‘ Parental Misguidance’ by Jessica McGrann

 

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During the conflict, I saw plenty of kids dressed in military fatigues often parading with republican bands.  Their parents were republicans often in the IRA and they too would follow suit and go through the Fianna or the youth wing of the republican movement and into the IRA.

Today, the conflict has been over for some time yet there are some who find it hard to accept. Thankfully there are so few today who would turn out that they have to bus people in to make up the numbers.  There is most definitely no support in the area for such militant displays any more.

Was it shocking to see one kid among the display in Lurgan? Not to me, I have seen it before.  Was it wrong? I believe most definitely.  It is the exploitation of children and at best parental misguidance. But perhaps it is time we looked closer at other areas of parental misguidance that have contributed to intolerance and divisions in our society.

It probably isn’t fair to focus in on one group such as the Boys’ Brigade and has brought some heat on “poor deluded Jude” who had the courage to make the comparison to begin with, according to Eilish . I am certainly glad he did.  I had heard of the Boys’ Brigade and always associated it with Protestant marching bands but never really thought much about it.

After taking in some of what I have learned recently, I have to admit that the thought of grown adults instilling military-style discipline into kids within the BB, giving them pretend rifles and putting them through military style drills did actually shock me, if only for a few seconds,  until I realised it was northern unionism we are talking about where parental misguidance and bringing children into confrontation has been rife for decades.

The most despicable has to have been the Holy Cross dispute where for weeks, hundreds of unionist protesters tried to stop schoolchildren and their parents from walking to school through their area. Some protesters shouted sectarian abuse and threw stones, bricks, fireworks, blast bombs and urine-filled balloons at the schoolchildren and their parents. Hundreds of riot police, backed up by British soldiers, escorted the children and their parents through the protest each day.

On Wednesday 5 September 2001, as the parents and their children passed Glenbryn Parade, loyalists threw a blast bomb towards them. The device exploded, injuring two police officers and a police dog. Panic ensued. Children began screaming and “weeping uncontrollably” and one mother suffered a panic attack.

The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) said it was responsible for the attack and afterward, Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) politician Billy Hutchinson said he was “ashamed to be a loyalist today after seeing these people attack young Catholic girls”. However, he says he continued to stand with the protesters each morning to show leadership.

Such has been the leadership of unionism. If we are lucky enough to get condemnation of unionist actions, it will often be two faced or sweetened with a “but they did worse”. For example, during the Drumcree protests, the UVF petrol bombed the home of the Quinn family in Ballymoney, killing three children, all boys, aged 9, 10 and 11,

The M.P. for the area, Dr. Ian Paisley, visited the site of the attack and described the killings as “diabolical”, “repugnant” and it “stained Protestantism”. However, in an interview with ITN he stated that “The IRA have carried out worse murders than we had in Ballymoney over and over again”. It is these mixed messages from unionist leaders that lead to the continuation of mistrust and sectarian hatred of the Catholic community that has in the past allowed such abhorrent acts to take place and all too often with less response than that against Jude’s comments over the BB.

Today, the unionist community still consider annual bonfires and burning effigies and Irish flags as part of their culture. But is that culture, or is that simple bigotry stemming from parental and political misguidance?

It is perfectly acceptable for unionist leaders to come on TV and say their nationalist partners in government are a stench at which they hold their noses. If this is the example set by popular unionist elected representatives, what hope is there that the people who support them will provide any better guidance to their children?

Why is it, racism and hate crimes are magnified within unionist communities? Why are sectarian marches, bonfires and flag burning considered culture?

Whatever we feel about Martin McGuinness being too soft on unionism, his leadership is not an embarrassment to the nationalist community.  Can unionism say the same of their First Minister who campaigned on a sectarian plea to keep the position out of the hands of nationalism, at least for little while longer?

But if  someone dares to question the behaviour of unionist role models and organisations, they face a biased wrath of the media. Will unionism ever have to take a good hard look at itself?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Cross_dispute

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinn_brothers%27_killings

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OofMNWXouyg

 

 

28 Responses to ‘ Parental Misguidance’ by Jessica McGrann

  1. John T June 3, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    Oh really good… Excellently put.

  2. Scott June 3, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    Certainly there’s a discussion to be had regarding militaristic traits in young organisations but how does that connect to the disgraceful scenes at holy cross school.

    The disgusting scenes at that drew condemnation from all sides of society and the perpetrators of that can hardly be described to represent unionism as a whole.

    Things like bonfires, marching bands, orangeism is not a fair representation of Unionism either. They are more a working class loyalist culture which is far from the mainstream. In regards to the Orange it’s also a diminishing organisation. Any parade I ever see the majority of members are old men and I’m sure figures would back up that there numbers are dwindling.

    Why unionists vote for the DUP I have no idea, I never would. It’s almost a reaction to the fact that SF is the largest nationalist party and many unionists have a lot of built up hatred for them due to the conflict, which is understandable

    Political unionism will soften as the old guard of SF are replaced and they lose that connection to the troubles. I believe political unionism wouldn’t be as hard line if the SDLP were the biggest nationalist party.

    Loyalism and orangeism does not equal mainstream unionism. They are a vocal minority simply.

    Just as dissedents and INLA parades don’t equal mainstream nationalism. Simply vocal miniorities

    • BYC June 3, 2016 at 11:57 am #

      When Carl Frampton was a boy he’d have to walk an extra 15 minutes to get to the city centre to avoid passing though the New Lodge. The Peace Bridge in Derry has become a bottle neck where protestant children can be attacked on their way home. Two kids (15 and 14) attacked by a mob of 30 at Christmas. Just last month two 13 year old protestant boys were beaten round the head on the Ardoyne Road after failing to present proper religious credentials. Maybe Nationalism needs to a bit of self-reflection as well. As Jessica says – there’s no point in mealy-mouthed condemnations one day when the rest of the time you’re promoting segregated schooling and attacking those people trying to advance integration.

      • jessica June 3, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

        Of course. I also had to walk to and from school through a protestant estate called wakehurst in lurgan, or it was then. We were attacked daily by groups of what looked like fully grown men at the time who would beat us with sticks and had to wait until there was a large enough group of us to get through safely and there were stand offs most days for ages.

        I also experienced drive by attacks were cars full of loyalists would drive past us walking home at night on our own and jump out and attack us. A friend ended up in hospital after a car wheel brace thing was driven into his back puncturing a lung before they hopped in again and sped off.

        I assure you I have experienced it all first hand byc and I am glad it is all but a thing of the past.

        The best way to prevent this is our political leaders showing by example. Sinn Fein are leading the way in this but unionism is dragging its feet, that is why I am pushing more against unionist intransigence. It is not acceptable.

        As for segregated schooling, I keep saying I am for open schooling, I just don’t support the methods suggested to date to achieve it, i.e. cutting funding or passing costs onto parents.

        This will take a long time to implement and there are other quicker steps in the mean time.

        At the moment it is being used to pass the buck by unionism.

        It is time unionism got on board the reconciliation train.

      • Ryan June 3, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

        ” you’re promoting segregated schooling and attacking those people trying to advance integration.”

        No ones promoting segregated schooling BYC, Catholic schools take in pupils from other faiths and religions. We all know the agenda behind Unionism, they aren’t endorsing integrated education, they desire to destroy the Catholic school system for many reasons, all of them sectarian.

        Why don’t we focus more on integrated housing? Whenever that is mentioned Unionist politicians tend to recoil. Very strange….

        • Scott June 5, 2016 at 12:52 am #

          Yet the sheer fact that Catholic maintained schools have a Catholic ethos, religious ceremonies that effectively makes them cold houses for any other religions

        • The Irish Rover June 13, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

          The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools take in other faiths do they? Even the name is secterian.

          • jessica June 13, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

            “The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools take in other faiths do they? Even the name is secterian.”

            But only because Northern Ireland is a sectarian statelet

  3. ANOTHER JUDE June 3, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    BYC, those incidents you allude too are totally disgusting and wicked, nobody is denying the existence of so called Catholic bigots, but young Catholics are not taught to hate Protestants and avoid giving them jobs or marrying them the way the Orange Order indoctrinates it`s people. It is absolutely horrible to witness children walking along the road twirling their little red white and blue batons as muscle bound oafs batter a lambeg drum. The whole `culture` is geared towards hating the taigs, pure and simple, the excuse of a stupid `battle` which occurred three centuries ago does not wash in this day and age.

  4. Ryan June 3, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

    Great article Jessica.

    The media here is full of Unionists, Orange men and their relatives. There’s been many rumours about the Belfast Telegraph for years about the people who run that paper and their relatives. Just one look at the Columnists they hire tells you all you need to know. Just yesterday they made a story about the Northern Ireland and England flags flying “proudly” in Iris Street, West Belfast, literally a few streets away from where I live. That street has been flying flags to do with Football tournaments since the 2002 World Cup but they twisted the story as if the street supported the Northern Ireland team or the England team, which obviously isn’t the case since nearly all the people wearing football shirts in that street were sporting the ROI team shirts. They also flew the flags of all other Euro 2016 qualifying teams. Compare this to the pub in a Loyalist area that had to remove the Tricolour from its Euro 2012 bunting…..

    There is a bigotry and a hatred (and that’s not too strong a word) endorsed and promoted within the Unionist community going back centuries. Many Unionists admit this in Susan McKays book “Northern Protestants”. Those Protestants that oppose this bigotry fear speaking out for obvious reasons, they have the label “Rotten Prods”. The British/Irish Governments tend to accommodate this bigotry instead of challenging it. Just look at when the British Government opposed the MacBride Principles in Employment. The USA endorsed the principles, including all the major Protestant churches in the USA.

    The media here say they try to be “balanced” but that’s just another word for admitting they don’t tell the truth. Surely that’s the point of the media, to report the truth? Well yes, in theory but certainly not in practice.

    Will Unionism ever change? No, I don’t think so. Judging by the younger members who will be the future representatives of Unionism, I think Unionism may get more backward, not progressive. The irony of all this is they are doing more damage, most likely fatal damage, to the Union than Republicans ever could.

    • MT June 4, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      ” Many Unionists admit this in Susan McKays book “Northern Protestants”.”

      Susan McKay klaxon

  5. paddykool June 4, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

    You made many good observations Jessica.Most reasonable people would see it like that.Most of this odd behaviour begins because most people in this land live very segregated lives from birth , through school and so on, so there is a problem right from the start.It was like that before the Troubles began in the late 1960’s ,(people lived separated lives )but then it was exacerbated and real hard hatred set in in many communities.People were killed on both sides and if anyone cares to look there is a list of every death with a date attached somewhere on the internet.
    The Troubles have been over for a generation now so you’d imagine that people would begin to see things with a more open-minded perspective , but that’s not the case .Many unionists have not accepted any responsibility for why the thing kicked off at all and until they see that I can’t really see any hardline republicans opening up to having caused specific deaths during the conflict. The conflict did not spring out of nothingness.There were real hard reasons why it happened and how one thing led to another. Would unionists be happier should Sinn Fein change its name to the SDLP as Scott refers? I can’t see their problem at all .The old SDLP voters are the very same people who now vote for SinnFein …just as the DUP sucked up all the UUP votes. that’s not the problem at all. The real problem is that something in unionism falls on the most right -wing side of every argument and that usually tends to have a tinge of racism, homophobia or extreme right wing -viewpoints. Most of their politicians tend resort to aggresive insult when it comes down to their political opponents. They are not exactly attempting to build any bridges across the divide and that appears to be reflected in this cultural division too where they favour martial, marching bands , dressing -up in colourful uniforms and burning effigies of their perceived foes atop colossal bonfires. When this is mentioned , it is indeed referred to as an attack on”Our Culture” whereas it would be referred to as a hate crime elsewhere in the real world, given that the society here is still very much a divided one .Unionist politicians have their own odd reasons for defending this trick of logic and really that is why we have a real problem .

    • jessica June 4, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

      “Unionist politicians have their own odd reasons for defending this trick of logic and really that is why we have a real problem .”

      Excellently put Harry, and I agree, we do have a real serious problem. It just hasn’t manifested yet.

    • Scott June 5, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      The reason for Unionist dislike of SF is about a lot more than there name or the electorate that votes for them. It’s about the fact that the top level leadership is made up with many convicted terrorist/murders.

      This I believe drives people towards the DUP.

      I think political unionism would be far less entrenched if they’re political opponents were the SDLP or the old guard of ex IRA is gone from SF.

      • jessica June 5, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

        “I think political unionism would be far less entrenched if they’re political opponents were the SDLP or the old guard of ex IRA is gone from SF.”

        We could all make excuses Scott, or we could look at how things have changed, build a bridge and get over it for a better future together.

        If unionism is not careful, they will end up with a new party, much more abhorrent to them than Sinn Fein that will capitalise on the changing demographic and who will transform this place into something they will not like.

        • Scott June 5, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

          True if everyone would just get over it Northern Ireland could move on. Problem is it’s just not that easy for some people after experiencing what they have experienced which is totally understandable.

          This is why I think it’s all a matter of time. As long as violence doesn’t return things will heal.

          • jessica June 5, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

            “This is why I think it’s all a matter of time. As long as violence doesn’t return things will heal.”

            The GFA was almost 20 years ago.
            It is no longer a matter of time Scott, but effort that is lacking on one side anyway.

      • MT June 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

        “The reason for Unionist dislike of SF is about a lot more than there name or the electorate that votes for them. It’s about the fact that the top level leadership is made up with many convicted terrorist/murders.”

        Not only that but the party continues to glorify and seeks to legitimise retrospectively the PIRA terror campaign. Even the young ‘clean’ members do this.

        • jessica June 5, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

          “Not only that but the party continues to glorify and seeks to legitimise retrospectively the PIRA terror campaign. Even the young ‘clean’ members do this.”

          Who today is supporting conflict never mind legitimising it?

          Why are you trying to make targets out of our young people.

          You are going too far MT. The past is one thing, but to accuse our young people in the now of such wrong doing when there is none is despicable.

          The conflict is over and it is up to us to make sure it doesn’t start again.

          You need to watch more closely what MT is saying here Jude. This is how unionism targeted people in the past and such talk by them cost people their lives.

          It is getting out of line.

          • MT June 5, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

            “Who today is supporting conflict never mind legitimising it?”

            Why never mind legitimising it? The subject of the discussion is SF attempts to legitimise the PIRA terror campaign.

            “Why are you trying to make targets out of our young people.:

            I’m not. Unlike you I’m opposed to making targets of anyone, regardless of age.

            “You are going too far MT. The past is one thing, but to accuse our young people in the now of such wrong doing when there is none is despicable.”

            I’m not ‘accusing’ anyone, young or old, of anything. I simply made a factual statement about SF.

            “The conflict is over and it is up to us to make sure it doesn’t start again.”

            .Absolutely. That’s why it’s so important to condemn and oppose the glorification of terror by SF and loyalists.

            “You need to watch more closely what MT is saying here Jude. This is how unionism targeted people in the past and such talk by them cost people their lives.”

            “Unionism” didn’t target anyone. And condemning those who support terror didn’t cost lives: supporting those who committed terror did.

          • jessica June 6, 2016 at 8:46 am #

            MT, the conflict was not a PIRA terror campaign.
            It was started by unionism between 1966 and 1969 and the British army were involved and had killed Irish citizens before the PIRA existed.

            Conflict is always wrong. You can try to justify the British side in the conflict if you choose, I think violence is always wrong, but I would rather fight back than choose cowardice so I fully support the IRA response to retaliate.

            When you start a conflict, you are initiating a spiral of reactive violence in which case many young people in both our communities became embroiled and all of our communities suffered badly as a result.

            Now we can forever and a day try to blame one another for past wrongs, which were committed on both sides and go right the way to 10 downing street. or we can try to build a better more tolerant future together.

            No one is trying to glorify violence, unionism is trying to blame everything on republicans and that I cannot and will not accept.

            We need to accept what happened and agree a narrative including unionism accepting its wrongs also.

            Otherwise the conflict will remain on-going in the minds of unionism

          • MT June 6, 2016 at 11:22 am #

            “No one is trying to glorify violence,”

            PSF is.

            “Otherwise the conflict will remain on-going in the minds of unionism”

            Everyone except PSF, dissidents and loyalists accepts that terror was wrong and the terror campaigns were unjustified. It is those who seek to glorify and legitimise “the conflict” who are the problem, not those who always opposed it and continue so to do.

          • jessica June 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

            Tell me MT, do you consider commemorations to the dead of the world wars or Falkland’s for etc… to be glorification of the violence involved?

            Do you consider the UDR statue in Lisburn to be glorification of UDR violence?

            Are poppy’s worn to glorify the violence of wars or is it only the commemoration of Irish republicans who died in conflict that equates to glorifying violence.

            Let me tell you, I will not accept any reconciliation with unionism that entails the demonisation of Irish republicans.

            A line needs to be drawn in the sand now and decisions made throughout this island as to what future we want to have.

            I would also like Sinn Fein to clarify their position on this.

          • Wolfe tone June 6, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

            MT, there will always be people who view the IRA as legitimate. Their war with the British state will be viewed by a substantial amount of the population, as legitimate. You or anyone else saying it wasn’t , doesn’t make it so. The sooner folk like you get it into your head and accept others’ point of view then we can move on. You and your ilk are holding everyone back in your pursuit of sackcloth and ashes. Btw, even if Martin McGuinness, with blackened face, got down on his knees and stated the IRA were illigitimate, it still wouldn’t make it so.

          • MT June 6, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

            “MT, there will always be people who view the IRA as legitimate.”

            I’ve no doubt there will be, just as there will always be people who view loyalists, ISIS, ETA, al-Qaeda etc as legitimate.

            “Their war with the British state will be viewed by a substantial amount of the population, as legitimate.”

            That is a sad truth. But more happily, the great majority always did and continue to view it as illegitimate.

            “You or anyone else saying it wasn’t , doesn’t make it so.”

            Obviously. It is the ethical norms of our society that make it so.

            “The sooner folk like you get it into your head and accept others’ point of view then we can move on.”

            I’m afraid you’ve got it the wrong way round. The need is for people to move away from terror legitimation and accept that murder and terror are wrong. Only then can we have true reconciliation.

            “You and your ilk are holding everyone back in your pursuit of sackcloth and ashes.”

            I’m not holding anyone back. Nor am I pursuing sackcloth and ashes.

            “Btw, even if Martin McGuinness, with blackened face, got down on his knees and stated the IRA were illigitimate, it still wouldn’t make it so.”

            Of course not. Their illegitimate status is not dependent on the say so of its members or apologists.

  6. Wolfe tone June 7, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    ‘Of course not. Their illigitimate status is not dependent on the say so its members or apologists.’ Ditto the British terrorist state.
    Time to move on M.T and accept the IRA has more legitimacy in Ireland than the British establishment ever had. I’d hazard a guess and say even the majority of people of Britain would agree to that. The British state even endorsed that belief when they negotiated with them for many years, no matter they may have said in public.

    • MT June 7, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

      “‘Of course not. Their illigitimate status is not dependent on the say so its members or apologists.’ Ditto the British terrorist state.”

      There was no “British terrorist state”, but obviously the legitimacy of any state is not dependent on the say so of the state itself, and I never said it was.

      “Time to move on M.T and accept the IRA has more legitimacy in Ireland than the British establishment ever had. I’d hazard a guess and say even the majority of people of Britain would agree to that. The British state even endorsed that belief when they negotiated with them for many years, no matter they may have said in public.”

      I don’t need to move on. I’ve always been in the right place (opposition to terror, support for peace and democracy, respect and tolerance): the place where SF now seeks to go. The “IRA” didn’t have more legitimacy than “the British establishment”. On the contrary it had no legitimacy. And the British state didn’t endorse any “belief” about legitimacy, by negotiating or anything else.