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Unionism must fight back against Irish Nationalist insurgency | Jamie Bryson

Unionism must fight back against the Irish Nationalist insurgency against free speech and equal rights. There is a dangerous campaign of insurgency ongoing in Northern Ireland whereby a powerful coalition of Irish nationalist activists- across politics, media, academia and law- are working together in a coordinated effort to seize control of the public arena.

In recent months politicians and commentators in the Republic of Ireland and in the UK in Northern Ireland have raised concerns about how Sinn Fein was weaponising their financial and legal firepower to try and bully opponents into silence. They were, and are, essentially waging war on free speech in an effort to create an Orwellian type of society whereby it is only the view of nationalists that is permitted to be given credence in the public arena.

This campaign has intensified in recent weeks as nationalism’s activists embedded within various professions and political parties have launched a coordinated effort to shut down any challenge to their prominent activists, demanding that they have the right to dominate the public space.

The main focus of the anti-free speech campaign in recent weeks has been on a nationalist activist within academia, Colin Harvey and their efforts to ensure he is placed beyond all challenge or criticism.

Mr Harvey is an avid tweeter, serial political agitator and a regular contributor to the mainstream media. He espouses inflammatory, divisive and politically partisan views. However, the moment anyone challenges these views or points out various hypocrisies at the heart of his activism, suddenly he pivots and adopts the mantle of being the most oppressed person ever.

And so, any criticism is presented as ‘attacks’, ‘online harassment’ or ‘intimidation’.

It was even disclosed during the week that a coalition of nationalist activists has been holding meetings with the Assistant Chief Constable in an effort to pressurise the PSNI (who never need much encouragement to act in furtherance of nationalism’s interests) into ‘criminalising’ anyone who dares to challenge Mr Harvey or other divisive nationalist activists.

This is incredible. We have actually arrived at a place where nationalists demand the right to be able to express their views in the public arena, seek to impose them on others, and yet any effort to challenge them, criticise them or probe the hypocrisy in their positions (such as presenting as a Human Rights advocate by failing to condemn the terrorist campaign of the IRA) is presented as the nationalist being “under attack”, with the PSNI urged to intervene.

What a dangerous place we have arrived at as a society whereby nationalist activists claim for themselves the right to express their views willingly via public platforms, but demand that they must be entitled to do so without any negative commentary, criticism or challenge to their views.

It is an extraordinarily brazen assault on democracy, and moreover upon the fundamental free speech protections in Article 10 of the ECHR. But when have nationalism- or their activists who masquerade as ‘Human Rights advocates’- ever truly cared for the rights of all, or democracy?

It is, and always was, Rights for me but not for thee.

In truth, there are some who have willingly become public figures as nationalist activists who aren’t cut out for the cut and thrust of robust political debate or challenge. They seem to believe their view is the only view, and they simply can’t comprehend the audacity of any unionist to challenge them.

All of this is derived from the post-1998 nationalist supremacy which has gradually begun to take hold. There is a belief that only nationalist views should be given prominence in the public domain, and any counter view should be suppressed.

Another nationalist activist, former Sinn Fein election candidate Chris Donnelly gave an illuminating glimpse into the supremacist mindset when at the weekend he seemed to challenge the very right of one of the world’s oldest newspapers, the Belfast Newsletter, to exist. Its crime was platforming the views of “unreconstructed unionism” and also displaying the poppy page on its social media page.

Mr Donnelly is regularly platformed by various media outlets, and is presented by the BBC as an ‘independent commentator’.

Imagine the terrifying world unionists would be forced to inhabit if the likes of Donnelly prevailed.

When he speaks of unreconstructed unionism, he means anyone in unionism who does not behave as nationalism thinks they should. Put simply, any unionist who hasn’t converted to the cause of nationalism is “unreconstructed”.

A good example of a ‘reconstructed unionist’ is Andrew Clarke. He was, apparently, once a unionist. He is now a republican. Last week he tweeted “f**k the Queen” and proclaimed that being British “is NOT ok”.

All of this was then buttressed by a typically ranty column in the republican owned Belfast Media Group by Andree Murphy. Another prominent nationalist activist who works for Relatives for Justice. This group, which receives generous public funding, purports to be a ‘victims’ group, but yet has often shared promotional material for events glorifying IRA terrorism.

The main theme in Murphy’s column was that unionists and loyalists need to be silenced, or as Patricia MacBride - yet another nationalist activist- once put it speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, “taken out of circulation”.

This comment from MacBride was just giving effect to the nationalist belief that any unionist or loyalist of whom they disapprove must be instantly de-platformed.

There is a common theme in regard to the ongoing efforts to insulate Colin Harvey and those like him from any debate or criticism, and the belief of the likes of Donnelly, MacBride and Murphy as to their right to dominate the public arena. It is a growing sense of nationalist supremacism.

It is patently obvious that the mere continued existence of unionists and loyalists is seen by them as an impediment, and therefore all such irritants must be (i) de-platformed; (ii) “reconstructed” or, if all else fails, (iii) “taken out of circulation”.

That is the campaign unionist activists face in Northern Ireland today. It is waged by a powerful nationalist lobby that has seized control of many public bodies and operates via a number of well-resourced surrogate organisations.

It is hoped the Centre for the Union will go some way to being able to rebalance matters and to bring to wider attention the treatment unionists are suffering in Northern Ireland.

In America, the Federalist Society played a key role in rebalancing the power to influence public policy. Once dominated by liberals, the Federalist Society set out to correct that imbalance.

Unionism must do likewise in Northern Ireland, otherwise risk living in a society whereby being an “unreconstructed unionist” deprives you of the right to have an equal voice and stake in society.


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