Children, Lurgan republican dissidents and the Boys’ Brigade

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 09.31.09

I had an interesting virtual experience yesterday. As you’ve probably done yourself, I was avoiding working by mooching through Twitter, when I came on a retweet by Brian John Spencer the cartoonist. I know and like Spencer (though not well enough to know if he’s called Brian or John or Brian John) so it caught my attention. It was a picture of a dissident republican group in Lurgan, with full paramilitary uniform and masks, standing with their back to the camera. Nearest the camera was a little girl in a dress; in the ranks of the paramilitaries was a smaller figure which I concluded was a young woman, but which Brian John Spencer’s retweet seemed to suggest was a child.”Shocking images of children at masked march in Lurgan” the caption said. So in a moment of bored irresponsibility, I put up an image of some members of the Boys’ Brigade marching behind a banner, with the comment ‘A bit like this, then?’

To borrow a presidential phrase:Wow.   The twittersphere lit up with abuse of all kinds, unanimously directed at your humble scribe. I wasn’t described as a spawn of Satan but I was described as disgusting, old, half-witted and more. So it set me thinking: are there in fact any parallels between what Brian John Spencer appeared to be suggesting, that Lurgan children were being somehow inducted into the dissident ranks, and the Boys’ Brigade?

Well the nomenclature of the Boys’ Brigade is obviously modeled on the military: it’s a brigade, there are companies and divisions, they have different ranks, they march, they emphasise discipline and obedience.

The militarism link with the Boys’ Brigade isn’t exactly new. In 1938, at the annual gymkhana of the Greenock Battalion of the Brigade in Greenock Town Hall, the local paper reports that Captain E J O’Brien Croker, superintendent of the Royal Naval Torpedo factory, expressed regret that “there should be today a certain number of people who suggests that the Boys’ Brigade was not desirable, basing their argument on the view that drill might instill ideas of militarism in the boys’ minds.” The Captain rejected this, and that the drills and exercises of the Boys’ Brigade were likely to prejudice the chances of peace. If all men were thoroughly disciplined, he said, the possibilities of war would be more removed than ever, because it was just the lack of discipline that was at the bottom of all trouble.

You’ll find other writers on the subject who accept that the Boys’ Brigade were led in the past by soldiers, that they wore uniform, learnt discipline and obedience, and in some cases drilled with weapons; but they emphasize that the BB rejected (and I’m sure rejects)  claims of militarism. “Can a child wear a uniform, carry a weapon and hold a military rank without being encouraged to absorb military values? The leader of the major Victorian and Edwardian uniformed youth movements certainly claimed they could, but many commentators, at the time and since, have disagreed”.

Certainly the Boys’ Brigade are aware of this claim. In a report in the Sunday Times of 12 February 2006, Marc Horne has an article under the heading ‘Boys’ Brigade tries to shake off military image’. He says that the Brigade is launching a £215,000 rebranding exercise. This will involve considering ditching the blue uniform, replacing military exercises with such things as football and computer games.

The Boy Scouts, an organisation often mentioned in the same breath as the Boys’ Brigade, has also carried militaristic overtones. In an article entitled “Baden-Powell, Militarism and the ‘Invisible Contributors’ to the Boy Scout Scheme’, Martin Dedman of Middlesex University cites those scholars who argue the militarism case at all seriously “have tended to find in scouting more militaristic features than its advocates would admit’.

The founder of the Boy Scouts, Baden-Powell, at the start of his book Scouting for Boys, declares “Every boy ought to learn how to shoot and obey orders, else he is no more good when war breaks out than an old woman.”

I’m sure it’s true that the Boy Scouts and the Boys’ Brigade have developed from this early militarism, but it’s flying in the face of historical fact to go ballistic when someone suggests that at least in its origins, there might be military parallels.

Incidentally, the militaristic seems to join with the colonial in another statement Baden-Powell made regarding the lesser breeds without the law:

“The stupid inertness of the puzzled negro is duller than that of an ox; a dog would grasp your meaning in one-half the time. Men and brothers! They may be brothers, but they are certainly not men”.

And incidentally 2: I will be on Talkback shortly after 12 noon, when William Crawley will throw me to the lions…



75 Responses to Children, Lurgan republican dissidents and the Boys’ Brigade

  1. angela June 1, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    Ha Ha Jude ….You’re causing Outrage Outrage….the people are Horrified I tell you.

  2. fiosrach June 1, 2016 at 9:56 am #

    Oh Jude,Jude, have put the cat among the pigeons now. What is this obsession that the colonials have with marching and ‘parading’? Why must older men insist on dressing their own and other children up as mini soldiers. They parade at all the colonist’s military gatherings at the cenotaph etc. Like the BP scouts they are junior versions of the various lodges and are totally alien to Irish society. Of course they may do good work but why must they behave in a para military fashion to do it? I doubt if you’ll ever see the biggest show in the country again.

    • Sherdy June 1, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

      ‘I doubt if you’ll ever see the biggest show in the country again’.
      Think again, Fios, Nolan needs sensational headlines to keep his ratings up, and if Jude is helping that aim, he’ll be as regular as Thomas from north Belfast or George from the Shankill.
      He might have even earned himself an increased appearance fee!

  3. paddykool June 1, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    Oh dear …and there was me thinking that I’d stepped into deep doodoo by spelling Lazarus of Bethany , “Lazurus” in large capital letters.I blame it on the heat , consoling myself that a hundred Biblical scholars will soon point out that it is ,in fact, a translation from the Greek , roughly appearing as “Eleazar”…. and anyway….twice as many will be unaware of my error….I’ll know though!
    Anyway Jude ..whether these groups are good or bad they are either educating or some might say indoctrinating little children from an early age .It can be argued that these groups provide discipline and team-spirit but it’s that old Jesuit thing of “Give me the child and I’ll give you the man”. Every parent does something like this to a greater or lesser degree. I’m not a joiner of groups myself but I have only myself to congratulate or blame for bringing my own children up on a diet of Bob Dylan during their childhood and subsequent lives. I suppose if they were asked , they would heartily thank me for that grounding now , having introduced them to music, poetry, literature, blues , country and folk music , alongside a set of humanistic values that made them think for themselves rather than think as a committee.It really depends on the parents’ personalities and the direction direction the parent takes.
    Anyway…. Jude good luck with your “fair share of abuse”…I’m away out into the sunshine to build a raised garden bed….and smell the flowers!

  4. Gerard June 1, 2016 at 10:24 am #

    You’re a brave man Jude, I’ll be listening in……and egging you on….at least in spirit.

  5. allenh June 1, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    rightly thrown to the lions methinks for being a man of incredibly unsound judgement.

    • Sherdy June 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

      I agree with you Allen, about his unsound judgment – someone Jude’s age should know better than to tell the truth on Twitter!

  6. Paul June 1, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Don’t know what all the fuss is about. Sure wasn’t it great to have all these young people trained and ready to be sent to the trenches in France to be slaughtered while the puppet masters were safely out of reach.

  7. Belfastdan June 1, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    I do recall that the BB used to sport head wear, pillbox caps, that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the days of empire.
    In the early days they drilled with dummy rifles and copied their rank system from that fine example of Christian living the good old BA.
    As I say Jude you only really get a reaction when you touch a tender spot.

  8. Perkin Warbeck June 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    One wonders which of the pair, P.P. or B.P., Esteemed Blogmeister, had the greater influence on the boys of Ireland during the last century:

    -Padraig Pearse or Baden-Powell?

    Not sure about Norneverland, but down here in the Free Southern Stateen, it’s a no filter or strainer: Baden-Powell.

    There are those, of course, who will argue that the opposite is true, but that’s so much gammon and hash, If one is to put one’s faith in stats. A scientific study lasting say – seven nano seconds max – will come up with a ratio something along the following lines:

    -Membership of Fianna Eireann: 1

    -Membership of Boys Scouts of Ireland: 1916.

    Of course, for most of that time the Boy Scouts of Ireland in the Free Southern Stateen were known as the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland. But, in the goodness of time, both the Catholic and the boy parts were dropped and it is now simply known as : Scouting Ireland.

    The dropping of the Catholic prefix in particular was of no consequence. The association has continued to do what it has always done best: holding Jamborees, making knots, preventing forest fires, being on the eternal qui vive, boiling water in billycans, identifying different animal droppings, singing outdoor songs around campfires and attempting to erect tents on a windy day on exposed hillsides.

    Down here south of the Black Sow’s Dyke, we have just come off a hoopla high-fiving the hundred years of Easter 1916 during which an inordinate amount of scrutiny was focused on Pearse’s twin fascination with (a) writing poems about young boys and (b) the taking of potshots.

    Who for instance penned the following:

    -He who has my secrets
    Is not fit to touch you;
    Is not that a pitiful thing
    Little lad of the tricks?

    Pearse ? Correct, first time. Well, second time, anyway. This is the translation which limed the hoglight.

    But, the thing is, it might well have been written by old (gulp) Baden-Powell himself.

    Consider the following: during his schooldays in Charterhouse (a public school catering for the, erm, private sector) B-P became addicted to playing female roles in the school productions, so much so, he even took to making his own dresses and in doing so, earned the sobriquet (gasp) ‘Maiden-Powell’.

    This was a amateur dramatic hobby which he carried through to his career in Her Majesty’s Forces and which caused his name be mentioned in, erm, ‘less orthodox dispatches’. It was his heroic exploits during the course of the Boer War that he first experienced the anachronistic light-bulb moment to start the Boy Scout Movement.

    (This was the same war during the course of which, of course, ‘internment’ made its debut).

    Unlike Pearse, Bade- Powell was married – to a woman. Lady Olave Baden Powell, not unlike a recent most gracious and welcome visitor to our shores, Lady Camilla, was a constant reminder to all who had the joy and privilege of meeting her homely self that, erm, beauty is no shallow quality. And whose most enduring endowment is more than just skin deep.

    In 1941 Baden-Powell passed over while living in tranquil retirement in Nyrei, Kenya at the all too early age of 83 . For some reason (possibly unknown) his grave has been declared a ‘national monument’ in Kenya.

    There is a museum of the Boy Scout Movement in Irving, Texas.

    (Lee Harvey Oswald was a native of Irving, Tx. Though it is not known if he was a boyscout).

    It its believed there are a number of tell-all biogs about this most influential hero of the Hibernian half-pinthood in the bog-oak monolith, in the process of being penned by competing Irish academics.

    One of which is, erm, provisionally titled :

    -Baden-Powell: Hero or Anti-hero?

    And another, in Leprechaun:

    -Bi ullamh, Olave !

    While a third is rumoured to be (provisionally) called:

    -B-Powell: a Timely Kick.

  9. truthrevisionist June 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm #


    Nothing less than a disgraceful ‘entrapment’ for a ‘mob lynching’ is the only way I can describe this afternoons’ Talkback programme.

    The ‘Orange State’ once again rounded on a dissenting voice who made an entirely ‘fair, honest and reasoned’ comment. – Without scrutiny or measured digest, they piled on the usual barrage of ‘shock and horror’ at an observation which unveiled the covert nature of one of many historic, seemingly innocuous projects, socially engineered into the fabric of this,- the six county state. – Namely the ‘protestant’ Boys’ Brigade.

    Whilst accepting as you did, that the organisation was probably a ‘fine christian’ youth group projecting ‘Christian’ values, it is – IN THIS STATE – a ‘protestant unionist fine christian youth group’.

    The only friends that I ever had growing up in Belfast in 1960’s, were protestants, and as a catholic child living in a protestant area, I was forbidden to join because I was a ‘taig’.

    Not that it matters, but in the interests of balance I would also say that most of these ex-friends and protestant Boys Brigade Christians went on to join the UDA and UVF. One became a leader.

    I cannot remember any catholic Boys Brigade members joining the IRA.
    In fact I cannot remember any catholic Boys Brigade members.

    Which brings me to the ‘Militaristic’ truth, that you were not permitted to divulge- (nor would you ever be) – due to constant interruptions and sideswipes from the ‘unionist’ Mr Crawley.

    This ‘militarisation’ of children has always been a central hub of Empire construction.
    Youth movements like scouts, boys brigade, girl guides, Hitler youth etc. serve as early induction programmes for impressionable youngsters, to sow the seeds of future corporate military ventures.

    Although married with three children, it has been well documented that Robert Baden Powell, a practising homosexual, had a fondness for young boys,- (‘especially if they were ‘skinny dipping’). – Rising to the rank of Lieutenant General in Britain’s colonial wars, this ‘debauchee’ military man, like his paedophile cohorts, Lord Kitchener and King Edward VII, often used his organisation to ‘scout’ fresh talent for the British Empires’ paedophile elite’.

    The essence of using youth organisations to foster Christian values was always a smokescreen for organised militaristic discipline, as part of the out workings of freemasonry at the time, as they provided a fertile base to nurture future cannon fodder for wars and mass slavery. (See Kincora, William McGrath and Tara etc.)

    This early ‘disciplinarian’ indoctrination of children had therefore fulfilled the dual needs of the elite at the time – namely immorality and imperialism. Does it still go on? Of course it does.

    And so it is, that when when viewed against this historic backdrop, that any critical observer must see, that what you tweeted was entirely correct. – That dressing a child up in any uniform will always have a context, a purpose and usually a political outworking.

    I’m pleased you did not apologise. Truth has nothing to fear from scrutiny and never needs an apology.

    • Michael clarke June 1, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

      What a lot of bollocks!
      I’ve never seen such a jaundiced view comparing youth groups to Hitler youth and being blamed and mirroring the evils of the 20/21 century.
      Discipline and uniforms in kids is central to schools and all sporting organizations, not just youth organizations who as you imply breed imperialism and control.
      The BB was founded in the 19th century in Scotland to help the poor kids in Gladgow and discipline was central to the success.
      It’s an organization which is attached to a church and will predominantly attract a Protestant catchment, how many Catholic kids went to Sunday school.
      This doesn’t make it a bad organization, I dont think too many Protestants would of joined the GAA (both organizations are moving on)
      The BB isn’t run along the same lines as the military, your blurred view is inaccurate, the closest thing is the Combined Cadet Force, who dress in military fatigues, go on maneuvers and fire air rifles.
      I’ve been a member in both and not one of my BB mates joined any paramilitary group either.
      Bringing sexuality into the discussion. Is so contemptable, you have no evidence of any sexual impropriety.
      Jude Collins might if thought he was being light hearted, he would of deeply offended many people who work with young people as volunteers and would take exception of their organization being compared to an illegal paramilitary group.

      • truthrevisionist June 2, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

        Michael Clarke

        The BB was’ founded in the 19th century in Scotland’ -NOT- to help the ‘poor kids in Scotland’, – but rather to begin the long process of enslavement of their minds, to play their role, in preparation for future World Wars, fought at the behest of jewish bankers and European aristocratic families, to be used in an orgy of mass slaughter, in order to redefine geo-political boundaries and steal land and natural rescources.

        Your forefathers in the BB were all victims of this crooked lie and scam of the ‘Rich Man’.

        The sexual depravity- (mainly paedophilia and sodomy) -of many of the ‘militaristic’ and ‘political’ establishment figures of the period and subsequent generations of their brethren,, is well documented – and there is much independent empirical evidence available – if you care to take the time, as I do, to open your mind and consult these sources.

  10. fiosrach June 1, 2016 at 1:47 pm #

    I wonder how much the membership of the BB and the junior Orange Order overlap. Fine Christian men doing fine Christian things.

    • Ryan June 1, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

      Good question fiosrach.

  11. fiosrach June 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    Well done standing up to Crawley and the rest.

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 2:22 pm #

      Grma, fiosrach. Nothing like the smell of napalm in the early afternoon…

      • paddykool June 1, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

        Ha ha …my favourite scene !

  12. James Hunter June 1, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    You are a.brave

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

  13. Joe Bloggs June 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    The links are obvious! Scripture readings and camping trips to the Mournes is basically exactly the same as shooting prison wardens in cold blood.

    That’s the Orange State media for you!

    • BYC June 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

      That reminds me of this;

      Two men prosecuted in Derry for attacking a Salvation Army band they mistook for “Orange B******s”.

      Their own defence said “it was hard to think of another incidence of such “ignorance and stupidity” and the court was “not only dealing with two stupid individuals but two who had not taken the time to notice the make up of our society”.

      Wonder what the defence would say about Jude’s comparison.

      Anyway everyone knows that the whole point of the Boys Brigade is that its the boring Presbyterian churchy version of the boy scouts with far too many prayers and not nearly enough rock climbing and knots.

  14. Peter June 1, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    My father declined to enrol me (if that’s the right term) as either a scout or altar boy, so I didn’t join like so many other family or friends.

    Seeing now how many paedos are part of those organisations, I’m glad Dad had the foresight.

    And back to the original discussion, no, the scouts or boys brigade (or girl guides if they have them here) aren’t really the equivalent of actual practicing paramilitary organisations, just because some kids in the former grew up and then joined the latter.

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

      I’m sure you’ll have gathered I have never suggested such a thing, Pater…

  15. Willie D. June 1, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    The B.B. was/is a youth group primarily associated with the Presbyterian Church, it is organised in Companies and while the structure is superficially military, it is in no way a militaristic organisation, nor is it specifically Unionist, as there is no political content in its philosophy. The superficial military structure is a consequence of its late 19th century origins and is shared by both Protestant and Catholic scouting organisations and the Salvation Army. I was a member for 7 years, its chief aim was to turn me into a good Christian, it probably failed in that as my main reason for joining was to socialise with my friends and play football. To read some of the people on this site you would think it was a branch of the Waffen S.S.!

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

      I think that may be overstating it a bit, Willie D. I accept completely that many people like yourself had a good time in the BB; I just find it odd that people are in total denial of its militaristic origins. Both the BB founder and Baden-Powell of the Boy Scouts were intent on producing manly lads, who’d have the skills – including use of weapons – to face up to the enemy/next war. I also find it almost amusing that people insist that they know what I’ve said even though I quote what I said again and again. Very instructive of human nature, that…

      • MT June 2, 2016 at 11:57 am #

        ” I just find it odd that people are in total denial of its militaristic origins.”

        Who’s in denial about its militaristic origins and how are militaristic origins relevant to the BB today?

        • Willie D. June 2, 2016 at 3:02 pm #

          That was the point I was making, when I was in the B.B. (late 60s to early 70s) there was certainly no militarism. In my seven years I attended one Sunday church parade, we never attended any military commemorations and there were no formal, or informal, connections with the military. I’m sure Jude didn’t wish to offend anyone, my reaction on hearing his remarks was to laugh, the connection made between the B.B. and Republican dissidents just seemed completely bizarre and inappropriate. Twitter seems to lend itself to “Katie Hopkins syndrome,” where you feel obliged to say more and more extreme things in order to get attention. So it was “job done” from that perspective.

    • fiosrach June 1, 2016 at 3:29 pm #

      Why do they attend all the military commemorations,then?

  16. Scott June 1, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Rough day at the office Jude, I’m glad William took a few of the punches towards the end of the interview for you as it was becoming painful to listen too. You also made the DUP man sound like the voice of reason which is no mean feat.

    I don’t think you truly believe that the Dissidents parade and the BB are comparable but it was just a bad ill judged remark. That’s fine though since we all make mistakes, as they say they crucified the only perfect man.

    If I’d been in your shoes I would have just gave an unconditional apology took my hit and moved on.

    But it’s up to each man how he deals with things I guess.

    Fair play to you for going on talkback though that took guts.

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words at the end at least, Scott. Guts? I think not. I am by nature a devout coward – always have been, always will be. But I think you are insisting on the same thing as my many hostile callers – that I compared the BB with a violent paramilitary organisation. Not so. Read the blog, replay the interview. I drew a parallel (‘a bit like this’) between the ‘shocking’ scene of children with a violent group (children who were conspicuous by their absence in the images I saw) to the relationship of children in the BB to that organisation. Not one person who argued against me was prepared to admit that there had ever been anything even remotely militaristic about the BB, even though I quoted several critics who said it had more than a touch of militarism to it, and one report which had the BB spending over £200K on a re-branding in 2006 in an attempt to shed militaristic associations. Who would spend that money on something that didn’t exist?

      • Scott June 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

        But why draw that “parallel” (which basically has the same meaning as comparison) between children at a illegal dissident parade and the BB if all you wanted to mention was the military past (which is from the Victorian era)? It’s a bad way to bring up a history lesson.

        I don’t know much about the history of the BB, but I do know that Baden-Powell set up the scouts after the Boer war as he found his men, who were from the industrial cities, were physically weaker and had lower endurance than that Afrikaner commandos they faced.

        I also know that the British military was disappointed that Baden-Powell gave his Scout movement a focus more on being good citizens rather than soldiering.

        Your a savy enough guy Jude surely you can see how bringing any link between terrorist and kids is ill judged. This is why I think it was just a mistake.

      • Sherdy June 1, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

        Jude, a softer target might have been a comparison with Orange Order parades which involve children even younger than the girl in the photo in question.
        These children are dressed up and parade with lodges and bands which are totally anti-nationalist/Catholic, and often supporting or representing loyalist paramilitary organisations.
        I wonder how many howls and shrieks of horror that comparison might have elicited!

      • MT June 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

        “I drew a parallel (‘a bit like this’) between the ‘shocking’ scene of children with a violent group (children who were conspicuous by their absence in the images I saw) to the relationship of children in the BB to that organisation. ”

        Indeed. That means you think membership of the BB is a bit like taking part in a dissident terror rally. Madness.

    • truthrevisionist June 1, 2016 at 3:24 pm #


      Slaves like you will always encourage ‘croppies’ to ‘lie down’ and apologise for uttering ‘truths’ that are ‘verboten’. A bit of ‘sackcloth and ashes’ goes a long way in placating Big House Unionism and is ‘encouraging’ to them, when the ‘fenians’ are getting a bit ‘uppity’.

      No apologies needed. Jude held his own, despite being ambushed at every turn.

      Uniforms – Fact !

      Militarism – Fact !

      Christianity – ???????

      • Scott June 1, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

        Not very nice language their Mr Truthrevisionist

        Uniforms-fact (ambulance, firemen and Salvation Army wear uniforms but aren’t compared to the INLA)

        Militarism-fact (If you go back into there Victorian history yes)

        Christianity- well considering they are run by churches of all denominations and teach bible studies there’s gotta be a bit of Christianity in there somewhere.

        Comparable or a ‘parallel’ to the any terrorist organisation- not one bit.

        Since the BB is interdenominational those young lads Jude put the photos up of could have been Catholics for all we know so I don’t see what unionism or nationalism or religions got to do with it.

        • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

          I shouldn’t have put that photo up.For that i DO indeed apologise.

  17. Steph Boyd June 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

    In printing the words you did under that picture of course you were deliberately attempting, and did, stir the pot. You sought a reaction and boy you got one. To describe a Christian organisation as a bit like Dissident IRA groups is a disgrace. All the BB did for my sons was to teach them, along with us their parents, Christian ways, community responsibility, physical fitness, obedience and self worth and responsibility. They certainly never learnt hatred, bigotry and murderous intent on a Monday night. “A bit like this then.” I don’t think so.

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

      Steph – if I had done what you say – described the BB as a bit like a dissident IRA group – it would indeed have been disgraceful. My comparison was in fact between the link that was being reported as ‘shocking’ in Lurgan and the link between young people and the BB, which is modelled on militarism. I keep saying this and people keep ignoring it so you have the privilege, Steph, of being the last one I’ll point it out to.

      • MT June 2, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

        “My comparison was in fact between the link that was being reported as ‘shocking’ in Lurgan and the link between young people and the BB, which is modelled on militarism. I keep saying this and people keep ignoring it so you have the privilege, Steph, of being the last one I’ll point it out to.”

        So you admit that you think the “link” between young people and the BB (ie membership ) is “a bit like ” the “link” between young people and the dissident parade (ie their involvement in a terror rally).
        Not sure how that’s any different or less objectionable than the accusation that you reject, namely that you think the BB is “a bit like” dissident terrorist groups.

    • Ryan June 1, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

      I don’t know Steph, we often hear of so many groups described as “Christian” but yet nearly all of them turn out to be anything but…….

      Jude may have “stirred the pot” but what is your issue with that? He’s entitled to his opinion as is everyone else. Everyone “stirs the pot”, indeed I try to “stir the pot” as much as i possibly can, I love a good stirred pot……it opens up interesting debates and arguments.

      I don’t support Dissident Republicans but they aren’t exactly the root of all the issues here. All this talk of dissident republicans but yet the UVF/UDA, as confirmed by the Chief Constable, are still armed, still active, still engaged in crime, still engaged in drug dealing, still engaged in violence (including racist and sectarian attacks) and still engaged in murder, mostly against Protestants. Despite all this the DUP and Secretary of State still like to pose for pictures with UDA commanders in Bangor and ask the Executive to bypass normal procedure to get them grants…..

      • Twinbrook Lad June 1, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

        Bravo Ryan!

  18. ANOTHER JUDE June 1, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    Well done Jude for refusing to change your opinions, the sight of those boys brigades mini nazis and all the other imperialistic clap trap we have to witness on our streets is irritating to say the least. We have just been subjected to what can only be describes as a world war one wankathon over a stupid and pointless `battle` at Jutland. Christians getting together to remember the poor unfortunates who gave their lives so that members of the royal family could spend their lazy days in splendour, being idolised by the plebs.

    • giordanobruno June 1, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

      The boys brigade are mini nazis now? Catch a grip.
      I would suggest Jude should remove such a nasty comment but sadly he ignores me these days.

      • ANOTHER JUDE June 2, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

        Waving flags, marching youths, blaming the Catholics rather than the Jews, there are many similarities between the nazis and lots of the marching groups in the north. If the shoe fits….

        • giordanobruno June 2, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

          We are talking about the Boys Brigade here.
          Breathtaking stuff!

  19. giordanobruno June 1, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Fair play to Jude for going on talkback, but it was not his best day.
    Having a go at the BB for goodness sake. Another blow for freedom!

    Once again it shows the perils of twitter. A throwaway remark without nuance requires subsequent explanation and partial apology, or at least that slightly weasley expression, ‘regret if anyone took offence’ .

  20. jonny lundu June 1, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Jude please stop pointing out the double standards, it just isnt cricket old boy.

  21. Wolfe tone June 1, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    I could send you plenty of pictures of adolescent kids in military uniform endeavouring to entice other kids in schools to join them in ‘seeing the world’. The ‘murder machine’ hasn’t gone away you know. Integrated education anyone?

  22. michael c June 1, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

    As far as I know,the BB take part in remembrance ceremonies which involves marching alo ngside members of the British army and during the troubles the UDR and paramilitary RUC.That should’nt happen in the same way as children should’nt march with the beer belly sporting dissos in Lurgan.The closest those clowns in Lurgan ever came to action was staggering to the local Chinese takeaway on the way home from “freeing Ireland” in the local pub.

  23. Eamon June 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm #

    Jude I think you are 100% right. It is clear that the BB have militaristic overtones and history. You didn’t compare BB to inla organisation.

  24. Iolar June 1, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    It would appear that shocking images of a child with KAT in the colours of the British flag painted on her forehead at a Twelfth of July party in July 2014, did not appear to shock or provoke as many in the community.

  25. Ryan June 1, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

    Its just the usual unionist hypocritical nonsense. I don’t agree with any child dressed up in military gear of any kind but it goes on everywhere. You have cadets in the British Army and other armies. The outrage isn’t because its a child in military uniform/gear, its because its REPUBLICAN uniform/gear. If this was a UVF parade with kids dressed up in military uniform (and I have seen photos of that) the whole of political Unionism will suddenly go deaf and blind, much like when Ruth Patterson (then a DUP elected representative) paid tribute to two UDA terrorist commanders in South Belfast 2 years ago, both of whom were behind the Sean Graham’s bookies massacre. Or when the UVF put Loyalist emblems in a Garden of Remembrance dedicated to WW1 dead, a spokesman for UKIP said he didn’t have an issue with it, whilst the DUP/UUP remained silent. Its best just to laugh at political Unionism and carry on.

    Its also very common to see children with orange sashes on at Orange Parades. We all know what the Orange Order is, its a deeply sectarian, anti-Catholic organisation. Is this not indoctrination? Why no outrage? If it was a child at a KKK parade with a white hood there would be universal condemnation, why not when the Orange Order do similar?….

  26. Sammy McNally June 1, 2016 at 6:42 pm #


    Comparisons are always open to interpretation and misinterpretation – and it leaves it open to those opposed to the point you are making to seize on what you are saying for their own purposes..

    With that in mind – I think it fair to compare you to Boris Johnson – though I’m not suggesting you are overweight, have blonde hair, are a right wing Tory, are an expert on Roman History or Churchill or were a member of the Bullingdon club or want to take Davey Cameron’s job or support Brexit – just that you like Boris both made comparisons between relatively benign organisations and somewhat less benign one – in his case the EU and the Nazis.

    Boris held his ground and explained the point he was making – good to see you like Boris are doing the same.

  27. Sammy McNally June 1, 2016 at 8:41 pm #


    I seem to remember you stoutly defending my post about the orange Order and Easyjet on Talkback when I suggested similarities between the ethnic tensions stirred up by Orange Parades and those that would be stirred up in the former Yugoaslavia – if either the Serbs or Croats decided to organise the equivalent of Oranges marches there – and a damn good job you made of it too- in spite of much Unionist indignation about such a comparison.

    • Jude Collins June 1, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

      Thank you, Sammy. YOU are too kind…

  28. Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr June 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm #

    “If your explaining…… your loosing”

    The real narrative here is the media trying to turn the ever expanding Catholic Nationalist community against anything remotely republican whilst at the same time avoiding rank hypocrisy from unionism. Its almost like the media are controlled by some folk with a political agenda……

    Hey look over there !

    • giordanobruno June 2, 2016 at 7:47 am #

      Dr Michael
      How did the evil media trick Jude into making such a silly remark?
      And how do they control all the responses on social media as well as the msm?

      • jessica June 2, 2016 at 8:11 am #

        “How did the evil media trick Jude into making such a silly remark?
        And how do they control all the responses on social media as well as the msm?”

        Once again, you are asking the wrong questions gio.

        I never seen the programs but have read the comments here carefully and Jude has continuously said it was not a comparison between the BB and dissidents, but how the media can shout about how shocking it is for children to be subjected to militarism where those involved are despised by popular media, but where a Christian organisation allows adults to hand out toy rifles to children and to put them through army style drills it is ok.

        I never knew this was happening and am glad at least so many are now aware off it thanks to Jude.

        If this is continuing it needs to stop.

        More evidence of the blinkered bias towards what unionism can get away with over here.

        When will it ever end?

        As for all the responses against Jude. It only reinforces my opinion of how bigoted unionism actually is and makes me wonder when it will ever start making any effort to change opinions within its own community.

        People like young Scott make me think I have unionism all wrong and things have obviously changed among younger generation, but the older unionists seem to be as bitter as ever and are still far too selective over what they will condemn.

  29. Mark Toman June 1, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    I cannot understand the reasoning in your tweet.I served for 30years in a uniformed organisation,with rank structure,discipline,drills,naval practices,saluting senior officers and other various military customs.i.e.good conduct awards and medals for bravery etc.I don’t think anyone with a titter of wit would call the n.i.f r.s.a sectarian uniformed service.

  30. ben madigan June 1, 2016 at 9:53 pm #

    have reblogged here with a few thoughts about “regimented” children in school uniforms

  31. Randall Stephen Hall June 1, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

    I didn’t hear a lot of the media storm over the BB recently, but I did catch the main points of what occurred.

    Boys a dear, the comparison between republican dissidents and BB boys was kind of “mad”.

    I joined up as a Robin at the age of six. We wore red berets and ran around playing games at Rosemary Presbyterian Church in North Belfast. I moved on to the life boys and then the boys Brigade. So from the age of of six to 17/18 I experienced what it was like to be “in the grip of Protestant brain washing” . . . I imagine.

    Yes, we marched. yes, we had inspection. Yes we were divided into squads. Yes, we paraded once a year to the Presbyterian Assembly. i think it was around June. But is that all we did?

    Were we trained to hate catholics? No, i don’t recall that. Were we taught how to kill people? No, but maybe i was sick that week. Did we train with weapons. Yes, tiny air rifles. Did we take the drill, the marching with full on seriousness? Well, what do you think?

    A lot of people use Larne as the butt of jokes. It’s easy and most of the people who make jokes about Larne are never there. I imagine it’s something similar for the BB. Most of the people above are, i imagine from a nationalist persuasion. now that’s a bit like wearing a particular pair of glasses. You are never going to see or understand the experiences of a BB boy because you’ve never been there any more than you’ve experienced a weekly BB bible class before a church service in the early 1970s.

    It’s a different time and a different place. Almost 46 years ago. And speaking of that . . .

    Brian, Geoff and I were on our way to a BB band practice. (Not at all like an orange band practice). Bright light, like this evening. We were just coming onto the point where the Ballysillan
    Road joins the Cave Hill Road. Not far from the crossroads, when BOOM, our local Spar (it may have still been Garvin’s) blew up. Bits of masonry, glass and wood was thrown across the road in front of us.

    We didn’t stop walking. We just continued on right through it all until we finally got down to the Ekenhead Church Halls, by which time we were laughing hysterically.

    Now this is just one of the many random acts of violence I experienced in North Belfast as a BB boy, along with worker’s strikes and being stopped at barricades. I never got it, i never understood what was going on around me at that time. I never related to it, but this recent comparison between the BB and dissidents is, I feel, just another indication of how we are prepared to make jokes about church organisations that gave some structure and space to a lot of young boys without (in my experience), turning them all into “Taig Haters”.

    That’s about as believable as all German soldiers in the First world War being rapists and baby eaters. in that sense we are dealing with the same crude, debased way of divisive sectarianism that some of us (only some of us, mind) inherited from some of our fucking deranged parents.

    I think it’s time to own up that within us all lies the shadowy deceptions and hatreds we still like to cling to our like poisoned barbed wire teddy bears. Toxic comfort blankets from which come these meddlesome comparisons. From a time long gone, about organisations that have long since distanced themselves from many of the militaristic things that were once the norm in the 1930s.

    But if you actually believe that the BB is still (or ever was) the militaristic youth wing of the Protestant north then I think you have bought into some imagined myth that gives a sense of self and a sense of who you are not. Yet in doing that you have fallen into the hateful trap of turning your neighbour into a demon of your making.

    What has that got to do with peace, friendship and imagination.

    In the BB i never wore a mask, i never shot volleys at funerals, I never wanted or planned to kill anyone. I never accepted hatred, or accepted a hatred for others. In the 77th BB, where many of the boys had Irish surnames, I experienced a strong mix of working class and middle class boys who had a love of life. Where i was , believe it or not, introduced to art, comedy, music, camping, cooking, first aid, charity and the love of something greater than yourself.

    Maybe I was just lucky with the likes of John Garvin (an Irish Dancer) who instilled in us, his own sense of kindness, generosity, patience, discipline and friendship.

    McGuigan, McGowan, Reilly, Heaney, Moran, Quinn, Boyd (Buis), Garvin, Sharkey, Murphy and quite a few more.

    *Apologies. i haven’t had the opportunity to check this. “Ah now . . .”

    Good Luck Jude. You seem to have experienced a bit of a storm. but I can understand why.

    Bier Bua!

    • Wolfe tone June 2, 2016 at 7:47 am #

      Randall Stephen hall, I wonder how many BB members made the gradual progression into the ranks of the British army and its various militia over the years? They’d be ‘allowed’ to wear a mask then and fire rifles then with the Big Boys.
      As your man with the face like a slapped arse on the Nolan show last nite, Christopher whatever, alluded to, ‘the BB was a force for good’. Well it depends what he means by ‘good’.

      • giordanobruno June 2, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

        Instead of wondering why don’t you go and find out?
        Then you would have at least one fact to support this ludicrous comparison.

  32. dixie June 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm #

    A better comparison re. a link to ‘shocking’ could easily have been the hype and publicity over the visit of naval ships to Belfast maritime festival, when children were playing with navy heavy machine guns etc.

  33. freddymallins June 1, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

    Jude, I thought you were calm and composed on Nolan tonight. The audience appeared to be made up of the usual loyalist/unionist lunch mob. And there was Christopher Stalford trying to look outraged. He’s holed well beneath the contempt watermark. Anyway, that woman who had been in the BB and came to your aid with insider knowledge and corroborating evidence of militarism etc was just priceless. Stalford, the reptile and the baying crowd became strangely muted as if the truth from one of their own had tranquillised them. A tiny bit of progress in Nornneverland.

  34. jessica June 2, 2016 at 1:02 am #

    I seem to have missed all the Nolan show action Jude, but I never realised the BB drilled with toy rifles and were so militarily disciplined.

    I never saw the tweet or the photo but from what I have read on this thread and what I have learned since, i can certainly see the comparison to the deliberate media reaction and the point you were making.

    But the reaction to your tweet only emphasises the very point you were making does it not?

    On one hand we have unionists talking about scrapping all funding to catholic maintained schools in favour of state integrated education, all on the merits of desegregation believe it or not.

    Yet I now find that they actually endorse a protestant uniformed organisation that encourages their children for a life in the military.

    I knew about the orange order, but never knew about this.

    Makes me wonder what else goes on.

    I am looking at this reaction against you, and my thoughts are this:

    Unionism is deadly silent when its leaders insult nationalism, mock the Irish language, consider us unworthy of certain jobs such as justice minister and show blatant bigotry towards nationalist commemorations and events even st particks day.

    But then I compare the two communities as a whole.

    It wasn’t nationalists who threw piss bombs at children at holy cross school and intimidated them and their parents

    Who attacked catholic church goers in harryville

    Who still burn Irish flags and effigies in ritual bonfires

    Who continue to waste police resources over flag protests and thousands of annual sectarian marches

    Unionism does nothing to acknowledge its own flaws and defends them vigorously when anyone else does.

    Sounds like you have had a rough time but have stood your ground.

    Well done, we need more like you that are prepared to tell it as it is and not back down to a bunch of irrelevant wannabe fascists.

  35. Joe Bloggs June 2, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Jude – on the plus side, this is the best publicity your blog could have hoped for. (Played for and got!).

    On the other hand, publicity leads to scrutiny: I think the beeb will be examining the content of this site quite closely amid calls from the UUP to do so.

    I do hope that this episode with not lead to your run on Talkballs or the Nolan show running out. As a unionist, I cringe when Willie Frazer or Ruth Patterson come on as they only serve to embarrass the unionist community; I can’t help but feel that you are their direct republican counterpart – a view confirmed to me by my nationalist / republican friends and colleagues. Please keep up the good work!

    To invoke Ruth’s spirit: I think this may have been your “St Patrick” moment.

    • Jude Collins June 2, 2016 at 10:38 am #

      Ha haaaa – thank you, Joe. I’m not sure I shouldn’t launch a campaign vilifying you, given that you’ve compared me not just with Willie Frazer but also Ruth Patterson. Monstrous! (Maybe I should add ten smiley faces in case someone misinterprets that remark…)

  36. Pointis June 2, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    When I was younger my father was stopped by a 3rd Force Loyalist checkpoint set up on a road between Rostrevor Co. Down and Hilltown. The 3rd Force team were very intimidating in their military fatigues and weapons and as a child I was very frightened when they gathered around my father’s car and demanded to see his driving licence. My father had the wherewithal to demand to see the Commanding officer and was quickly sent on his way along with his frightened children.

    Apart from the fear that I felt at the time one of the things which burns into my mind was the military transport which was used by the 3rd Force unit and parked conveniently for their exit with the words “Boys Brigade” clearly marked on the side!

  37. giordanobruno June 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

    The history of the BB is all very interesting and I share some of the feelings expressed about putting kids in uniform .and marching them about.
    However none of that should distract from the initial point which is the suggestion that the BB are a bit like a paramilitary group wearing masks.
    That was just an ill judged piece of whataboutery.
    The RSF march with (apparently) young people in it is the real problem here not the BB.
    It is hard to believe that needs to be spelt out.

    • Wolfe tone June 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

      ‘Wise up…wise up!’ Gio. The unionist badgering of the BB lady by Stephen ‘our wee country’ Nolan when she tried to explain the definition of ‘paramilitary’. How she slipped under the BBC radar is anyone’s guess but he hastily moved on when she wasn’t playing his game. Out of all this furore this woman has shown true bravery for daring to be honest.

  38. Daniel Collins June 3, 2016 at 5:30 am #

    Seems you hit a communal nerve and brewed up a real shit-storm, Jude. Or it was just a very slow news day at the BBC…

    French social philosopher Michel Foucault regarded organisations or institutions such as schools, hospitals and, one would assume, boys’ brigades – societal bodies that promote or instil particular ideals in citizens through various stages of their lives – as non-coercive means of enforcing discipline to power and conformity to particular values that society regards as virtuous and morally beneficial.

    Not everyone regards Christianity, conformity or discipline to authority as virtuous, of course, but clearly a great many do. The DUP’s Christopher Stalford asserted that the Boys’ Brigade are a beacon of inherent and objective goodness. The virtue of the organisation is simply beyond question, as far as the upstanding Stalford is concerned; its status as good is self-evidently sacrosanct.

    Some hold ideals like conformity and discipline in such high and all-consuming esteem, they will refuse to tolerate dissenting views from their peers (or perceived social inferiors) altogether. They will demand moral self-flagellation followed by atonement from dissenting subjects who have stepped out of line, when they deem proper order to have been violated, when they see a sin as having been committed or when they consider a taboo to have been broken. Throughout Wednesday morning, afternoon and evening, this took the form of an outraged reaction to a challenge and affront to conventional “Norn Iron” dogma by a “Fenian liar”. The Boys’ Brigade has its flock well-drilled. Or should we say “its mob”?