Some recommendations for history books about Northern Ireland

JEFFREY Donaldson suggested recently that Senator Chuck Schumer should “read some history books”. This is an excellent idea and I recommend the following publications.

The McMahon Family Murders – Belfast 1922, by Joe Baker, records the activities of a Protestant militia in the guise of the B Specials, led by John Nixon, who carried out a series of brutal murders in Belfast in the 1920s.

Nixon later became a Stormont MP and was often accompanied by a young Protestant preacher called Ian Paisley.

He could also read the report of the Scarman Tribunal, set up to investigate the Belfast riots in

August 1969.

Scarman concluded that of the households displaced 1,500 were Catholic and 300 were Protestant. Of the premises damaged, 83 per cent were occupied by Catholics.

Lethal Allies by Anne Cadwallader recounts the murderous activities of another Protestant militia known as the Glenanne Gang; most gang members had security force affiliations and were responsible for the murder of up to 120 innocent Catholics in the 1970s.

Another highly recommended

book is UDR: Declassified by Micheál Smith. This book is an evidence-based exposé of the UDR using declassified files from 10 Downing Street, the MoD and the NIO. 

“For nationalists, an encounter with the UDR was frequently hostile, often brutal, and sometimes fatal...”

Lost Lives is an essential reference book for any student of the Troubles – it records Catholic civilian deaths as being 1,232, or one third of the total victims. After reading these books Senator Schumer may conclude that for most of its existence Northern Ireland was a sectarian, discriminating, gerrymandering, persecuting, nepotistic state.


Newry, Co Down

Flying the flag

Lord Kilclooney, better known as John Taylor, former minister in the old one-party, unionist Stormont regime, tweeted on St Patrick’s Day: “Great to see hundreds of people at Belfast City Hall waving Shamrock Flags as they celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Regrettably one republican idiot tries to politicise St Patrick’s day by displaying a Tricolour!!!” Unionism has succeeded in ensuring that nationalists who wish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Belfast city centre are virtually unable to express their national identity by carrying the tricolour. Belfast City Council appears to endorse this policy by advertising it as a cross-community event. Yet multiple Orange parades commemorating St Patrick were held on the same day and were able to parade carrying their British and unionist symbols such as Ulster flags and were able to hold celebrations in Orange halls called sash bashes etc. Not a word from John Taylor about those proceedings including the Apprentice Boys march in Derry.

Unionists like to portray St Patrick as neither Protestant nor Catholic but the reality is that St Patrick existed a millennium before the Protestant reformation began and was part of the Catholic Church.

As most Catholics in Ireland identify with the tricolour as the national flag they are much more entitled to carry the tricolour when celebrating St Patrick than those who carry union flags and coat trail their Orangeism on St

Patrick’s Day.


Belfast BT11

O’Connell would have been appalled at carnage in Ukraine

Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, quoted Daniel O’Connell in Hong Kong as justification for Ireland’s support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Minister Ryan stated that: “There was a famous Irish patriot, Daniel O’Connell – The Liberator – and he said one line and I think it’s appropriate here: Nothing that’s morally wrong can be politically correct.” Daniel O’Connell was a dedicated pacifist who would have been appalled at the carnage in Ukraine. He was dedicated to peaceful, non-violent means throughout his public life. “Not for all the universe contains would I, in the struggle for what I conceive my country’s cause, consent to the effusion of a single drop of blood, except my own.”

In typical doublespeak Eamon Ryan said: “While Ireland remained a militarily neutral country, it was not neutral on the war itself.” A genuinely neutral country should remain neutral in all wars. The majority of Irish people want the Irish government to pursue a policy of active positive neutrality promoting international peace and justice. In this 21st century, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the reality that wars create mass destruction of our global environment, means that all wars are morally wrong. The Irish government, and the Green Party in particular, should be promoting peace by peaceful means only. St Patrick, who is respected in all parts of Ireland, would be equally appalled at his festival being used to promote the continuation of wars in Ukraine and elsewhere.


Castletroy, Co Limerick

Paramilitary ‘gravy train’ should come to a halt

The news from the budget that there is no extra money for the health service here was exacerbated with the news that another £3 million is being pumped into initiatives to tackle paramilitarism.

So 25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), we are still rewarding paramilitaries for transitioning from their killing and maiming activities into drug dealing, prostitution and racketeering. Tens of millions of pounds have been invested by the Stormont Executive in the Communities in Transition and social investment funds. Several well respected BBC and UTV programmes have revealed how some of these former paramilitary bosses have been funded huge salaries to oversee these and other funds.

Recently one of the programmes interviewed a Protestant minister who described how paramilitaries are now preying on vulnerable individuals in their communities who are using food banks. It is time for public pressure to be put on Sinn Féin and the DUP to bring an end to these funds and instead to invest this money into our crippled health services. The ‘gravy train’ for paramilitaries should end permanently now.


Glengormley, Co Antrim