Monday, February 27, 2006

Loyalist Dublin parade...a quick analysis.

Before Saturday's event it was certainly a source of pride to me that we were allowing a type of march which would clearly be provocative in Northern Ireland. Imagine if republicans organised a "Love Ireland" march in Belfast for the victims of loyalist violence and sectarianism. Ouch, I suspect it would have made Saturday's incidents look like tea with the Tellytubbies. Soooo not-on as a march idea.

Let's examine brief components of the parade we were quite rightly happy to take place....

1. It was to commemorate the victims of Irish Republican violence.

2. It was to be held in the heart of Dublin, the capital of the Irish Republic, near both the scene and the 90th anniversary timing of the 1916 Easter Rising.

3. It was to be held by Ulster loyalists. There is still an almost genetic imprint in many nationalists close to the Northern Ireland situation on the history of loyalist marches up there. To some, even the words "parade" and "loyalist" in the same sentence still evokes a provocative image.

So yes, it was possibly a daring idea in the first place and it turns out it was too much to ask that some small elements would not exploit it.

However let's look at some positives which might be worth salvaging from this embarrassing ugly event....

1. We agreed to a march which was a challenge to our inclusiveness and as mentioned above could be argued to have some provocative components to hardcore republicans. The Gardai and 99.9% of Irish people were quite happy for it to go ahead and did not want trouble, nor did most of us expect trouble.

2. The violence was clinical but quick and ended by mid afternoon. This has the characteristics of an organised but tiny unrepresentative dissident group. Ordinary thuggery joined in of course to make it look bigger. Nobody was too seriously injured as I understand. By international standards it was certainly not the worst of riots and was very short in duration. Some Dubliners even managed to see a humourous side to parts of it in describing the thug youngsters looting and indeed poor old Charlie Bird's experiences.

3. Sinn Fein has spoken out strongly against the violence, and they needed to.

4. After the event no elected groups or authorities has denied the rights of loyalists to march in Dublin. Everyone was rightly embarrased and outraged by the attack on democracy.

5. We have concentrated on how the Gardai should have handled the event and more importantly on putting in big efforts to catch those responsible.

6. I'm glad that at least a loyalist band got to march in front of Leinster House, it was nice of the Irish Times to show that picture today. This is the image 99.9% of us in the south wanted from the event. I commend the Irish Times for rightly representing us this way and the good editorial.

7. Of course you expect some loyalists to shout a bit of propaganda over the ugly event, which they predictably did. However, according to today's Irish Times the DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, while condemning the violence, also drew attention both to the lengths to which Gardai went to keep the visitors safe, and the spontaneous welcome and civility shown by people on the streets before the violence erupted.

Let's not give this short ugly riot the values the perpetrators intended.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that the perpetarators intended anything. It is hard to believe that Republican Sinn Fein had much to do with it. Though as they couldn't organise a shag in a knocking shop; it soesn't suprise me that this happens when they try for a peaceful protest.

This was really rioting for its own sake.

Remember an Orange Parade is Irishmen playing Irish songs and dressed in a parody of the English middle class trying their best to be English. It is like a cargo cult.

John of Dublin said...

I'm begining to question the value of any parade of a sensitive political nature. This one maybe challenged us a bit too much. As long as there are any levels of extreme views it can trigger a totally unrepresentative flashpoint. I'm going to guess that only 0.1% of our population felt like causing trouble to the Loyalists marching....but look at the footprint which that tiny minority puts on us all.