Inflatable Rats…Old Belfast…New Belfast

I was watching Sky News at midnight last night. The lead story was that the British Government was going to do “something” about intimidation of directors of the Grangemouth Oil Refinery by trade unionists. It is said that members of the Unite Trade Union had been picketing the homes of directors and standing in gardens with….a giant inflatable rat (sic).
I think all reasonable people … including life-long trade unionists like myself appreciate that in bitter industrial disputes, things can get out of hand.
Yet around the same time that I was watching Sky News…reports were coming thru from East Belfast that there had been an arson attack on the local constituency office of the Alliance Party.
Readers of this blog will know that I dont much care for the Alliance Party. It should go without saying that I condemn this attack…and indeed all attacks, that they have endured since they screwed up with their policy on the “Fleg” at Belfast City Hall, almost a year ago.
Thanks to Peter Robinsons little problem in 2010, Naomi Long won East Belfast in the Westminster parliament. It appears pretty obvious that the campaign against Alliance in East Belfast, is at least partly designed to ensure the Party loses the seat in 2015.
It is also pretty obvious that unionist-loyalist paramilitaries are behind the ongoing rioting and that the UVF have been involved in criminal activity, including drug dealing and intimidation in East Belfast.
The PSNI are powerless in the face of this. The Peace Process is believed to be too fragile to move against this sort of crime..
By any reasonable standard, the (latest) arson attack in East Belfast is a more direct and dangerous form of intimidation than an Inflatable Rat.
But while David Cameron’s Government is prepared to do “something” about the Inflatable Rat, nobody seems prepared to do “anything” about continuing criminality in East Belfast.

The PUP has…ahem the “ear” of the UVF and it is to be welcomed that Party Spokesperson, Dr John Kyle has condemned the attack, although it does seem to be a qualified condemnation.
Dr John Kyle …he is a family doctor…seems the softly spoken voice of there PUP.
He is popular with the City’s MetroTextual Twitterati, who would be unlikely to be Facebook Friends with UVF thugs.
There is a curious mirror image. The Twitterati are not very fond of Gerry Adams and Gerry Kelly but Belfasts mayor Mairtin O’Muilleoir (also Sinn Fein) is loved and his every word and deed is re-tweeted by his admirers…the artsy set, the academics,the journalists, the lobbyists and assorted hangers on.
As he moves thru the City with his EIGHT (count them!!!) chaplains, his photographer and his Poet Laureate (honestly) his Twitter account (“New Belfast”) is admired.
This morning, he attended a Remembrance Service for the City’s Dockers. And this afternoon a Remembrance Service for the Transgendered Community.
On Friday night, it was Van Morrison.

But the point is that the Media cant get away with trying to distinguish between GOOD PUP and BAD PUP. Or GOOD SINN FEIN and BAD SINN FEIN.
In Belfast and Norn Iron…Double Standards and Ambiguity reign.
And that extends to the Alliance Party.
In Government, they owe their position to DUP and Sinn Fein.
And the PSNI wont move against their tormentors.
And the Minister for Justice…is David Ford who is actually Leader of the Alliance Party.
You couldn’t make it up.

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7 Responses to Inflatable Rats…Old Belfast…New Belfast

  1. Dub says:

    I think my last post was a little acerbic, but you can be a very puzzling guy. I know you detest Alliance, but how did they “screw up” on the “flegs”? They were voting according to their party policy. The people who ” screwed up ” were Sinn Fein and the SDLP. The only tolerable flag policy for Nationalists is no flags at all or no flags. Nationalists who voted for the British flag to fly solo on designated days..!!!They are the ones who really really screwed up AND they voted against their parties’ policies on the issue. Alliance have pulled Nationalists into liberal unionist territory. We could face a horrible defeat under Haas. Union Jacks on designated days in EVERY council.

    From their policy point of view Alliance played a blinder. Although the real beneficiaries might be NI 21.. The liberal getalongerists that you inexplicably LIKE!!!

    Ah! I think I may have just seen what you meant…

    Night night….

    • Whatever the merits of Alliance Party policy, their actions last year at the City Hall was a screw up.
      If the six Alliance councillors had realised the destruction that their decision (-and SDLP and SF escape criticism because they are nationalists) would cause…would they have voted that way??
      I dont think they would have readily voted for a decision that caused (entirely unjustified) attacks on their own members in East Belfst, North Down etc.
      I also suggest that Alliances own voters understand the pragmatism and advantages of being involved with DUP and SF but many of the ordinary decent people that vote Alliance might well be concerned.

      And I think that there is an obvious tension between the East Belfast Party and David Ford…who has largely been invisible during the Flegs Dispute. Id watch developments there.
      To some extent the Alliance Party has actually sold out the middle ground that it made its own.
      Let me be clear, I have no problem with unionists. (Nor should I) And no problem with liberal unionists, although I hope they convince few.
      But let me be clear about this. Alliance is a coalition of liberal unionists, churchy (nice) people and a ruthless element of letsgetalongerists who have a sense of entitlement.
      The Flegs Dispute puts tension on that coalition and thats an area that SDLP and other rivals for votes SHOULD be working on.

      NI21 …and too much analysis on this thread is a distraction. But at heart they are decent liberal unionists who honestly want to get along and whether I agree with their stance on Opposition or whether I not agree there is an element of Integrity there that Alliance simply dont have.
      I like SINCERITY in Politics and NI21 have it. They are not phoney “LetsGetAlongerists”.
      So of course I like them.
      And while I am not convinced of their electoral potential, a fair proportion of the votes they gather will be at the expense of Alliance.

  2. Dub says:

    Sorry I meant no flags at all or BOTH flags….

  3. When British terrorists shoot a 15 year old boy in the legs in makes for a brief media flurry, largely confined to the north-east of the country. If it were Republicans carrying out the same atrocious act it would make national headlines in Ireland and in Britain.

    We all know the agenda, not least the terror factions of the UDA-UFF and UVF. As during the worse days of the conflict they have political and media carte blanche to do as they wish.

    Perhaps the shooting of the child a “retaliation” that was “provoked” by the actions of others? That always made for a good reason to excuse away the murder and mayhem committed by the “proxy forces”.

    • tenniselbow says:

      Seamus, I disagree.
      There has been steady republican violence gathering pace and intensity, happening what seems like every day, and it is soon yesterdays papers. The firebomb of a city centre department store hardly got noticed. The bomb under a retired policemans car which woud have killed a 12 year old girl had it not been found- that’s now 3 bombs under cars in the Gilnahirk area in 1-2 years. Prison Officer murdered by republicans, barely gets a mention. Ther’s loads of republican the news one day gone the next. Pretty much similar on the loyalist side. Shooting of a girl did garner attention, mainly because the victim was female. but lots of loyalist stuff gets a mention on that days news then gone again. At least the spotlight programme on the UVF shone a deeper light on things, as did the Gerry Adams programme on the disappeared.
      We, and the media, are either somewhat desensitized to it all, or somewhat in denial.
      In truth, I actually think there is increasing awareness of UVF activities out there.

      • Tennis…Seamus.
        There is a narrative that the media have signed up to.
        Dissidents ARE a problem and this is reported…not least by Sinn Fein. There has never been any fiction that the Dissidents are on a cease fire.
        There has however been a lot of pussy footing around with loyalists and their criminality.
        They have been the elephant in the room for years.

  4. @tenniselbow, I’m afraid I must in turn disagree. The UDA-UFF and UVF are clearly treated as “different” by the Irish and British media. But then again they are clearly treated as “different” by the Unionist and British political classes. In this the former just reflects the ideological view of the latter.

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