Northern Ireland: Payback Time in Belfast

By O'Farrell, John | New Statesman (1996), September 19, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Northern Ireland: Payback Time in Belfast


O'Farrell, John, New Statesman (1996)


News of riots in Belfast prompted familiar questions from perplexed observers. Why were loyalists attacking the forces of the Crown? Why were they so outraged that an Orange parade had been shifted a hundred yards? And what do unionists want? The scary answer is that they don't know.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

One sign of the feelings of Ulster Protestants was a text message that did the rounds after Northern Ireland's 1-0 victory over David Beckham, Wayne Rooney et al: "Anglo-Irish Agreement? Downing Street Declaration? Good Friday Agreement? Payback time!"

There is a tendency among loyalists to feel lonely, unloved and conspired against. The weekend riots across working-class areas may have been sparked by an Orange parade, but they had an air of inevitability. For months loyalist paramilitaries have been busy, with the Ulster Defence Association purging Ian Paisley's North Antrim constituency of Catholics and the Ulster Volunteer Force cleaning up their former comrades in the Loyalist Volunteer Force: four LVF men have been murdered. Attempts by the police to arrest UVF suspects have ended in riots.

Last weekend the UVF and UDA provided guns for shooting and pipe and petrol bombs for throwing at the police and army. Those who actually did the shooting and throwing, the front-line soldiers of loyalism, were barely out of nappies when the terrorist organisations announced their ceasefires in 1994. They inhabit the "narrowest cultural and political arena in western Europe", according to Dr Peter Shirlow, a political geographer at the University of Ulster. They hold" an identity not based on introspection and questioning but based upon an imagination of fatalism, sectarian stereotyping and hate".

Shirlow's fieldwork on both sides of the sectarian divide in north and west Belfast shows that neither has any idea about the daily life of the other. He found that 73 per cent of young Protestants have never had a meaningful conversation with a Catholic contemporary. Evidence is emerging that "cross-community" events to promote understanding are being used to gather intelligence for sectarian attacks.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Northern Ireland: Payback Time in Belfast
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?