Maybe The Statue Just Walked There….

Those of us of a certain age will be aware that Catholic religious statues and pictures sometimes are sometimes placed on Twelfth bonfires.
In the olden days like the 1950s and 1960s it was a common enough sight which had the desired effect of offending passing Catholics.
The difference in 2013 is that the ever-present camera-phone captures the annual acts of hatred like the placing of Irish, Polish and Palestinian flags on bonfires and of course the effigy of a recent (Catholic priest) suicide victim on a bonfire.
Thanks to Twitter, Facebook etc the images are posted online within minutes.
Indeed the hate-filled scumbags who place these icons on their bonfires are often the very ones who publicise their hatred.
The enduring images of 12th July 2013 is the effigy of Fr Matt Wallace on a bonfire at Rathcoole and a statue of the Virgin Mary on a bonfire in North Belfast.
Curiously the latter was handed into an Ardoyne priest and the tale of it journey to and from the bonfire has elicited a lot of comment.
In a curious post today, the Absentee Editor of another website refers to the priest who received the statue from “community workers” and a story in the Belfast Telegraph, the letsgetalongerist rag.
Its been a bad Twelfth for letsgetalongerists. The myth that Norn Iron is changing has been blown out of the water.

Back in the very bad old days the discredited Royal Ulster Constabulary had a richly deserved reputation for keeping an “open mind” and giving loyalist murderers the benefit of too much doubt. BBC and UTV would routinely report such cases and the phrase “the RUC are keeping an open mind” lost credibility with Catholics and Nationalists.
Sometimes things in Norn Iron are not exactly as they seem.
But in the vast majority of cases, they are exactly what they seem.
Raising and reporting UNREASONABLE doubt lets the hate-filled scumbags off the hook.
The case of the Virgin Mary on the bonfire is to most people a pretty obvious example of being exactly what it seems.
It was not a photo-shopped image.
Nor was the effigy of Fr Matt Wallace in Rathcoole.

The reputation of the RUC suffered in the 1970s by being overly “open minded”.
So did the BBC reputation.
A lot of the historic and expensive enquiries…Saville, McGurks Bar among them have shown that British and RUC briefings were slavishly endorsed by the BBC. The Truth was known at the time.
It does no credit to the Media that they were part of it all.
Indeed our problems with Historic Truth is in part due to the Media failing to stand up for the Truth decades ago.

The RUC and the Media lost all credibility in Catholic-Nationalist eyes by casting doubt on open and shut cases.
It even led to a tasteless joke.
“This morning the RUC discovered the body of a Catholic man on the (loyalist) Shankill Road. It had forty stab wounds and thirty gunshot wounds. The RUC have not ruled out an accident or suicide”.
A reputation is hard to win and easy to lose.

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82 Responses to Maybe The Statue Just Walked There….

  1. deiseach says:

    “Was the ‘Virgin in the Bonfire’ posed to inflict maximum political damage on the Orange?”

    Iron rule of the press. If a headline asks a sufficiently lurid question, the answer is always ‘no’. The Daily Express is a good place to test this. “Are we about to be flooded with migrants?” No. “Is the sea about to freeze over?” No. “Will the Large Hadron Collider destroy the universe?” You get my drift.

  2. Political Tourist says:

    Has there been any studies done on Orange/unionism/loyalism and paranoia.
    Some serious issues going on here.
    Flegs, Bonfires, Parades and Drums.
    It’s a very much ‘look at me’ culture.
    And if you don’t ‘look at me’ then we’ll come over to your house, street, village and make sure you do.
    What is it with the ‘let’s be as offensive as possible’ trait.
    Take last weekend back to 1969 and throw in the B-Specials and houses would have been burned down.
    And people would have died.

    • Your last paragraph is a good one.
      If the B Specials were still around, nothing would have changed at all and marches would not be stopped.
      Its important to realise how marches played a part in starting the Troubles.
      In August 1969 in Derry, the Apprentice Boys march led to the Battle of the Bogside which led to the Belfast pograms on 14/15 August.
      The next year, the Whiterock Orange march, Crumlin Road and Newtownards Road all led to violence in the summer of 1970. It included the Battle of St Matthews…the point of no return.
      The genie was not going back into the bottle.

  3. Political Tourist says:

    Some of the unionist politicians should have got a game for Man Utd over the years.
    Their deflections are world class.
    Dodgy catholic hoods wandering around unlit bonfires looking for somewhere to put the Virgin Mary statue.
    1969 in Derry was a plot.
    1972 in Derry, that was just dead bodies that were put out on the streets.
    Nobody was murdered.
    1935 Belfast Riot was started by a Scottish flute band.
    Nothing to do with us.
    1886 Belfast Riots, it was all a catholic navvy’s fault for sneering at a fellow worker.
    Pesky Fenians.
    And so on and so on.
    Surprised Mick got taken in by the decades old black ops.
    Then again, maybe not.

  4. Political Tourist says:

    Strange that the Chinese whispers started with a Unionist MLA who spoke to the man that spoke to the priest who……..
    All that to play down the bigotry.
    By tonight they’ll doubt be blaming a few hundred Glasgow football fans who weren’t even in town last week.
    You can bet the entire unionist community will be watching that game in HD hoping for a get out of jail card.

  5. I’m not a knocker of Slugger O’Toole, in general I think it does what it says on the tin and fair play to those who set it up and have stuck with it down through the years. Generally it has served a fairly even-handed role in news and current affairs reporting and commentary, albeit with an observable slant that is accepting of the current status quo. Not exactly Unionist as such, at least as we know it, more a form of soft Pro-Union opinion. Somewhat of the AP and NI21 variety.

    Talk about members of the British Unionist community in the north-east of the country living in “reservations”, or newspaper interviews with Unionist Catholics being the “tip of an iceberg”, not to mention this latest conspiracy stuff of Unionists being “set up” by Nationalist/Republicans, is in line with the assimilatory Pro-Union feeling of SO’T. It serves as a balance to opinions from Nationalist or Republican viewpoints. I suspect most readers know the site’s editorial views and filter their reading accordingly. I’d still rate it highly.

    • I take that point.
      I have always said that AT ITS BEST, Slugger is by far the market leader.
      There is I feel a lack of transparency and there seems to be just too many connexions to unelected letsgetalongerist causes.
      Seamas calls the editorial stance right…and it doesnt bother in the slightest.Obviously I have no time for letsgetalongerists. But I have a broadly pan-nationalist (leaning towards SDLP) stance.
      What DOES bother me is the denial of an agenda.
      And there is a pomposity there…which Stephen Nolan wouldbe proud of and theres a belief in their own infallibility. And that commenters are lesser people. Slugger ENJOYS being above the rabble. And of course the refereeing is ridiculousa.

      I dont want to “knock” it…but rather nibble away at the pomposity of it all. having said that…the past ten days have not been Sluggers finest. The Marching Season Madness seems to affect them and they appear to have completely lost the run of themselves. The latest conpiracy theory will do damage to the credibility.
      I was reading a website a few months ago (????) which was a massive testimonial to Slugger but how on earth could reasonable people not be disgusted with this weeks performance.
      A week is a long time in politics and a lifetime in blogging.
      Where is that cocky certainty of NOrnIron Life and Times Survey?
      Where is all that celebrating Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitts Outreach?
      And frankly I think that the unravelling of the letsgetalongerism narrative has led to a loss of confidence on Slugger.

      • I certainly agree that the last week or two has seen the see-saw of balance fairly whipping up and down 😉 There have been a couple of claims that made me raise an eyebrow or two. The north Belfast “reservation” thing and the stuff about Derry and the reasons for the lack of contentious marches were somewhat inelegantly put and fairly specious (in my opinion, I should say).

        That said where else would you have the likes of “Ulster Press Centre”? I especially enjoyed his claims of an army of Unionist bloggers out there that should be given access to SO’T. Can’t say I noticed many. And sure isn’t there Baker et al there already?

      • Well I think that UPC is just a wind up merchant.

      • I dont want to make it about Mick.
        He lives in England and if he was ever part of a broadly nationalist mindset, I dont think thats the case now.
        But I dont think that Id ever hesitate to say anything that I felt needed saying.
        The great problem with the Good Friday Agreement is the Creative Ambiguity…the big lie.
        We would all be better off with some straight forward talk.

      • anewdawn says:

        Fitzjames from your experience do you think the NILT reflects accurately the mood of the people or do you think its designed to reassure unionists. What I don’t think it takes into account is that when those parties in favour of an end to British rule get more votes than unionists it changes everything. We’re going to have a referendum and all the political parties in the ROI along with the trade unions, GAA, tourism, nationalist Irleand etc will be campaigning for a yes vote along with the Irish diaspora and in particular Irish America who will surely use their influence to lobby the president to support a UI backed up with investment. The EU perhaps also.
        Britain loses 8 billion a year here yet with the rest of Ireland gain 25 billion in trade. That alone would make sense for the British to act as persuaders. The empire is history what reason do they have for holding on to NI? If Scotland goes for independence that will be a another scalp.
        Apart from unionists who by then will be a minority who else will be supporting a continuation of the union? I feel the game is up and deep down they know it.

      • I wont count on any meaningful support from south of the border.
        And I cant see unionists getting a lot of support from London.
        The Belfast Telegraph has been beating a liberal unionist drum since the days of Terence O’Neill. In response to ANY survey…Catholics have a long history of keeping their heads down and giving the answers pollsters want to hear. I am always amused that REAL results in elections are very different.

        When these surveys say 79% of the electorate are in favour of integrated education and the next week just 1.5% vote Alliance in Mid Ulster…it says it all.
        If there was a survey asking 100 people how often they brush their teeth a day…99% will say twice a day. But all dentists will say that its nonsense.
        Thats really my attitude to all surveys.
        The Americans call it ASTRO-TURFING….an artificial pitch.
        Surveys commissioned by lobbyists and interest groups….are used to put their policies on an agenda.
        I honestly dont take any of it seriously.

  6. James says:

    At the end of the day Mick Fealty is from the broad CNR community. Not sure it makes sense to go too hard on him, or his website, in terms of keeping him onside, inside the broad CNR tent.

    • I call it like I see it.

      • James says:

        There is a risk of alienating an opinion shaper like Mick, not sure CNR infighting is helpful in terms of keeping him within the tent, especially when you consider that his blog is the best known.

    • Fear Feirsteach says:

      Your use of this term is ridiculous at best and sectarian at worst. The man is quite clearly a unionist – and as discredited as the RUC and the BBC were.

    • kalista63 says:

      Mick jumped on the statue story because it was a propaganda tool for the loyalist community when not only the CNR community but also the meeja, unionists and even non Belfast loyalists were sick of their behaviour. It was a case of wishful thinking overriding professionalism.

      IMHO, something is afoot in Fealty Towers that began when it indulged the s**t stirring Quincey Dougan. We then had the indulging of loyalist trolls, such as Bleach, who were freely posting the canon of loyalist lies and defamation about nationalist victims without being carded or reprimanded.

      Then Fealty joined the crew. Yeah, we’re well used to Baker throwing a juvenile hard-on every single time there’s a hint of an anti Sinn Fein tale but Fealty jumped the shark and took the side of loyalists, a group of thugs that not so much dodges the radar but is ignored by it deliberately. All that UDA fawning by Mary Mc Aleese and her hubby may well have floated in Dublin 4 but was a joke in the northern optic (I hate that fek’n term!).

      There is no more PUP and the good folks of E Belfast knew that well enough to give them such a poor political outing in 2010. But the Fealty’s and Barney Rowan (sorry FJH. Feel like I just crapped all over your blog by mentioning him) and even Eammon Mallie play the PUP game. Oddly, while they push the PUP/UVF propaganda, anti SF hints, history and rumour gets a fresh thread, sometime with duplicates by Fealty and Baker.

      What is a positive, though, is that even a fair few unionist posters aren’t aboard the latest raft of rubbish being pushed. Whatever Fealty is at (and man/ball crap isn’t the issue as it HIS site), he should come clean.

      • Again…Id look past Mick here.
        Who “owns” Slugger?

      • Pepsi says:

        I agree – the vast majority of Slugger’s regular unionist posters have (so far) been scathing of the OO, and written of their embarrassment at the 11th night escapades. That is, with one notable exception, who Fealty cannot help but indulge – even when said poster has been found inciting violence.

      • boondock says:

        Pepsi dont be too harsh on UPC he is like Bryson and Frazer (he may even be one of the aforementioned eejits) ie a vote winner for nationalism. He is also a comedian going on some of his recent comments he is stinking rich and hob nobs with the elites of society and I always enjoy his version of riots which usually involve crazed republican hordes attacking poor elderly defensless orangemen and their pussycats

  7. CD says:

    There are times when ignoring the fact that someone not only has left the tent but has bought a caravan serves no useful purpose.

    I doubt SOT shapes many opinions although I’m sure some find it reassuring to read. Its agenda though is clear.

  8. Pepsi says:

    Fealty’s done everything possible to deflect away from the absolute mayhem caused by Orangeism/DUP/UVF over the past week. He’s even tweeting links to the Ardoyne riots of 2011.

    North Belfast “unionist reservations” was a new low: maybe he could ask Thomas Devlin’s family what they think about that one. But he’s outdone himself in advertising this Virgin Mary conspiracy. It’s something Ruth Patterson would’ve been proud of: it’s irrational, paranoid and, frankly, deeply irresponsible.

    And don’t get me started on his sanctimonious batting away of any criticism of the anomalies inherent in the NILT.

    • The last week has shown the disadvantages of the Slugger Editor not being on the ground here.
      The problem is not with the Editor himself.
      The problem is editorial policy.
      The question is not who the editor is.
      Who “owns” Slugger? Who is the Rupert Murdoch?

      • DC says:

        Care to have a stab at answering your own question??

      • James says:

        Websites don’t require capital. They require time, and Mick has invested his time in Slugger. That investment and his creativity is why his weblog is – by miles – the most important blog covering politics in Belfast and around. Ownership is defined as “residual rights of control” beyond that which is contractually implicit; clearly Mick has those residual rights and hence the ownership of Slugger.

      • James says:

        If we as CNRs are unhappy with Mick’s blog we can act in several ways, but just whining about his blog and attacking Mick does not send out a good message to moderate CNRs.

        Frankly the PLUs are better with their moderates than we are – they recognise them as a distinct array within the PLU constellation.

    • kalista63 says:

      The Fealty Mick referred to in his apology was doing the rounds almost as soon as this year’s photo ie. on the 11th, many of us already knew that they did the same last year. The story about the hoods was convoluted beyond belief enough to fail the smell test for even the most naive.

      Father Donegan didn’t say what did or did not happen but said what he had been told, hardly a basis to run an opinion on.

      Does Fealty subscribe to the Irish News site? For, if he did, the Alison Morris article was there at the time he posted the thread at 7.28am, his apology coming roughly 24 hours later. Now I think of it, I’m sure Ms Morris was also one of the people who retweeted the photo of the statue on the bonfire last year.

    • kalista63 says:

      My brother in law, a prod from good prod stock in Sedan St, is part of a much forgotten group of the late 60’s/early 70’s (I’m sure FJH can help here) of educated protestant people who embraced the Irish culture (actually, he was the first person I knew who wore a gold fainne) and is more than a confirmed nationalist. In my personal experience, they are far from on their own as I know much more recent converts to antionalism and even republicanism. There’s this great guy, a minister of a city center Presbyterian church who drinks in a very trad bar in Belfast. Upon meeting him, he will always tell you the Presby credo and express his revulsion at it but next, he will boast about hs pride in the history of Presbys in nationalism. If he hasn’t met him yet, I’d guess FJH would love the fella. And yeah, of course he is a nationalist as is his partner.

      • I think that Minister was pointed out to me once…in the Culturlann. He was in civvies and somebody said that guys a Methodist(they maybe got the denomination wrong) minister.
        Could that be the same guy?

    • kalista63 says:

      Oops, meant to add: I wonder if the times will seek out these people.

    • James says:

      What makes a person sound Irish?

      • Sorry, a shorthand way of saying that I don’t believe that their Irishness was germane to their identity. For instance offering a preference for a British monarchy over an Irish presidency implies the person concerned is first and foremost British in terms of their personal/cultural identity. The fact they were Catholic or born on the island of Ireland is an irrelevance to their self-identified national identity as British subjects. That is where their Unionism/Pro-Union feeling comes from. I don’t believe it is a case of Irish people opting to be British in terms of being politically Pro-Union but of people who are already British in their own identity simply expressing that view. Again the fact that they were born in Ireland is somewhat irrelevant when they believe themselves to have little or no Irish national identity as such.

  9. James says:

    Again there are a lot of attacks on Mick, who is decent/moderate/thoughtful and at the end of the day from the broad CNR community; SDLP minded people should not keep up these attacks on such a figure who is influential in the increasingly important online battle of ideas.

    There are many moderate CNRs out there and if you attack them you do not do anything to keep them within the fold come referendum time. The PUL community is frankly much better with its moderates than we are. Do you see people online slagging off moderate/liberal PULs? No; in fact they are recognised and accepted as a distinct brand within the PUL community.

    Laying into Mick sends a bad message to moderate CNRs (and we have seen a lot of talk about them leaving the fold lately in the media).

    SDLP minded people need to be careful that the CNR community is not narrowly represented, instead we should keep up good relations with moderate CNRs and especially those who are key opinion formers such as Mick. After all, there is a reason his blog has for 10 years been the market leader and still is by much more than an order of magnitude.

    • Ive oftefn acknowledged that Slugger O’Toole is the market leader and I happily pay tribute to excellent work that Mick has done. I also want to state very publicly that he has been exceptionally decent to me on the three occasions that we have met. He probably wont recall the first time.
      I also want to say that this Blog FIRST got off the ground, March 2012, as a consequence of Mick linking some posts that I had done here. Likewise June and July last year.
      Obviously our relationship has got a bit prickly.
      Im comfortable with that.
      Every individual chooses his/her politics on the basis of our high ideals and low self interest.
      We have three communities here. And as a consequence of the 1970s there are towns and villages where nationalist candidates have not stood at council level to give even a handful of supporters a chance to register a vote. I am on record as saying this is wrong…but necessarily it pushes small areas of Catholics closer to the Alliance Party…either as genuine support or the least bad option.

      But I dont categorise people as simply nationalist or unionist. Obviously I am a nationalist and my problem with letsgetalongerism is that its an obstacle to genuine outreach.
      In my view letsgetalongerism is a largely unelected movement that seems to have undue influence.
      Indeed just a month ago Ian Parsley blogged that the real currency of politics is INFLUENCE not VOTES.

      • James says:

        It is good that you have made those comments about Mick Fealty. I think his site is very good in terms of providing thought provoking commentary on the big issues.

        But with respect I think you need to keep in mind that politics is fought on the centre ground so that alienating/denigrating those in the centre is not smart, especially CNRs in the centre, in terms of keeping these CNRs in the fold.

    • Pepsi says:

      If you think Fealty is a nationalist or republican then you’re deluded. As for the “opinion formers” – give me a break. Aside from a few thousand sad political junkies like us no one’s heard of the guy.

      • Sadly even fewer have heard of me.

      • kalista63 says:

        He once said that he was a republican on (I can hunt it out if need be) and it went down like a fart in a space suit.

        I first went to Slugger (I’m a Slugger boat person) because I often heard journos quote and refer to if. It’s rained since then, as the yanks say.

  10. boondock says:

    Mick has to play devils advocate to get the hits, the more controversial the better as it gets everybody wound up enough to reply. SOT is generally pretty good as you can just give the obvious trolls a massive sidestep, maybe it tries too hard to appear neutral hence some of the ridiculous articles of late to try and balance against the thuggish OO

    • kalista63 says:

      Look at the carding system, there is bias. Also look at how the very moderate Joe gets carded, recently for taking on the troll.

      If you’re reading this Mick, that Wilde quote, don’t bother slapping yourself on the back. It’s shyte

  11. Fear Feirsteach says:

    I think the phrase is agent of influence, Fitz. I’m also wondering if James is related to factual!

  12. Ronan Burns says:

    Mr Fitzjameshorse

    Could you establish an internet forum to cater for the Catholic people of Northern Ireland – an Ulster version of Politics ie – but hopefully without the anti-Catholic venom? That would mean that Catholics, who are annoyed with the editorial bias of Slugger, could totally ignore the site.

    Such a forum could expose the dishonesty and bias of the Belfast Telegraph.

    • No.
      “Catholic” is completely the wrong term.
      If you mean nationalist/republican that is of course different.
      “Keeping An Eye On The Czar of Russia” has been going almost two years and in its first month I only averaged about eight views in a day.
      It started as a joke…I think internet bloggers are far too pompous. And setting up the blog was as much a response to that pomposity than any “political reason”. I was however aware that Slugger O’Toole was a cold house for nationalists/republicans.
      This blog is pan-nationalist. I lean towards SDLP.
      Other contributors here lean towards Sinn Fein.
      Some have no real leaning.
      But if I am proud of one thing, it would be that I am independently nationalist and respectful of all nationalist/republican/socialist traditions. And I personally dont use words like “Stoop” or “Shinner” and I hope I have created an atmosphere where nationalists can comment without the vitriol that too often passes between SDLP and SF.
      The vitriol level is also reduced because I discourage comments from Alliance members. They rarely even try now but made fairly concerted efforts after the Flegs Dispute started.
      in my view if an Alliance person wants to say something, they can go on the Stephen Nolan Show. I am disrespectful to them because I dont accept their democratic credentials.
      An Alliance supporter would have nothing to add to this blog.
      I do not see myself as in competition to Slugger O’Toole. It is a MESSAGE BOARD actively seeking a wide range of opinions. This is a BLOG, advancing my own views and broader nationalist/republican and socialist attitudes.
      But of course its interactive.

      The one thing that I did not foresee in August 2011 was just how much this blog would “take off”. I try and make and effort to acknowledge MOST comments, even if its only a few words but time constraints make that impossible.
      Actually it has now got to the stage where this blog is a full time job.
      I am of course retired I will probably have to re-examine my workload.

      • Ronan Burns says:

        I am sorry that is your position but I acknowledge that managing an internet forum is not a job for an elderly man.

        Nationalist or Republican would be no use to me – as I am neither. But you do a good job highlighting the anti-Catholic bias of Slugger O’Toole. “Anti-Catholic” is probably not a fair description of Mick Fealty, who wants better relations between Prods and Catholics to the extent of thinking that we should let the Prods walk over us – just a little – which is comfortable enough for an Ulster Catholic who lives in England. Yes, the more I think of it, your term “letsgetalongerist” just about describes him.

      • James says:

        “Anti-Catholic” is probably not a fair description of Mick Fealty.
        Indeed. He is Catholic so indeed how could be be anti-Catholic.

  13. Political Tourist says:

    I came across this blog whilst looking for a history of Bangor Catholics.
    Very obscure and as geeky as it gets.
    That lead to Bangordub’s blog and the link to here.
    On occasion i will look at SOT, usually after FJH has mentioned something posted on it.
    I find SOT not the easiest to navigate although Mick has admitted the site does need an upgrade.
    Probably a sign of it’s own success.
    At least you can read the article and the regulars view on it.
    Try that on Politics ie and you’d to take a few hours out your day.
    Seriously, a 1000 replies on one thread, most of it trolled to death.
    Last time i looked there were members with 30,000 posts in a year, all on Northern Irish politics.
    That’s about 80 posts a day on one website.
    Funnily enough that was from a unionist who seemed to have a free pass when it came to abusing other posters.
    SOT has it’s own resident unionist troll, maybe it’s the same person or maybe even persons.
    If you ever want to see a rise in posters on here FJH, then blog something about politics in Israel.
    Stand back and watch the reaction.
    I hope FJH can keep the blog going although i except its turning into a full time job.

    • Thanks for this.
      Any attempts Ive made to publicise the blog more widely have usually had mixed results. Running a blog is not a job for a low-profile person like myself.
      As Mick has pointed out, my Slugger profile has a link to this blog but I have rarely if ever mentioned it while posting on Slugger. I doubt if many on Slugger actually click on my profile and decide to look at my blog as a consequence. I am sure that SOME (especially newcomers to Slugger) do it but not many. Regulars on Slugger know my politics well enough to either read or ignore this blog.
      Some of the Alliance warriors on Slugger have tried to comment here but as their comments are hardly ever approved or text removed to make the comments irrelevant …most Alliance people have given up.
      Likewise there is a link to this blog in my profile. I hardly ever read that site. If I post there, I get a few views here as a consequence. And a few more if I put a link to the Czar in the body of a post on

      I have an on-off-on-off relationship with Twitter. And that was always a good source for getting views. As the maximum amount of followers I ever had on Twitter was about one hundred…there were few visitors to the site as a DIRECT consequence. The visitors came via my followers “re-tweeting”.
      I have TWO Facebook accounts. One is the normal Facebook account for “Friends” and although they would be aware of my interest in politics, I rarely mention or link to the Blog there.
      The second account on Facebook is more “political” and each time I publish a blog it is automatically linked to that Facebook account.
      I dont suppose I have more than twenty FB friends. Indeed I am wary of the word “friends” as a lot of exchanges there seem decidedly unfriendly. I dont want to be a part of the METROTEXTUAL world of professional political insiders and hangers on. What exactly is the point in having 4,718 Facebook “friends” which includes 67 MLAs of different parties, a few journalists, political assistants to MLAs and the rest.

      But theres a contradiction here. This is increasingly the world I inhabit. The reception in the Long Gallery at Stormont, this seminar, that meeting. Its a world that repels me and attracts me equally.
      Blogging is as much about having contacts and a snippet of information, to be held in the memory file until its useful.
      I COULD easily go for bigger numbers. That isnt the point. I prefer the niche of a pan-nationalist blog. And Ive been extremely lucky with the commenters (sic) who have entered the “spirit” of the blog. Im grateful for that.
      Things MIGHT change.
      It is now a full-

  14. sammymcnally says:


    This site, in spite of your protestations to the contrary( and as the comments above illustrate )is a ‘competitor’ to Slugger. The small shop offering something different (and which you do well ) but constantly attacking ther bigger shop smacks of ‘professional’ jealousy.

    It seems obvious that Slugger (Mick) has to keep the PUL on side and this becomes especially difficult when the PUL are in an embarassing hole of their own making – hence the post about the ‘unlikely’ theory about the statue.

    re. ” reputation is hard to win and easy to lose.”

    Slugger remains an excellent site with perhaps the best forum in the ‘British and Irish isles’ for political debate and it is diffiult to understand what the constant desire to (unfairly) undermine it is about – and I say that as someone who is banned from using it and (proudly) holds a (record) 2 black cards.

    • I absolutely take that point Sammy. And I very conscious of it.
      In fairness the criticisms I have of Slugger are in my view “accurate” and Its uncomfortable when reasonable but negative comments I have made are taken to another degree by commenters. I am uncomfortable with the professional becoming personal.
      I am also acutely aware that I have the advantage of using my own blog to seemingly attack another blog.
      In my defence, these are comments that I would not be allowed to make on Slugger.
      His site, his rules.
      And I honestly dont think that the necessity of bringing “PUL” posters into Slugger can be used as an excuse to alienate more reasonable posters.
      As I recall the decision to start up this blog (August 2011) was for a few reasons. One was certainly that I was not getting a fair deal on Slugger. I wouldnt say it was professional jealousy on my part. More likely it was rampant paranoia on my part.
      But I honestly dont think this Blog is an alternative to Slugger. This Blog is much more narrow politically, has a declared agenda of advancing nationalism, republicanism and socialism.
      It is a “free” word press site. I dont pay for any “premium” technology and would not know how to use it anyway. I dont even know how to use the limited technology that I have.
      So thats a point that I really cant agree on …Im not in competition with Slugger.
      Nor indeed do I have the time to organise a web-ring of like minded republican bloggersd and increasingly the demands of this blog mean that I cant even give any time to reading other blogs.

      I have been offered an opportunity to change direction for a while. And one of my first reactions to the opportunity has been the thought “but what will happen my blog?” I dont think I would have thought that 18 months ago because the success (and its scaring me a little) of this blog is not something I ever considered when I started it.
      And I should also point out that the pseudonym aspect of the Blog is irritating me a bit. To his credit Mick has never sheltered/hidden behind a pseudonym and FitzjamesHorse while useful as a “brand”is not exactly very adult. This will likely change …not least because its no big deal.

  15. sammymcnally says:


    re. “And I honestly dont think that the necessity of bringing “PUL” posters into Slugger can be used as an excuse to alienate more reasonable posters.”

    Mick, needs to achieve ‘balance’ ie stuff both ‘sides’ like to read – for the PUL commenters this is a bit of public relations/political nightmare period. There are at least 2 or probably 3 SF bloggers on the site – it just seems ridiculous to attack it from any Nat viewpoint – except for Nat/Rebel dissers.

    It reminds me of the old chestnut of the white chap who goes into the pub and see 2 non white faces and tells his friends the place is full of blacks – perception of bias/difference elsewhere is often just reflection of own intolerances/dislike of difference.

    • Fear Feirsteach says:

      The guy who runs the site actually is a propagandist for the most bigoted elements of the Orange Order and their political associates.

    • James M says:

      Mick, needs to achieve ‘balance’ ie stuff both ‘sides’ like to read

      Surely this is the point. In SOTs search for “balance” it is very quick to post poorly researched stories as a crumb of comfort to unionism/loyalism. Not only is that wrong but frustratingly irresponsible. How do reasonable people(of which I’m sure Mick sees himself as such) expect to have any impact on loyalist bigotry(I’m not hopeful either way) when excuses are consistently made on behalf of them by NIs leading political blog. It’s absolutely right that Mick’s line on this is questioned. It’s all very well looking for “balance” (in fact false equivalence would be more appropriate) but at what expense? How do we expect to have reasonable political debate, when the debate is rigged from to outset by the moderator?

      • Fear Feirsteach says:

        Perhaps he is an agent of other forces.

      • Extremely unlikely.
        But if they are recruiting bloggers, I am available for hire. But I reserve the right to be a Double Agent.
        Undoubtedly there are Spooks.
        And undoubtedly they have Agents, who are looked after…more in terms of career opportunity and advancement than actual cash in hand.

      • There is a dishonesty at the very heart of Conflict Resolution.
        Academics…people who have been to University or just people with more than one brain cell…should know that there is no balance involved in the rights of marchers and the rights of residents.

        Guardian readers in Manchester, London or Liverpool have no problem calling it as it is when the issue is the Ku Klux Klan or the English Defence League or the French National Front.
        But mention of the Orange Order sends every academic in Belfast into “balance” mode.
        It is dishonest…intellectually dishonest.
        They are betraying their own education and merely giving a cloak of respectability to people who dont deserve it.
        And frankly it is rewarding financially.

      • Fear Feirsteach says:

        Au contraire, blogs can be influential (and of course, some are more influential than others). The powers that be would be a missing a trick if they didn’t try to exploit this.

  16. kilclunylooney says:

    What has happened to the man’s site? Has he been shut down?

    • I think its probably an issue with Word Press.
      For some peculiar reason the hits I have had today are a fraction o a normal Saturday.
      Prolly the worst days hits in months.
      I know he is away for weekend and there might be an issue with “cover” …moderating messages is a nightmare even at my low evel of operation.

  17. Political Tourist says:


    Regarding the use of pseudonyms, does it matter.
    Would anybody be the slightest bit interested in who any of us are?
    Not as though the next election in NI would be changed by anything written here.
    Doubt any big beasts are ever going to post on any blog or forum i read.
    Then again maybe i’m completely wrong.
    Maybe Gerry, Martin, Peter, Mike and Alex are all posting here.
    If they are then they ain’t giving anything away.
    Did come across one blog by chance that was written by an ex Premiership referee.
    He was happy to blog under his own name regarding true blue drinking dens and flute bands.
    Suppose it takes all sorts.

    • Yes…I think it DOES matter. Or maybe it CAN matter.
      I see no safety or security issues.
      Nor is there any privacy issues. As a retired person, no “employer” can claim that I am bringing his firm into disrepute, offending co-workers or that I have a contract which requires me not to say anything political.
      A blog has to be credible.
      And I never intended for it to written in the style of an anonymous letter sent to a newspaper editor.
      While Blogger names, Guido Fawkes,Squinter, Sammy Morse,Slugger O’Toole are arguably useful as a “brand” we know the names of the people involved. I am of course an amateur who runs a non- commercial site. I think being anonymous is justified on those grounds but increasingly its difficult to portray myself as just a “private” individual.
      I am hardly a “public figure” and it would be arrogant in the extreme of me to consider that I am. But the fact remains that when I am at any kind of “event” such as the launch of NI21 or SDLP Youth Conference, then people tend to know WHAT I am. Other Bloggers are often in attendance. Indeed after a recent event, one person blogged that he had seen me there and was looking forward to reading what I said.
      Inevitably at these events, there is an attendance sheet. And it does present a dilemna. I cant sign in as “Fitzjames Horse” and indeed signing in on my own name, it is not rocket science for any organiser to link my name to a blog here or post on Slugger.
      In other words, there is really no such thing as being anonymous.
      And over the three years, since I signed up for a Slugger event under my cousins name (much to the amusement of all concerned), I have been less obsessed with people not knowing my real name.
      Of course there is amusement to be had when people dont know. I still enjoy how the massed ranks of Sluggers Alliance warriors assumed for over a year that I was Brian Feeney.
      And recently a veteran SDLP member told me that he had long been suspected of being “Fitzjames Horse” and had a hard time convincing colleagues that he wasnt.
      But there is something Wizard of Oz about blogging.
      Dorothy and her friends were under the impression that the Wizard with the technology and loud voice behind the screen was a powerful figure.
      Take away the screen …the Wizard is a harmless old geezer.
      Behind the computer screen…FJH is a harmless old geezer.

      But at heart, you cant keep a secret that stopped being a secret long ago.

      • james says:

        Generally the anonymity could result in people being trolls, FJH, when it comes to comments.

        I don’t see this blog as in the same category as Slugger, it is simply too idiosyncratic. It does not pretend to cover all the big issues.

        Slugger is a very major blog and Mick has put a lot of his time into it.

  18. james says:

    Mick has not forgotten his CNR roots. He is a CNR who likes PULs not a CNR who has moved towards becoming a PUL. That is how I see it anyway.

  19. That was a very surprising post of Mick’s tbf. Should he have ran with it? Yes, definitely, however, I think what has taken most people aback is the way he has defended the story with scant by way of hard evidence which in all fairness is not really like him most of the time.

    Whenever I read the ‘story’ involving North Belfast ‘taig hoods’ stealing the statue to then switch with Shankill hoods in some kind of exchange I was expecting or thought I was reading something straight out of the Warren Commission and its findings on the ‘magic bullet’; it just beggared belief and was not his greatest moment but you’re allowed one now and again I suppose.

    • I think Mick gets affected by Marching Season Madness.
      When it comes to the Orange Order, Local TV bends over backwards to be balanced. And its very hard to be balanced when it comes to aspects of and/or the Order itself.
      “Normal” people who would in normal circumstances despise everything it stands for and everything it does get caught up in being “fair” and to be honest I think Mick fell into that trap.
      It was a bad thread compounded by his reaction to it.
      And it has re-ignited the Slugger O’Toole thread on
      I have not contributed to that thread …in part because I saw it only two days ago…and it had gone off on a tangent.
      But unlike last year where there was a genuine debate to be had about some threads on Slugger….the 2013 Slugger threads…theres just no debate to be had.
      Sluggers staunchest defenders can really find no redeeming feature.

      • I’d have to agree re MF maybe getting a little effected by the whole season. When I was in the Caribbean I stopped reading SOT due to his coverage of the season where he in essence tried to propagate the notion that the attack on the Short Strand was due to some girl getting hit with a stone by someone from there without really holding the kind of light that he would to other stories. Now I’m sure he would say that he was merely highlighting some cause and effect but I note that it’s usually at this time of year and both this and the girl hit with brick ‘stories’ seem so implausible that they in fact do him a great disservice whenever he lends more credence to them than perhaps he should.

        Again, am I saying he should not even report on these stories? No, by all means report them, but if you have little by way of evidence and you want to provide a conspiracy theory some air you do start to look a bit more like some of the unhinged folks like UPC who I do enjoy reading. I’m trying to figure out who he is, Frankie Boyle doing a wind up or someone else cos he couldn’t be for real, right? 🙂

      • There are some posters there that I rarely read and UPC is one.
        Ive always felt that Slugger needs the more controversial posters to make the stance of the blog look good.
        If UPC didnt exist, Slugger would have to invent him.

      • There are a LOT of posters I merely skim past, they simply bore me to tears or are Norman Bates reborn (most likely).

    • Pepsi says:

      Anyone taken the Rathlin Island ferry recently?

  20. Apologies FJH, however, shameful plug time. Cleanish has a new post up if your readers would care to view and it will be the first of a series with all opinions (so long as there is no trolling) welcome.


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