by Jamie Bryson
Unionists/loyalists aren’t allowed to express concerns or articulate unpalatable (to nationalists) political views. Anyone who does is met with an orchestrated campaign directed from the shadows, but fronted by a cabal of nationalist activists across the political, academic, legal and commentary arenas.
Last week I was subjected to a 45-minute interrogation on the Nolan show with a range of outrageous allegations put to me. It is fair to say no contributor has ever before been subjected to such treatment; certainly thats been the viewed represented to me by a broad range of people, many of them not exactly known ‘fans’.
It was an interview designed to challenge me, and probe any hint of hypocrisy or inconsistently, particularly in relation to my views of loyalists.
This is coupled with the general challenges directed to loyalism and unionism on a daily basis, which encompasses a whole host of allegations and claims of unionist links to ‘shadowy figures’, and a multitude of other defamatory and deliberately demeaning slurs.
On Sunday I simply applied the same standard in reverse, and pointed out the hypocrisy of Colin Harvey, a nationalist activist in Queens University Belfast.
Mr Harvey is regularly criticising and challenging loyalists. In turn I pointed out he associates with convicted IRA terrorists (such as, for example, convicted bomber Martina Anderson); that he himself threatened that any land border infrastructure would be “removed” whilst Sinn Fein dressed up with republican machine guns and the President and Vice President paraded around with a sledgehammer; that he had failed to at any time challenge the Irish Government’s deployment of the threat of IRA bombs; and finally pointed out that he- a board member of Ireland’s Future which campaigns to destroy the Union- was a “republican activist”.
Social media went into meltdown with the usual cast of nationalist elitists spewing their pious pontification, and- deploying the shadowing and nefarious tactic they have perfected: demanding my deplatforming.
This tactic is repeated, not only against me but any unionist/loyalist who expresses views nationalism dislikes, because it has been successful. They know how to pressurise, for example, the BBC establishment which is only too happy to facilitate nationalism’s elite and their increasingly outlandish efforts to control media output in Northern Ireland.
If anyone needed an example of the subtle but pervasive bias within BBC NI, last week would have provided it. Whilst I was introduced on Nolan as a ‘loyalist activist’, on the same program former Sinn Fein election candidate and republican activist Chris Donnelly was introduced in neutral terms as a ‘commentator’.
Later that same day BBC TalkBack (referred to by many unionists/loyalists as ‘TalkNationalist’) had Andree Murphy, another republican activist and board member of campaigning organisation Ireland’s Future, on as an independent commentator.
Ms Murphy was waxing lyrical in her condemnation of loyalists. Given her links to Sinn Fein, not once did the presenter ask her for her views on the still active IRA (who PSNI and MI5 say direct and control SF), or perhaps (God forbid) challenge her on how her organisation, Relatives for Justice, has in the past regularly promoted events glorifying IRA terrorism.
That would be to treat nationalists/republicans in the same manner the BBC treat loyalists. That’ll be the day.
The efforts to completely dehumanise and deplatform loyalism has picked up further in recent days. The usual cast of Donnelly, Murphy and Harvey are leading the charge. A Tom Kelly column will not be far away; he’ll now have to label the entire loyalist community as ‘fringe loyalists’ (which really means anyone who holds views the new nationalist elite don’t like- which encompasses just about everyone in loyalism now). And then, as night follows day, there’ll be a Brian Feeney and Patricia MacBride rant in the Irish News.
A theme running through all these contributions is that they are designed to secure the dominance of the public arena. To make unionists and loyalists afraid to speak out and challenge the blatant hypocrisy of nationalism; to bully media outlets into deplatforming voices nationalism find unhelpful; and in consequence to ensure nationalism’s voice is the dominant public narrative.
It is trite to point out that isn’t going to be allowed to go unchallenged. Neither I, nor any other unionist and loyalist, is going to sit quietly at the back of the bus. We will not be simply seen but not heard and willingly play along with the grave injustices being perpetrated upon our communities.
There is a culture war raging- and its being fought out in the courts, in the media and in academia. Unionists and loyalists will be joining in the fight!
This week’s furoe is largely because the LCC had the audacity to give voice to genuine and growing concerns in loyalism. But now their Chairman David Campbell is to be disregarded. Billy Hutchinson and Jim Wilson, two men who campaigned for peace and took great risks to deliver it, they are to be disregarded. The late Lord Trimble was to be disregarded. Kate Hoey is to be disregarded. All grassroots unionist/loyalist lobby groups are to be disregarded.
Do you see the pattern here?
In effect, all the messengers who bring a message nationalism does not like- no matter who they are or how hard they worked to secure peace- are to the castigated and demonised. Their crime is telling unpopular truths.
But that is the point, is it?
It is precisely because of that treatment that loyalist communities are angry, exasperated and feeling entirely isolated and threatened. Kicked and kicked, and kicked again for over two decades.
Everyone is then surprised when that community says enough is enough.
Let me finish with this. The way to challenge the injustices, the efforts to make unionism/loyalism second class citizens and ultimately, to tear our country from us, is to use the law, use politics and use peaceful activism. That is the new battlefield.
Education- particularly around the law and engaging in the media to fight our corner are the new weapons of war. We must utlise them to their fullest capability.