By Jamie Bryson
Let me begin by saying clearly- in order that there can be no confusion (and I cant see why there would be)- that I stand over the entirety of my speech in Ballymoney that has so enraged nationalism. Every word of it.
I wont be ‘reconsidering’ it, or moderating my views on the Protocol.
If people had taken the time to listen to my entire contribution, or read the speech, they would have also seen that as part of the speech I indicated that protests should be wholly peaceful- and more than that I actually took the time to emphasise that message.
I emphasise that message yet again for the benefit of those who seek to engage in misrepresentation as part of their effort to have all ‘unhelpful’ unionist/loyalist voices suppressed:
Protests should be wholly peaceful, and I would encourage everyone not to allow the justifiable anger and frustration over the unjust imposition of a Union-subjugating Protocol, put upon us as a reward for nationalist and Irish Government threats of violence, to boil over.
I really cannot be clearer. But that matters not to the nationalist brigade- because their objective is suppressing any political message that interferes with their political objectives.
Today on Nolan we had Matthew O’Toole who effectively demanded my complete de-platforming, and also that of Jim Allister QC. When pressed, he could offer no coherent reason why. Indeed, he was further stumped when it was pointed out to him that he didn’t want any nationalist contributors de-platformed.
The real issue is that liberal elite, and nationalism especially, can not cope with the reality that unionism/loyalism is moving in a direction of increasingly taking a hard line.
How can this be they wonder, given that they believe by now unionism would know our place- unionism must give, nationalism must get.
Or, as Sir Jeffrey Donaldson aptly put it, unionists are expected to be seen but not heard.
Of course what started out as a well organised and intense campaign against me, has now grown. Jim Allister QC, Kate Hoey and even Sir Jeffrey Donaldson are now in the mix for deplatforming.
It seems nationalism will not rest until the BBC output- and especially that of Nolan- is filtered through some nationalist verification process.
Just who do they think they are?
What does Mr O’Toole- or indeed the wider cabal seeking suppression of all voices they do not like- have to say about the number of times republican commentators Chris Donnelly, Phil Kelly, Amanda Ferguson or Patricia MacBride appear on Nolan?
Mr O’Toole and the SDLP’s faux outrage is ostensibly rooted in a concern over the use of language which they say raises tensions or is irresponsible. Indeed, we had the absolutely remarkable spectacle of Claire Hanna pontificating to the NI Affairs Committee about the use of language from those speaking at protest rallies.
Let us just quote Claire Hanna directly: “if 60% of people do not want a border on the island (of Ireland), and you say ‘tough shit, we are putting you inside a hard border’, you cannot expect people just to choke that down and get on with their lives. You cannot imagine people will take that without civil disobedience…at a minimum.”
Yes readers; that is indeed the same Claire Hanna who now has the audacity to purport to lecture everyone from her high horse. She was aided and abetted at the NI Affairs Committe in preaching by silly Simon Hoare- a more ill-informed person on NI you could not meet. In unionist circles he is known as the Irish/EU Parliamentary ambassador.
Today Mr Hoare’s peformance included putting on his most serious and spooky voice (Brian Rowan would have been proud) and thousand yard stare, when recounting comments made at the Ballymoney rally.
We had Nichola Mallon criticising Jeffrey Donaldson for writing for this website. This is Nichola Mallon who formed an election pact with Sinn Fein’s John Finucane, who refuses to condemn IRA terrorism and who counts the Shankill bomber amongst his election canvassing team. To add insult to injury, this sectarian pact was designed to topple a unionist MP the IRA tried to murder in a children’s hospital.
In short, Nichola Mallon or the SDLP have no moral authority to be lecturing anyone.
We also then had the nationalist Professor Colin Harvey, apparent champion of Human Rights. He now wants to deny the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech to unionists.
Let us revisit Mr Harvey’s threats in relation to Brexit, appearing at an anti-Brexit rally. He said this:
“If anybody attempts to put barriers on this island again they are coming down. Any obstacles on this island will be removed.”
We will all recall Sinn Fein’s regular threats of a threat to peace (code for, the IRA might start terrorism again), and the fancy dress at the border, with the leaders of Sinn Fein parading around with sledgehammers.
And who could forget the Irish Government, who threatened IRA bombs in order to try and gain leverage in the Brexit negotiations. This is the same Irish Government that ‘unionists’ like Mike Nesbitt fall over themselves to present as great friends of reconciliation.
In short form, nationalism have a brass neck trying to lecture unionism on lowering the temperature, they had no such concerns when they were firing it up for their own objectives. The precedent was set long ago, while many of us repeatedly warned of the dangerous nature of the repugnant precedent being set, which sent a message that threats get rewarded.
The unionist/loyalist anti-Protocol movement has provided a vehicle for the channeling of anger and frustration peacefully and in a controlled environment. Unionist politicians who actually oppose the Protocol have always advocated purely peaceful protest, and loyalism has worked tirelessly to try and stop the justifiable anger and frustration from boiling over.
It is the absence of political action by the Government, and continued aggressive intransigence of the Irish Government and EU, a dangerous vacuum has been created. The efforts of loyalism- who have worked very hard to keep things calm for many years- have been undermined, and the anger is becoming difficult to hold back.
The anti-Protocol rallies provide a peaceful outlet for this boiling pot of anger.
The UUP’s slurs on the anti-Protocol rallies are disgraceful, but entirely predictable. They have never been ‘true believers’ in relation to Protocol opposition, and would undoubtedly ‘pragmatically’ implement it in a heartbeat.
In addition, they have weakened even David Trimble’s bottom line on the Belfast Agreement. In 1998 even pro Agreement unionism had a position beyond which they would not go.
The 2022 UUP will accept any humiliation or constitutional damage- including the trashing of the principle of consent and “subjugation” of the Act of Union- to maintain their Stockholm-syndrome fidelity to the Belfast Agreement.
We have heard much of the UUP’s talk of engagement; more talking not less we are told. It seems that doesn’t apply to the grassroots in their own community. It seems the UUP have calculated their electoral future lies outside the unionist family, and instead they have fallen into the trap of getting hooked on the misleading kudos which flows (primarily from social media) from being seen to distance yourself from your own community.
Doug Beattie is an Army veteran who served our country with distinction. That is something for which he will always have my respect.
However, even that deep respect cannot overcome bewilderment as to the political direction Doug is travelling. It is NI21 and the disastrous ‘vote Mike get Colum’ on steroids.
The UUP are fielding and endorsing a candidate who wants the Irish Parliament to sit in Northern Ireland, and their stated policy is operating the Protocol with yet more North-South bodies.
Additionally, they have nothing to say about the fundamental basis for pro Agreement unionism being shown to be a complete fraud; they just power on with their blind commitment to the Agreement which even Lord Trimble and those who campaigned for it in 1998 have disavowed.
Perhaps worst of all, the UUP flatly refuse to encourage transfers within the unionist family. A continuation of the Nesbitt strategy of voting for nationalists (even as I type, I struggle to believe it). This is all well and good if the harm from such an approach only landed on the UUP, but it doesn’t, it hurts other unionists.
Of course, the UUP’s harmful strategy in regards unionism should be challenged, and the damage they are doing brought to their attention via public debate. What must not happen is attacks on any person or property. That is not the way to address the issue.
It must be done via argument and persuasion, and if there is a need to demonstrate to the UUP the folly of their increasingly absurd non-unionist agenda, then such punishment can be handed out at the ballot box. That is democracy.
The unionist family are united (DUP, TUV, PUP, Orange institutions, grassroots unionism/loyalism) in unalterable opposition to the Protocol. The UUP have strayed from the unionist family, like a rebellious child.
There is no talking to them or diverting them from their constitutionally destructive path. The party, and good people within it, are in the thrall of a small cabal of individuals who are in truth unionists in no more than name.
Those cheering the UUP on- primarily nationalists, hyper liberal twitter contributors and the Irish Government- do not care about unionism, or the UUP. Nor will they be casting a vote for the UUP on 5 May. They are simply using the UUP to attack the unionist family.
It is my earnest hope that the UUP, perhaps after electoral demolition (similar to the vote Mike get Colum debacle), will return home to the unionist family and realise that all these people they are chasing after, and all the praise they yearn for from nationalists and the Irish Government, is entirely superficial.
In the meantime, the campaign against the Union-subjugating Protocol will continue to increase (peacefully) in intensity.
There will be no lowering of the temperature, rather- as I correctly asserted in Ballymoney- its time to politically fire it up.