We’ve seen some sales of “The Protestants: No Surrender”, Ed’s book documenting the struggles of the Loyalist community in Northern Ireland. These sales also seem to coincide with the recent escalations, perhaps by coincidence, that have been emerging.
It’s a shame. Many parts of Ireland are not quite the happy-go-lucky places often imagined. In Belfast, rainbows, smiling old men, tweed coats, stone fences, and a jubilant lifestyle can be as much a myth as the leprechaun. Rebel songs are still sung at funerals, propagandist murals still loom over streets, politically charged bonfires roar on symbolic holidays, neighborhoods are fiercely divided: in short, the pain is too fresh to be entirely forgotten and under the growing economic hardship, violence should not be unexpected.
I feel for any man, woman or child that has had to live in a war, and the nightmare stories I’ve heard from both sides are nothing short of shocking: shootings, torture, bombings, riots, prostitution, gun running and public rape. The majority of these horrors were hidden from papers, and the few that made it out, one could argue, shined a better light on the IRA or affiliates. It was easy to forget that when the IRA fired back against the ‘occupying government’ they didn’t take sharp aim, but instead lashed out at any and all that weren’t from their neighborhood or didn’t go to their church.
Ed’s book took an intimate look at the protestant neighborhoods, trying to illustrate that loyalist sections of Belfast were far from a ruling upper class, that perhaps what many neglect to remember is that the real struggle for equality can only begin after peace – that consciously continuing a war can inadvertently make one’s own self the oppressor.