David Ervine: How I once turned to terrorism

From a talk by the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party at the ICA in London
Click to follow
The Independent Online

My mother was to the right of Ghengis Khan and my father was to the left of Joe Stalin so, growing up in Belfast, I was getting these mixed messages. One was: "these Fenian bastards" and the other was: "the manipulation of the working class". I was seriously confused. That confusion was compounded when a series of bombs went off around Belfast. There was a young guy called Ervine, the same age as me, from just a couple of streets away, who was killed.

I had my dad's thoughts running through my mind, "this is about the manipulation of the working class", and my mum's sense of simplicity, "these are bad people", and there was someone who could have been me lying dead, so I joined the Ulster Volunteer Force. In joining, I was undoubtedly maintaining the status quo. Eventually I was arrested by those defending the status quo (just like me) and sentenced by a corrupt court. I had a glimpse of the institutions I was fighting to defend, and I didn't like what I saw. My mind drifted in Long Kesh prison, behind the grey wire. If I didn't like those institutions (which were mine), how did young Catholics relate to them?

When we thought of forming the Progressive Unionist Party we were ridiculed for dividing Unionism. Unity is the last thing that is valuable for Unionism at the moment. It's painful to go through the division, the bitterness is huge, but until we can create a condition where we have a vision for something rather than an antagonism against something, then we need to keep shaking our community to come to terms with the real world.

Comments