Loyalists: the pariahs of the peace process

The rioting over the Union flag illuminates the tragedy of modern loyalism: these people are loyal to a world that no longer exists.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics World

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The loyalist rioting in Belfast over the council’s decision to take down the British Union flag at City Hall highlights the tragedy of modern loyalism – these people are loyal to a world that no longer exists.

All the things that the Protestant community in Northern Ireland were traditionally loyal to – the Union, Britishness, the idea of a singular nation called the United Kingdom – have fallen into historic disrepute in recent years. Loyalists are yesterday’s men, devoted to yesterday’s ideals, flying yesterday’s flags, and this makes them pretty much deviants in the New Northern Ireland. Indeed, working-class loyalists are being turned into the pariahs of the peace process, demons against which the the architects and promoters of the peace process might advertise their own superior, post-national, flag-less values…

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