Saturday, February 25, 2006

"It's my parade and I'll cry if I want to!" -- Protestant marchers are not welcome in Dublin, Ireland

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer - February 25, 2006 - DUBLIN, Ireland - Several hundred Irish Republican Army supporters attacked police in Dublin on Saturday to protest an unprecedented parade through the capital by Protestants from Northern Ireland.

In scenes rare for the Republic of Ireland, protesters hurled bottles, bricks, concrete blocks and fireworks at police officers trying to clear the hostile crowd from Dublin's most famous boulevard, O'Connell Street.
If a person can only express himself by throwing a brick (or, a wheelbarrow, for that matter), then he has nothing to say. I do not side with the rock/brick/bottle-throwers who protested the "unprecedented parade through the capital by Protestants from Northern Ireland"; "a Love Ulster rally involving Orangemen and relatives of IRA murder victims". But this does not keep me from recognizing the Love Ulster members as pure and simple shit-disturbers. What empty lives these pruned orange bastards must lead when the pillar of their lives are these incendiary marches.

In 1999, the site of this parade and ensuing melee was my neighborhood. I lived in an apartment over the Spar on Westmoreland Street, on the other side of the O'Connell Bridge from where this fracas erupted. It is no place for a parade other than the brilliant St. Patrick's Day parade that will occur next month.

I'm reading much about the clash and how these poor, put-upon Prostestants meekly called off their parade, but I'm not reading why these people sought to march in central Dublin. Yes, we must condemn the violence that resulted, but will someone please answer why this march was planned in the capital city?

Democratic Unionist Party "lawmaker" Jeffrey Donaldson claims it was outside agitators who ignited the violence. I definitely group Love Ulster into this category.

During the two years I lived in Dublin, Ireland in the late 1990s, I found the city and country to be among the most civilized, pleasant and lovely places I've ever known. I walked nearly every neighborhood of Dublin City, some dodgier than others, and never had any trouble. I don't romanticize the Dirty Old Town; a city with that population has its problems. Whenever I saw the stirrings or making of "trouble", I shifted gears, changed directions, and moved to safer ground. But the city is not a tinderbox of sectarian hatred. The people I knew there really couldn't care less about mafia-like factions in the north, whether it be the bullet-headed IRA or the delusional royal imperialists.

I know Irish Catholic Republicans who live in the town of Crossmaglen in County Armagh. I have witnessed firsthand the intimidation tactics the British forces there use on the citizenry of aged farmers and families, flying their helicopters menacingly low over their rooftops. The afternoon I saw this happen -- in 1995 -- I raised my camera to photograph the oddity. The friend I was with nearly knocked the camera out of my hand, saying the British troops would likely shoot my face off if they caught me photographing them.

The British forces in Crossmaglen mercilessly harassed the populace there with random, violent searches of peoples' homes in the middle of the night. The soldiers used the butts of their machine guns to break up the peoples' dishes. They once poisoned the beloved dog of a farmer I know there. Soon after that poisoning, the British forces one night landed their helicopter in this farmer's yard and burst into his home. After breaking all of his dishes, the farmer had had enough. He fought back, taking the heavily armed soldiers by surprise, and using nothing but his fists and righteous indignation, he throttled half a dozen of them before finally being subdued. He was arrested on the spot and taken away in the helicopter. He was taken to a dungeon-like holding cell, stripped naked and left in the dank darkness. The judge who presided over his case saw how unrestrained and in the wrong the British troops who brought him in had been that the judge simply found the farmer guilty of "disrespecting the Queen's uniform" when he beat up the soldiers. He was given a small fine and released.

The IRA is widely viewed for what it is -- a mafia of unemployed thugs who fraudulently use "Republicanism" and "Irish Independence" as a ruse for raising money abroad. IRA members usually live in unaccountably lavish style and are woefully responsible for so much violence that is visited upon their countrymen -- either perpetrating it themselves (Omagh bombing; Robert McCartney who was stabbed and kicked to death by a gang that included at least three members of the IRA) or bringing it upon them with their own acts of violence against the royal imperialists in the region.

The Irish "troubles" as they exist today occur within a few blighted blocks of Belfast; in squalid, thug-infested, gnacker-ridden ghettos.

So, the Protestants of northern Ireland brought their damnable marching to Dublin City. Love Ulster has no right to march down O'Connell Street. They're peas-in-a-pod with their brick-throwing adversaries -- where one goes, so follows the other.

What a sad day for Dublin and for all people who love that city.
Editorial by Brendan O'Connor in the Sunday Independent: In case anyone had forgotten, violence is what republicans do

LEST you had been lulled into thinking republicans were all about chicks in mini-skirts and equality, we all got a good reminder yesterday what they're all about. Every schoolchild in the country and every Provo-suckered yuppie radical should have been brought into O'Connell Street to witness the aftermath of the battle of Dublin yesterday and been told: "Always remember, this is what they do and this is what they do best."

It was the kind of thing you'd expect in the Middle East, or in France. It was the kind of thing we like to think we're too civilised for in this country. It was the kind of thing you'd expect to see in Northern Ireland.

It was the kind of thing, don't forget, that the people of that state have lived with for nearly 40 years. And now it's down here too.

And let's not scurry to blame the people who've been repaving O'Connell Street for what seems like a decade now. Let's not blame the people who left that street like a building site, or a rioter's dream. We can't stop leaving building blocks lying around in case someone might pick them up and throw them at the cops. Should we ban glass bottles as well? They are the kind of precautions you need to take in a mad house.

It is republicanism, the violent tradition of republicanism, and indeed republicanism's reverence for violence, that allowed what happened yesterday to happen. They tore apart our town, they tried to kill our cops, they ripped our fire engines to bits. They attacked the heart of this country and the very people we trust to protect that heart and it is Irish republicanism's twisted morality that made this acceptable.

And let's not be fooled into thinking that this was about politics in any real way. This was about the sectarianism that is at the heart of republicanism in this country. This is about a group of people who would deny another group the very right to exist. This is about one tradition's heartfelt need to wipe out another tradition, to ethnically cleanse Irish unionists and Protestants and everything they believe in.

On this occasion they wouldn't even allow them to remember their dead. Republicans killed the people that were to be remembered on Saturday's march and as if that wasn't enough they shat all over their memory again this weekend. We should be disgusted at ourselves for allowing this culture to thrive, disgusted at what some of us have become, no more than animals. We should remember too that no matter how much peace they talk, republicans at their heart will do whatever is necessary, shamelessly so, to deny minorities their right to exist.

I met a foreigner on O'Connell Street. He asked me what had happened, and I told him, half ashamed.

"It's just like Iraq where I am from," he said. "People talk a lot about democracy and then do things like this. Because up here," he said, motioning to his head, "they never change. Ireland has been free for 80 years now but still nothing changes." It was a depressing thought.

Of course, he wasn't the only foreigner around. This happened in the heart of tourism country. This didn't happen in some kind of no go area. It kicked off next to Ireland's premier shopping street and moved on to even more salubrious and central areas of town.

And all the tourists were there - watching, horrified. Because everybody loves the Irish, after all. Nobody thinks we'd attack our own cops and attack other people just for being different or for disagreeing with us. But some of us did.

Republicans disgraced us internationally on Saturday. And you know what the most embarrassing thing is? The Orangemen got on their buses and quietly went home while we tore our city asunder. And they're supposed to be the crazy ones.

February 26 Letter to the Editor by Matt St. Amand: Brendan O'Connor writes at the end of his editorial about the February 25th riot in central Dublin: "The Orangemen got on their buses and quietly went home while we tore our city asunder" as though the Love Ulster marchers had nothing to do with the fracas that ensued. I have no respect for rock- and bottle-throwers -- if a person can only express himself by heaving a wheelbarrow at a police line, that person has nothing to say that I have time to hear. However, the damnable incendiary marching tradition of the North is just as much to blame for Saturday's melee. Marching Orangemen is a provocative sight. Everyone knows it, particularly the Orangemen. So, to characterize those Orangemen as "quietly" fleeing the rabid Republicans falsely casts them as blameless victims. Having lived above the Spar on Westmoreland Street for a year in the 1990s, I know the area in which this riot took place intimiately. I was saddned and angered reading what happened on O'Connell Street yesterday. Maybe outside agitators are to blame for much of the violence, however, the marchers of Love Ulster are plenty culpable for what took place. Why wouldn't they gathering at Trinity College or organize a rally in Phoenix Park? No, they are not satisifed until they've ruined the busiest day of commerce in the busiest city in Ireland by halting traffic and grinding everything to a stop with a march. Condemnation should be heaped upon the Republican rock-throwers, but the Orangemen of Love Ulster ought to be taken to task for organizing this unprecedented march in Dublin. Because everyone knows the Orangemen do not march to the beat of drums, but to the beat of gnashing teeth, to the beat of riots.


Read what a peace-loving northern Irish chick has to say about this posting -- which she evidently didn't read too closely.

My reply to said-chick: "I see my opinion has been as welcomed by you as those Love Ulster folks were welcomed in Dublin. Your attitude is just as much a part of the problem as marching and rock-throwing. There is not a single dot of hatred in my blog entry about the marches that were interrupted by violence in Dublin on Saturday, only the question why the Orangemen aren't being taken to task for provoking the violence that ensued. They are just as culpable for what happened. You would make a wonderful honorary right-wing American with your ability to slant my views and use your own venom to accuse me of hatred. My opinion is as valid as yours, and possibly more civilized.

"I would put my experience in Dublin up against yours any day of the week."


Kelly said...

I'm all for freedom of speech and the right to protest (peacefully)and I'm seriously not defending either sides, but the protesters should be allowed to go where thay want, just like Love Ulster. I'm from Belfast (and I'm not saying if I'm prod or cath) but even I don't understand how so much hate can infect soo many people. We just need to pull our heads from our arses once in a while. But there shouldn't be restrictions to where people can march. If you'll limit one group you limit them all. Should the gay community not be allowed to march? Or the Canadian Brest cancer not be allowed to march?

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

I agree that the level of hatred at work in the violence on Saturday in Dublin is disheartening and unnerving. However, the Orangemen have only themselves to thank for how their marches are perceived and received, jamming ancient military victories down the throats of contemporary people who couldn't care less. The Orangemen have set the tone of their marches; chosen the dates and events they commemorate. Breast Cancer marches don't commemorate ancient violence. Neither do gay community marches, and to me, that's the whole difference.

My question and perspective is that the Love Ulster folks are not being sufficiently taken to task in the media for provoking the violence of Saturday with their march.