Loyalist Tartan Colours

Terry Watson and David Smyth, both of whom hailed from Donegall Pass were members of the Pass Young Tartan, a name which echoes Thomas Carnduff’s Pass Clan from the same area of the city over 70 years previously.

Watson remembers that in the period 1970-71 he and his friends were in a gang :‘there was a squad of us run about in Donegall Pass ….we just all hung about the street corners and we rioted and fought and we did silly things’ He recalls hearing about the Rathcoole Kai, Woodstock Tartan and the Young Newton from the Lower Newtownards Road and thinking ‘we may as well become the Pass Young Tartan’ ….. P.Y.T.

One of the gang went out and bought a tartan scarf as fashion dictated. Watson remembers that the Pass Young Tartan thus adopted : Bright Red Tartan with a bit of Blue through it.

‘He came round one night with it hanging from his skinners – so the next minute everybody was going round to the local Paragon Material Fibre & Clothing Shop, so the Paragon was doing a bomb in selling this tartan cloth….you were not only getting them for your trousers to hang but you got them on your wrists and you got them on your neck….so you’d maybe two or three tartan scarves running about the house and your parents were buying you these not realising what the Tartans were actually going to be….some of the (most) feared gangs probably in the UK at one stage – and rightly so.’

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Loyalist Defence 1971

The below article is taken from the book Tartan Gangs & Paramilitaries – The Loyalist Backlash. Author Dr Gareth Mulvenna.  Liverpool University Press 2016

The Red Hand Commando was one of the Loyalist Groups active on the evening of Internment 9th August 1971. One former member recalls in detail the manner of their briefing and mobilisation on the streets of Belfast where Protestant and Catholic working-class communities abutted one another :

On 9th August we rushed down to the Bricklayers Arms. John McKeague was kept informed about the overall situation. Most activity centred around Horn Drive at Lenadoon, Oldpark & Ardoyne, Malt Street off the Grosvenor Road and other flash points. We had about a dozen young men or so, two cars and not a great amount of firearms. McKeague organised two carloads of four men in each, equipped with old rifles and a couple of handguns. Four others were given semi-automatic pistols and revolvers and told to make our way on foot to the designated points. ‘Defend the areas and shoot to ward off any attacks by the republicans’ That was John mcKeague’s order. John called me to the side and handed me his personal .32 seven-shot automatic pistol and a box of 25 rounds of ammunition.

The foot patrol of the RHC members walked to the nearby Heathfield and Torrens area between the Oldpark and Cliftonville roads where isolated protestants lived: ‘Heathfield was a small protestant enclave facing Ardoyne Avenue and was under severe threat. The front of the Oldpark Road was marked by the Finiston School wall and railings, directly facing the barricade at Ardoyne Avenue. On arrival the RHC members were greeted by a group of young loyalists who directed them to a small house in the Torrens area, where a local character and known loyalist named Patsy Gallagher lived :

Inside sat an elderly man with grey hair and poor eyesight. He was the boss of the area. I explained who sent me and gave him my name. He greeted me warmly and said he had been expecting me. The house was filled with relatives of the old man, friends and eager young men who wanted to play their part in defence of their small tight-knit area.

The issue of the arsenal available was then discussed, along with strategies for defence :

He asked what weapons we had. I embarrassingly told him we had only four handguns between the four of us. He called in one of his relatives and asked what weapons they had. I was told they had several shotguns between them. He then instructed his relative to load up and take further orders from me. The group left the house and the old man said to me, ‘Make sure those bastards know the area is armed and make sure they do not attempt to attack our area’. I gave him my word but told him that under no circumstances would we fire the first shot until our mobile support arrived.

Instructions were  then given by the Red Hand member in charge to the young loyalists who lived in the area :

I engaged with all the men with firearms and instructed them to take up positions at the school wall facing Ardoyne Avenue. I left one local man and told him to keep the eager young men back from the Oldpark. They were making petrol bombs and wanted action, which concerned me. a couple of hours passed quietly. In the background I could see the flames of cranbrook Gardens, Velsheda Park and Farringdon rise into the sky. Gunfire was constant albeit in the distance. I watched the movement of young men and others around the barricade facing the school, shouting could be heard but I realised that they too were in defensive mode just as we were. Several times some of our young men moved onto the Oldpark and threw stones and bottles at their barricade. I shouted to get them back and the local guys moved them back waving their shotguns. I had to go and tell the guys we could not attack until our cars arrived in the area. Within minutes I heard an almighty cheer from Torrens. Then seven or eight men armed with rifles ran around the corner and told me they were ready. Much relieved, I told them to take up positions at the school front. I sent word to the old man that we were going to let the rebels know that the area was armed and to expect some gunfire. Once in position I instructed every man to wait on my command. The young lads were excited and I told them to stand back because I expected return fire.

The assembled loyalists decided to shoot at the Catholic barricade in order to make it known that the Heathfield and Torrens area was not going to be given up :

Apart from the noise of distant gunfire and the noise from the lit up flaming Ardoyne streets at the back there was an eerie silence. ‘Fire’ was shouted and immediately eight rifles, four handguns and several shotguns opened up. I could see people scramble behind cover at the barricade facing us. Then came the expected fire in return. Bricks on the gable wall smashed and shared beside us. We fired another volley or two and they returned the compliment. After some time all went silent. ‘Ceasefire – shoot only at identifiable targets’ was instructed. I called the riflemen together and told them that I was satisfied that there would be no incursion into the area now that we had made our presence felt. The eight men in two cars drove onto the Cliftonville Road and went about their business for the rest of the night. The area was again left with four visiting gunmen and a few locals with shotguns. I reported to the old man. He stood up and shook my hand. He was satisfied that the area was safe for the night. The small group of RHC men had played a small but necessary part in the defence of several loyalists areas that interment night.

 

 

Can Loyalism Come Home to it’s Fathers House

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If ever you visit the great parliament of Northern Ireland at Stormont, Belfast go and take a read at the plinth on the base of Sir Edward Carson Statue which reads “By the Loyalists of Ulster as an expression of their love and admiration for it’s subject”

It has been a long half decade that the Assembly has not had a Loyalist voice echo from within it’s chambers. With the forthcoming Assembly Elections due to take place on 5th May 2016 is there a possibly that the Progressive Unionist Party can once again walk it’s famous corridors.

The PUP shall be standing six candidates and below I will give an assessment of each one and the constituency.

The Party Leader and most well known candidate, Billy Hutchinson stands in North Belfast. Age 61 this may well be his last assembly election campaign, but like the PUP who had been zombified not that long ago within the political arena, never write off this Lazarus to come back.

From the 2014 Council Elections the PUP go in with a base vote of 2846 Castle:657 Oldpark:774 Court:2281 (2of5 wards in NB pro rata:912) Macedon:503

The target will be to eliminate the other and lesser unionist candidates pick up the transfer votes and drive home for that last 6th and 3rd Unionist seat in this constituency.

With a further 11 council wards from Newtownabbey coming into the North Belfast Assembly Constituency the PUP have a great chance of making it from North Belfast.

John Kyle who has been a Belfast Councillor since 2007 stands for the PUP in East Belfast. A very highly and respected candidate who also commands quite a substantial personnal vote in the East.

From the 2014 Council Elections the PUP go in with a base vote of 2992 Titanic:1150 Lisnasharragh:630 Orminston:720 Castlereagh East:492

With a few wards like Tullycarnett and Braniel coming into East Belfast from Castlereagh the PUP shall be striving to increase this vote over the 3K mark and charge for that sixth seat. Back in the 2007 Assembly Elections Dawn Purvis got elected with 3045 fpv (10%)

Russell Watton another PUP Councillor who again is very much respected by all for his tireless constituency work stands in East Londonderry.

Russell topped the poll back in 2014 in his Coleraine ward with 777 fpv (11.84%). He now brings the PUP into all the Limavady Wards and two of the Derry Council Wards of Banagher and Claudy.

Russell shall be targeting holding that 11.84% across the complete constituency. If he can this should see the PUP coming in around the 3K fpv mark and very much challenging for that last 6th seat.

Sophie Long doing a PhD in Politics at Queens University Belfast and aged 28 stands for the PUP in Upper Bann. As the youngest and only female candidate standing in these elections for the PUP it is hoped that this can be a stepping stone for other young females to follow down a political course within the party.

From 2014 Council Elections the PUP go in with a base vote of 1274 Craigavon:411 Lurgan:321 Portadown:542

This will be the first time the PUP has stood in this constituency for an Assembly Election but with a very strong candidate and very strong constituency branch of the PUP they will be disappointed if they do not bust the 1404 votes the PUP got from this constituency back in 1996 Forum Elections.

Jim McCaw a very much respected community activist from Carrickfergus stands for the PUP in East Antrim.

Jim and the PUP received a very credible 705 votes from two wards back in the 2014 Council Elections Knockagh:457 Castle:248

Taking in further wards from Carrickfergus, Larne and part of Newtownabbey the PUP shall be targeting the vote Billy Greer got back from this constituency in 1998 of 1432 votes. This would get the 5% and deposit back and set the PUP up for two councillors in a few years time at local elections.

Ian Shanks again another very strong community activist and well know across the city for his work with the Belfast Homeless stands for the PUP in South Belfast.

From 2014 Council Elections the PUP go in with a base vote of 884 Botanic:351 Balmoral:533

With the two Pottinger Wards of Lower Ravenhill and Woodstock coming into the South Belfast Constituency the PUP shall be targeting increasing this base vote to closer to 1.5K to collect the deposit back. They shall also be making a big effort to increase that Botanic vote closer to the 766 votes that got the last UUP Councillor elected back in 2014.

TE Lawrence

The Loyalist Vote – Assembly Elections 2016

Now that the Westminster Elections for 2015 are over I have taken a quick look at the results to study where the PUP should focus and make a serious consorted campaign to get Loyalist Representation back into the Northern Ireland Assembly which these Elections shall be held in May 2016.
The same 18 number voting constituencies shall be used as the Westminster Elections with 6 MLAs being elected from each constituency. The Election Voting System shall be the same as local government council elections – Propotional Representation with (STV).

Below is the results of three Belfast Constituencies for 2015 Westminster Elections. I have added my analysis below !

East Belfast
– DUP Gavin Robinson 19,575 49.3%
– APNI Naomi Long 16,978 42.8%
– Con Neil Wilson 1,121 2.8%
– GRN Ross Brown 1,058 2.7%
– SF Niall O,Donnghaile 823 2.1%
– SDLP Mary Muldoon 127 0.3%
———–
39,682 Total Votes

We know from 2014 Local Government Council Election Results that the PUP have 3000 first preference unioist votes in this constituency. Based on the above total westminster votes the 2016 Assembly Elections Quota to be elected as an MLA shall be 6614 votes. The PUP need to eliminate other candidates and pick up their transfer votes to try to get to this quota. They also need to run a major campaign on the ground to get all their supporters registered to vote and increase that first preference vote.

North Belfast
DUP Nigel Dodds 19,096 47.0%
SF Gerry Kelly 13,770 33.9%
SDLP Alban Maginness 3,338 8.2%
APNI Jason O’Neil 2,941 7.2%
WP Gemma Weir 919 2.3%
IND Fra Hughes 529 1.3%
———–
40,593 Total Vote

We know from the Local Government Council Election Results that the PUP have 3000 first preference unionist votes in this constituency.
Based on the above total westminster results votes the 2016 Assembly Elections Quota to be elected as an MLA shall be 6766 votes. As like East Belfast Loyalism shall need to adapt the same stradegy in this side of Belfast to make it !

West Belfast
SF Paul Maskey 19,163 54.2%
PBP Gerry Carroll 6,798 19.2%
SDLP Alex Attwood 3,475 9.8%
DUP Frank McCoubrey 2,773 7.8%
UUP Bill Manwaring 1,088 3.1%
UKIP Brian Higginson 765 2.2%
APNI Gerard Catney 636 1.8%
WP John Lowry 597 1.7%
Con Paul Shea 34 0.1%
———
35,329 Total Votes

This constituency had went off the radar for Loyalism but needs to be seriously looked at again with the ‘Kitchen Sink’ being thrown at it ! I estimate that based on the Local Government Council Election the PUP have 1200 first preference votes in this constituency. To get that last seat for Unionism they need to pull out the most first preference votes of all the unionist parties and sweep up their transfers.
Based on the above total westminster results votes the 2016 Assembly Elections Quota to be elected as an MLA shall be 5890 votes.

Other constitencies that the PUP need to consider running in for the 2016 Assembly Elections are :
South Belfast, Lagan Valley, North Down, South Antrim, East Antrim, Strangford, North Down, Upper Bann, East Londonderry

They should be quite capable of pulling in 1500 votes in these constituencies not only to get their deposit back put also to build and use as a platform for 2018 Local Government Council Elections to get more councillors elected into local councils.

I have no doubt that because of so much unionist competition that there will be for the 2016 NI Assembly Elections that it will end up a dirty election, but the PUP needs to stay focused at the Unionist Vote Base and rise above it where all success lies, and concentrate on Transfer of all Unionist Votes from Voters to every Unionist Party.
Loyalism and especially the UPRG ran an excellent STV Transfer Scheme advising all Unionists to vote 1-2-3-4-5-6 etc all the way down the ballot paper to every Unionist Party in the 2014 Local Council Elections. This is the correct stradegy for all shades of Unionism going forward for the future.

Below is an exercise which I done based on the Belfast City Council Election Results which shows where the PUP got transfer votes from !

– DUP 753
– UKIP 231
– UUP 220
– TUV 189
– N121 120
– GRN 40
– WP 22
– SP 22
– APNI 16
– Cons 9
-SDLP 2
– SF 1

Cultural Cleansing

With the recent reports of cultural cleansing and destruction of historical landmarks by ISIS in the Middle East region it got my mind thinking to similar tactics adopted by Irish Republicans in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This tactic was used against any historical monuments or sculptures that the Republican Movement deemed to be associated with Irish Protestantism and/or Britishness.

Nelsons Pillar - O'Connell Street - Dublin
Nelsons Pillar – O’Connell Street – Dublin

 

                                                                                                                                                                  News of Nelsons victory at Trafalgar in 1805 was greeted with celebrations in the streets of Dublin alongside mourning for the death of the hero. Dublins commerce relied on sea trade and safe shipping that could be disrupted by Napoleons French Navy. Nelsons Pillar was built in the middle of O’Connell Street, Dublin in 1809. It became very much a tourist attraction to any visitor travelling or staying in the ‘Fair City’ to climb up the stairs inside the pillar to the top.
The memorial plaque read ; By the blessing of Almighty God to commemorate the transcendent heroic achievements of the right honourable Horatio Lord Viscount Nelson, Duke of Bronti in Sicily, Vice-Admiral of the White Squadron of His Majesty’s Fleet who fell gloriously in the battle of Cape Trafalgar on the 21st day of October 1805 when he obtained for his country a victory over the combined fleets of France and Spain unparalleled in Navy History. This first stone of a triumphal pillar was laid by his Grace Charles Duke of Richmond and Lennox.

A Republican bomb destroyed the upper half of the pillar on 8th March 1966. The Dublin Corporation demolished the rest of the pillar a few days later.

Roaring Hugh Hanna Statue bomb damage taken away by Army Technical Officers
Roaring Hugh Hanna Statue bomb damage taken away by Army Technical Officers

 

Hugh (Roaring) Hanna was an evangelical preacher (21 Feb 1821 – 3 Feb 1892). In 1847 Hanna became a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. He objected to restrictions to postpone open-air preaching in Belfast and in protest addressed over 20,000 people in the Belfast Botanic Gardens. He was also strongly opposed to the Home Rule Bill of 1886 in Ireland. A black marble statue of Hanna was erected in Carlisle Circus – Belfast in 1894 beside his church of St Enoch’s in his memory.

This was removed after it was damaged by an IRA bomb on 1st March 1970.

Bombed Walkers Monument Londonderry Walls
Bombed Walkers Monument Londonderry Walls

George Walker was the Joint Governor of Londonderry during the Siege in 1689. His monument was built in 1828 in his memory. It reads ; This monument was erected to perpetuate the memory of the Rev George Walker who aided by the garrison and brave in habitants of this city most gallantily defended it through a protracted siege,viz from the 7th December 1688 to the 12th of August 1689 following against an arbitrary and bigoted Monarch, heading an army of upwards of 20,000 men many of whom were foreign mercenaries and by such valiant conduct in numerous sorties and by patiently enduring extreme privations and sufferings successfully resisted the besiegers and preserved for their posterity the blessings of civil and religious liberty.

The Walker Memorial Monument and Statue was bombed and destroyed by the IRA in August 1973.

I will let the reader decide if there is any difference between Irish Republicanism and ISIS on such a strategy of cultural cleansing ?

TE Lawrence

A Belfast Christmas Tale

In keeping with Christmas Mornings I am wrapped up and off to Seaview to watch the Football Steel & Sons Cup Final. It is also an opportunity to allow the ladies of the house to get everything prepared for the Christmas Dinner without us useless men hanging around the place.
I meet my friends as normal at the terracing halfway line under the unreserved stand of the ground and all our Christmas Greetings are passed onto each other very sincerely. The final is between Donegal Celtic and Killyleagh.
The Officers of the DC Club noticeably stand out from the crowd wearing their very smart green blazers, shirts and ties for the occasion.
There is a very surreal atmosphere in the terracing as people stand shoulder to shoulder watching the match with some talking about the nice mass service last night at St Michaels and others talking about looking forward to the Blues and Glens game the next day.

Seaview Football Ground, Shore Road, Belfast
Seaview Football Ground, Shore Road, Belfast

There are plenty of shouts of encouragement from the crowd for both teams and the players out on the pitch. After all it is the biggest prize to win in local amateur football.
Ten minutes before halftime, that’s my cue to bustle through the crowd and get a table and the drinks set up in the Crues Social Club. It soon fills up with the fans from different religious and political persuasions, but hey it’s Christmas and as outside on the terracing, there is to be no Orange or Fenian B’s or any offence given today. I talk to a few guys who have travelled up from Killyleagh who I know and have not seen for a few years.
Silver and Civil Servant join me at the table and sit down on the other two chairs that I have had to defend vigorously to maintain for them. We sip on our drinks and yarn what we have been up to during the year. The unusual circumstances of the day have not gone unnoticed by Silver and he comments.‘You know what this reminds me off ?’, ‘The Tin Hut’ (Edgarstown Pigeon Club) . ‘It was the only place you could get a drink in Portadown on Christmas Day and we would have all been in it and you could sure as hell bet every year, that the Creaney’s and that entire mob from the Tunnel would appear into it at about Midday.’
‘Gilpin would just look at every one of us and you knew that there was not a word of offence or trouble to be made today by all sides.’
Civil Servant then chirps in and says ‘Wouldn’t it be great if it was Christmas every day!’ Silver with a grin replies ‘Yeah it would be good, and maybe we could parade on the 12th of July, without any agro too’.

Donegal Celtic Football Club, Belfast
Donegal Celtic Football Club, Belfast

 

We return back to the terraces to watch the remainder of the second half and DC comfortly win the game 3-Nil. No issues from any of us regarding the scoreline, the best team won on the day. We head out of the ground while the team in the Green & White Hoops parade the Cup to their supporters from the west of the city.
Civil Servant drops Silver and me off at the Navel Club in Great Victoria Street and we wish him well and will see him next year again as he heads back up the M1 and home to Dromore.
We join some of Silver’s friends and he gives them a match programme and the score and rundown of the game.
As per usual I am lumbered as bar waiter for the company, however it gives me the opportunity to wish Christmas Greetings to a few other people I know in the place while travelling back and forward from the bar.
I am happy to hear the barman call last orders as your Christmas Dinner,’In the Dog’ is not an option on my agenda, however I am horrified when Silver and his two Shipmates all pull ‘tenners’ out of their pockets and say ‘last round of drinks each’ Do I try to neck four pints down me in fifteen minutes? I take the logical option and also copy their choice of ‘half-uns’

Navel Club, Great Victoria Street, Belfast
Navel Club, Great Victoria Street, Belfast

I am relieved to see Silver’s son appear to pick him up and give him and his mates a lift home, this allows me to say my goodbyes and leave. As I walk through the snow on my way home what goes through my mind is Silver’s Halftime Team Talk. He has a point ‘Why can’t the 12th of July be free from objection ?’ It’s called ‘Shared Space’ what I have just came from today from a part of North Belfast and not the type from a Trojan Horse !
Merry Christmas & Peace and Goodwill to all Men & Women

TE Lawrence

The Culture War

Political commentators and opponents of unionism try to convince us that this talk of culture war is nonsense and ‘all in our heads’ and we should get on with life and move on. When Gerry Adams stated that residents groups established to oppose loyal order parades just did not spring up overnight and a lot of hard work and planning went into that, he did not have to convince me, I certainly agree with him. I suppose by making the statement, Sinn Fein was also collecting its reward in votes from the electoral constituency for what it seen as defeating the old enemy in various contentious disputed fronts that was set up. One might argue that it was not much of a contest with the referee being the NIO appointed Parades Commission.

Unelectable (Quango) Parades Commission
Unelectable (Quango) Parades Commission

 

 
We are also told that we have to accept demographic change of the population of Northern Ireland and the ‘Greening of the West of the Bann’ shall spread East and we shall be voted into an All-Ireland in the not too distant future. All very democratically appropriate when 50.01% of the population of the country decide to do so and vote for this option accordingly. The term Greening is deliberately trumpeted by the protagonist of the culture war which basically means the land is no other colour but ours. I already hear the shouts, stop moping, get over it and accept change. No problem I accept the ballot box and the wish of the majority of people, this is democracy.
I now look at my capital city Belfast and the changed limited flying of the union flag of the country from the city hall building with now a 42% Nationalist 40% Unionist and 18% Others political make up within the council. Once again I am told to stop whinging because Nationalist done a better job than Unionist by persuading Others to join with it to only fly the flag on designated days. Fair enough that’s politics and the nature of the game by forming voting pacts with other political parties, but I am still left with a sour taste in my mouth watching on video the culture war protagonist gloat and celebrate in their city hall parlour after the decision. I am told get over it, they are only behaving like football supporters who have scored a goal. OK fair enough I’ve stood on the terracing at Windsor Park and witnessed Marty Quinn ram a goal into the back of the net in the last minute to send the Reds supporters in the Spion Kop into dileration.

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall

 

Now as a Belfast lad I fully appreciate and accept the demographic population changes of districts that has occurred in the city over the last 50 years. The days of the Orange Order parading down the Falls (yes the Falls Road on the 12th July from Broadway Church), Grosvenor Road, Cliftonville Road, Antrim Road, Durham Street are long gone and left as memories to be discussed with old men, but what I cannot get my head around is a dispute at a roundabout where no residents live on the Crumlin Road to not allow members of the Orange to return back to Ligoniel on the 12th July evening where they had come from in the morning.
Loyalist politicians and representatives get critized for supporting the Twaddell Protest when in reality they have to be with their people and voters in the frontline with such a protest. If the Parades Commission received an objection from residents of Browns Square and decided to stop a St Patrick’s Day Parade from parading along Millfield I would fully expect every Sinn Fein Belfast Councilor to be in the frontline of any protest against such a decision with its people and voters.

Twaddell Human Rights Camp
Twaddell Human Rights Camp

We are told that we are leaderless and our politicians should be leading us into change, yeah I can’t even see the most moderate of unionist politician stating to their voters they must change and take down the flag of their country and don’t walk home on the 12th of July. Bit like the Turkey Leader telling the rest of the Turkey’s don’t worry Christmas is fine and leading them all down to the butcher’s shop for the chop !
Maybe the Sinn Fein Strategy was always to keep Loyalism trapped in the trenches of the culture war (It certainly has done that). I suppose it’s politically easier to argue with a Tory than it is with a Working Class Prod with the same accent ?
With other Republicans eating up 10% of the total republican vote in Belfast depressingly we hold our breaths and wait to see what new contested territory and disputes shall arise in the city in the future ?
Meanwhile the pyre of frustration, anger, alienation and hared grows stronger within those loyalist communities of the city.
I listened to a radio interview just before Christmas regarding the flags protest where Danny Morrison stated ‘If this is the behavior of loyalists over a flag what are they going to be like if they are ever voted into an All Ireland ? He is only looking through the glass window from the outside, it gets even more scary when you’re inside !
If there are five green and five orange jelly babies in a bag of sweets and you eat two orange jelly babies the three remaining will still not become green. The irony of the Republican Culture War is that it will be the poor working class jelly babies who are the ones as always to get eaten. ‘But Hey !’ ‘I am Paranoid !”‘ ‘My Head is Full of Sweetie Mice’ ‘Is’nt It ?’

TE Lawrence