JAPES AND GAGS IN NORNEVERLAND , THAT LAND OF FUN THAT TIME FORGOT

ulster resistance 2

ulster resistance 1

After a week of jokes, japes and stunts in Norneverland politics, nothing much has changed. Unionism has found its joke book of stale gags again at the bottom of that dusty box in the attic, after losing it for awhile . The jokes and clowning might be old and raddled but they worked alright back in the days of burlesque and music hall, so why not spin a few of those old plates again?.
Who can forget that great “geg” that Paisley played with the snowballs , eh?Do you not remember him throwing snowballs at Sean Lemass back in 1965?
Help us ,the DUP’s Paisley was crackers, even back then, wasn’t he ?…like some superannauted schoolboy.. Throwing snowballs at the Taoiseach when he visited Terence O’Neill in Stormont. Ha ha ..There was none of your “Health and Safety” to worry about in those days. Paisley loved a bit of a hearty laugh when humour didn’t have to be too sophisticated and his potential audience were n’t too enlightened and easily enough pleased..There was none of your poncey, intellectual Monty Python surrealism for him . He liked a bit of that old slapstick stuff like those old black and white Keystone Cops. it was always a bit of rough-hewn fun for him .Remember he’d call the Pope “Oul Redsocks”? Oh he was a bit of a lad ,was Paisley. He loved a stunt alright .
Remember how he absolutely hated anything to do with Civil Rights ? He thought it was all a dire republican plot .He didn’t give a bollocks what Martin Luther King said about “I have a dream…”….
” Dream on “, said Ian.He was having none of that dreaming .He brought a gang of horny. knuckle-headed hellions with blackthorn sticks onto the streets to sort those “Civil Righters” out . Civil Rights , me arse !!.They were bloody republicans , Papists too, probably and Christalmighty, maybe even communists!!! No, our Ian was having none of that, by Jiminy.No ,Paisley always loved a bit of theatre and a bit of a laugh .
Remember him pretending to have a secret army? Well he called it “Ulster Resistance “. It was all “secret” , you understand , because it might be an illegal thing in the real world . It was okay to do this sort of thing in Norneverland , of course, it being a realm of unchartered fantasy.It all had its genesis in that same old Ulster Hall where I saw John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac , the mighty Rory Gallagher and Led Zeppelin….a great wee venue for an unholy rally too. The acoustics were just right. Three thousand people were especially invited so that they’d all feel that “safety in numbers” vibe.The rally got under way with cuddly clown -in-chief the DUP’s Sammy Wilson ,as chairman. Sammy shared Big Ian Paisley’s broad sense of blunt humour. Peter Robinson, our present Ex- {maybe}-Great -Joined- Up -Leader had a drier , poker -faced style. He was more of a Tony Hancock fan and he addressed the audience along with someone long -forgotten called Alan Wright, who was chairman of something called the “Ulster Clubs”.There were so many of these kinds of groups that nobody in Norneverland can remember half the time what these particular clubs were all about.
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Anyway this was the big launch of the latest mad jape and the rally was repeated all over the land . In Enniskillen , Peter Robinson said that “‘Thousands have already joined the movement and the task of shaping them into an effective force is continuing. The Resistance has indicated that drilling and training has already started. The officers of the nine divisions have taken up their duties’. Ian Paisley talked for the need of an extra -governmental Third Force to fight against the aims of Irish republicanism”.
{What he meant was that he needed a secret terrorist army to do any dirty deeds that the “real” Security Forces couldn’t get away with}. As he dreamed and doted in these fantastical visions of apocalypse, he then put a lovely red beret on his head ,like some overstuffed Che Guevara and stood dramatically to attention.What a trouper, eh?
It’s worth bearing in mind as we pause that this man became our first First Minister and then became a Lord in the House of Lords before eventually expiring to mixed theatrical reviews.His DUP deputy leader, Peter Robinson was also photographed wearing the militant loyalist paramilitary regalia of beret and military fatigues at an Ulster Resistance rally . They loved the idea of dressing up as “counter -anti -terrorist- terrorist- revolutionaries “,too, obviously.
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Well , we all thought this was something of a great geg. It was hilarious in a back-handed way .Neither Paisley nor Robinson had the style or pizzazz to carry of this strident look.Most people thought so too, except for a few mad groups in the countryside , far from the cities, because membership didn’t rise too high, immediately .
That was only a minor setback because this budding terrorist grouping of Ulster Resistance went on to collaborate with the Ulster Volunteer force{UVF}, the Red Hand Commando{RHC} and their old pals, the Ulster Defence Arm….er ,Association{UDA} to procure and smuggle arms.The UVF robbed a Northern Bank in Portadown in 1987 and stole £300, 000 to buy assault rifles,pistols, rocket launchers, grenades, warheads ammunition and Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all. The arms were stashed on a farm between Armagh and Portadown to be shared out among the various alphabetical groupings who fed from the same unholy trough.You’d wonder why they needed to play this prank at all considering that there was already enough weaponry in the hands of the British Army, the RUC and the UDR and ….but wait , strangely enough it was the RUC who intercepted the stash earmarked for the UDA. These country cousins in the Security Forces whom the UDA and Ulster Resistance were supposedly set up to support ,arrested Davy Payne, the UDA’s North Belfast Brigadier . He was was sentenced to 19 years in prison and the two others in the car got 14 years each.
Noel Little, a member of Paisley, Wilson and Peter Robinson’s Ulster Resistance had also been a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and was also the Armagh chairman of the Ulster Clubs{ again, can anyone remember whatever that was?}, was arrested in connection with the find, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act ,but was released without charge.That was the start of the arrests.
After that it was like tumbling dominoes around Markethill, Hamiltonsbawn and in Armagh itself. It was like that scene In “Goodfellas” that the outro of Clapton’s “Layla” is played over and all the bodies turn up in freezers and the like ….In November 1988 they found a RPG7 rocket launcher with five warheads, assault rifles, grenades, parts of a surface to air missile and of couse a stash of those famous ,cute little red berets. Prince went on to write a song about them …”Raspberry Beret”.{I made that bit up .}
Then In 1989 someone was arrested in Poyntzpass and someone in Tandragee and they were both gaoled for storing and moving weapons on behalf of Paisley, Robinson and Sammy Wilson’s Ulster Resistance.Then a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment {that’s the “legal” one } was gaoled for possessing Ulster Resistance arms and explosives.In 2013, the group was reported to have acquired more modern weapons along with stocks that they’d already acquired. From simple seeds grow mighty oaks, it seems.
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Ulster Resistance had made contacts with those nice South Africans who supported apartheid .Neither of them liked Nelson Mandela , so they had common ground there and figured they could help each other .This led to an arms deal whereby Ulster Resistance prepared to exchange some stolen missile technology from Shorts Brothers factory in Belfast. A Javelin missile aiming system was stolen from the factory, followed by stolen parts of Blowpipe missiles from both the same factory and a British Territorial Army base in Newtownards in 1989.
That same year the “Paris Three” were netted in at the Hilton Hotel in the city of light.They were charged with arms trafficking and associating with criminals involved in terrorist activities.They were eventually convicted in 1991 but only received suspended sentences and relatively small fines ranging between £2000 and £5000. They were Noel Little , who’d previously been arrested in 1987, James King , a good god-fearing Free Presbyterian from Killyleagh in County Down ,who obviously hung onto the Reverand Paisley ‘s every honeyed word….. and Samuel Quinn , a stout-hearted sergeant in the British Territorial Army in Newtownards.The people they were meeting were Daniel Storm , a South African diplomat, and an American arms dealer called Douglas Bernhart. This bust tolled the end of this particular “secret army” adventure……
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It was also the end of this particular convoluted prank and piece of stagecraft for Paisley and Robinson who immediately washed their hands of anything to do with nice red berets , guns , warheads , UDA, UVF or anything else to do with their fantasy army of Ulster Resistance. It was enough that they’d stood shoulder to shoulder with these wild men and their incipient power – fantasies before leaving them to their fate.
It was all a step up from throwing snowballs at Sean Lemass but sometimes a little theatrical stage-business can go wrong. It’s all about timing , as Eric Morcambe used to say.Years later ,after he had shuffled Paisley to one side and assumed his rightful place as leader of the DUP, Peter Robinson would fondly remember some of these mad stunts and smile to himself .There was the “Invasion of Clontibret” too , of which ballads will be sung someday in Norneverland pubs, even though they’ll have no idea who “Peter the Punt “actually was .He’ll sound a bit like Robin the Hood or Billy the Kid, in that respect, but nobody will really care…. That was a bit of a laugh , wasn’t it? Peter and a gang of some 150 loyalists went into the Monaghan town of Clontibret and daubed “Ulster is Awakening” on some walls including a Church of Ireland school .Some of Peter’s friends were dressed in paramilitary style uniforms and were carrying cudgels . the cudgels were probably for knocking on doors to proclaim that “the North will rise again!” .Mr Robinson allowed himself to be arrested and was charged on several accounts, one possibly being for wakening everyone in the town too early in the morning , and possbly for vandalism to the school .He chose to pay the fines rather than become a martyr to loyalism’s cause. All of this was supposed to display lack of security along the border but it came across, as usual ,like some schoolboy stunt.
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Life had become boring for Peter with this grinding day- by- day- real- politics. There was no grit in the oyster anymore.He felt like he had finally lost his political mojo, so surely it was time now for another staged, theatrical setpiece to shake things up….to put a fillup in his step again….to ginger things up …to roisin the bow…..
This new piece of business was to be called the “Cokey Pokey” in which he would resign from the Executive for a week or so and then join again before resigning. Then he would repeat the same stunt ad-finitum like a play performed nightly ..It was going to be a step better than a Frank Sinatra comeback .It was to be an ongoing stunt which he reckoned he might perform for at least a year or two .It would certainly amuse Sammy Wilson.
It sure beat those boring real politics into a bandbox, anyway…After all he’d practiced for this apogee of his art all his life …how to keep Norneverland standing still and going nowhere.He and unionism had finally made a theatrical artform of it..If he was to go out with a bang …well…bring it on!
So….curtains….lights…on with the show…….way to go Sammy!!