A key principle of multiculturalism is respect, mutual respect.
However, I find it difficult to find the culture on display in Belfast this weekend worthy of approbation.
The grievance narrative that has emerged among loyalism since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in 1998 is that their culture has been disrespected.
Moreover, they claim that there is an ongoing campaign by Republicans to extirpate their identity from the six counties of Northern Ireland.
It is clear that the Ulster loyalist sub-culture over identifies with the lowland Scotland of their imagination.
Robert Burns an 18th century radical from Ayrshire lamented that the deity would not give us the gift of a súil eile.
I have no idea how Orangeism thinks it is perceived today within these islands and, indeed, across the world.
That is the crux of the problem. What the good people of the North East of this island have to contend with is a nihilistic underclass that is beyond caring about anything other than their lost sense of supremacism.
The coat trailing days are over and they’re not coming back.
Northern Ireland remains, at present, within the United Kingdom, but it isn’t the statelet that was fashioned by Carson and Craigavon.
For one thing the raw numbers don’t add up anymore.
The sectarian head count that led to a six county ‘Ulster’ instead of the ancient nine county province has passed into history.
That which is cultural is not amenable to reason.
Someone thought it perfectly reasonable to have a religious statue (of the Virgin Mary) atop a bonfire and readied for burning.
Thankfully it was taken down before the stack was set alight.
The Christian traditions of Western Europe have a bad history when it comes to burning people (especially women) in public.
The saddest image of the week end was of an effigy of a hanged man on top of a loyalist bonfire.
It purported to represent a local priest who had taken his own life recently.
Someone somewhere thought this was perfectly reasonable.
Opponents of multi-culturalism say that there is an inherent flaw in that world view and it is this:
All cultures are not worthy of respect.
Should I respect a culture that bans women from driving or authorises and approves of Female Genital Mutilation?
I certainly cannot look back with admiration and respect to the Catholic Ireland that created Artane, Letterfrack and the Magdalene Laundries.
If a culture is constructed upon the denial of respect to others then does it itself deserve respect?
Political unionism in the north of Ireland has won so much from the rapprochement with Republicanism.
The constitutional status of Northern Ireland is settled at least for a generation perhaps longer.
With the exception of the dissident micro groups there is no armed existential threat to the statelet.
That is another strand of nihilism that we have to deal with.
They must desist, disarm and disband, because they do not have anything positive to offer the people of this island.
Any peace deal, indeed any deal, is about give and take on both sides.
What became known as the ‘Equality Agenda’ is the stuff of nightmares for loyalism.
David Trimble said at the time of the GFA talks that the 12th of July could come to rival the Rio Carnival as a world tourist attraction.
The Rio Carnival is a two day celebration of life not Bastille Day for bigots.
What does the Palestinian flag, Papal flag, Polish flag and the Irish Tricolour all have in common?
On the night of July 11th 2013 they were burned in Belfast.
This celebration of Loyalist ‘culture’ seems strange to the outsider.
I am such an outsider, but an intimate one.
It is me and mine that they sing about, it is my blood and the blood of my children that they wish to wade in.
However, it isn’t just the ‘Fenians’ that are in their sights.
Now Polish people, many of them settled in Belfast, are also targets for their xenophobic hatred.
Here in the Republic newly arrived immigrants have been the target of racist abuse.
The difference is that the xenophobes can’t hide behind a spurious tradition and they aren’t in fancy dress.
Subsequently, they are called out for what they are, racists.
The hierarchy of the Orange Order should have a good look at themselves.
They wound up the mob and then accepted no responsibility for what the mob did.
However, this is what mobs always do.
I do not know the Ulster Scots for quelle surprise, but the dogs on the streets in Belfast could have told them that this was going to end in trouble.
By the nature of over excited rabbles their targeting can often be indiscriminate once the blood is up.
I am sure they see Nigel Dodds MP as one of their own.
There was much PR generated feel good copy about Northern Ireland after the G8 summit in Fermanagh.
The world media was told that the new Northern Ireland was a great place to invest in.
I would wager that many of the rioters are not economically active in the formal economy.
Well they certainly sent a powerful message to potential investors in their ‘wee country’.
If police officers didn’t get hurt and ordinary residents weren’t hemmed in their homes and generally terrified then all of the ‘Twalfth’ would be mildly amusing.
As a cultural tradition anchored to an actual event it has all the historicity of something created on work experience.
A cursory glance at many of the participants in these festivities makes it quite clear that if they were subjected to an IQ test then almost certainly the results would come back negative.
By their behaviour they authorise all the harshest opinions of them.
One thing is self-evident and that is the nihilistic nature of the loyalist world view.
All of this mayhem is about a celebration of ‘Britishness’.
One wonders what the hundreds of British police officers drafted into Belfast thought of these true Brits.
The fact that their nationalist neighbours no longer live in the old Orange state and are making strides towards equality seems to inhabit the bigoted nightmares of these rioters.
The entire loyalist sub-culture is constructed around historical illiteracy and a fragile sense of supremacy.
A key component of that world view was that the local state was on their side.
Although they distrusted the political elite in Westminster they knew that the RUC was on their side,
Those in leadership positions in nationalist areas, particularly republicans, have sought dialogue with the Orange Order and the loyalist community.
The situation in Derry where dialogue has trumped diatribe has shown that the loyal orders can reach agreement with representatives of the nationalist community.
When the Parades Commission makes a determination about the behaviour of Orange bands regarding what tunes they can play when passing a Catholic Church and they are left to observe it on their honour then this often happens.
Quite simply it appears these dignified chaps will not obey the rule of law if the law doesn’t suit them.
Loyalism claims to be a political movement, but they do not seem to be skilled in the art of politics.
At the end of the day the police lines were being battered by the marchers because they could not advance an extra three hundred yards.
Yes three hundred yards past the shops in Ardoyne.
I fail to seen how this was a crisis for the British identity in Northern Ireland.
Perhaps Loyalist leaders in Belfast should have been more concerned with the fake ecstasy tablets that were killing young people in their community recently.
However that might be a forlorn hope given that some of Ulster’s defenders were actually selling them in the first place.
As I look at the footage of the riots I find little to admire in this display of pique.
They simply look like a fascist mob pining for the old days when their victims knew their place.
Well those days are gone.
What we have witnessed this week end in Belfast is grieving for a lost status.
The British unionist community has a place on this island, but not one based upon privilege or an imagined supremacy.
Moreover they no longer can call upon the local forces of law and order to do their bidding or to look the other way as they gather on street corners to put the taigs in their place.
Those rioters are not better than their nationalist neighbours.
They are not ‘The People’; they are just people, just like the rest of us.
If they finally get that then they might earn my respect.