The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Racism: The Social Cancer

Racism is fast becoming the North's new social cancer. Political journalist Dr John Coulter examines the seriousness of the situation, and traces the development of racist groups

 

Dr John Coulter • 6 October 2006

Racism is becoming the North's new sectarianism, one of Ireland most respected priests has warned.

The stark prediction came from Father Aidan Troy from the Holy Cross Parish in north Belfast's Ardoyne.

The latest statistics from the police support the Passionist cleric's observations and paint a bleak picture of a significant rise in racist incidents across the North.

The attacks and incidents also coincide with an increase in activity by extreme Right-wing groups across the North, although each of the spokesmen who talked to The Blanket vehemently denied his individual group was involved in these attacks.

In one of the most serious incidents in recent weeks, two Portuguese migrant worker families living in the north Antrim village of Dervock, near Ballymoney, had three windows smashed and Nazi symbols sprayed on their homes.

PSNI figures confirm in the last financial year, there were 936 reported racial incidents – up 15 per cent on the previous year. Racial crimes also jumped by 18 per cent from 634 in 2004/05 to 746 in 2005/06.

According to police figures for 2005/06, Dungannon and south Tyrone is the worst place in the North for racist crimes at 91 incidents.

Loyalist areas figure worst in the League of Louts for racial crimes. Following Dungannon, the next six racist hotspots are all in predominantly Protestant areas – south Belfast (73); Craigavon (69); Ballymena – in the heartland of DUP boss Ian Paisley's North Antrim constituency (51); Newtownabbey (49); east Belfast – the stomping ground of Ulster Unionist boss Reg Empey, PUP supremo David Ervine and DUP deputy chief Peter Robinson (48), and Lisburn – firmly fixed in the political patch of Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson (44).

Newry and Mourne had 33 incident; North Belfast and Coleraine 31 apiece – Coleraine was one of the main rural centres for activity by the Far Right National Front in the 1980s - with Fermanagh at 28.

Father Troy noted:

“However, I was heartened at the 150th anniversary commemorations in Dublin of the Passionists to see people of African Asian origins, even though they have only been in Ireland for the past five years.
“Racism could well become the new sectarianism. Combating it must be now at the top of the list of care in the community. If racism does become the new sectarianism, it will re-open a sad situation in a few years' time. Efforts to integrate people must become wider.”

Father Troy said this widening could be more easier in Catholic areas since most Roman Catholics had a sense of missionary outreach and that the Church was able to widen such issues beyond the local parishes.

WHO'S WHO IN NORTHERN RACISM IN 2006:

British People's Party's: formerly known as the White Nationalist Party. Has around 50 members, but had support of 200 when known as WNP. Openly neo-Nazi and wants to recruit both Catholics and Protestants. Most active racist group with links to Nazi terror gang, Combat 18. Target areas – Larne, Lisburn, Coleraine, Belfast, Portadown.

British National Party: largest of Britain fascist movements winning over 50 council seats in England this year. Pursuing “a low-key leafleting campaign in a number of parts”, according to spokeman.

National Front: has only a handful of activists, mostly based in Coleraine; indulged in limited leafleting, but is a shadow of the late 1980s organisation.

British Movement: although largely defunct on mainland, still has a few supporters in the North; was responsible for low-level leafleting around north Antrim.

Ku Klux Klan: focuses on recruiting middle class, university educated Protestants by invitation only; branch known as Knights of the Invisible Empire – one of the leading Klan units in the US in 1930s. Supposedly believes in “quality, not quantity”, according to Northern spokesman. Wants to infiltrate DUP and UUP and “influence from within”.

Ulster Monday Club: while not racist or fascist, UMC has been defunct since 1980s. Extreme Right-wing Unionists want to re-vamp the Club because of its once high standing in UUP. Before disbanding, was one of the most influential pressure groups in UUP, boasting a number of MPs and several councillors. Disbanded because of racist allegation scandal which engulfed the English-based National Monday Club.

THE HISTORIC LINKS BETWEEN RACISTS AND THE NORTH:

The rise of racism in the North did not come with the start of the new millennium. Links between Loyalism and the Far Right can be traced back to the 1970s.

In the early '70s, the NF, then Britain's largest racist organisation, tried to establish itself in the aftermath of the paramilitary-backed Ulster Workers' Council strike which brought down the power-sharing Sunningdale Executive in 1974.

However, in spite of the NF's very public support of the Union, working class loyalists opted instead to develop their own political parties attached to the UDA and UVF.

But in the late Seventies, when the NF collapsed in Britain with the rise of hardline Tory boss Maggie Thatcher, the UVF formed terror links with the European Nazi movement.

It established an unholy alliance with the Belgian neo-Nazi terror group, the Vlaamse Militante Orde (VMO or Flemish Militant Order).

The north Antrim hills were used for a limited amount of joint UVF/VMO training, but the relationship turned sour when the UVF refused to attack the North's small Jewish community.

It was to be 1986 and unionist opposition to the previous year's Anglo-Irish Agreement which sparked the next major foray by the Far Right into the North.

The NF tried to re-establish its presence by sending John Field, then a 26-year-old Londoner and member of the party's ruling National Directorate, to the North. The NF opened a bookshop and headquarters in east Belfast.

However, this time the NF was espousing the cause of independence for the North, and urged its members to joining the growing grassroots Protestant movement, the Ulster Clubs.

In an interview with me in the late 1980s, Field said when asked if the NF enjoyed close relations with the UDA:

“We're not prepared to comment on what organisations, paramilitary or otherwise, that we are associated with.
“We believe any people have a duty and a right to take up arms against those who are prepared to wage an armed struggle against the British people and nation.
“We are not a religious organisation and we don't support sectarian murder. But if a person who is in the IRA or supports the armed republican struggle in one form or another is taken out by the loyalist paramilitaries, we would be the first to applaud it.”

The NF contested council elections in Newtownabbey, but only scored a handful of votes. The movement eventually split and at one time in the late 1980s, there were two separate groups – both calling themselves the NF, one based around a paper called NF News, the other around another paper called The Flag.

While the NF based itself in the loyalist working class, in 1986 another sinister hardline Right-wing group supporting an independent North established itself in the unionist middle class. Called the Ulster Movement for Self-Determination (MSD), it wanted the three counties of Ulster now in the Republic to join with the six Northern counties to form a new political state.

MSD was thought to want the expulsion of nationalists from the new nine-county state to ensure a loyalist majority. MSD was defunct by 1991.

Fascism and racism were not exclusive to the Northern Protestant tradition. Nationalism, too, has had a murky link with the Far Right. Britain's most notorious pre-War Nazi leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, who founded the street thugs known as the Blackshirts, was an avid Irish republican.

In 1930s Britain, quite a number of Yorkshire-based Irish migrant families supported Mosley's British Union of Fascists organisation.

And British Government documents made public since the start of the new millennium suggested a small group of IRA supporters were prepared to help the Nazis invade the North during World War Two.

Also in the early 1930s, Protestant nationalist Ernest Blythe from Lisburn became a leading figure in General Eoin O'Duffy's equally notorious fascist Blueshirts – a movement which was later to become one of the inspirations of the modern day Southern party, Fine Gael.

Republicanism's flirtation with racism reached its peak in the early 1984 when one of the smaller Ku Klux Klan organisations based in the United States pledged its support for the nationalist cause.

The links were confirmed in the June 1984 literature of the pro-Klan organisation, The Mountain Church, based in Cohoctah, Michigan.

This particular pro-Klan movement noted in its Ireland File: “At the risk of sounding like some sort of babbling liberal, the problem in Northern Ireland is to bring peace and reconciliation to the two warring tribes, and then to unite all of Ireland's 32 counties under a populist, racial nationalist society.”

In the same edition of the Mountain Church, writing under the banner of the Irish Republican Association, an author who signs himself “IRA Glen Cove, New York” brands the Jews as “the synagogue of satan”.

 





 

 

 


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Index: Current Articles



10 October 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Hail The Messiah
Anthony McIntyre

HET: History of Whitewash Continues
Martin Galvin

To Deal or Not
Martin Ingram

One Small Step for Paisley, One Giant Step for Ireland?
Dr John Coulter

The Haunting
John Kennedy

Subversion of an Irish Peace Plan
Brian Wardlow

Working Class Hero
Mick Hall

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 15 - 22
Michael Gillespie

Ryanair
John Kennedy

Racism: The Social Cancer
Dr John Coulter

Forced Out
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters Page Has Been Updated.


2 October 2006

Delusions
Anthony McIntyre

Reply to Andytown News on Republican Family Meeting
Martin Galvin

Lights Out
John Kennedy

Creating A Viable Alternative
Dr John Coulter

Teflon Kid
John Kennedy

When Fear Trumps Reason
David Adams

Stay Out of Neo-Con Mire
Mick Hall

Who really is the Biblical Anti Christ?
Dr John Coulter

Serving Judas, Not Justice
Anthony McIntyre

 

 

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