Talking of Irish political scandals, it seems that ideological unionism simply cannot help itself. Put to one side the involvement of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and, to a lesser extent, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) in the RHI or cash-for-ash controversy. Instead let us focus for a moment on the mysterious Randalstown Ulster-Scots Cultural Society, which operates from number 10 Portglenone Road, Randalstown, an address that may – or may not – exist. Certainly there is some confusion about exactly where the group is based after it was offered a £25,000 grant from the Community Halls Pilot Programme, a front for the DUP to dump large wads of tax-payers’ cash into various unionist neighbourhoods (the initial budget of £500,000 has quadrupled to £1.9m and rising). The majority of the money seems to be destined for bodies across the north-east of the country seeking funds to repair and restore community halls in their localities. By “community halls” I of course mainly mean Orange Halls, the local headquarters of the controversial Grand Orange Lodge
of Ireland. While most Orangemen (and -women) may be perfectly decent law abiding members of the general public, the organisation itself is an avowedly sectarian and ethno-nationalist one. It has been mired in communal trouble of one sort or another for the last two hundred years and little has changed over the last twenty years of the Irish-British peace process. Indeed, it has been Orange Order followers who have spearheaded some of the worse rioting seen in recent years.
As for the Ulster-Scots culture, like the supposed language of the same name, it is more of an invention than a tradition. Much of it is associated with the same circle of “alternative” historians and linguists who argue that the British unionist minority in Ireland is descended in the main from the 2000 year old Pictish peoples of northern Britain. Or the 3000 year old Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Or both.
Meanwhile, John Ó Néill has made this interesting point on DUP electoral spending from 2010 to 2016 in a comment under an Irish News column by Brian Feeney:
- 2010 General Election: £59,086
- 2011 Assembly Election: £84,514
- 2014 European Parliamentary Election: £200,061
- 2015 General Election: £58,000
- 2016 Assembly Election: £89,000
- 2016 Brexit referendum campaign: £250,000+ (estimated)
Now, where did the supposedly cash-strapped Dupes get over £250,000 to splurge on the anti-EU plebiscite in the UK?