Friday, 11 July 2014

Mairead Farrell RYC and the Nazis

The North Belfast News (12 July) carries a photograph of a large poster on a fence on the Crumlin Road, opposite Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church.  

According to the report it was erected by the Mairead Farrell Republican Youth Committee, which is described as the 'activist youth wing of Sinn Fein'.  For further information on their activities you might look at their Facebook page.

The poster appeared on Tuesday morning and bears the message "ANTI-FASCIST, ANTI-SECTARIAN, ANTI-HATE MFRYC".

According to the chairman of the group, Eoin McShane, the poster is part of an ongoing campaign 'to take a stand against hate'.

Well before Eoin and his friends got to work with their spray paint, they should have taken a history lesson, because when fascism was really rampant in Europe, their political party and their friends in the IRA were colluding with the Nazis.  When Ulstermen and Irishmen, Protestant and Roman Catholic, were fighting fascism on the battlefields of Europe, the IRA was collaborating with one of the most evil regimes ever to appear on the face of the earth.

They may paint on the poster that they are "anti-Fascist" but their republican forebears were happy to cosy up to Adolf Hitler and his henchmen.

As regards portraying the republican movement as "anti-sectarian", the IRA did murder Protestants and Roman Catholics but I dont think that makes you "anti-sectarian". Moreover one of the most notable aspects of their murder campaign was that of the ethnic cleansing of Protestants in many border areas.  Anti-sectarian ..... not really!

Respect for the Orange Order

At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Wexford in February Gerry Adams said, 'Treat Orangemen with respect.'

Then last week in the Northern Ireland Assembly Sinn Fein members supported a motion calling for 'tolerance and respect' in relation to parades and protests.

But actions speak louder than words and once again republicans have failed to deliver.

It would only take six minutes of tolerance and respect from republicans for them to withdraw their opposition to a return parade by the three Orange lodges and the band on the Crumlin Road.  Sadly it seems this is beyond them and it seems their words are hollow.

During the debate I asked if it was too much to ask for a few minutes of respect and tolerance.  It seems that it is.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Irish language, Sinn Fein and the IRA

Bobby Sands, IRA terrorist and hunger striker
Some rather na├»ve people try to promote the Irish language within the unionist community in Northern Ireland and present it as part of a 'shared heritage'.  We should embrace our 'Gaelic heritage' they tell us.
Now much of their propaganda is deeply flawed, a point that I have made on many occasions.  Most recently I highlighted the ridiculous attempt by a contributor to Wikipedia to tell us that the village of Mossley in Newtownabbey was named from some obscure Irish word.  It was in fact named after the town of Mossley in England.  Other examples of such spurious nonsense appear on a regular basis and I will give another example in a forthcoming post.
However the reality of the Irish language movement in Northern Ireland is well illustrated recently when St Colm's High School in Twinbrook was the scene for the launch of new Gaeltacht bursaries provided by Sinn Fein and the Bobby Sands Gaeltacht Scholarship to two children.
The Gaeltacht bursaries are named after an IRA terrorist and hunger-striker and the report in An Phoblacht (2 July) was entitled Bobby Sands Gaeltacht Scholarships awarded.
Martin McGuinness made the Bobby Sands bursary awards
 in St Colm's High School in Twinbrook
Two children received bursaries and other children received certificates for their progress in Irish.  Indeed the report included a photograph of Martin McGuinness signing a Bobby Sands Scholarship certificate, which has a photograph of the IRA terrorist in the top left corner.  This is what was presented to the children and it was an endorsement of IRA commander Bobby Sands.
Of course all of this happened in the presence of and with the approval and participation of the St Colm's High School principal Cathy McMurray, who said that Irish culture was a central and important part of the school's curriculum.  I wonder if Bobby Sands is a part of that culture.
Cathy McMurray with Martin McGuinness & Jennifer McCann
So far neither the school, the Roman Catholic bishop nor the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools have commented on the event and it hasn't reached the BBC or UTV.  But maybe some journalist will start asking questions and keep on asking them until he or she gets an answer.

And maybe William Crawley will take it up on Sunday Sequence or maybe Stephen Nolan will take it up on Radio Ulster on Monday ... or then again maybe not.

St Colm's High School is a co-educational school that serves the parishes of St Luke's, The Nativity, Christ the Redeemer, St Anne's, Our Lady Queen of Peace Kilwee and Derriaghy

A Blue Plaque for a member of the Old IRA

Today the Irish News devoted an entire page to a new blue plaque which has been erected by the Ulster History Circle.  It also got a mention today in Eddie McIlwaine's page in the Belfast Telegraph.
The plaque was unveiled in Newry to recognise Peadar Barry (1895-1966) who was secretary of the County Down Board of the GAA for 31 years from the formation of the board in 1926 until 1957 and thereafter he was lifetime president.

The Irish News also tells us that Peadar Barry was a political ally of Eamon de Valera and a Nationalist politician and that he produced and acted in local plays and campaigned for the Ulster Farmers Union.
All this is true but it is interesting that the reports on the Ulster History Circle website and in the Irish News and the Belfast Telegraph omit any reference to another important part of the life of Peadar Barry, his role in the Old IRA.
Peadar Barry
Peadar Barry was born in 1891 and was the son of Peter Barry from Corrags and Annie O'Hare of Derrylecka.  As a boy he learned the stories of the United Irishmen and the Land League around the fireside in the family home.  He went on to play an active role in the War of Independence as a member of the Fourth Northern Division, Pre-Truce IRA, under the command of the notorious Frank Aiken.  It was Aiken who organised the murder of nine innocent Protestants at Altnaveigh in June 1922.
Later, as president of the Down GAA, Peadar Barry welcomed Frank Aiken, his former IRA commander-in-chief and then the Eire Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the official opening of Pairc an Iuir (now Pairc Esler) in Newry.
When Peadar Barry died in 1966, the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 rebellion, his coffin was covered with an Irish tricolour and escorted by an Old IRA guard-of-honour.  There was an oration at the graveside and a bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille.  This was an Old IRA funeral.

Why did the Ulster History Circle and the newspapers omit any reference to Peadar Barry's role in the Old IRA?  That is a question that only they can answer but it is a question worth asking.

However this led me on to thinking again about something that has been pointed out before, the need for balance in the selection of plaques by the Ulster History Circle, so I took another look at the Ulster History Circle website, which lists all the blue plaques that have been erected.

This is the second plaque erected to commemorate a member of the GAA.  The other was for John McKay, a founding member of the GAA in 1884.  However there are no plaques relating to an organisation which plays a similar social role in the Protestant and Unionist community and by that I mean the Orange Order.

There are five plaques to leading members of the United Irishmen - William Steel Dickson, Jemmy Hope, Thomas McCabe and William Putnam McCabe, Henry Joy McCracken and Thomas Russell - who are described on the plaques as United Irishmen.  There is also a plaque for William Drennan, another United Irishman, who is described as a Patriot and Radical.

The Society of United Irishmen and the Orange Order were both founded in the 1790s but while one ended in 1798 the other is still a significant organisation and down through the years has played an important role in Ulster society.  Why then is there is no mention of the Orange Order on any plaque?

There is a plaque in Newry to John Mitchel (1815-1875) and John Martin (1812-1875), who are described as Patriots and Writers and who were from the next generation of republicans.  As regards later republicans there is a plaque to Alice Milligan, a Gaelic revivalist and also a member of Sinn Fein.

The use of the word patriot in relation to Drennan, Mitchel and Martin is understandable but all three were republicans, although in the end William Drennan rejected republicanism and became a unionist. Is it impossible to be a patriotic unionist?  Is the word patriot reserved for Irish nationalists and republicans?

So where is the recognition of unionism in the plaques and why is there no mention of unionism?  Are there no significant unionists who deserve to be commemorated?  What about Sir James Craig, the leader of Ulster Unionism and one of the founding fathers of Northern Ireland?  What about Thomas Sinclair, the author of the Ulster Covenant and leader of the Liberal Unionists?  What about Fred Crawford, who organised the Larne gunrunning and whose life could be turned into a Hollywood epic? What about one of the former Grand Masters of the Orange Order?  What about one of the former prime ministers of Northern Ireland?  What about Thomas Sloan MP, leader of the Independent Orange Order?

A shared future must have a place for unionism and a place for Orangeism but in some circles there seems to be no place for them.  Unionism and Orangeism are very much under-represented in the work of the Ulster History Circle.

Yesterday a blue plaque was unveiled for a county secretary of the GAA and a former member of the Old IRA.  What then does the Ulster History circle intend to do to address the under-representation of leaders within unionism and Orangeism?  Will we ever see the words unionist or Orange appear on a 'blue plaque'?

The Ulster History Circle does a valuable work in highlighting significant figures in Ulster history and I regret having to raise this point but it is one that cannot be overlooked.


Friday, 4 July 2014

Two thoughts for Gerry Kelly

I listened this morning to Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly complaining on Radio Ulster that the Civil Rights Camp at Twaddell Avenue was illegal because it was on land belonging to Housing Executive.
Let me make two points in response to Gerry Kelly:
1. His argument is utterly hypocritical when his own party has been involved in the illegal erection of memorials to IRA terrorists on land belonging not only to the Housing Executive but to other public bodies. 
For example, the IRA memorial that was erected in Castlederg in August 2013 was erected with Sinn Fein support and it was inaugurated with a parade on the so-called Tyrone IRA Volunteers Day.  Moreover the main speaker at the inauguration of the illegal memorial was none other than Gerry Kelly himself!
2. The land at Twaddell Avenue is indeed owned by the Housing Executive but why do they own it?  The fact is that the land was once occupied by family homes and those families were Protestant families.  It was intimidation by Irish republicans that forced Protestant families to leave.  Of course it was not enough to put Protestants out of their homes ...  Irish republicans want them off the streets as well.
The sheer hypocrisy of Irish republicanism is matched only by its sectarian hatred.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Glengormley housing scandal

The real story of social housing in the North Belfast constituency is gradually emerging and on Tuesday Paula Bradley MLA asked an important question during Oral Questions in the Assembly. 
She asked me about housing need in the Glengormley area of North Belfast.  Here is the answer I gave to her question:
In March 2014 there were 233 applications on the waiting list for  Glengormley of which 156 were deemed to be in housing stress.  In the 12 months to March 2014 there were 37 social housing allocations.
There have been no new social housing schemes built in the Glengormley area since 1999.
There is a combined projected social housing need of 116 units identified for Glengormley for the period 2013-2018.  This can be broken down as: Glenvarna 74 units, Queen's Park 30 units and Hightown 12 units.
Over the past fifteen years not one single social house has been completed in the Glengormley area, in spite of the fact that there is a significant housing need and in spite of the fact that there has been a significant housing need! 
However, on further investigation it now seems that the past record of the Housing Executive is even worse than that.   The housing that was completed in 1999 was for 20 units of supported housing accommodation for residents with mental health problems.  This was specialist accommodation and residents for such accommodation come from a wide area.  These units were not built to meet local need in areas such as Queen's Park and Glenvarna.

So we have to go back beyond 1999 and ask when the last general needs social housing was built in Glengormley. 

I got the answer to that question yesterday and the answer is 1972 to 1974, when Glenvarna was built. 

Since the completion of Glenvarna in 1974, not one general needs social house has been built at Glengormley!  That is forty years ago and so in spite of a significant general housing need at Glengormley the Housing Executive has not completed a single house in the past forty years! 

Of course it could be argued that there was no land available but in fact there has been land available.  Over the past four years many private housing schemes and commercial developments have taken place in Glengormley.  There was land available for them so clearly that excuse does not stand up to scrutiny.

Not one new family home in forty years.  Is it any wonder that a DUP representative described the system as 'broken'?

I welcome the fact that Clanmil are now building 21 units at 369-371 Antrim Road but this is designed as accommodation for residents over 55.  Even now, in spite of the identified need for 116 units, there are no new family homes being built in the Glengormley area!

This is a situation that requires immediate and resolute action by the Housing Executive and that is what the North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has demanded.  It is time to address the failure of the past forty years and that must be done without delay.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Mossley - is this an Irish name?

Mossley Mill
The village of Mossley, in Newtownabbey, is dominated by the old mill, which now accommodates the offices of Newtownabbey Borough Council.  I have a certain affection for the place because my grandfather worked in the mill, his family lived in Mossley, some of my aunts and uncles worked in the mill and my father was born and grew up in Mossley.
Recently I was looking at the Wikipedia page for Newtownabbey and came across the following statement about the origin of the name Mossley.
The following housing estates have Irish-derived names ... Mossley (likely from Maslai).
In fact the name probably arose from the town of Mossley in Lancashire and a family named Grimshaw.  Nicholas Grimshaw was born in Lancashire in 1734 and there he learned about the cotton industry.  He came across to Ulster and in 1776 he advertised in the Belfast Newsletter, promoting new techniques for linen, cotton and calico printing at Greencastle, three miles north of Belfast.  By 1800 he was one of the most important men in the cotton industry
On his death in 1805 his sons Thomas and Edmund carried on his well-established business at Whitehouse.  They also took over other mills in the area and Mossley was one of them.  Edmund continued the printing business until 1834 when it became more lucrative to convert to flax spinning.
As confirmation of the real origin of the name I refer to A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names by Dr Patrick McKay:
The name Mossley has been imported from England where it is found as the name of a town south-east of Oldham in Lancashire.  The name means 'clearing by mossy land', from OE mos 'peat-bog' + OE leah 'clearing'. 
The earliest record of the name in reference to the village in Ulster is in 1839.
Two things strike me about this and one is of course the unreliability of Wikipedia.  It is useful but needs to be treated with caution.  The second thing is that there is a tendency on the part of some Irish cultural enthusiasts to claim everything as Irish and try to find an Irish origin or association for everything, even when it isn't there.  This is another example of that tendency.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dissident republican groups

The world of dissident republicanism is a complex world and I have written this post to provide a short description of most of the dissident republican political groups.

The term 'dissident republican' is not a new one but was coined in the mid-1970s when the Official IRA was engaged in a shooting war with the fledgling INLA.

Republican Sinn Fein emerged in 1986 after a split in Sinn Fein but it sees itself as the true Sinn Fein, maintaining an 'unbroken continuity' with past.  According to its national website:

Republican SINN FEIN Poblachtach was founded in 1905.  In 1969 following the reformist/revolutionary split Sinn Fein reorganised as Provisional Sinn Fein upholding the Sinn Fein constitution.  In 1986 Provisional Sinn Fein under a misguided leadership decided to take their seats in a British  imposed parliament, namely the 26-County Parliament Leinster House.  The movement split.  Sinn Fein reformed again out of the walkout of the 86 Ard-Fheis led by the true Republican leadership, who saw the failure of the new Provisional leadership's decision to enter into a partitionist assembly.  This as predicted led to a greater erosion of Republican principles, to the acceptance of entering a new Stormont and an acceptance of British Partition.  Republican Sinn Fein uphold the right of the Irish people to oppose continued British occupation in Ireland.
RSF is regarded as the political wing of the Continuity IRA although this is denied by RSF.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement was founded on 7 December 1997 at a meeting in Finglas in Dublin.  Most of the founder members had been members of Sinn Fein and some had been expelled from the party.  Bernadette Sands McKevitt, a sister of Bobby Sands and wife of Michael McKevitt, was a prominent member of the group. 

Michael McKevitt was a founding member of the Real IRA and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement is often referred to as the political wing of the Real IRA, the organisation that carried out the Omagh bombing in 1998.  In 2003 Michael McKevitt was sentenced in the Irish Republic to twenty years in prison on two terrorist charges, 'membership of an illegal organisation', the Real IRA, and 'directing terrorism'.

Councillor Gary Donnelly
Gary Donnelly, a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement was elected on the first county to the new Derry and Strabane Council.  He topped the poll in the Bogside and Creggan area of Londonderry.

Another prominent member of the organisation, Marian Price, was jailed in the 1970s for the Provisional IRA bombing of the Old Bailey in London.  Later she turned against Sinn Fein and has been a strong critic of Adams and McGuinness.  Earlier this year she admitted participating in a Real IRA Easter commemoration in April 2011, during which she was pictured holding a statement which was read by a masked man in a Londonderry cemetery.  At the time of her arrest she was secretary of the 32 CSM.  She also admitted a charge of buying a mobile phone used by the Real IRA to claim responsibility for the murder of two soldiers in Antrim in March 2009.
Eirigi was formed in Dublin in April 2006 as a campaigns group and the name means 'arise'.  At its first ard fheis in May 2007 it voted to become a political party and today it claims to have branches in counties Antrim, Armagh, Cork, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Sligo, Tyrone and Wicklow.

The chairman of the party is Brian Leeson (Dublin) and the vice-chairman is Rab Jackson (Belfast).  The general secretary is Brendan McKenna (Breandan MacCionnaith), who was the leader of republican opposition to the Orange parade from Drumcree parish church.

At the 2014 election to Belfast City Council Eirigi fielded two candidates Maire Drumm and Padraic MacCoitir but both were unsuccessful.

The party is not believed to have a paramilitary wing but in November 2012 Ursula Ni Shionnain, a prominent member of Eirigi, was arrested in County Offaly and remanded in custody for possession of two handguns and ammunition.
The Republican Network for Unity (RNU) was formed in 2007 after Sinn Fein voted to support the PSNI.  It was originally named the Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans Against RUC/PSNI & MI5 but later changed its name to Republican Network for Unity.

Some commentators view the RNU as the political wing of Oglaigh na hEireann, a splinter from the Real IRA, although this has been rejected by the RNU. 

In 2011 Carl Reilly, the RNU chairperson, gave an ambiguous denial that the RNU is the  political wing of the RNU.  He said, 'We don't speak for or explain the actions of Oglaigh na hEireann.  That is a matter for that organisation.'  However at its 2011 ard fheis the RNU voted to send 'comradely greetings' to the ONH.  It also 'asserted the right of Irishmen and women to use disciplined resistance to defend the Irish Republic proclaimed in 1916.'
The RNU fielded two candidates in the recent local government elections, Sammy Cusick in Oldpark and Tommy Doherty in Court, which now includes Lower Falls, but neither was elected.

Martin Og Meehan, son of the late Martin Meehan, is a prominent figure in RNU.  He is also the author of the Ardoyne Republican blog.
The 1916 Societies are an Irish Separatist Movement and believe that the Irish Republic should be a Sovereign Independent State.  According to their website they 'believe that a party political strategy will not unite Ireland.  They have no intention of engaging in an electoral strategy to partitionist institutions.'  'Individual members may favour or indeed be involved with political organisations but the 1916 societies as a collective body will remain independent.'

Each society is named after a major republican leader and that in Ardoyne is named after Sean MacDermott (Sean MacDiarmada), one of the seven leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. 

Dee Fennell speaking at a Sean MacDiarmada Republican Society event
The 1916 Societies website has a photograph of Dee Fennell speaking at a Sean MacDiarmada Republican Society event.  Fennell is of course a spokesman for the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) and was an independent candidate in the Oldpark DEA in the recent local government elections.

The 1916 society in Carrickmore is named after Joseph McGarrity, an Irish-American republican who collaborated with the Nazis and initiated the IRA collaboration with the Nazis.  For much of his life he was the leading Irish-American supporter of the IRA.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party has a somewhat different origin in that it was a breakaway from the Official IRA rather than the Provisional IRA.  The IRSP was formed on 8 December 1974 by former members of the Official Republican Movement, independent socialists and trade unionists.  A paramilitary wing, the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was founded on the same day, although its existence was kept secret for some time.  Seamus Costello was elected as the party's first chairperson and the first chief of staff of the INLA.  He had been expelled from the Official IRA following a court-martial and also from Official Sinn Fein.

The politics of the IRSP are far-left republican socialism and have been variously described as Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyist.

Three members of the INLA died in the 1981 hunger strike - Patsy O'Hara, Kevin Lynch and Michael Devine and in the same year party members Gerry Kelly and Sean Flynn won seats on Belfast City Council in a joint campaign with the People's Democracy but neither councillor served a full term.  One went on the run after being implicated during the supergrass trials and the other resigned after becoming disillusioned with the IRSP.

The headquarters of the IRSP is Costello House on the Falls Road in West Belfast but it has no elected representatives.  It fielded candidates in the 2011 local government elections in Northern Ireland, its first foray into electoral politics in almost thirty years, but none of them secured a seat, although a candidate in Strabane missed out by just one vote.  In Oldpark DEA in North Belfast the candidate was Paul Little.

The INLA declared a ceasefire on 22 August 1998 and the following year it stated that 'there is no political or moral argument to justify a resumption of the campaign.'  In October 2009 the INLA began decommissioning its weapons.



Saturday, 14 June 2014

Seamus McLoughlin - IRA terrorist (2)

Yesterday several reports named Oglaigh na hEireann as the terrorist organisation responsible for staging the paramilitary display at the wake of Seamus McLaughlin in Ardoyne.  The incident involved two masked and uniformed gunmen firing shots over the coffin in the front garden of a house in Butler Place.
Today the Irish News (14 June), which gives the surname as McLaughlin, carries an update on the story and provides some background on the organisation involved:
The paramilitary group calling itself the 'IRA' has said it fired shots over the coffin of a veteran republican in north Belfast this week.  The 'IRA' claimed the 76-year-old was a member of the organisation and had given 'full approval' for the paramilitary display.
The organisation announced its formation in 2012 after a merger between the  Real IRA, Direct Action Against Drugs and independent republicans in mid Ulster.
It is understood a volley of shots was also fired in his memory in Dublin.
Mr McLaughlin died in Dublin on Sunday and his remains were returned to north Belfast earlier this week.  He was buried on Thursday after Requiem Mass at Holy Cross church in Ardoyne.
It is believed the veteran republican had been living in the Republic where he had been on the run for four decades.  He had previously been linked to the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings which killed 21 people.
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said they were investigating the shots.  Earlier reports had claimed they were fired by Oglaigh na hEireann.
I may be wrong and if so I am happy to be corrected but so far there has been no condemnation of the paramilitary display from Sinn Fein or from any of the dissident republican spokesmen, including those linked to GARC and those who stood in the recent council elections, Dee Fennell and Sammy Cusick.  Their silence has been deafening.
Belfast's new lord mayor Nichola Mallon represents the area, as does Alban Maginness MLA, but there is no statement of condemnation on the SDLP website.
The funeral mass for Seamus McLoughlin was conducted in Holy Cross church but there has also been silence from the local parish priest, even though the incident took place a short distance from Holy Cross.
Why have the media not demanded responses from republican politicians and spokesmen, both mainstream and dissident, and indeed from the broader nationalist community?  The failure of the media to do so says a lot about the media.  Oh well, perhaps we'll get a full hour on the Nolan Show on Monday ... or perhaps not.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Seamus McLoughlin, IRA terrorist

The appearance on the internet of a photograph of terrorist funeral in Ardoyne has attracted considerable comment.  The photograph of the tricolour draped coffin, the black beret and black gloves and the masked republican gunmen is a stark reminder of the days when the Provisional IRA staged such funerals.  It is also a stark reminder, if such were needed, that extremist republican terrorists are still active in Ardoyne.
The coffin was that of Seamus McLoughlin and the incident took place on Wednesday evening at the home of his daughter Hilda in Butler Place.  The following day it was claimed that shots had been fired by members of Oglaigh na hEireann.  The funeral mass took place on the Thursday morning at 10.00 am.
According to newspaper reports McLoughlin was 'a native of Ardoyne' and as a member of the Provisional IRA he took part in terrorist attacks on British soldiers.
In 1974 he was living in Birmingham and was a senior officer in the Provisional IRA.  He planned the Birmingham pub bombings in November 1974, in which the Provos murdered 21 innocent people.  Subsequently McLoughlin, who was known as 'Belfast Jimmy', went on the run.  He settled in the Irish Republic but it seems that there was never any attempt to extradite him.
Seamus McLoughlin died in Dublin earlier in the week and his body was brought north to his daughter's home in Ardoyne for burial.
It is not clear if he had a connection with any of the so-called dissident terrorist groups but clearly someone has a connection with Oglaigh na hEireann.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Dee Fennell - 'Greater Ardoyne Resident'?

Last month Dee Fennell stood as an Independent Republican in the Oldpark DEA for the recent elections to Belfast City Council.

On his nomination form he gave his address as Duneden Park, which is in Ardoyne. However two years ago, when he appeared in court as Damien Fennell, in connection with his part in a protest organised by Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, his address was given as Linden Gardens.

Now Linden Gardens lies between the Cliftonville Road and the Waterworks and it is well over a mile away from the Crumlin Road. So Damien or Dee certainly did not meet the requirements for membership of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, as he was NOT a resident of Greater Ardoyne.

I realise that Fennell likes to stretch the term Greater Ardoyne to its limits but no matter how much you stretch it residents of Linden Gardens are not residents of Greater Ardoyne. If you were to accept that proposition residents of Glencairn and Woodvale would also be residents of Greater Ardoyne!

But Dee was not a man to let a little thing like that deter him from describing himself as a resident of Greater Ardoyne, even if he wasn't, and he wasn't going to let the fact that he wasn't a resident prevent him from speaking as a 'resident'.

Of course all that has now been rectified and the GARC protestor and spokesman is now living in Duneden Park.  Well at least he won't have as far to go to be offended.

However this does illustrate something we already know, that GARC is not really about the rights of residents ... it is simply about giving verbal and violent expression to a crass sectarianism which will not tolerate Orangemen on the Crumlin Road.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sunday Sequence

I don't listen to Sunday Sequence on Radio Ulster a regular basis but I did happen to hear a discussion this week about the Human Trafficking Bill, which is making its way through the Northern Ireland Assembly.  The bill has been promoted by Lord Morrow and deals primarily with human trafficking but it would also make it illegal to purchase sex from a prostitute.  This aspect of the bill was discussed on the programme under the title 'The ethics of prostitution'.
The discussion involved the presenter, William Crawley, and three women, Laura Lee, Julie Bindel and Harriet Long.

Laura Lee is a prostitute who lives in Scotland and is from an Irish Roman Catholic background.  She is a spokesperson for the International Union of Sex Workers.  She is opposed to the bill as she believes it interferes with her business as a prostitute.

Julie Bindel is an English writer, radical feminist and co-founder of Justice for Women.  She is a lesbian and refers to herself as a political lesbian feminist.  During the programme she also described herself as a secularist.  In January 2009 she wrote about the radical lesbian feminism of the 1970s and 1980s and ended with an invitation to heterosexual women to become lesbians!  Bindel supports the Human Trafficking Bill and believes it should be illegal for a man to purchase sex from a prostitute.

Harriet Long is also English but has been living in Belfast for some years and is an advocacy officer for the Rainbow Project in Belfast, a homosexual, bisexual and transgender organisation.   She was described on the programme as being 'from a Christian background' and was formerly a youth worker with the East Belfast Methodist Mission.  On her blog she identifies herself as a feminist and says that she 'lurks around the congregation and leadership council of the East Belfast Mission'.  Harriet Long is opposed to the Human Trafficking Bill.

It was not altogether surprising that the prostitute opposed the bill and the core of the discussion was really between the gay rights activist, Harriet Long, and the radical gay feminist, Julie Bindel.

Harriet described Northern Ireland as 'religiously, socially and politically conservative' and  spoke of an 'evangelical crusade' while William Crawley spoke of a 'new Puritanism'.  However there was no one there from an evangelical perspective to respond to those comments - so much then for the BBC's commitment to balance.
Sunday Sequence has been broadcast on Radio Ulster since 1980 and was originally presented as 'religious broadcasting' but in more recent years the religious content in the programme has been greatly reduced.

Every Sunday in Ulster many thousands of evangelical Christians will worship God in their church of choice and there is a strong and vibrant evangelical community in Ulster.  However it is a community which is marginalised by Sunday Sequence.  It will home in on something controversial but otherwise it is a community which is airbrushed out of many discussions.

Oh and back to the discussion on the Human Trafficking Bill - a prostitute from Glasgow, an English radical feminist who is a lesbian and a secularist, and an advocacy worker from an organisation for homosexuals - perhaps someone in the BBC can explain how they came to select the panel.


Monday, 2 June 2014

Gerry Carroll - Belfast's Trotskyist councillor

Councillor Gerry Carroll
This is Councillor Gerry Carroll who has just been elected to the new shadow Belfast City Council to represent Blackmountain DEA in West Belfast. 

He was elected as a member of the People Before Profit Alliance, which was described by Irish News columnist Newton Emerson as 'a wholly owned subsidiary of the Socialist Workers Party'.

Most people will not be familiar with Gerry Carroll or the PBPA or indeed the Socialist Workers Party, so it may be helpful to provide some background on these organisations and their new Belfast councillor.

The People Before Profit Alliance was formed by the Socialist Workers Party in October 2005 and is active in both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.  It is a far-left alliance and is dominated by the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

Two PBPA candidates were elected to the Dail in the Republic's 2011 general election.  They were Richard Boyd Barrett of the SWP and Joan Collins but in April 2013 Joan Collins left the Alliance to form United Left, a political party, with former Socialist Party TD Clare Daly.  The PBPA fielded 43 local government candidates in the Republic in May 2014 and gained 14 seats.

In Northern Ireland they have not achieved the same level of success.  People Before Profit ran only one candidate, Sean Mitchell, in the 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly election.  He polled just 774 first preference votes in West Belfast and was unsuccessful.

At the next Assembly election in May 2011 they ran four candidates and won 5,438 first-preference votes but no seats.   Eamonn McCann was their candidate in Foyle, where he took 3,120 first-preference votes.

In June 2011 Gerry Carroll stood for People Before Profit in the West Belfast by-election that followed the departure of Gerry Adams and he gained 1,751 votes (7.6%).  He also stood in the 2011 Assembly election and took 1661 votes (4.8%).  Those two election campaigns provided the basis for his 2014 bid for Belfast City Council.

So much for the 'party' which is really a front for the Socialist Workers Party but what about Gerry Carroll himself.

Gerry Carroll was educated at St Mary's Christian Brothers Grammar School.  He has been a political activist for some years and he was arrested in December 2010 while taking part in a student protest against fees.  He was charged with committing a provocative act, resisting police and obstructing lawful activity in a public place and appeared in court on 5 January 2011. 

A Facebook page relating to this case described Carroll as an 'SWP member and anti-cuts campaigner'.  So then what is the SWP?

The Socialist Workers Party can be traced back to 1950 when it was founded as the Socialist Review Group by Tony Cliff (1917-2000).  This tiny group of Trotskyists adopted a strategy of 'entryism' in the Labour Party in order to reach a wider audience and recruit new members.  It became the International Socialism Group at the end of 1962 and around 1965 it abandoned the strategy of 'entryism'.  According to the group's historian Ian Birchall, the position of the International Socialists was one of 'unconditional support for the IRA in the struggle against imperialism'.  In 1977 the group was renamed the Socialist Workers Party.

Meanwhile in Ireland the Socialist Workers Movement was formed in 1971 by members of the International Socialists who were living in Ireland and who had previously been members of the People's Democracy and several other minor groups.  The SWM argued that it was the duty of revolutionary socialists to support republicans in fighting against 'British imperialism'.  They supported IRA prisoners and some of their members were active in anti-H Black committees.  The SWM also encouraged people to vote for Sinn Fein.

At its conference in 1995 the SWM was renamed the Socialist Workers Party and it argued that the Sinn Fein leaders were moving to an accommodation with imperialism.  It was time for them to strike out on their own and in 1997 the SWP began contesting elections in the Irish Republic.

On 25 February 2006 there were riots in Dublin against a planned 'Love Ulster' parade and the SWP issued a statement in which it expressed full support for the actions of the republican rioters - 'Socialists do not join in the condemnation of young working class people who riot against the police - especially given the wider context'.

In Northern Ireland from 2003 to 2008 the SWP operated as part of the Socialist Environmental Alliance, which was led by Goretti Horgan, the partner of Eamonn McCann.  However the SEA dissolved in 2008 and the SWP now operates under the banner of the People Before Profit Alliance.

Gerry Carroll was elected with the votes of a hard core of votes from Trotskyists and others on the far-left but he also got the votes of some middle-class nationalists who were disillusioned with Sinn Fein and the SDLP, particularly over issues such as Casement Park.  They were not going to vote for a dissident republican candidate but they felt able to vote for Carroll.  In time they will be able to decide whether they made a wise choice. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

North Belfast News - wrong AGAIN!

The North Belfast News is the paper that just keeps getting it wrong and the recent edition of Saturday 17 May was no exception.  

North Belfast News journalist Evan Short wrote an article about the closure of St Kevin's Luncheon Club in North Queen Street.  In the first paragraph of the article he stated:
TORY cuts as part of welfare reform have closed a cross community lunch club that has served as a vital lifeline to pensioners for the last 25 years. 
Then in the third paragraph he wrote:
The club manager Pat Anderson found out last week that due to welfare reform the organisation that employed them through a training scheme was no longer able to offer positions.
Later on in the article he said:
Liam Maskey from Intercomm said he was very disappointed that they couldn't continue with the funding but the reform of welfare had made it impossible.
Three times in the article it is stated that the closure of the luncheon club was caused by welfare reform, in spite of the fact that welfare reform has not been implemented in Northern Ireland.  In fact 'Tory welfare cuts' have nothing to do with the closure of the luncheon club.  so let's set the record straight.

There have been no cuts to the funding of community services in Northern Ireland because of welfare reform and it is important that we do not cause concern to people that the reform of the welfare system is impacting on funding for community services.  The two are totally separate.

Moreover the proposed changes to the social security system in the Welfare Reform Bill (NI) 2012 are still being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly and have not yet been implemented here.  So if they haven't been implemented how could welfare reform be the cause of the closure.

Reading through the article and trying to make some sense of it, it seems that the club was run by Intercomm and that they employed staff through a training scheme for which funding is no longer available.  In that case Intercomm have lost a contract to another provider and it is nothing to do with welfare reform.  This was probably a DEL contract and had nothing to do with DSD, which deals with welfare and welfare reform. 

I know you can't believe everything you read in the press but in the case of the North Belfast News it might be better to ask, can you believe anything?

The closure of the club will be a blow to those senior citizens who have attended it and it is deeply regrettable but the cause of the closure is in no way connected to welfare reform.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Landlord Registration Scheme

Last year I introduced a new Landlord Registration Scheme in Northern Ireland.  It was launched in February and by the end of the years all landlords are required to be registered.   This is one of a number of initiatives to improve the private rental sector and it follows on from the tenancy deposit scheme.

Until the introduction of this scheme each council collected information about landlords in their council area, but many private landlords have properties in a number of different council areas and the information was not easily accessible.
A centrally held register of private landlords will:
  • allow tenants, neighbours and local councils to identify if landlords are registered
  • provide information on the number of landlords in Northern Ireland and allow landlords to receive regular updates on the duties and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
  • provide education and support to landlords
It will improve tenants’ confidence in their landlords and increase landlords’ accountability by:
  • promoting good practice
  • ensuring appropriate advice and assistance is available
So far 4,446 landlords have registered and while there are many more still to register this figure is sufficient to provide some sense of the nature of the rental market.  Around 95% of the landlords live in Northern Ireland with only 132 having an address in Great Britain and another 81 being outside the UK, probably in the Irish Republic.  I have sometimes heard it said that a lot of landlords were from the Republic but the figures show that not to be the case.  The percentage of landlords from outside the UK is less that 2% and that includes not only the Republic but anywhere outside the UK.

We are still at an early stage of the scheme but by the end of the year all landlords will have to be registered and we can then get a more accurate understanding of the rental market.

What is North Belfast? An office or a constituency

For years nationalists and republicans have quoted the social housing waiting lists for the North Belfast Housing Executive office, rather than for the North Belfast constituency, in spite of the fact that the NIHE office only covers part of the constituency.
However more recently the Housing Executive has provided figures for the North Belfast constituency and they present a very different picture.  They showed, for example, that on 31 December 2013 there were 1994 Protestants on the waiting list and 1988 Roman Catholics.
Nationalists and republicans have claimed that this is an attempt to dilute the figures but that is simply nonsense.  There are three good reasons for using the North Belfast constituency figures. 
  1. 1. Most people are familiar with the constituency and when we talk about North Belfast that is what they think of.  The North Belfast NIHE office is simply an administrative unit.
  2. 2. By using the constituency figures we include rather than exclude.  This is not about dilution but about inclusion.  Why should people living in Woodvale, Mid-Shankill, Rathcoole, Rathfern, Rushpark, Queen's Park and Glenvarna be ignored when we consider the social housing need in North Belfast?
  3. Politicians across Northern Ireland want information on the basis of the constituencies they represent.  Between April 2012 and May 2014 there were 176 questions asked in the Northern Ireland Assembly about Housing Executive figures and of these 143 related to the Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies, 19 related to council areas and only 14 related to NIHE office areas.  Assembly constituencies - 81%; Council areas - 11%; NIHE offices - 8%.  Those figures speak for themselves.  MLAs prefer to have answers on the basis of their constituency areas and that is the case across Northern Ireland.
That is now recognised by the Housing Executive and so while information on waiting lists will stil be available at a more local level, down to Common Landlord Area, the primary focus for figures will be constituencies.

Oh and as regards the North Belfast constituency the waiting list on 31 December 2013 was 1994 Protestants and 1988 Roman Catholics with the remainder not designating as either.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Empty Homes

While out around the doors I came across a number of empty homes.  Some of them were fairly obvious with overgrown hedges that stretched across the pavements and overgrown gardens. 

Others may not be as obvious but there are signs on the inside such as a hallway with a mountain of leaflets and circulars piled up behind the letterbox.

Moreover there are plenty of them about.  I know of two houses in the Ballysillan area that have lain empty for the past 20 years and another for 10 years.  I can think of another in South Belfast that was bricked up and had been empty for so long that there was actually a tree growing out of it.

So what can be done about this problem?

You may not be aware that I introduced a DSD Empty Homes Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2016 to tackle this problem.  An empty home can easily become a blight attracting illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour, and it is certainly a missed opportunity to provide a family with a new home.

You can report an empty home to the Empty Homes Unit in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive by telephone on 03448920900 or by visiting
Nelson McCausland and local residents
in Fortwilliam Parade
The unit is maintaining a database of all empty properties that it is made aware of from whatever source and the webpage has been in operation since 1 April.

This work involves the NIHE, local councils, Land and Property Services and the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations.  It also involves the general public and you can play your part in helping to remove blight and provide good homes.  So keep a lookout for empty properties in your area and report them to the Empty Homes Unit.  They can then check it out to ascertain the ownership and they will see what can be done.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Mairtin O'Muilleoir and the wee union flags

I came across this paragraph from Newton Emerson in the Irish News (25 January):
Belfast's Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Mairtin O'Muilleoir has hosted a 'civic forum on poverty', although there is nothing Belfast  City Council can do about poverty, including waiving its own rates (not that such a thing would ever be contemplated).  Citing 'the extreme poverty associated with food banks' O'Muilleoir said, 'we spend a lot of time in the city of Belfast talking about flags'.  This was an audacious statement from a man who famously complained about union flag labels on food in his local Sainsbury's.
So the next time Mairtin O'Muilleoir tries to present himself as the statesman who 'rises above such petty things as flags', just remind him of the little union flags he objected to in Sainsbury's.

Now there's someone who doesn't find it hard to be offended. It comes very naturally to the Sinn Fein councillor.  It seems that a union flag the size of a postage stamp is too much for him to stomach..

Saturday, 17 May 2014

More bile from Jude Collins

That nasty little man Jude Collins has taken up his poisonous pen again this week to write his column in the North Belfast News (17 May).
The column is based on a recent meeting between members of the DUP and David Cameron.  Cameron invited the party leader and the MPs to meet him in Downing Street and it was an invitation they accepted. 
The invitation and the acceptance should not surprise anyone.  David Cameron is the prime minister of the United Kingdom and since the DUP is the fourth largest party at Westminster it is both right and natural that there should be meetings such as this.
Of course this was enough to excite the fevered mind of Jude Collins and he went on to speculate about the content of the conversation.  We do know that Libyan compensation for the victims of IRA terrorism was on the agenda.  Libya was a major source of weapons and explosives for the Provisional IRA during their terror campaign.
However Collins made no mention of that and his great concern was that 'marches' might have been on the agenda.  Here is how he described the Loyal Orders:
a group of men who, in the name of culture, get together annually with other men and dress up before emerging to disrupt life for everyone else.
a group of people whose motto is 'Not an inch' and whose cultural expression includes urinating outside Catholic churches.
This is I assume a reference to an incident that took place in September 2012 when a bandsman urinated in the street outside St Matthew's in East Belfast.  Subsequently the Orange Order described the incident as 'outrageous and unacceptable' and sent a representative to apologise for the behaviour of the bandsman.  The chairperson of the Confederation of Ulster Bands also apologised for the incident.  Surely that should have been an end of the matter but no, not in the fetid mind of Jude Collins.
Last weekend in Newry several men removed wreaths from the war memorial and threw them into the Clanrye River.  At least one of the men also urinated over the war memorial.  Subsequently two men were arrested and will appear in court.  Of course it is not the first time that such a thing has happened.  Earlier this year a man named Patrick Peter McIlroy, of Cromwell Street, Belfast, was convicted of urinating on a wreath at the war memorial in Lurgan.
Since Jude Collins believes that Orange 'cultural expression includes urinating outside Catholic churches' does he also believe that Irish cultural expression includes urinating on war memorials?  I await with interest his column on the incident in Newry.
Of course, at the end of a week in which republican slogans were painted on an Orange hall, does Collins also believe that Irish nationalist cultural expression includes defacing Orange halls?
With the North Belfast News providing its readers with a weekly diet of Jude Collins is it any wonder that we have such a long way to go to build better community relations in the north of the city?

Dee Fennell - "what an eejit!"

On Friday 11 April I was at the Marrowbone pitches off the Oldpark Road and it was the first time I ever encountered Dee Fennell, who is standing as an Independent Republican in the Oldpark area in the forthcoming local government elections.
Fennell has a leading role in the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), a group of extreme republicans who oppose all Loyal Order parades down the Crumlin Road.  He is also a member of the Sean MacDiarmada 1916 Society, one of a number of small extreme republican groups in Ardoyne.
As I was leaving the park and crossing the road back to my car Fennell appeared and proceeded to engage in an incoherent  republican rant.  He didn't say who he was but I had seen his picture in newspapers and recognised him.

It was only a short distance to the car and it only took a couple of minutes but he walked along beside me every step of the way shouting at me.

He also left a rather rambling letter for me but omitted to put his address on it.  How does he expect anyone to reply to his letter if he doesn't put an address on it?
As I listened to his rambling and incoherent rant I just thought to myself, of a little response which appears in both Ulster-Scots and Ulster vernacular, 'What an eejit?"
However as I recalled his role in relation to parades I also thought, "What a dangerous and malicious eejit?"  And this is the sort of person who leads the  Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective.

Sammy Cusick of the Republican Network for Unity is also standing in Oldpark, and they are competing against each other for nationalist and republican votes, as well as competing against Sinn Fein and the SDLP.  Of course Fennell and Cusick represent just two of the extreme republican factions in Ardoyne.  There are also the IRSP and Erigi.  Such are the divisions and differences within extreme republicanism.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Patrick Murphy - the Irish News' resident cultural bigot (3)

A few days ago I posted in response to an article by Patrick Murphy in the Irish News.  Since then I came across an old article by the same writer, in which he made another attack on unionism and also attacked the Ulster-Scots language.
It would take more than one post to respond to what he said in that earlier article but my attention was drawn particularly to this section.  Indeed the editor of the Irish News thought it so important that he put it in large bold type at the centre of the article. 
Sinn Fein and the SDLP agreed to what was a cultural war crime - the creation of Ulster-Scots.  US scriptwriters invented the fictional language of Klingon to promote the Star Trek television series.  Ulster-Scots is Klingon with a Ballymena accent ...
Ach ye wudnae hae a gleed o wut.  There's mair nor yin leid in Ulster, and there's mair nor twa forbye!
In case you thought that the cultural bigotry espoused by Patrick Murphy was a temporary aberration, you can dispel that thought.  He was at it in 2009 and he is still at it in 2014.
It might have been hoped that in the period between 2009 and 2014 Patrick Murphy might have developed a better and more mature understanding of culture but sadly that has not been the case.  His cultural bigotry, which was there in 2009 is still there in 2014.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Psalm 23 in Ulster-Scots

Psalm 23, the Shepherd psalm, is one of the best known passages in the Bible. 

It was translated into Ulster-Scots, in metrical form, by Dr Philip Robinson, and Darren Gibson included the first few verses of this translation in his Ulster-Scots column in the NewsLetter on Saturday.
Tha Loard's ma herd, nae want's A'll hae.
He lays me doon tae bide.
In fiels o gress: he taks me safe,
Alang tha watter side.
Ma sowl he aye pits richt agane;
And gars me fur tae traik
Alang tha strecht, richt-leeving pad,
Jist fur his ain name's sake.
Tha mair A waak throu daith's dairk glen,
Yit A'll no fear ocht ill:
Fur thou art wi me an thy cruik
An staff, gies comfort still.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Sinn Fein object to new Rathcoole housing!

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is planning to build more houses in Rathcoole.  They have built a number of houses in the estate in recent years but their figures show that there is still a significant waiting list for Rathcoole.  It is a popular estate and last year there were 255 applicants in housing stress for the Rathcoole common landlord area.

As a result the NIHE plans to build 20 houses this year in Deerfin Park and Derrycoole Way and, 10 more in Iniscarn Way and Loughmoney Park the following year and a further 20 in the Derrycoole and Eastway area the year after that.  That makes a total of 50 new houses and that will go some way to meet the need.

However the building of social housing to meet some of the need in a unionist community has clearly angered Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin.

In the North Belfast News (10 May) she complained that the Housing Executive were building too many houses in Rathcoole.  That criticism is nasty, mean-spirited and sectarian.  In fact when the Housing Executive responded to her claims they pointed out that she had got her facts and figures wrong but then that is not unusual.  Sinn Fein seem to adopt the stance of 'never let the facts get in the way of Sinn Fein propaganda'.

She also attacked my statement that at the start of the year there were 1,994 Protestants on the waiting list in the North Belfast constituency and 1,988 Roman Catholics.  Those are the Housing Executive's own figures but because they weren't the sort of figures she wanted she rejected them.  Here again it is a case of  'never let the facts get in the way of Sinn Fein propaganda'.  For years they have talked about waiting lists and then when the real truth about waiting lists is explained they want to ignore them and move the argument on to something else.

That is why the DUP has been repeating the real facts about social housing in North Belfast.

I debated this issue during the week with Alex Maskey on the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster.  I was able to present the facts about waiting lists and waiting times but he seemed to have no interest in the facts.  He simply wanted to keep on repeating the republican mantra of discrimination.  Nevertheless it was a great opportunity to disseminate the facts to a province-wide audience and to expose the false propaganda of the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

Then next Tuesday my DUP colleagues William Humphrey and Paula Bradley will speak in an adjournment debate at Stormont, tabled by the DUP, on social housing in North Belfast.  After the other North Belfast MLAs have spoken, I will be able to respond at the end of the debate.  I look forward very much to that debate and a further opportunity to nail some of the myths and lies.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Patrick Murphy - the Irish News' resident cultural bigot (2)

In his column in the Irish News last Saturday (19 April) Patrick Murphy continued his habit of attacking unionism.  I was struck not only by the content of his attack but also by the manner of it.  He wrote in his usual nasty style, which seeks to demean, devalue and ridicule the target of his writing.  Moreover there was a smugness and arrogance about the article which was thoroughly distasteful.
The article was entitled 'Cultural unionism a recent invention' and in it he  said

It is hard to know where to find a definition of unionism.  There are no unionist works of philosophy, no fount of literature, no deep well of social and economic theory.
This statement was seen by the Irish News as so important that it was picked out and printed in large bold type in the centre of the page.
Patrick Murphy's core message was that unionists have never produced anything of value in the field of culture and here he takes culture in the broader sense that includes philosophy and social and economic theory as well as literature.
Now I am a unionist but I have other identities as well.  I am also British, which is my national identity, an Ulsterman, which is my regional identity, a Protestant, which is my religious identity, and an Ulster-Scot, which is my cultural or ethnic identity.  I can therefore identify with the cultural expressions of all these identities so here are some examples of what Ulstermen have done.

Ulster has also produced a number of great scientists, including Lord Kelvin, who was born in Belfast of an Ulster-Scots father and a Scottish mother.  He was one of the greatest scientists of his day and was also a Liberal Unionist who campaigned against home rule.
Francis Hutcheson was a great philosopher and an Ulster-Scot and was known as the 'Father of the Scottish Enlightenment'.  His radical ideas were taken across the Atlantic by another Ulster Presbyterian minister and helped to influence the American campaign for independence.
Viscount James Bryce, another Ulster-Scot, was born in Belfast.  He was a British academic, jurist and a noted historian. 
Ulster has produced a number of great hymnwriters, from the evangelical Protestant tradition.  When William Young Fullerton wrote 'I cannot tell why He whom angels worship', to the traditional tune of the Londonderry Air, he gave the world a truly beautiful hymn.
Dr Adam Clarke, another Ulsterman, was a great theologian of Methodism and the author of an excellent Bible commentary, which extends to six large volumes.

From time to time I write posts about aspects of Ulster heritage and culture and one reason for doing that is that it so much of that culture has been ignored by both academia and media.  As a result many Ulster folk know nothing about men such as Kelvin.  As a schoolboy and then as a university student I studied physics and regularly talked about Kelvin's laws of thermodynamics and 'degrees Kelvin' but I knew nothing about Kelvin's Ulster ancestry, his deep Christian faith or his Liberal Unionist opposition to home rule.

Back in 2003 Belfast bid, albeit unsuccessfully, to become the European Capital of Culture.  As a Belfast city councillor I was a member of the committee behind the bid and on one occasion we went on a bus up to the Ulster Museum.  As we were leaving and passing the entrance to Botanic Gardens one of the leading figures behind the bid pointed to the statue of Lord Kelvin and asked 'who is that?'  I was horrified that a well educated person, employed in the field of culture and seeking to promote the culture of Belfast did not even know who Lord Kelvin was!

The statue is still there in Botanic Gardens and there is an Ulster History Circle blue plaque at the site of his birthplace in Fisherwick Place but that is about as far as it goes.

Schoolchildren in Ulster still learn about the laws of thermodynamics, the absolute scale of temperature and degrees Kelvin, but does anyone actually mention that he was born in Belfast? 

Thankfully, not everyone has forgotten Kelvin.  He was a pioneer in the field of underwater trans-Atlantic telegraph cables and the promoters of the new telecommunications submarine cable connection between North America and Northern Ireland chose the appropriate name Project Kelvin. 

Ulster is a very small place but it has a rich cultural heritage that should be recognised, not ridiculed.