“They muddy the water, to make it seem deep”. Friedrich Nietzsche
Cllr. Stephen Cooper
Traditional Unionist Voice
Parading in NI has become a contentious issue, thanks to the deliberate setting up of resident groups by Sinn Fein in the nineties. Intentional as it is, the continuing friction through each and every summer is a key component of the Sinn Fein strategy to harness the resentment inherent in republican areas to maintain their core electoral support and appear to be standing up to ‘them uns.’
The refusal to countenance any sort of compromise from their quarters, exacerbates relations further between the residents of Ardoyne and the wider CNR community, and the bands and loyal orders who live alongside, despite the fact that the latter have taken the Parades Commissions deliberations on the chin and complied with decisions made by this unelected and discredited body.
To place this in context, it is important to understand the perpetual onslaught against my community from the same quarter who are hell bent on opposing dignified and respectful processions with no prospect of tolerance or indeed fulfilling their promises of creating shared space. It sets a very dangerous precedent that the main arterial route which runs past, not through Ardoyne, is subject to control and influence by violent protestors who resort to opening up with automatic gunfire on Police lines to get their way, and is presently accepted as an appropriate benchmark to measure the validity of any application from the loyal orders.
This plainly infers that NI is perilously sinking further into the morass of terrorist dictatorship.
Republican representatives have appeared on tv in recent weeks and have stated clearly that if parades are permitted to pass somewhere where republicans don’t approve of, they will bring thousands onto the streets.
This inherent threat is a backward step and a terrible example of the bitterness and intolerance within their community, and provides an accurate measure of the hatred simmering within their ranks to anything outside their preferred way of life.
My community have been subjected to a cowardly and dastardly campaign for decades from those within the CNR community who have steadfastly refused to accept the democratic wishes of the majority of people in NI and who instead resorted to their infamous and regrettable ballot box and armalite policy.
The Belfast Agreement, foisted upon a weary Unionist electorate, with excessive propaganda and emotional blackmail utilised to maximise the promise of ‘peace in our time’ has failed miserably, due to the sectarian nature of the carve up of the underlying legislation which underpinned the accord.
Of course, it is imperative that there is cognisance of the fact that the BA is not a resolution, it is simply a transitional phase demanded by Sinn Fein in return for an all-Ireland dynamic built into the minutiae of the Assembly structures and overreaching cross border bodies and associated strata of governance, in return for a bomb free London and an end to economic damage through their futile campaign.
At present the threat of that same violence still evidently brings results.
This is not the example I want for the next generation, nor is it positive that the commanders of Sinn Fein sit in government of the place they want to destroy, coupled with the youth of today looking up to the criminals who wreaked havoc and brought destruction to our cities and towns throughout NI, and killed thousands in the process.
Learning to respect each others identity is crucial to creating some sense of a normal society, superficial as it may be.
My community are expected to tolerate the sight of foreign tricolours on Paddy’s day, the GAA having stadiums, trophies and even clubs named after republican terrorists, and we don’t bring thousands onto the street because we are offended.
The catch 22 situation we find ourselves in is down to the reason I outlined at the outset, namely that Sinn Fein need this disruption to retain the electoral support they regrettably attract. There is not a chance of republicans conceding anything anywhere, as their leadership cannot and will not even consider any softening of their entrenched position, nor are they capable of reaching out their hands, bloodied as they are, to their Unionist and law abiding neighbours.
Until such times that we can break down the barriers built up by Sinn Fein, an organisation who has the destruction of NI as its core objective, then there really is no chance of a shared future.
How can my community believe the lying cowards of Sinn Fein after their past and present behaviour? How can I advocate to my electorate a policy of building a NI in tandem with individuals who want to destroy our country? How can I agree to trust terrorists who have yet to even apologise for the thousands of murders? How can anyone take seriously the claims from their president that he was never in the IRA?
In short, republicans have a lot to do to convince myself and my electorate that they are genuine, as they exhibit only negativity and constantly resort to their slanted and untrue narrative of the violence they were predominately responsible for, without any thought for the victims and those who are still suffering from their mass genocide.
Until we have law and order re-instated in NI, then society will forever be influenced and controlled by those who can threaten the highest level of violence.
Is this really the shared future we want for the next generation?