Our thanks to “Compound” and “Long Kesh Inside Out” for giving us kind permission to cross-post this:
Loyalism: the loyalty to an established government, political party, or sovereign, especially during war or revolutionary change. In modern English usage the most common application is to the British Crown.
Ulster Loyalism: is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland’s status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom (i.e. unionism), support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries. It is a belief most predominant among, and traditionally held by Protestants in Northern Ireland.
The definition of the term loyalist may well have changed over the years—particularly the years that spanned the most recent conflict. What it meant to be a loyalist say in the late sixties or early seventies may not necessarily mean the same thing today. Many things have transpired in the intervening years that could cause one to change their views or standpoint. For instance in the early years of the troubles for many the allegiance was solely to Queen and Crown. For the same people could this be equally true today? After almost half a century of duplicity on behalf of successive British governments could that former allegiance now have shifted to a position whereby the main concern is the six counties of Ulster? And in an age where paramilitary groupings—over the same period– have virtually dominated many areas in working class loyalism does our loyalty belong to them? Can we be loyal to our own communities only? Are there other scenarios not mentioned here? Does the term loyalist have an entirely different meaning now? Who are we and what are we loyal to