Republicans need to button their lips and wind in their necks over the big Unionist
Covenant shindig in Belfast next month.
The loyalist 'do' will mark the centenary of Ulster Volunteers' founder Edward
Carson's Balmoral Review in 1912.
That year, an estimated 100,000 UVF members turned up suited, booted and armed to
let Westminster and Irish nationalists know that Unionists would never tolerate Home
Rule for the island.
The Shinners and Stoops have got their green pants in a real twist over gossip
that Unionists will be on parade dressed in 1912-UVF uniforms with mock weapons.
The republican rumour is really in hyper-drive with allegations modern-day
loyalist paramilitary groups, such as the UDA, will also be on the march suited and
Loyalist organisers may try to lower temperatures by getting the Carsonites to
parade in 1916-style 36th Ulster Division Army uniforms instead of original 1912 UVF
The Famous 36th, along with many nationalists who joined Irish regiments to fight
for the Crown against Kaiser Bill, lost tens of thousands at the Somme and during
World War One.
Republicans have a lot more to lose long-term if they try to back Unionists into
a corner over a contentious Prod parade with some marchers in Carsonite UVF
Republicans outnumber Unionists by about five to one when it comes to
commemorating armed groups who played key roles in the Home Rule crisis, Easter
Rising, War of Independence and Irish Civil War.
If Adams and McGuinness are smart, they will tell nationalist residents' groups
and junior Shinners to 'button it' when it comes to winding the Prods up over their
Balmoral Review commemorations.
As Shinner President and Sinn Féin Dáil group boss, Adams is perfectly placed to
lead a parade along Dublin's O'Connell Street with republicans in full period
costumes to mark the centenaries of the Irish Volunteers (IV) and Irish Citizen Army
Adams can take the high moral ground with: "We let the Unionists mark their early
20th century armed groups, so we want equal rights.
And I'm sure over the next couple of years until the Dublin Rising centenary,
some eagle-eyed republicans can dream up anniversary commemorations for other
organisations, such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Fenian Brotherhood, Cumann
na mBann, and Fianna na hEireann.
Dissident republican terror groups are already trying to crank up the political
temperature by using the recent Easter Rising commemorations to unveil a batch of
hooded members making blunt threats.
What happens if republicans make such a fuss over loyalists in UVF period costume
and those same loyalists retaliate by organising a parade to commemorate the around
8,000 Black and Tans who served in Ireland?
Likewise, Shinner or Stoop slabbering over the Balmoral Review parade could
provoke paramilitary groups, such as the UDA, Red Hand Commando, Loyalist Volunteer
Force, and Orange Volunteers – none of which were around in 1912 – to organise
Republicans should look the other way when Unionists march past in their old UVF
regalia as it could greatly hamper Sinn Féin's campaign to persuade the Dáil to give
its blessing to a host of IRB, IV and ICA commemorative ceremonies and parades
Mind you, there's also the danger that a massive upsurge in such republican
commemorations, will be used by Unionists to invent commemorations to mark
anniversaries for more recent vigilante groups, like the Ulster Protestant
Volunteers, Third Force, Ulster Resistance, and Vanguard Services Corps.
Forget the shouting match over flags and emblems. What happens if we get a