We Are the People: Journeys Through the Heart of Protestant Ulster

1992 Heinemann: London

Bar-room experts the length of Britain know the answer to the Irish Question. And they usually agree that 'we should pull our boys out and let the Irish fight it out themselves'. But who are the Irish?

More particularly, who are the Ulster Irish? And who are the Ulster Protestants that balance the Irish equation?

For generations Ulster men and women have proclaimed a savage will to fight - to remain separate from the rest of the Irish Nation - and year after year the walls of their Province have been daubed with their slogans: 'No Surrender!' 'No Pope Here!' 'Ulster says No!' 'We are the People!' We are the people, the chosen ones, true blue, inheritors to a noble tradition of resistance to Rome Rule. The most loyal corner of the royal British Isles. Geoffrey Beattie was born and bred in the Loyalist heartlands of North Belfast. For this book he has drawn on all his knowledge of his homeland and talked to all manner of Ulster men and women - doctors and businessmen, widows and children, prisoners in the Maze and Maghaberry prisons. The result is an attempt to get under the skin of the Protestant people of Ulster and explain a community many in the rest of Britain regard as impenetrable and intractable. It tells their story with rare humour and understanding, and with insights born of a lifetime's knowledge of this frequently criticised but little understood corner of the United Kingdom.

It is essential reading for all who think they know the answer to the Irish Question.

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Reviews

‘Just as books by Gerry Adams and Eamonn McCann have helped to throw light on the nationalist view of what ails Ulster, Beattie has provided an insight into the Protestant mind that is all too rare.’ 
Belfast Telegraph, 1992

‘Humour and incisive observation....he wins some extraordinary confidences from 'ordinary' Ulster Prods.  The tales of the undertaker, the surgeon at the Royal and the paramilitary are funny, telling and vivid.   He skilfully evokes the discomfort of reassimilation with the tenacity of a ruthlessly self-mocking people.’ 
City Limits, 1992

‘In 'We Are the People' Beattie makes a good job of presenting the various strands, negative and positive, in the make-up of the Protestant workers of Belfast.  Fortunately he eschews the jargon of the psychologist and social scientist.’ 
Irish Independent, 1992

‘Geoffrey Beattie...has written a penetrating, often amusing if ultimately depressing account of the unknown people who have to live their lives amid the Troubles.’ 
Daily Post, 1992

‘Cleverly evocative....a good book....tells of the awfulness of how  things are and will probably remain: and should be and needs to be read.’ 
New Statesman and Society, 1992

‘There are very good passages indeed about the author's own background, his family his boyhood friends, for his was the generation that spawned the Shankill Butchers, and some of his childhood friends were involved in the bloodletting.’ 
The Sunday Tribune, 1992

‘With the detachment of the expatriate and the intimate understanding of his upbringing, Beattie tells the story of Ulster's Protestants with humour, compassion and rare insight.  Mixing childhood memories with present day conversations in a most effective manner, his account is really quite compelling.  His descriptive writing is wonderfully evocative, his characterisation superb and his ability to elicit the most telling of comments quite uncanny.  This is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Irish question.’ 
Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 1992

'An educated articulate spokesman of the working classes.’ 
The Irish Times, 1992

'A fascinating new book on Ulster's Protestants.’ 
Ulster News Letter, 1992

‘The best parts of the book come with the Elim pastor, a doctor, a loyalist prisoner who gives a lyrical impression of a temporary parole from where the senses are starved.  The most powerful voice is that of a doctor from the Royal hospital.  He gives an intensely moving description of dealing with casualties at the height of the conflict, and is a voice distinguished by resilience and compassion.’ 
The Times, 1992