The heightened expressions of division that manifests themselves at this time of the year in the six counties has been added to by the ongoing negotiation on the “Protocols” agreed between the British government and the European Union following Brexit.
Both imperial groupings are using the “Protocols” as a bargaining chip. The British as historical experience shows, will use whatever division is at hand or to cultivate new ones so as to advance and secure its strategic interests.
At this time unionist opposition to the “Protocols” is a useful card to play. While the British use unionism, unionist politicians in turn use the “Loyalist Community Council (LCC)” a body set up to allow loyalist para-militaries to be involved in “politics”, to be the enforcers, the vehicle to mobilise opposition to the protocols.
The LCC is simply a mechanism to assert, reinforce, maintain and sustain unionisms control over working class communities, by using fear, intimidation, protection rackets, controlling the drug trade and a myriad of other criminal activities.
What is on display at this time of the year is hate and division dressed up and promoted as an “expression of identity, of religious faith, of protestantism”. Councils allocate grants for such “cultural expressions” while working class housing estates remain neglected and community services remain underfunded.
Some may genuinely believe that it is their cultural rights that they are celebrating. The reality is, it is nothing more than displays of hate, demands for submission by those whom they see as a political threat to the political structures and its underpinning culture of supremacy and entitlement. Bonfires, street arches and flags are being imposed on communities who have no desire to see them in their estates.
These manifestations of sectarianism in the form of marching bands, burning of effigies of opposition politicians, the burning of the tricolour, Palestinian or rainbow flags , the burning of cultural and sporting insignia is about making a very clear intimidating hate statement. The implication is that these are foreign emblems and do not belong here and neither do those who cherish or support such cultural or political expressions.
These acts of sectarianism, these expressions and assertions of political supremacy only aid the status quo. They follow the strategy and the narrative laid down by those who benefit from division. Those who for decades have overseen mass unemployment, poor housing conditions, poverty, poor life outcomes, institutionalised discrimination, those who benefit from paying workers low wages and impose poor working conditions. Those who accumulate wealth by legal or illegal means stand to gain most and those who lose are working people.
These types of “celebrations or expression of culture” have nothing to offer other than enforcing division by intimidation of the nationalist/republican communities. It is also a means to corral, control and intimidate those within unionist communities dominated and locked down by loyalist para-militaries. Dissent will not be tolerated. Any dissent is an act of betrayal.
There can be no tolerance for displays or acts of bigotry or hate. No room for those who promote such hate and division no matter what political persuasion they come from nationalist/republican or unionist.