeat its CULTURE. Its “culture” to burn the neighbouring. communities flag. Its “culture” to burn politicians images because they hold a different political view to you. Its “culture” to chant sectarian songs and dance around a bonfire off your head on drink and/or drugs. Its “culture” to deliberately provoke and offend the neighbouring community to play sectarian tunes passing their area and parade around in circles outside Catholic Chapels. Its all part of a rich history and “culture” of the PUL community!”

    Ok, i’ll stop pretending to be my Loyalist twitter friends now and get back to being Ryan.

    Unionists/Loyalists say all this is “culture”, which anyone in their right mind knows its not, its just sheer bigotry and hatred. The Unionist politicians refuse to speak out for a number of reasons. The first mainly because they are afraid of losing votes. The second because they are afraid of being called the ever eternally shameful “Lundy”. And third because they more or less have no issue with the hate and maybe even support such actions, as many a DUP member has made clear in the past.

    Now the PSNI are our police force, apparently, they are meant to uphold law and order without fear or favour. This they do not do when it comes to the 12th period when Loyalists/Unionists suddenly become exempt from the Law (but there again Camp Twaddell was illegally set up and is still there after 2 years so theres an argument loyalists are exempt from some laws all year round). I seen an image of a bonfire on a main road. Yes, I repeat that, a main road and the police actually took “selfies” with the bonfire in the background. I also seen an image of a PSNI officer getting his picture took with a UFF mural (which the PSNI are currently investigating) and obviously we all saw the numerous hate crimes being committed on bonfires in numerous areas. The PSNI done NOTHING to combat all these crimes being committed, so serious questions need to be asked of the PSNI, such as why they refused to take action.

    I think we can all breath a sigh of relief that the 12th period is over but we can all be certain that next years expression of “culture” wont be any better than the last….

  16. Emmet July 16, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    I just read that two men were charged with waving Irish flags at loyalists. Is this real or is someone having a laugh? I give up on the PSNI if this is true. After ignoring the truly illegal flag, burning of all sorts of things , then to get charge with flag waving?