Category: Archive

Editorial: Loyalist violence clouds Blair’s vision

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

He acknowledged past grievances of the North’s nationalists in an unusually candid way, as he did past government failings, which is also to be welcomed.
A few days before he spoke, gunmen attacked the home of a Protestant-Catholic couple in Larne, Co. Antrim. The couple and their four children were forced from their home. Hardly a day goes by when something like this happens somewhere in the North. In the Stiles Estate in Antrim town, according to a report published this week, 65 families have been forced out between January and the end of May. Ninety percent of those families were Catholics. In the same estate, Catholic workers at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant have been threatened and forced from their jobs, and a young Catholic was attacked and severely injured by a hatchet-wielding gang. In July 2001, a young Catholic worker, Ciaran Cummings, was shot dead as he waited for a ride to his job.
Blair’s vision of a future, “normalized,” where people can live peacefully with their neighbors, is still a pipe dream. Instead, what we have experienced over the last couple of years is the reality of the pipe-bomb nightmare.
In his speech, Blair pointed out that the police had arrested up to 60 loyalists and charged them in connection with the sectarian campaign. More recently, the police scored another success with the seizure of a substantial arms dump in North Belfast belonging to the Ulster Defense Association. This underlines something that is easily forgotten in the concentration of attention on the IRA: the often determining role loyalist paramilitary violence plays. But the small scale of their sordid, vicious little war means that the only people who know about it are the Catholics who hear the pipe bombs exploding in their backyards or parlors. That is their “normality.”
In Blair’s big vision of the future, these little details must not be lost. If they are, that vision will never come true.

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