Current Affairs Politics

The Beast In The East

An interesting piece from journalist Henry McDonald in the Guardian on the recent attacks by Unionist paramilitaries on the beleaguered Nationalist enclave of the Short Strand:

‘…for the residents of the Short Strand, who were the main victims of the loyalist-originated violence, the assaults on their homes were terrifying and traumatic.

Once again, those living in this small Catholic/nationalist redoubt, surrounded by larger loyalist communities, found themselves vulnerable and in peril.

Many media commentators, some London-based… bought into the line that this latest conflagration was the result of spontaneous working class loyalist anger.

They argued that, because loyalist paramilitaries had no representation in the Stormont parliament or that because socioeconomic or educational attainment was low in poor Protestant areas around eastern Belfast, these communities suddenly erupted in anger.

In doing so, the commentators swallowed a fairy tale…’

He quotes the evidence of eye-witnesses to the assaults:

‘…all of those who attacked their homes were wearing surgical gloves, masks and combat uniforms, that they arrived with wheelie bins stuffed with bricks, bottles and other missiles, and that the entire attack appeared to be well organised.

The evidence from other Short Strand residents tells a similar tale, and suggests that the entire incursion was well planned and carefully executed. In addition, it is known that the Ulster Volunteer Force’s East Belfast battalion was behind the initial invasion of the Catholic area.’

And he then focuses on the well-known leader of the East Belfast UVF, the British terrorist organisation that organised and spearheaded the attacks, who the media has dubbed ‘the Beast in the East‘. Far from the public censure some claim has fallen on his head McDonald points out that:

‘Most of the locals on the Protestant/loyalist side of the loyalist were full of praise for the UVF’s actions…’

This is echoed by a report in the Irish Independent, which also refutes the claims that other leading ‘pro-peace’ UVF terrorist leaders had now turned their backs on the so-called Beast in the wake of the violence, after an earlier rift:

‘The UVF leader known as the ‘Beast of the East’, who is being blamed for the invasion of a nationalist enclave in east Belfast last week, has enhanced his standing within the terrorist organisation through his actions, sources in the unionist community say.

The 48-year-old gang leader has received public support from major UVF players…’

Indeed. Not to mention meetings with senior representatives of the DUP, the dominant political force of the British Unionist population in Ireland, and officials from the regional power-sharing administration in the North, which includes Sinn Féin.

Yet again, the British minority on the island of Ireland proves that it is violence, and the threat of violence, which gives it form and influence. At its crudest, for Irish politics it is British guns in British hands that carries the greatest weight – and gives the greatest rewards.

A lesson that is not lost on others.

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