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An Ulster Voice  Amazon Co UK

Gary McMichael. Rhinehart Roberts Publishers, Boulder, 1999. ISBN 1 57098 275 9. £8.99.

One of the most often used Ulster phrases to put down someone who has risen to some prominence is, "Sure I knew his oul’ da." In other words, "Who the hell to you think you are?" Cllr Gary McMichael, the leader of the Ulster Democratic Party, has often had to deal with this attitude, particularly as many people did know his father. The works and the reputation of the late John McMichael overshadow everything that his son tries to do.

This book is in two main sections. Part one is Gary’s personal journey. He explains his father’s prominent role in the Ulster Defence Association and his own political awakening in 1985 when the British and Irish governments signed the notorious Hillsborough Pact. He describes his early role in the Ulster Clubs movement, the UDA’s Commonsense document and the emergence of the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party, which later became the UDP. The most moving parts of this section are his accounts of his reaction to his father’s death and that of his close friend and colleague Ray Smallwoods. Both men were victims of PIRA death squads.

The rest of the book is a compilation of articles and newspaper columns written between 1995 and 1998 for the Irish Voice and Ireland on Sunday. McMichael’s style is much more readable than that of his verbose Progressive Unionist counterpart. I believe that Cllr McMichael is leading the UDP into a bleak cul-de-sac, but in his columns he comes across as a sincere man seeking to do his best for his homeland. This part of the book gives a fascinating insight into the mindset of pro-Agreement loyalists.

David Kerr



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