Saturday 19 August 2017

Kevin Myers: Tribal bigotry is not a response to IRA violence -- it was there before

IT was good of the UVF thugs of East Belfast to give me a cue with which to follow my Fenian column of yesterday (which, as it happens I had started before the unprovoked attack on the Short Strand). For we should be clear about this; the culture of the Billy-Boy tribal bigot predates the emergence of Fenianism as a powerful force amongst the Catholic working classes of Belfast and Glasgow.

Paradoxically, the rabble-rousing leaders of these drunken louts have usually been teetotal clergymen, such as Roaring Hanna and Ian Paisley. The compulsory Sunday closing of pubs was once a primary element of their identity -- provided that their own drinking clubs were allowed to remain open. Logic is never the strong point of any strongly held tribal identity, but particularly so for these people, who have remained locked in a historical enigma wherein they are 'British', though living in Ireland, and generally lawless though they 'loyally' support the Crown, and sober in their general political aspiration, though usually enough drunk at the time.

They have a church, too. In their illiterate and incoherent scheme of things, Calvary is probably a collective for horses and maybe Gethsemane is something mysterious that happens in a sperm-bank. No, their real religion is Rangers Football Club.

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