Nelson McCausland said violence after Friday’s “Republican” parades in Belfast was inevitable. Mike Nesbitt opposed the Castlederg IRA parade with constant reference to, and I quote exactly, “our own PUL community“.
They have fallen – hook, line and sinker – into Sinn Fein’s trap through which history will be re-written to the benefit of the IRA. They may both be Oxbridge-educated, but when it comes to parades and the past their innate sectarianism makes them fools.
Here are a few facts which it doesn’t suit populist, sectarian Unionists (or “Republicans” for that matter) to point out:
- as a result of the “Troubles”, more Catholics were killed than Protestants;
- during the “Troubles”, more Catholics were killed by the IRA than by anyone else; and
- at the end of the “Troubles”, more Catholics were unemployed, in poor health and on low incomes than Protestants.
In other words, a terror campaign for which the IRA was primarily responsible resulted in hell for all of Northern Ireland - but particularly for Catholics.
Thus, Sinn Fein is engaged in a long-standing campaign to make all Catholics believe that the IRA’s terror campaign was not only justified but even glorious. It accepts that Protestants will never believe this, but by pushing this view among Catholics it can then include acceptance of the justification of IRA terror as part of an “equality agenda”, whereby Protestants are generously “entitled” to believe the IRA campaign was unjustified for as long as Catholics are entitled to believe it was justified. Mike Nesbitt is one of many foolish Unionists who fall into this trap by suggesting that the only people opposed to IRA terror, and indeed implicitly that the only victims of it, were Protestants (or members of “our own PUL community“) – thus reinforcing the very dichotomy Sinn Fein is attempting to pursue! This is where buying in wholly to the blinkered sectarian approach gets you.
At the same time, Sinn Fein is also engaged in an attempt to reduce the number of parades and bonfires – an outcome which will gain it kudos in its “own community” with the added benefit, for some at least, that this will predominantly annoy Protestants. After all, Protestants do over 80% of the parading in Northern Ireland and nearly all the bonfires, so any blanket restriction to either will particularly affect Protestants. It just so happens, this summer, that “Republicans” have started pushing the limits on both, particularly parades, causing Unionist politicians both to call for the parades to be banned and to blame the parades for subsequent violence. Thus “Republicans” can very neatly tie parading to violence and move gradually towards a position where there is growing public support, particularly outside the inner cities (among all communities), for parades to be banned altogether or at least severely restricted; a useful by-product of this is they can attempt to tie the Orange Order to Loyalist paramilitaries to the extent that this becomes part of the accepted narrative, even though it is no less ludicrous than tying the GAA to the IRA. By coming out and presenting (presumably paramilitary-inspired) violence as an inevitable consequence of parades, Unionist politicians foolishly enhance Sinn Fein’s narrative. Indeed, we now have a precedent for a parade being diverted from its route by the PSNI due to a violent protest - such a precedent will now be expected to be matched by future parades organisers, very few of whom will be “Republican”.
All of this is beneficial to Sinn Fein because it serves to make it the natural follow-on of the Civil Rights Movement rather than of a needless terror campaign which cost thousands of lives; it has the additional benefit of making professional Protestants, essentially aware of what is going on, give up on Unionist leaders as the fools they are for falling into all these traps, with the consequence that suburban Unionists increasingly stop voting.
This is indeed a calamitous failure of Unionist leadership. Why? Mainly because good leaders listen, but Unionist politicians don’t.