You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
- John Morley

Double Standards: Violence and Contrasting Community Responses
Ciarán Irvine

The double standard and hypocrisy in Unionist and British attitudes to violence and terrorism is truly astounding. Most Unionist and British (especially Tory) politicians are nothing more than apologists for Loyalist ethnic cleansing; RUC brutality; Unionist disrespect for democracy equality and human rights and tacit approval of sectarian violence; and HMG's appalling cynical refusal to do what is plainly the moral and democratic "right thing" to sort out the mess they created. Strong words? Yes, but let us look at the facts:

The Pan-British Alliance (to create a counterpart to the mythical Pan-Nationalist Front) constantly insist that the Irish utterly condemn any and all violence that emanates from a nationalist/republican source. Not only this, but all of Nationalist and Republican Ireland is assumed to be guilty of such violence and, the PBA screech, we are all collectively responsible for stopping Republican violence. Any act of violence by any Irish person stains the entire Irish race, apparently.

As it happens, most Irish agree with them on this point and the vast bulk of the Irish people have loudly and consistently denounced the IRA and called on them to stop. Lest we forget, it was nationalist Ireland in the shape of Hume and Reynolds that finally persuaded the PIRA to stop their campaign.

In marked, utter and total contrast, no-one on the Unionist or British side has anything to do with Loyalist violence. Nothin' to do with me Guv'nor. No, Loyalists come down in spaceships every night to throw pipebombs and then return to Planet Carson. The people throwing pipebombs are not the brothers, sons, cousins and schoolfriends of members of the Unionist community (and by extension the RUC). No, despite Paisley's Ulster Resistance rallies, despite Trimble's Vanguard days, meetings with Billy Wright and decision to enter the talks process accompanied by and in alliance with the PUP and UDP, despite all the vast wealth of evidence that Loyalism is indeed an integral component of the Unionism community the Brigade loudly insist that Unionism has nothing to do with Loyalism. Unionism is stained by no collective guilt. Unionism has no collective responsibility for the actions of the few. Condemnations of Loyalism are neither demanded nor offered. Unionism work to stop Loyalism? Why should they? Nothing to do with them...

And HMG? No, of course HMG has nothing to do with Loyalism either. HMG didn't provide guns from South Africa in the 80's. HMG's shadowy Army units like the FRU didn't run agents like Brian Nelson. HMG's agents did not at any time direct Loyalist terrorism, target innocent civilians for murder or any of the rest. HMG was not involved. HMG bears no responsibility or guilt. HMG can and will do nothing to prevent Loyalist ethnic cleansing...

The foul stench from this hypocrisy is overpowering. Nationalist Ireland - and especially the Six Counties- has had to live with this sickening moral degeneracy for centuries.

And we're not going to take it any more.

Time for Unionism and Britain to clean up their act; put their own house in order; and start acting like the civilised democrats they pretend to be. The Irish are no longer willing to either let them get away with such self-serving hypocrisy or to put up with Loyalist violence.

An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said this week that the process was approaching Decision Time. Indeed it is. And the primary decision to be made is whether or not the Unionist community are willing to actually become the "peaceful, law-abiding people of Ulster" they have always claimed, without justification, to be.

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