Tuesday, 24 November 2009

If they act like thugs, and join an organisation devoted to thuggery, safe to say, they're thugs.

‘When Tory politician William Hague referred to loyalists as ‘thugs’, my heart sank’, claims Roy Garland, in his weekly diatribe against ‘English’ Conservatives. ‘No group of people’ should, he contends, be dismissed in such a way. Not even, apparently, groups whose activities conform to the very definition of thuggery.

First, I don’t believe that Garland’s ‘heart sank’ when the Foreign Secretary attacked loyalist paramilitaries. On the contrary, his communal instincts kicked in, ‘he’s having a go at ussuns as well as themmuns, what an opportunity’ (or words to that effect).

Second, his latest article contains a heart rending tale of a nice young man who joined a paramilitary organisation and then began to change it. Indeed it is positively glowing on the topic of loyalist groups and their stout community work in general.

What a load of twaddle! This is the same narrative, told from a different perspective, which we get from Republicans. Fine young men, compelled by extraordinary circumstances to commit dreadful deeds.

Nobody would claim that paramilitaries are irredeemable. They can gain acceptance by leaving paramilitary groups and joining the lawful society which they have previously terrorised. Attitudes like Garland’s just entrench the influence of shadowy groups within the very communities which he purports to care about.

Loyalist thugs have used guns and intimidation to run areas which, rightly or wrongly, felt under siege. William Hague is absolutely right to pledge to oppose them at every opportunity. Roy Garland, in contrast, demonstrates precisely the moral ambivalence to Protestant terrorists which has undermined unionism over a series of decades.

No group of people deserve to be labelled thugs? How about the morons who murdered Kevin McDaid.


Timothy Belmont said...

The BBC NI reporter claimed yesterday that the "provos" - or whatever name one wishes to apply - are actively recruiting young, unemployed youths.

Thugs remain thugs, no matter whether they are working or not. It must be in their nature.

Anonymous said...


It just shows what an apalling journalist Garland is. Had he a connection in loyalist groups at some time?

Chekov said...

I believe that RG was 'linked' at one stage. During his seriously extreme protestantism days.

Gary said...

Chekov, Most of the issues that you blog about I am in BROAD agreement with. However, I have a couple of points on this issue with which to comment about. First, I sometimes find it hard to not feel a tad "peeved off" (to put it politely) at those people that equate Loyalist with terrorist/thug (delete as appropriate). Language is a very emotive subject. What exactly is a Loyalist in your book? You talk about the complicated nature of identity quite often.....well apart from my national identity of which you are well aware of, I view myself as both a Unionist (support for the Union) and a Loyalist (working class and Loyal to that Union and hence the Crown). I am in no way connected to William Hagues "thugs", or yours or anyone elses "terrorists" as you well know from my Facebook page!! So by that broad brush I am either labeled a thug or a terrorist or both!!! The media are just as guilty, it is both offensive (sometimes designed to be that way) and also lazy.
My second point is you use the term "Protestant" terrorists!!!! Come on Chekov! I can almost bet my life on it that these terrorists ARE NOT Protestant, for where does in state in the Bible (the only authority) for Protestants that "thou shall kill"? That terminology is depressing and more offensive that anything I could hear!!
Just my thoughts on it mate.

Chekov said...


First - your definition of loyalist is one thing. When William Hague referred to 'so-called loyalist thugs' it was quite clear that he was referring to paramilitaries, rather than working class unionists. Garland has deliberately chosen to obscure the issue. Perhaps 'loyalist' should not carry the connotations which it does, but I'm afraid that, for the vast majority of people, it is freighted with certain associations. Because 'unionist' describes a political belief, it doesn't carry the same connotations. It's unfortunate for people who do want to define themselves as 'loyalist' but don't have paramilitary sympathies, but I'm afraid it has become shorthand for those sympathies. Republican is a term which has become similarly loaded and few of us our particularly precious about using it to describe a militant form of nationalism.

Whether the terrorists to whom I refer are 'bible believing' Protestants are not, they often identify them as such. I use the term because Garland in particular, when he was associating himself with these people, was doing so because he was wedded to a particularly extreme form of Protestantism.

Chekov said...

* identify themselves primarily as Protestant.

Anonymous said...

Before everyone claims the moral high ground, lets not forget that our great grandfathers smuggled in 100,000 guns to (quite rightly) resist home rule. Ultimately they created NI. If we judge them by todays standards were they "thugs"?

Often things are not black and white, but a shade of grey.


Chekov said...

Remind me how many brutal sectarian murders were committed in the name of the original gun smugglers?

Anonymous said...

498 between 1920 and 1922 (on both sides) according to 'Belfast's Unholy War' Parkinson 2004. 2000 injured, 10,000 expelled from their workplaces and 23,000 homeless.

The birth of our country was 'grey' and equally so much of our recent history.


Chekov said...

Total ignorance of the question.

Anonymous said...


Please elaborate and I'll answer the question.


rutherford said...

I'd like to know how David can compare the twilight years of Realpolitik with the late 20th century's rise of democracy without feeling the need to laugh hysterically?