The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Paisleyites & Peelers


Anthony McIntyre • 7 March 2007

It was a bright enough day, thankfully. The rain stayed away until late in the evening. Making the effort to vote in wet weather is never a nice business. Nevertheless, I would not let it put me off if for no other reason than recalling many years ago having felt mortified for the then English Liberal Party MP, Clement Freud. Tying to explain away a poor showing on polling day by his party he made the ridiculous case that Liberal voters more than others did not like the rain. His interviewer scorned him, deservedly so. Whenever the skies open on election day, I still think of Clement Freud. If I have a reason not to vote, it is never because of the weather.

Early in the day a local republican stopped at our house and began to shout that I had been right all along, republicans had been sold out. Which was never exactly my position, it being a bit more nuanced than that. But such was his need to say something and be heard saying it that I opted not to go into the finer detail of what I had been publicly and privately articulating for more than a decade. After fulminating for a minute or two he laughed and shouted something about the thought police getting on to him. If he was concerned he was not giving it away.

It was ironic. Last time we had people bawling outside the front door, they came in a mob. They were not to know it then, but we did, that only a matter of years would elapse before they would be giving their support to the renamed RUC. True, supporting the cops was some time off but decommissioning was only a year away and they still believed that would never happen either. Some still think it hasn't. Politically limited, they had neither foresight nor intuition. Now they don't even have republicanism.

For years we have used the polling booth in St Aidan's school at the top of the Whiterock Road. Voting was more convenient when the station was situated in BIFHE just around the corner; no uphill walk. It was the first time my wife, who is a US citizen, was eligible to vote and she was determined to make use of it. We made our way very leisurely up the road accompanied by our son in his pram. At the station stood a group of PSNI supporters seeking votes for their preferred party, Sinn Fein. More of those gripped by the strange notion that support for Orde and Paisley will somehow take them to a united Ireland congregated around a caravan on the opposite side of the road.

Only a few years ago, standing alongside today's PSNI supporters seeking votes for Sinn Fein were men from this area who now languish in Maghaberry Prison, arrested by the British police force in Belfast city centre. Not knowing how to do irony, it all failed to impact on today's PSNI supporters as they stood asking for votes for the party that called for their current colleagues and erstwhile canvassers to make themselves available for imprisonment in Maghaberry.

Included in the canvassing crew were some who had been in prison with me on charges relating to the attacks on British police officers. Now they were seeking to enlist our support for British police officers. Their arrival at this destination summed up the bizarre odyssey made by Provisional republicanism, at the end of which it celebrates its own defeat.

At the gates of the polling station a PSNI supporter offered us a sample ballot. My wife would have none of it. I took it. There were five names on it and the voter was instructed what preference to give to each. All West Belfast nationalists, there was little any of them have said in recent years that would mark them out as promoting a republican agenda. On the contrary, in a little vignette that captured Sinn Fein's acquiescence in the sectarian Zeitgeist currently animating the political spirit of Northern politics, one of the candidates two days previous had been publicly promoting Glasgow Celtic in the main nationalist daily as a means to catch the vote. Little point in using the sample ballot as a guide. It would go into the blue bin that they now provide us with in the West for recycling rubbish.

In the privacy of the voting booth I gave the first preference to the only republican standing in West Belfast, Geraldine Taylor. She is a member of Republican Sinn Fein, a party I do not support. Because of his politics and the issues raised in his campaign, my preferred candidate was Sean Mitchell who I ensured got a high preference. But at this juncture I decided to cast my first preference through Geraldine Taylor against the entrenchment and legitimisation of MI5 and the British Police Service of Northern Ireland. After so many decades immersed in some strand of republicanism it seemed profane to let its abject capitulation pass by casting anything less than number one in disapproval. Not that it will make any difference to the result. The sense that it was ultimately a futile act, a statement of amen, was overpowering. Sinn Fein will certainly take four seats in West Belfast and as a unionist friend commented a fortnight ago it would be a brave punter who would rule the party out for a fifth at the expense of Diane Dodds.

Our ballot papers deposited, we left the school. Vote cast or wasted, I wasn't sure. Either way it was academic; one of those things that had to be done, like a mark of respect for something that had long since been laid to rest. Those who want the theocratic Paisley to lead them and the British PSNI to police them were still standing outside. Paisleyites and Peelers, always understandable for Ballymena but up until a while ago unbelievable for Ballymurphy.






















Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

14 March 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Legal Aid Wrangle Continues
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign

Statements on the Arrest of Gerry McGeough

Campaign for Noel Maguire
TJ O Conchúir

Paisleyites & Peelers
Anthony McIntyre

Equating Spectacle at Stormont with United Irishmen is Perverse
Tommy Gorman

Seacht mbuicéad caca go dtite ar a gcinn
Michael Gillespie

Nothing But the Truth
John Kennedy

Snapshot, 1993: Voters' Rights, MI5 Wrongs
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh

Broad Church for Unionism
Dr John Coulter

The Man Without the Mask
Anthony McIntyre

The New Boyne Harriers
Brian Mór

UUP Possibilities
Dr John Coulter

Blinkered Vision
Anthony McIntyre

Damned by Debt Relief
Pauline Hadaway

6 March 2007

Irish Republican Ex-POWs Against the RUC/PSNI & MI5

Whispering Past the Graveyard
John Kennedy

RSF Campaign Reports
Tony McPhillips – Election Agent

Save Derry
Brian Mór

Support Peggy O Hara
Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans Against RUC/PSNI & MI5

Only the Beginning
Mick Hall

St Bore's Day
Anthony McIntyre

SS Sinn Fein
John Kennedy

Election Guarantees Nothing
David Adams

Coulter's Pre-Election Report
Dr John Coulter

Others Promise...
Brian Mór

The Curse of the Caudillo Complex
Mick Hall

Rest, Do Not Surrender
Dolours Price

...We Deliver
Brian Mór

Super Six Dictator
Dr John Coulter

Anyone Up for a Serious Alternative?
Philip Ferguson

The View from Outside
Jerry Pepin

Boom to Bust?
Dr John Coulter

Tyre Trees
Anthony McIntyre

Cleanliness Not Next to Godliness in the Shankill
Marty Egan

Leadership Needed
Stephen Hughes

Where Does the State of the Union Leave the Rest of Us?
Richard O'Rawe



The Blanket

http://lark. phoblacht. net



Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices

To contact the Blanket project with a comment, to contribute an article, or to make a donation, write to:

webmaster@phoblacht. net