Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Identity and St Patricks Day: Minor power struggles aside…

Mon 19 March 2012, 12:10pm

Well the two universities may have disagreed about how to tackle the annual saturnalia that grips the University student area around Queens, but between Queens’ decision to let a large number of their students to go home for the weekend and the University of Ulster’s full blooded threat something seems to have worked… So that ‘the Holy Land’ has had the quietest 12th St Patricks Day since 2008…

Elsewhere, as many readers of Slugger will already be aware, the trouble in Armagh portentously predicted by some, failed to materialise.  And in Limavady someone thought it a great wheeze to litter the route of the St Patricks Day parade with unionist flags along the Edenmore and Scroogey Roads just before. Negotiations, as ever are now ongoing. [Wouldn't the simple enforcement of bylaws sort that out? - Ed]. You might say that, I couldn’t possibly.

And in Downpatrick, once a font of tolerance and co-operation Sinn Fein and the DUP (and where both, still, if only just, are minority players in the area)  play their part in helping rip up a long term consensus

Ironically, the flag — designed by the council’s Good Relations Forum — had been intended to defuse the tensions that arose last year when a Sinn Fein councillor insisted on carrying a 10ft Irish Tricolour during the procession.

It contains the symbol of a bishop’s mitre and crozier and includes the words ‘Downpatrick’ on one side and its Irish version, ‘Dun Padraig’, on the reverse.

Jim Wells, DUP MLA for South Down attended the carnival last year, but will not be there this Saturday in protest over the use of Irish. “I most certainly will not be attending the parade,” he said.

“It is my personal protest against the adoption of Irish language on the flag. I believe this is a highly retrograde step. “Unfortunately, by adopting this stance they are alienating moderate unionists who would have very much liked to be associated with the the event.”

Everyone else, it seems, had a great time….

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Comments (13)

  1. Nevin (profile) says:

    “[Wouldn't the simple enforcement of bylaws sort that out? - Ed]. You might say that, I couldn’t possibly”

    This looks like an ancient Private Eye style :)

    It would depend upon who put the flags up and who might object if they were taken down. I can’t imagine too many public servants would wish to put their families and properties at risk if there was paramilitary involvement.

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  2. salgado (profile) says:

    “Unfortunately, by adopting this stance they are alienating moderate unionists who would have very much liked to be associated with the the event.”

    If they’re that offended by a tiny bit of Irish language they wouldn’t be all that moderate.

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  3. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    I think Wells was being petty, someone please tell me the UUP councillors were more grown up!

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  4. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    This looks like tit for tat… SF open with a spoiler, DUP respond with a spoiler… in the narrow confines of a demand to bleed any possible tribal message out of the matter, the use of Gaeilge was the equivalent of using a St Patrick’s cross… i.e., in fact pretty inoffensive but to the participants, a way to rack up some political capital with the base..

    Mind numbingly tedious, but that’s the prisoners dilemma for you… Next year, who knows, maybe there will be some grown up agreement? Don’t hold your breath whilst there’s an ounce of political capital to earned from it…

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  5. salgado (profile) says:

    So, whose turn is it next year? Does it go back to SF, or do the SDLP and UUP get a go at causing trouble?

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  6. London_Irish (profile) says:

    Perhaps the DUP were looking at the NI-wide picture: Ian Stevenson was down in Croke Park in a Loughgiel jersey listening to Amhrán na bhFiann, so the Down councillors have to become offended by the smallest piece of Irish possible…

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  7. Nevin (profile) says:

    “a way to rack up some political capital with the base..”

    As has been noted, the DUP and SF are in the minority on Downpatrick Council. Perhaps that brings out the macho whereas in Ballymoney and in Stormont where the DUP is in the majority it can afford to play the ‘liberal’ card in order to weaken the UUP further.

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  8. sdelaneys (profile) says:

    On the question of the students I just hope that our FM and DFM haven’t simply exported our problems to Canada ;

    http://news.uk.msn.com/world/riot-marks-end-of-st-patricks-day

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  9. carl marks (profile) says:

    Slemish Mountain, not a flag in sight 5000 people turn up every year, Mountain Rescue hangs around waiting on a causality to play with (quiet day only 3 walk offs) a couple of police with not a lot to do and a great family day out.
    There was even music on the top of the hill,
    Could this be a example for the rest of us.

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  10. claudius (profile) says:

    Carl; if I were you I’d keep the Slemish thing quiet. Next year you’ll have every loon of both persuasions trying to parade up it

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  11. carl marks (profile) says:

    claudius

    point taken.

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  12. Drumlins Rock Of course wells was up to the old DUP nonsense. He’s prwetending to believe that St Patrick’s Day is strictly a religious event and not celbrated round the globe as a celebration of the Irish national and cultural holiday. To object to a flag with representation of irish culture on this day above all is meanspirited bigotry personified. The subtext of it is that in NI only unionist tradition should have their day [12th July] acknowledged. It’s forty years next week since the orange state was put out of it’s misery with the abolition of Stormont. Wells is still hankering after it’s return

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  13. HeinzGuderian (profile) says:

    Stormont………..’ It hasn’t gone away ye know ‘ ;-)

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