Confronting Violence in Contemporary Prose Writing from the North of Ireland
Chapter 6: Consensus and Dissensus in Fictional Representations of Working Class Protestantism and Loyalism
Consensus and Dissensus in Fictional Representations of Working Class Protestantism and Loyalism
Jeff Dudgeon, the Unionist politician arguably best known for his role in bringing about the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the North of Ireland, paints an arresting, if somewhat disturbing picture of the future of Protestants in the North, overtly associating Protestantism with loyalism in a discussion which Susan McKay recounts: ‘A tribe of warriors who will hold the frontier. Uncivilised and unscrupulous. It is a feature of the withdrawal of the unionist middle class from politics. The paramilitaries are an army without an officer class. They are lawless. There is no control mechanism – they’d cut a person’s arm off with a garden shears’ (McKay 2000, 51). McKay goes on to suggest that this particular ‘monstrous’ vision was probably ‘camped up for effect’ (McKay 2000, 52) but she nevertheless concludes her monograph on Northern Protestants with the admission that the ‘Protestant North’ has a ‘culture of dire warnings’ and ‘a liking for biblical desolation. A fatalism that revels in predicting the reaping of whirlwinds’ (McKay 2000, 363). For Billy Mitchell, PUP politician and former UVF prisoner, loyalist paramilitaries are like Frankenstein’s creature: ‘When you incite people to form armies and then walk away, you create a monster and the monster does what it wants’ (McKay 2000, 52). It is quite striking that even these very staunch Unionists stress what they perceive as the uncontrollable nature of loyalist paramilitary activity and its potentially volatile...
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