‘Lets Talk Loyalism’ provides a platform for new young loyalist voices to articulate their views. It is an exciting project which must be left alone to organically grow and develop. As it appears to me, the strength of the group is that it is not driven by any particular guiding agenda, but rather springs from a pure and legitimate desire to empower new voices.
Any young loyalist that expresses a view which is ‘unpopular’- which in effect is any view which isn’t fuelling the ‘process’ or pandering to the latest nationalist demand- is subjected to a pile on via social media, and sometimes the mainstream media, designed to silence such voices.
Of course, any person who appears and identifies themselves as a loyalist who embraces all of nationalism’s deceptive snares is happily adopted by the twitterati and media establishment and presented as an ‘authentic’ loyalist. The subtle tag hung around the neck of such a person reads ‘this is how a loyalist should be’; eg. Compliant and either knowingly, or unknowingly via naivety, a participant in the process designed to end the Union.
This often has the effect of some young loyalists feeling they must water down their Unionism or genuinely held views in order to win approval on social media. The warm glow of likes and RTs, and the plaudits of the liberal elite, at times has an appealing effect which causes persons to abandon foundational Unionist principles in pursuit of acceptance.
In ‘Let’s Talk Loyalism’ there is a vehicle to support and nurture new loyalist voices; crucially it is a network to allow loyalists to connect and develop a presence in the heavily pro-nationalist world of NI social media, which often bears a disproportionate influence on establishment media output (Talk Back, GMU etc).
I would urge young loyalists to become engaged in political discourse and activism. Every person is entitled to raise their voice, express a genuinely held view and have that view respected. Indeed, where better to test viewpoints than in the inferno of public scrutiny and debate?
Do not let anyone seek to constrain or control your mind. The foundational principle of loyalism was a commitment to freedom and democracy; that every person would be entitled to freely speak their mind and engage in the political process. You need to seek no one’s permission to do that.
‘Let’s Talk Loyalism’ must act as a gateway rather than a gatekeeper. That, as I understand it, is the core ethos of the group. It is about empowering grassroots loyalist voices and our wider community; who could possibly object to that legitimate and politically beneficial objective?
As a community we face grave challenges. The violence-rewarding Protocol has exposed to a wider audience that the Belfast Agreement is a deceptive snare rather than a holy writ. Far be it from protecting the substance of the Union, it appears from the recent Government submissions in the High Court that the protections within s1 of the NI Act 1998 (giving effect to the Belfast Agreement) in fact only protect the symbolism of the Union.
That should come as no surprise to any informed observer. The underpinning function of the Belfast Agreement was always to give birth to a process, the only end point of which is a United Ireland. It follows, with the application of basic logic, that it is in fact a fundamental contradiction in terms to be pro-Agreement and pro-Union; the agreement is designed to end the Union.
I would urge young loyalists to consider the frailties at the heart of the Agreement presented as a holy writ; do not merely blindly follow the popular trend of treating the Belfast Agreement as if Moses himself brought it down on a tablet of stone, but rather subject it to forensic and logical analysis. If you do this, I struggle to see how anyone could conclude that the Agreement offers anything other than the incremental destruction of the Union.
I hope that ‘Let’s Talk Loyalism’ will provide a platform for young loyalists to engage in critical analysis of the big issues which faces the Union and to develop confident and articulate new voices, rather than forsaking its founding ethos in favor of seeking acceptance and hugs from those whose ultimate political objective is in fact the erosion of every vestige of British culture and identify from our wee country.
By Jamie Bryson, Editor of Unionist Voice