Riots are no defence of ‘culture’

Disturbances in north Belfast on Monday July 13
Disturbances in north Belfast on Monday July 13

Thank you warmly for your refreshing use of plain English (July 15).

The rioters at the Ardoyne interface aren’t “loyalist” but lawless “thugs” as your paper reported.



I thank you also for presenting the full story. For making it clear that the leaders of the Orange Order, rural and urban, repudiate without reserve the violence. Too many myths and lies have gone on unchallenged. The myth and lie that there are two singularly defined “traditions” and “cultures” in Northern Ireland – Protestant versus Catholic, Orange versus Green.

Northern Ireland is far more nuanced than that, with a range of views and counter-views.

The myth and lie that the loudest and angriest voices represent the “Protestant-Orange” tradition.

The truth is that these persons, the most dangerous and violent and outlandish, don’t belong to a culture or tradition other than the one of recreational rioting and yobbishness.

Too often the papers are happy to reaffirm and republish the exaggerated grievances of the loudest few.

The role of the paper and an alert citizenry is to question and challenge those who hold power, shout loudest and misconduct themselves in the global gaze, injuring individual persons, officers of the law and the reputation of all of us in the process.

I commend your paper for not regurgitating party line and ghetto propaganda.

Respect for this great tradition, from the deepest Orange to the very, very pale like me, will only come when we begin to respect ourselves, meaning when the leaders, ordinary members and associated begin to forcefully rebuke and unreservedly condemn the hysterical caterwauling and brawling of “thugs” masquerading as “loyalists” and defenders of “culture”.

By their violence they show their absence of culture. I have culture and it is these “thugs” who are chipping away at it and the good name of my city and tradition.

As John Hewitt said, this is my country never disavowed, when it’s fouled, shall I not remonstrate?

Brian John Spencer, Belfast