Who needs bus lanes when a flag might block the Belfast traffic?

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The Continental Market at the front of the City Hall will be open until 8pm on Monday evening, enticing visitors and shoppers to wander around the stalls and feel good about Belfast.

Around the back of the City Hall, a rally will be held at 5.45pm on Monday evening to protest at the likelihood that the full Belfast City Council meeting at 6pm will vote to reduce the number of days that the Union Flag flies from the civic building.

At the 23 November meeting of the Strategic, Policy and Resources Committee, Sinn Fein and the SDLP voted to take the Union Flag down altogether from BCC buildings.

On Monday evening the full Belfast City Council meets and on its agenda is a vote to ratify the committee’s decision.

Alliance are expected to support the ‘middle ground’ whereby the Union Flag is flown on designated days from the City Hall and never from other buildings such as the Ulster Hall.

Unionist parties (who illogically or at least uncharitably state that Alliance are voting with the nationalist parties to remove the Union Flag) will move from leafleting to voting and demand that the flag flies all the time.

While nationalist councillors on the committee voted for the full removal of the Union Flag, it is expected that they will vote for Alliance’s compromise position and support retention on designated days.

Supporters of flying the Union Flag have been called to protest at the back of the City Hall at 5.45pm. I don’t see anything registering the protest on the Parades Commission website, but some reports have suggested that upwards of two thousand people are expected to rally. [Perhaps since it's not a protest against a parade, only the PSNI and not the Parades Commission need to be informed?]

Even if two hundred people gather the crowd is unlikely to stay on the pavement and will disrupt the already curtailed traffic going past the back of the City Hall. At a previous rally against the then Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile’s decision not to hand over a Duke of Edinburgh award to an army cadet, PSNI landrovers were on the scene and traffic just about crawled past the angry throng.

Alderman Christopher Stalford – a previous High Sheriff of Belfast – moaned on Facebook about the slow traffic on Howard Street last Thursday:

Tomorrow night, he and his fellow unionist councillors are associated* with a protest that will block the traffic. This time, the bus lanes will be entirely blameless. Instead it will be over what North Down councillor Brian Wilson is alleged to have described as “a piece of cloth”.

[* Associated in at least the sense that unionist councillors are allowing other people to post details of the rally on their Facebook timelines and not removing them.]

Strong unionism would surely not fall into the trap set for them by nationalists? Belfast’s history is littered with disputes over flags: it’s a die in the ditch topic that they could not ignore.

Whatever the different measures of public support, the practices of other councils around the UK, the equality assessments or the legal considerations, the row over the Union Flag has been caused Belfast unionist politicians to send out very mixed messages.

Joint statements have been issued on behalf of DUP and UUP councillors in a tangible sign of unionist unity. Not that it would be unexpected to see unionists uniting around the British flag, but to campaign together is perhaps a sign of DUP dominance and UUP weakness.

Thousands of Alliance-coloured leaflets have been have been distributed by unionist supporters. Does it really take a flag to get politicians going around the doors in the cold weather and out of election season. Not welfare reform. Not social housing. But flags. There better have been votes in it to justify the frostbite! (In the east of the city, the plan will have been to devalue Alliance and take back some of the voters who elected Naomi Long ahead of Peter Robinson in May 2010.)

Organising a rally that will disrupt middle class DUP voters on their commute home from work and damages the kind of nouveau Belfast image that the Continental Market and retailers are working hard to achieve. Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster, Invest NI and the Tourist Board will all be with the rally’s timing that is perfect to make it onto the national Ten O’Clock news and share a story that Belfast can be proud of.

In the middle of all this, Belfast unionists look positively last century compared with Peter Robinson’s rhetoric at the DUP’s party conference. No sign of “abandoning out-dated dogmas” or making adjustments to become more attractive to disenfranchised Catholic voters.

One wonders why the party leader has allowed DUP councillors in Belfast to go so off message and be manoeuvred into a cul-de-sac? Monday night’s rally had better not turn ugly or else DUP councillors may end up drying their eyes on one of the very flags that’s at risk of coming down.

Postscript – unless Alasdair McDonnell’s analysis is correct?


Peter Robinson’s ambition is not for the people of the North – it is for unionist domination at any price: starting with the repression of Irishness and the subsuming of the UUP.

He has made his position particularly clear by saying he believes that a shared society means everyone sharing in being British – running contrary to all the fine words used when the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration working group was set up.

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  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    I was wandering around Belfast myself today. And I generally feel good about it……with or without the Continental Market.
    But the Flag issue is indeed Reality.
    And we should prefer Reality to Fantasy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Interesting observations, Alan – I had not thought about the traffic angle, actually, or the fact that the Christmas Market will be in full swing at the other side of the city hall.

    Anyone who wants to see what sectarian bile looks like would do well to have a look at the “save our union jack” campaign page on Facebook.

    Since this protest is a consequence of the DUP “raising awareness” (their words) of this matter by distributing leaflets in various parts of Belfast it follows that the public will hold them responsible for any trouble which breaks out. The DUP are executing from a time-honoured playbook – no doubt they will stage the usual stunt of marching out of the council chamber after the result from the vote has been declared to address the crowd outside.

    There will no doubt be a heavy police presence to ensure public safety, and particularly the safety of the councillors who will be emerging to go home after the vote. While I know that a large core of unionism is deeply unhappy about the removal of the flag I’d wager that significantly more unionists will be unhappy if they see more disorder, embarassment and attacks on police and property being broadcast across the country.

  • SK

    Fresh from those fine speeches about claiming the middle ground and appealing to agnostic Catholics, the DUP are back rabble rowsing on the street corner. They are their own worst enemy.

  • Red Lion

    I know a bit of visionary and progressive thinking is too much to ask from your average unionist elected representative, but could they not have seen this coming some time back and tried to take control of the issue, instead of always being in reaction and buffoon mode…
    ….’ok, we’ll put forward a motion to keep the Union Flag on designated days, and go with the St.Patrick’s Cross all year round’. That way they reach a settled, fairly- permanent position of their own making and do indeed look magnanimous and genuinely ‘outreaching’, while any dissent from Sinn Fein or SDLP now or in the future makes the nationalists look like the trouble makers and not able to accomodate.

    The only thing unionism might get out of it is a few more votes at the expense of alliance, but i’m not sure it will make so much of a difference.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Red Lion,

    The DUP did see this coming some time back (at least a year, if not more) and they have been formulating this particular strategy since then.

    A number of assumptions appear to be at play :

    - they can retake East Belfast by slinging mud at Naomi Long
    - lots of Alliance voters are in fact closet unionists who will return to the fold once they learn of Alliance’s dirty deals with Sinn Féin
    - unionists respond to being frightened about flags etc. at the ballot box

    At least one, and possibly all, of these assumptions has a good chance of turning out to be false. I think they are taking a major risk. They tried to throw mud at Naomi Long in 2010 by suggesting that while Lord Mayor she’d done something offhand with a flag that was deemed offensive. It didn’t work. Perhaps Naomi has developed a teflon skin (like the one possessed by Sammy Wilson?) which makes her impervious to negative political attacks.

    FWIW I think Alliance have played a blinder. They’ve been able to persuade SF and the SDLP to sign up to a union flag on city hall. That’s not bad.

  • Red Lion

    It’s kind of my point though CS, DUP going for the short term reactionary tribal victory as they always have done, rather than thinking of the bigger picture (the one Robbo has alluded to, but can’t follow through with strategic long term smart decisions).

    The world is moving on, the unionist electorate is becoming ever more diverse and nuanced, but mainstream union politicians are seemingly stuck still with poor calibre of strategic vision. As you say in the points you raise the DUP are playing with risk, and it could backfire on them. They could have played it so much more coolly and shrewdly, as per my example above.

    DUP should have seen the changing demographics of inner belfast several years back and pondered how they could work it best to their advantage.

  • iluvni

    “…go with the St.Patrick’s Cross all year round”

    That would be the ideal solution.
    I fear Sinn Fein and sdlp couldnt even stomach that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dave, it’s not safe to assume that a Robinson will be running for East Belfast in 2015, but either way I think this sort of negative campaigning and mud slinging puts people off.

  • SK

    In a couple of years time when that chamber has a nationalist majority, let us hear no cries for compromise from unionists. Their rejection of the middle-ground today gives nationalists license to do take that flag down the first chance they get.

  • Anton Graf von Arco Valley

    Now that the capital city is about to lose its flag i guess it’s worth taking a bit of a stand for the following reason – that i think i have had enough of secular materialism i.e. the bluff that we live in a market state or were moving towards a full market-state, not nation state. Removing the flag is a direction in the secular, more bluffing to the electorate that we don’t really live in the UK community and that the money comes from some imaginary market in the sky or something.

    Well secular materalism has been tried and tested to failure, as the banks were bailed out using UK British taxpayers. So on that basis I think Belfast should keep the flag, it’s the union what pays the bills here. (By all means have two flags if the Free State – Republic of – wants to help out with bills too, then lets have that option on the table once billions of euros start rolling in!)

    Also it’s the capital city of NI and the flag of the UK constitution should fly there given there isn’t one at Stormont as unaccountable direct rule legislated that for peace process reasons than for any particular long term policy goal (sharing and cohesion) or actual British government stance on the matter on the day. Basically it was a carrot to republicans to come on in out of the cold. OK so that is fair enough.

    But the IRA didn’t win the war, which is why the union flag is currently there, however the Brits didn’t win either, which is why there are former IRA terrorists in government.

    The reality is that Belfast is in the UK, that’s not a unionist position it is a real life one.

    I am seriously disappointed that people do feel offended by a flag as the tricolour in all honesty really doesn’t offend me regardless of where it pops up.

    (Billy Hutchinson PUP has also changed his view so it looks as though it will be Alliance and SDLP and SF voting this in. There is absolutely no legal position on how to fly a flag at council and this solely a *political decision* and we all know once it’s gone it won’t be coming back. I hope Alliance is happy.)

  • Lee Reynolds

    Alaninbelfast

    You omitted the part where Alliance Councillor Tom Campbell called those planning a protest a rabble. Take that and The like of CS’s comments and you’d almost get the impression some would prefer difficulties at the protest rather than what everyone should be calling for a peaceful and dignified one.

    You also omit that the entire reason this debate is taking place and thus why a campaign was necessary was not the decision of Unionism but of Alliance SDLP and Sinn Fein. They made it a priority above the other issues you list not Unionism. At tonight’s meeting we could be focusing on the 150m investment programme, the 20m Belfast investment fund or the progress of the Local investment fund but because of their joint decision to make the flag issue a priority of this term the media attention will be upon it.

    As to be being uncharitable you omit that Alliance is voting to remove the Union flag entirely from 2 buildings. So they are in fact voting with nationalism to remove the union flag no matter how many times they deny they aren’t. As to designated days being ‘middle ground’ how is going from 3 to 1 buildings and on that 1 remaining building going from 365 to 15 days (less than 5%) be seriously defended as a the middle between the two positions.

    An interesting series of omissions…

    SK

    There is not a guaranteed nationalist majority under the new boundaries. Also you appear ignorant of the minority protections under RPA which would prevent what you say. This is why SF is in such a rush over a series of identity issues in City Hall they would have to reach agreement with Unionism for change after 2015 but they believe more can be gotten from Alliance in the short term even if that harms relationships with Unionism in the longer run. So far that analysis of Alliance has proven to be correct.

  • boondock

    Lee, there may not be a nationalist majority under the new boundaries but there certainly wont be a unionist majority just like now and yet it is unionism who are still trying to bully everyone and not accept democracy. First we had unionism failing to recognise the wishes of the councillors who represent the general population of Belfast and instead kept quoting some dodgy survey they had compiled and distributed themselves as representative. Then we had the childish leaflets circulated with the sole purpose to attack Naomi Long who isnt even a councillor and now we have the good old fashioned method of organising a mob to try and intimidate the councillors as they enter city hall to vote on the matter. Lets be honest the union flag doesnt fly at a number of councils these days and guess what the world hasnt ended!

  • Dec

    ‘There is not a guaranteed nationalist majority under the new boundaries. Also you appear ignorant of the minority protections under RPA which would prevent what you say.’

    I’m not sure of the detail here but the gist seems to be Nationalism has to suck it up before 2015 as they’re the minority however if, after 2015, they’re in the majority they’ll have to suck it up because they’re no longer the minority.

  • Anton Graf von Arco Valley

    *Re my above post for secular read religous/political/cultural.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Lee – I’d agree that after the event is the time to assign adjectives such as “rabble” or “good-natured” or “dignified” or “large” or “small” to the protest. But people will recall the atmosphere around some previous rallies at that location and hope they are not repeated.

    You said:

    > As to be being uncharitable you omit that Alliance is voting to remove the Union flag entirely from 2 buildings.

    I think my sentence …

    > Alliance are expected to support the ‘middle ground’ whereby the Union Flag is flown on designated days from the City Hall and never from other buildings such as the Ulster Hall.

    … summed that up. Are there any examples councils adopting a ‘middle ground’ (you note the inverted commas) that fly the Union Flag on significantly more than designated days, but still less than permanently?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lee,

    The DUP must have believed that this matter would pass unnoticed, otherwise it would not have done the leaflet drop, consequently the protest is a DUP-inspired one and I think most of the public will hold the DUP responsible for anything that goes down. I hope there will be no trouble, and I hope that the DUP use whatever influence they have to ensure there isn’t any.

    I think Tom Campbell’s use of the word “rabble” was wrong, he can account for that himself, but I think everyone knows what sort of crowd can be expected outside the City Hall, the police and the councillors all know too which is why security planning has had to be done.

    I know it is the party line to say “we didn’t start this” but flags and symbols are a problem and problems have to be confronted as you know. With the leaflet drops, the inconsistency on other councils such as Lisburn, the flag policy at Stormont and the attacks on Naomi Long I really can’t take seriously the notion that the DUP were dragged unwillingly into this affair.

    Naomi Long also pointed out on Radio Ulster that employment legislation requires maintaining a symbol-free workplace. Theoretically, the presence of a flag may trigger a legal challenge with the assistance of the Equality Commission. If that happened, councillors would be forced to remove the flag and would be held liable if they failed to act. As usual, Alliance has to take one for the team.

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    @Lee Reynolds

    “This is why SF is in such a rush over a series of identity issues in City Hall”

    Rubbish. Here is a BBC report from over ten years ago where the SF mayor offered the compromise of a ‘civic’ flag: http://tinyurl.com/cong5gt

    That we have got to this stage is solely the fault of the unionist Parties who want to force their identity on the majority of the citizens of this city and manufacture this situation for their own political ends (as alluded to in many posts above).

  • RegisterForThisSite

    perhaps with the union flag less is more, and Nats will be more ‘comfortable’ with a Union flag no longer being used as a taunt, however, wouldn’t be surprised if the Union flag factory in China is getting bumper orders from NI for next Summer.

    Regarding who is picking up the tab for NI, in case no-ones noticed the cash is largely borrowed, part of the £130,000,000,000.00 borrowed this year alone. NI is responsible for it’s share of the debt. Worse still it comes with conditions, you will share the cost for the Royals, a large armed forces, new nuclear bombs, all the various wars etc, in fact far from getting charity, the people of NI are taking on the share of debt for things, which, if they were not in the Union, they wouldn’t be paying for.

  • changeisneeded

    “we’ll put forward a motion to keep the Union Flag on designated days, and go with the St.Patrick’s Cross all year round”

    ahhhhhh no….

    “The saltire was used in the regalia of the Order of Saint Patrick, a British chivalric order established in 1783 by George III”

  • toaster

    I can’t wait for the butcher’s apron to be torn down. I’ll be waiting at City Hall with the popcorn.

  • ayeYerMa

    Once again we have more naive people trying to portray the destructive Alliance position as somehow being a “middle ground” and illustrating the logical fallacy of the false middle. A re-post from the other thread:

    Comrade Stalin, it is indeed an outrageous concession to Republicans, however, it isn’t simply about the presence of a piece of cloth. Rather, it is about the wider concept that you have mentioned whereby we in Northern Ireland aren’t being allowed to ever act in the normal manner as would be expected in any sovereign democratic country (one small aspect of which being whereby respectful flag-flying is seen as one that unifies and integrates people, and whereby it is normal to see the sovereign flag permanently on any parliament or government building). The only way Northern Ireland is ever going to have true and lasting long-term peace and stability is if we normalise towards standard international democratic practice and integrate; if we remain abnormal forever, we then self-perpetuate our instability (an instability which I believe has been caused primarily by the lack of support in terms of security from London to deal with the Republican “armed struggle” and our belligerent neighbours to the south).
    The flaw in the logic of the Alliance supporter is that somehow a simple issue of sovereignity is one which somehow magically maps directly to sectarian division (both wrong and innacuratte). You effectively award those who made Northern Ireland abnormal by perpetrating their “armed struggle” and sending out the message that violence pays and that division should remain entrenched.

    Of course, it is entirely in the interests of Alliance supporters to maintain an image of sectarian division — after all, how else would they justify to themselves their air of smugness by pretending that they are so much better than everyone else? However, appeasing Republicans will only give electoral gain to one group — Republicans. It is also in the interests of Republicans to prevent Northern Ireland from being stable, and if they see that by acting in a continuously belligerent and disruptive fashion to try and chip away every last iota of British symbolism that they get what they want through gullable Alliance-types, then they will only be encouraged to keep chipping away. The reward in the ballot-box will be to Republicans, not the appeaser.

    The Irish Republican flag should not be flown in the place where international diplomatic norms fly the sovereign flag because we aren’t under the jurisdiction of the Irish Republic, it is simply disrespectful to the agreed mechanism on deciding sovereignity, and disrespectful to the fact that the territorial claim by the Republic is supposed to have been dropped. Your comment on wanting “to make Nationalists to feel better” again exposes the flaw in your logic that somehow an either-or DECISION on STABLE sovereignity can somehow be balanced. You also talk as if Unionists have not compromised, despite making the ultimate compromise south of the border to accept defeat, and making massive compromises north of the border to deny themselves the standard democracy that any majority group in the world gaining the right to self-determination would be expected to hold. Alliance simply undermine the massive compromises already made by Unionism.

    Regarding parades and, freedom of speech and expression, I know you aren’t going to listen to me, nor challenge the Sinn Fein propaganda version of events, but even assuming such propaganda to be true perhaps you will listen to some of your fellow luvvies in The Guardian on the “Tyranny of decency”: http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/12/arrested-poppy-burning-beware-tyranny-decency

  • SK

    “There is not a guaranteed nationalist majority under the new boundaries.”

    ___

    Tell yourself whatever makes you feel better Lee

    Unionism could have done the decent thing on this occasion. Instead they have opted to show everybody, garden centre Prod and Catholic unicorn alike, that beneath the new touchy-feely rhetoric the mindset is exactly the same. Frightened, insecure, petty little men.

    You are an absolute gift to nationalism and you don’t even have the wherewithal to realise it.

  • SK

    I see everyone’s favourite emigrant Kate Hoey is wading in now aswell. The more the merrier.

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Alan

    A superb post.

    If I may say so, the whole thing has rebounded somewhat on Unionists. Rather than demonstrating that the Alliance Party is made up of a bunch of flip-flopping fence-sitters (and frankly, there was evidence for that contention as recently as early October), in fact they have been demonstrated as a coherent group demonstrating great resolve and determination. Even people not inclined to agree with them on this issue will nevertheless have noticed, and respected, that.

    SK

    I’m a bit of a closet Lee fan on most issues, I think he works hard on the ground and is a superb strategist, even where I don’t agree with him.

    But I genuinely thought from the start that the DUP had got this one very wrong, for precisely the reasons you and Alan note.

    Quite why so many in the UUP got into bed with their electioneering is, well, Comrade covered that…

  • DC

    What is the point in Alliance offering a 5% compromise position, no one is going to be really happy, should’ve let nationalists tear ahead with their attempt at taking the flag down altogether, let SF and the SDLP explain their own intolerance associated with the attempted wiping out of the flag.

    Could Alliance not have abstained and blocked progressing this apparent trivial matter, seeing as the flag is not a priority issue?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lisa McAllister (Nolan Show) is tweeting that disorder has broken out at City Hall :

    “Psni vehicles coming under attack at Belfast city hall. Protesters using traffic comes and crash barriers pic.twitter.com/aaUWT1V1″

  • DC

    That’s what happens after a couple of hours of drinking that strong German beer on sale at the continental market.

  • DC

    Besides, I heard that the flag had been flying since 1906, so if it is to be removed then they wouldn’t be half decent Prods if they didn’t have a right good protest over it!

    :)

  • Neil

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/protesters-attempt-to-storm-belfast-city-hall-after-flag-vote-3315464.html

    Ya set fire to a poppy you get locked up. Set fire to a few tri colours in Belfast City Centre and it’s ‘strong beer’. And people laughably actually wonder why many Nationalists don’t respect Unionist flags, while they burn ours and make jokes.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You have to laugh sometimes, Neil.

  • 6crealist

    IJP:

    “Rather than demonstrating that the Alliance Party is made up of a bunch of flip-flopping fence-sitters (and frankly, there was evidence for that contention as recently as early October)..”

    or, indeed, September 2009.

    “Quite why so many in the UUP got into bed with their electioneering is, well, Comrade covered that…”

    Hahahaha!! Chutzpah par excellence.

  • Neil

    St. Matthews attacked according to twitter.

  • SK

    I look forward to seeing how the unionist parties who roused this rabble are going to respond in the morning.

    “Sure it’s only a bit of civil disobedience”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Given that at least one unionist councillor has had their car damaged (and thus will be without a car for a few days) it’ll be interesting to hear them trying not to condemn it.

    I’ve heard about the attacks on St Matthews, undoubtedly by the crowd on their way home after being pushed back from City Hall by riot police. Shameful, shameful stuff.

  • Reader

    changeisneeded: ahhhhhh no…. “The saltire was used in the regalia of the Order of Saint Patrick, a British chivalric order established in 1783 by George III”
    Is this your veto on the notion that any symbol can be shared?
    The attached is a video of the1st of three parades in Armagh on St Patrick’s day. Enjoy: but note the flag prominently displayed around 6:40.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvA-5lMPEhY
    Not everyone shares your reservations.

  • dantheman

    What is going to be the first date that the city hall will be free from the butcher’s apron???

  • DC

    The facebook flag page says that it is coming down tonight @ midnight – would be great to get official clarification on that.

  • 6crealist

    Robinson and his colleagues incited the disturbances – they can turn it off at the flick of a switch if they want.

    Worst case scenario: throw a few thousand quid at some community workers.

  • dantheman

    Great looking forward to seeing a liberated city hall over my breakfast in the morning.

    In a few years that vile flag will be gone forever

  • Red Lion

    changeisneeded at 10.18

    aaaaaaaah yes, if you want to make pedantic reference to some long forgotten 18 th century god knows what, then thats up to you, but the St. Patrick’s Cross is the closest we’ve got to a cross community flag in NI. If its good enough for the cross community St Patrick’s day parade in Downpatrick (despite Sinn Fein attempts to undermine the cross community ethos of this parade) then its good enough for me, and probably most people.

  • ayeYerMa

    Alliance have now lost any moral position they may have claimed they held on flag-flying. Now Loyalists will be completely and utterly justified in decking every single lamppost in Belfast City Centre with flags. Alliance have no justification to tell Loyalists that this is “disrespectful” as Alliance have not allowed any place for the flag to fly in a normal respectful manner as would be expected in any other country around the world.

  • SK

    ayeYerMa,

    Any comment on the behaviour of those loyalists who opted to throw their toys out of the pram when the vote didnt go their way?

  • dantheman

    “Alliance have now lost any moral position they may have claimed they held on flag-flying. Now Loyalists will be completely and utterly justified in decking every single lamppost in Belfast City Centre with flags.”

    Only in your head. Alliance probably had the most moral position of all the parties, not one I agree with but there you go, They stood by their position when the DUP propaganda machine threw the kitchen sink at them. Well done

  • Submariner

    A the good old default PUL community response to democracy when it dosent go its way. Wreck the place and attack the Police.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Don’t despair. The usual suspect will soon be along to let us know that Republican terrorists provoked peace loving loyalists into losing their usual cool demeanour and maybe even infiltrated the demonstrators and directly caused the violence against a democratic vote.

  • Red Lion

    Police helicopter going mad here. Depressing stories of violence.

    Is it true that a vote was passed to fly the union flag at the Cenotaph in City Hall grounds 365 days a year?? Is that what Lee Reynolds was going on about at the end?

  • Comrade Stalin

    ayeYerMa,

    We’re just going around in circles. You’re asserting that this is about sovereignty, I’m explaining why it isn’t and you’re just ignoring me.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Red Lion,

    I suggested a while ago that flying the flag at the Cenotaph might be a good compromise.

  • DC

    A the good old default PUL community response to democracy when it dosent go its way. Wreck the place and attack the Police.

    I know they never did master the art of leaving sneaky car bombs.

    (This is great craic on a boring old Monday night!)

  • Submariner

    “I know they never did master the art of leaving sneaky car bombs.”

    Considering that tomorrow is the anniversary of one of the biggest atrocities of the troubles when 15 innocent civilians were murdered in a Loyalist bombing id say that’s a pretty crass statement as well as being off topic

  • ayeYerMa

    SK, I don’t know the details but I condemn any violence, and would instead recommend that Loyalists escalate protest in the form of ensuring that the entire Belfast city centre is plastered and maintained with Union Flags as possible. Every lamppost, every street, every Alliance Party office. Perhaps an additional protest whereby every proud British worker in Belfast could defy the wishes of employers and wear Union Jack badges etc. in the workplace. Alliance are sending out the message that they want people in Belfast to feel ashamed of our nationality and don’t respect the constitutional decision of the Northern Irish people — this would not be accepted in any other country and therefore should not be in ours.

    Then again, the entire “Peace Process” has awarded violence, so why are you surprised to see Loyalists using the tactics which violent Republicans have been repeatedly rewarded for (both for their “armed struggle” and every summer) by both the electorate and parties like the treasonous Alliance who also let Republicans renege on their side of the deal? No one who supports Sinn Fein (as most commenting on this site do) or those who backed this morally repugnant “process” from the start really will have the moral authority to complain.

  • 6crealist

    “I know they never did master the art of leaving sneaky car bombs.”

    The people of Monaghan and Parnell Street would probably disagree with that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    ayeYerMa, please take a pill or something, you’re channelling Ian Paisley.

  • ayeYerMa

    Comrade Stalin, you have explained nothing. Yes it was about sovereignity and was uncontroversial in that respect, but I’m afraid that Alliance’s appeasement of the Republican intolerance has now escalated the issue into deeper realms of contention — contention which Alliance want for the sake of maintaining their relevance.

  • DC

    id say that’s a pretty crass statement as well as being off topic

    Yes it was crass and off topic – what is this place the ‘SeriousDome’ or something? Lighten up, you have to laugh otherwise you’d cry.

  • ayeYerMa

    Meanwhile what has been the decision in Newry today and where is the thread? No doubt the SDLP and Sinn Fein should have voted by now to keep glorifying IRA terrorists to the generations of children to come.

  • Red Lion

    Well, couldn’t find anything on the BBC website about the Newry ‘decision’.

    Serious police helicopter action right above my head.

    And anybody know – was there also a vote tonight about the flying of the Union Flag 365 days a year at the Garden of Remberance?? I heard, but could be wrong, that such a vote got passed 32-18 or something which would likely put Alliance and maybe a couple sdlp in the ‘yes’ camp? Or is this nonsense?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Flying the union flag in the garden of remembrance seems like something that should not be too much of a problem.

    Nationalists on the city council already delegate most of the remembrance-related stuff to unionism anyway, which I have always interpreted as an attempt by them to be fair.

    In one way it is sad, because it seems that we can’t celebrate the people who gave up so much in order to defeat Nazi ceremony without this also being interpreted as some kind of patriotic Queen and Country thing. But nationalists aren’t ready to embrace that part of their identity yet, sadly.

  • DC

    And there was me steeling myself for the removal of the flag (bar 17 days) thinking that this was another historic day for NI, but now it could fly there in the cenotaph, which is actually better because it would likely be lower down and more visible.

  • Red Lion

    Has the cenotaph bit been confirmed??

    I actually think the union flag flying there all the time is lovely. If true.

    If this is true, how did it come about? did the unionist councillors take the Shinners by surprise at the end? If so it was a neat peice of work and the unionists could have claimed success if only there had been no violence.

  • Barnshee

    What about an old Irish favourite–boycott?

    Prods –boycott the city centre bars shops etc for -say 1 week?

    Rates –have you thought about withholding al or part of your rates ?

    Come on lads a wee bit of thought -hit them in their pocket –and watch the fun

    Slogan for xms AVOID BELFAST

  • Neil

    I’m in that campaign myself Barnshee. The anti bus lane people came up with that months ago, you should go for it. We might get traffic free flowing in the new year.

    Anyway I shouldn’t worry, having deprived the traders of two Saturday’s trade this year so far and a third planned for Saturday coming I’m sure you’ll be bankrupting a few traders like the loyal citizen you aspire to be.