Brendan Mac Lua Commemorative Lecture 2021 – Understanding Northern Ireland Loyalism

20th October 2021, 12am


The Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith is delighted to share a recording of our annual Brendan Mac Lua Commemorative Lecture which was held this year on 23rd September. The topic was “Understanding Northern Ireland Loyalism” and the session was lead by Dr Aaron Edwards in conversation with Cllr. Dr John Kyle.

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Loyalism – working-class unionism – in Northern Ireland is currently experiencing a severe crisis of confidence. It is not a position loyalists expected or hoped to be in on the centenary of the establishment of Northern Ireland. Recent political developments such as the implosion of the largest unionist party allied to the psychological blow of the Brexit- inspired Northern Ireland Protocol apparently breaching the link with the rest of the U.K. have been fundamentally destabilising. Political and economic uncertainty questioning the continued status of Northern Ireland in the U.K. post- Brexit has also led to renewed recent rioting in working-class loyalist areas. This event was an opportunity to hear from one of loyalism’s most articulate and experienced political representatives explaining why working-class Protestants are in such a wary and anxious political mood.

DR JOHN KYLE is a GP with extensive experience practising in loyalist East Belfast. He was co-opted to Belfast City Council in 2007 to represent the Popular Unionist Party following the untimely death of its founder and leader, David Irvine. He has represented East Belfast, most recently the Titanic electoral district on Belfast City Council ever since. Dr Kyle has been outspoken in his opposition to paramilitarism saying that such organisations have no role or justification in modern Northern Ireland. He believes that loyalists still involved in continued criminality are parasites destroying lives and contributing nothing to local communities. Councillor Kyle will be interviewed by renowned Northern Ireland historian

DR AARON EDWARDS. Dr Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and is Honorary Research Fellow in Politics and International Relations at the University of Leicester. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including “The Northern Ireland Labour Party : Democratic Socialism and Sectarianism” (2011), “UVF: Behind the Mask” (2017), “Agents of Influence: Britain’s Secret Intelligence War Against the IRA “ (2021).