Wednesday 23 April 2008

The moral void at the heart of unionism

Stephen Lawrence, 18, was murdered by white youths in Eltham, south-east London in 1993 solely because he was black. No-one has ever been convicted of his murder.

Yesterday (22 April 2008) his mother Doreen Lawrence was joined by more than 300 people including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a memorial service in central London. The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams led the event at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square.

Also present, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said his death left Britain a "nation shamed". Opposition leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also attended the service.

Since Lawrence's death in April 1993, 90 Catholics have been murdered in Northern Ireland solely because they were Catholic. All 90 are listed by the authoritative Sutton database as being 'civilians', i.e. not involved in any security or paramilitary organisation. All were killed by loyalist organisations, or groups of individual loyalists, purely on account of their religion.

In none of the 90 cases has the British establishment reacted as it has done for Stephen Lawrence. In almost all cases they simply ignored the death, or at best released an anodyne condemnation via the Northern Ireland Office. Even where loyalists, acting out of sectarian hatred, have murdered children (nine of the 90 were under 18 years of age), there was no high-level response from the government. In no case did a politician of the stature of Jack Straw claim that the death left Britain a "nation shamed". Never did a memorial service attract the leaders of all three main British parties.

Such a complete lack of interest, concern, or compassion demonstrates clearly that Britain sees Northern Ireland as 'a place apart', not really part of the nation that might be shamed. Hate crimes, committed by people 'loyal' to Britain, are unimportant when the victims are Irish people living in Ireland. There is, in British eyes, a hierarchy of victims, and London stands at the top of the list; Northern Ireland is so far down that it is unnoticed.

So much for the hypocrisy of the British establishment. What about the Christian and democratic leaders of Northern Ireland itself? The leaders of unionism, in particular, proclaim their attachment to 'British values' including freedom, justice and equality. Many of them claim to be Christians too. Were they outraged by the callous, brutal and sectarian murders of the 90 innocents? To their eternal shame, they were not. Unionists, almost to a man, ignored and belittled the deaths of 90 of their fellow citizens. On occasion they even tried to blame the victims themselves (David Trimble's disgusting remarks following the murder of 19 year old Ciaran Cummings in 2001, for example). They continued to associate with the known killers of many of the 90 (Trimble again, who allied himself with the Loyalist Volunteer Force at Drumcree). Out of the spotlights, many unionists quietly condoned the murders of innocent Catholics, seeing them as a communal punishment inflicted on the 'Catholic community'. In doing so, they exposed both their basic sectarianism, and their profound lack of Christianity or humanity. Right up to the present day many unionists are content to participate in Orange Order marches that include banners commemorating known loyalist sectarian murderers. When confronted with this fact, their reaction is to deny having seen such banners – there is no outrage or disgust expressed about the banners, the person being commemorated, or the association between the Orange Order and sectarian murder.

Have the leaders of unionism, and of the Protestant churches, come together to remember any of the 90 innocent Catholic victims of the sectarian murderers? No, they haven't. Apart from weak condemnations of 'all terrorism', what witness have they shown of their disgust at anti-Catholic sectarianism? The answer, shamefully, is none. Individual Protestants, occasionally clergymen, have expressed their condemnation; individual unionists, occasionally politically active, have done so too. But as a united front, at the highest level, unionists have let their silence do the talking.

The blatant lack of interest or compassion shown by most unionists towards the large numbers of their fellow citizens, murdered purely because of their religion, shows the moral void that lies at the heart of unionism.


The 90 innocent Catholic civilians murdered by loyalists solely on account of their religion, since the death of Stephen Lawrence. Though their deaths are no more tragic than any others, it is worth noting that 9 are under 18 years old, 4 are 65+, and 7 are women.

Edward McHugh (65)
Brendan McKenna (29)
Sean Lavery (21)
Seamus Hopkins (24)
Teresa Dowds De Mogollan (48)
James Bell (49)
Michael Edwards (39)
Sean Hughes (40)
Jason McFarlane (20)
Joseph Reynolds (40)
Patrick McMahon (23)
Martin Moran (22)
Sean Fox (72)
James Cameron (54)
Mark Rodgers (28)
Gerard Cairns (22)
Rory Cairns (18)
Steven Mullan (20)
Karen Thompson (19)
James Moore (81)
Joseph McDermott (60)
Moira Duddy (59)
John Moyne (50)
Sean Hagan (47)
John Todd (31)
Brian Duffy (15)
Robert McClay (38)

John Doherty (51)
Cormac McDermott (31)
Mark Sweeney (31)
Sean McParland (55)
Francis Brown (38)
Joseph McCloskey (52)
Paul Thompson (25)
James Brown (47)
Rose Anne Mallon (76)
Martin Bradley (23)
Eamon Fox (42)
Gary Convie (24)
Gavin McShane (17)
Shane McArdle (17)
Maurice O'Kane (50)
Gerald Brady (27)
Adrian Rogan (34)
Malcolm Jenkinson (52)
Barney Greene (87)
Daniel McCreanor (59)
Patrick O'Hare (35)
Eamon Byrne (39)
Robert Monaghan (44)
Kathleen O'Hagan (38)
Harry O'Neill (60)
Martin L'Estrange (36)
Sean Monaghan (20)
Sean McDermott (37)
John O'Hanlon (32)
Noel Lyness (47)

Norman Harley (46)

Michael McGoldrick (31)

John Slane (44)
Robert Hamill (25)
Sean Brown (61)
Bernadette Martin (18)
James Morgan (16)
Gerry Devlin (36)
Edmund Treanor (31)

Terry Enright (28)
Fergal McCusker (28)
Larry Brennan (52)
Benedict Hughes (55)
Liam Conway (39)
John McColgan (33)
Damian Trainor (26)
Adrian Lamph (29)
Ciaran Heffron (22)
Richard Quinn (11)
Mark Quinn (10)
Jason Quinn (9)
Brian Service (35)

Rosemary Nelson (40)

Gary Moore (30)

John McCormick (25)
Ciaran Cummings (19)
Martin O'Hagan (51)
Francis Mulholland (34)

Daniel McColgan (20)
Gerard Lawlor (19)

James McMahon (21)

Thomas Devlin (15)

Michael McIlveen (15)


Anonymous said...

"The blatant lack of interest or compassion shown by most unionists towards the large numbers of their fellow citizens, murdered purely because of their religion, shows the moral void that lies at the heart of unionism."

"...unionists have let their silence do the talking."

This is very sad indeed.

Neil said...

I am very surprised that given the Unionists draconian and dated stance over the years that anyone is surprised at their failure to condone such attrocities. These people are the most bigoted on the planet after all. Their bitterness runs very, very deep, which in itself is somewhat of a joke, given that I have older furniture than their 300 years of 'heritage' that we so often hear about. The politics of the Ulster Unionist are dated. Get with the 21st century and let us live in peace.