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


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