“If working class loyalists … don’t decide to politicise and to tackle the political system then they’ll be left behind”

At the autumn PUP conference and since, Billy Hutchinson has been pleading for loyalist communities to politicise. To quote part of his speech:

If working class loyalists, protestants and unionists don’t decide to politicise and to tackle the political system, then they’ll be left behind. That is the problem with our community. We need to get it right. We need to articulate our arguments politically.

We are perceived to be sectarian bigots and we are not. We need to get the language right, and we need to challenge those people who are running us down. The media have not been kind to us. But it’s not just the media. It’s other people who are violence-setting and who blame it on loyalists. They’re a bunch of sectarian thugs and that’s what happens.

Hutchinson might be right, but not everyone is listening or believing his message.

Bringing – or summoning – bolt-cutters to the City Hall on Monday evening showed organisation and intent to break past the back gate.

On Tuesday afternoon, protesters – only some of whom left the fold and put their hoods up – blocked traffic on the Newtownards Road and significantly increased the Union Flag count around Alliance’s office. With word of the protest spreading online, Alliance staff locked up and went home early, avoiding confrontation.

A peaceful protest would have been a well-ordered one on the footpath that didn’t deny the local community access to their elected representative and the services a party can offer. Loyalists often – with justification and evidence – point to the lack of facilities in their neighbourhood.

The office closed again early on Wednesday afternoon.

Shutting down the business of a political party – in this case Alliance, but it would apply equally to any party – misunderstands Billy Hutchinson’s statement for the community to politicise. Join in the political system, not turn against it.

Denying democracy through intimidation does not make a political point.

Short notice closure of an arterial route and hampering access to a political party’s office is disruptive. And a crowd, some of who are wearing hoods and some of whom are hanging flags from your premises will not be perceived as peaceful. It’s divisive, and bullying, and undemocratic.

Tonight, protesters took to the streets in Carrickfergus to voice their concern about the flag decision in Belfast. Unfortunately for some present legitimate protest turned again to violence, directed against the PSNI, and from a breach of the peace it seems to have turned criminal with a fire started in the Alliance office.

Is it going to far to say that setting fire to a political party’s office is fascist? Certainly doesn’t feel like what soldiers of all corners of Ireland fought for 75 years ago.

Update – The home of Alliance councillors has also been attacked tonight.

Exactly who let the genie out of the bottle is surely no longer relevant. Nationalists brought the flag issue onto the table at the City Hall. Unionists made it a community issue, blamed Alliance, and then proposed the cenotaph compromise after the event rather than as part of a mature negotiation before tension escalated. But loyalist tension has overspilled to violence and it’ll be hard to stop. Politicians pointing the finger at each other will only form a circle. Perhaps all have fallen short …

On Tuesday morning I got a chance to ask Peter Robinson a few short questions as he left NICVA’s Creating a Good Economy Through Job Creation conference. Time was short so there wasn’t opportunity to drill in and challenge the First Minister’s answers, particularly when the first one ignored the violence and only addressed the politics inside the City Hall. But when he asked whether Monday night’s events would affect trade missions, he said:

It doesn’t encourage people to come into Belfast to do trade. It’s bad for everyone. It’s bad also for those of us who democratically are standing up for the flying of the flag. People causing violence, causing injury to police and others. That does not help our cause.

Unfortunately, the violent protesters (as opposed to those seeking to make a peaceful, law-abiding protest) are unlikely to see Peter Robinson as their leader. And Billy Hutchinson may not be their leader either. Newspaper editorials won’t cut it. Neither will wordy blog posts.

All party leaders standing together to say that violence can’t be allowed to stand in the way of democratic politics might be a start.

Which in the meantime leaves the PSNI as the backstop to prevent civil unrest until an outbreak of snow or common sense.

Longer term, politicians to think before they act … even if they believe someone else is at fault or someone else started it. Knockabout politics isn’t going solve the root problems that lead to tensions.

All parties need to show leadership to address the issues of community confidence, identity and esteem. Other than comments on welfare reform, I heard little at the party conferences and leaders’ speeches this autumn that sought to articulate or address working class issues in any community. Addressing inequality and inequity across council wards, communities and constituencies needs to be a 365 days a year priority and not a lip service policy when tensions are heightened.

The final speaker at the NICVA conference was the RSA’s Matthew Taylor. While at times he was dangerously close to being an outsider proposing a solution for someone else’s problem, his perspective was worth considering.

He suggested that NI needs to know what a better collective future would look like and then aim for it. We need to build a solidarity aimed at that better future and stronger than the current ‘solidarities’.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.

  • “Newspaper editorials won’t cut it. Neither will wordy blog posts.”

    I’ll keep mine brief: it’s a sovereignty issue.

  • Submariner

    “and then proposed the cenotaph compromise after the event rather than as part of a mature negotiation before tension escalated.”

    Alan how is moving the flag to a different part of City Hall to be frown 365 days a year a compromise. Surely the compromise has already been put in place now that it is to be flown on designated days.

  • If it had been proposed months ago it would have been a compromise and could have taken the heat out of the issue. But proposing after the vote – and after the leafletting – was too little too late. But it was potentially one way for the unionist councillors to get out of the trap that nationalist councillors set .. instead they could find no other path than to walk into it.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Good post, but you fail to clearly attribute responsibility for the position those working-class loyalists find themselves in: ie the unionist politicians who made the proverbial snowballs for them to throw- at PSNI officers and cars they thought belonged to catholics at City Hall; at a catholic church and catholic homes in east Belfast on their way home from the protest; and, now, at Alliance Party offices in Carrick.

    Working class loyalists don’t even come close to predominating amongst the ranks of those communities every piece of objective evidence points to as the most deprived in socio-economic terms. No, I’m afraid that would be the position of working-class catholics across the north.

    Yet we continually end up discussing why it is that loyalists feel ‘left behind’ or as the ‘losers’ in the new, developing society.

    The reasons are simple: a leadership void within unionism, which failed to prepare the base for the changing society, continues to fail to step up when waters need calmed, instead stoking flames and then walking away when things get out of hand.

    We saw this only a matter of months ago when unionist leaders could not bring themselves to stand against the sectarian neanderthals who played the Famine Song outside St Patrick’s. The abdication of leadership then led directly to loyalist rioting and further shame being brought upon political unionism as the summer continued.

    Now, having stoked the fire with the thousands of leaflets urging people to essentially harass Alliance reps, the unionist political leadership have walked away just as their followers took to the streets.

    The Save the Union Flag campaign could only have ever delivered a pyrrhic victory for unionism, given that it is premised once again on unionism seeking victory over the ‘other’ as opposed to seeking to find a way of legitimising expressions of both National identities. That discussion appears beyond political unionism at present, and with it any chance that unionism may begin to articulate a vision which could appeal to people outside of the PUL tent.

  • sherdy

    One aspect of Monday’s demonstration nobody seems to have mentioned yet – what sort of parents bring children and babies into the middle of what virtually everyone knew would end in disorder? Was it reckless behaviour or child endangerment?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Viewing the nationalist proposal as ‘a trap’ is rather mischievous and does you a disservice.

    The nationalist position of seeking ‘neutrality or equality’ is entirely justifiable in a divided society like ours, with complex governing arrangements devised to reflect the deeply polarised nature of our society and the historical roots of that division.

    Consequently, it is entirely appropriate to seek a position whereby civic offices reflect the respective National identities of the citizens of this state and its numerous councils.

    Given that unionism has a disgraceful history of seeking to suppress expressions of the Irish nationalist identity through its exercise of state power going back to partition and well before, you might consider just how unionists can begin to show an understanding of the importance of the Irish National flag for nationalists and just how unionists can find a place for that in their vision of a ‘shared future.’

  • You don’t just politicise a demographic, you need to completely overhaul their perspective of life and how they are to contribute to society – at the heart of which are three words… Education, education and again education… The information rich have aspiration… Sadly there’s not a great deal of aspiration in these communities beyond aspiring for the weekend…

  • Comrade Stalin


    I agree with you and I pointed this out on another thread. I’m unhappy about some recent attempts by SF to stir trouble, Newry & Mourne is a case in point, as is the issue of Sammy Brush’s treatment in Dungannon. However, at least SF drew a clear line between themselves and the dissidents and Martin McGuinness called them “traitors”.

    I have yet to see unionism’s leadership call anyone engaging in threats, violence or intimidation a “traitor”. Many ordinary unionist voters are utterly repelled by the loyalist paramilitaries and what they stand for; that’s why they don’t vote for loyalist parties and it is why they are increasingly not turning out to vote for the mainstream parties. I think the time has come for Peter Robinson to put a marker down and stop playing games with the extant paramilitary organizations.

  • ayeYerMa

    Is what we have in Northern Ireland “democracy” though? Remember, Unionists already made some rather massive concessions on standard democracy in Stormont to get the system we have today.

    As I posted on the other thread:

    The demands from Ford to try and blame politicians DUP and UUP politicans is rather disingenuous given Unionist parties have been quick to make numerous condemnations of violence over the last few days. (Sounds very reminiscent of the SDLP)

    It seems to be more of the same usual preachy blame everyone else game that Alliance like to play, but now one exposed given that Alliance have actually made a decision.

    The idea that you can in response to an initiative from Republicans (often violent Republicans, and in this case with several only on Belfast City Council after terrorist convictions) make decisions over the head of Ulster Unionists (people who have fought for their own right to self-determination while also conceding to and then respecting Irish Republican self-determination in the south) and then preach to them that you are making a “compromise” is a recurring theme of the Appeasement Process, from Sunningdale, to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, to the Belfast Agreement (with the DUP not involved and it dubious whether it received majority Unionist support at all with most UUP MPs also against). The only fragile strand that kept Unionists on board in 1998, despite the fact that almost every other political concession has been towards Nationalism, was the single core issue that the sovereignty of Northern Ireland would be acknowledged and respected.

    I just don’t think these preachy Alliance types really understand how incredibly provocative their decision-making has been here. The idea of removing the acknowledgement of such sovereignty that has existed for over a century in the focal point of the capital (one with sprawling boundaries more than just the current council area) goes right to this core issue which kept marginal Unionist support for the flawed idea that you can simply whitewash decades of terror. It is in effect a breach of the ethos of the Good Friday Agreement. Breaches which could easily unravel this farcical concept of “drawing a line”.


    Loyalist leaders need to stop with the mantra of loyalist communities being left behind and not benefitting from the elusive ‘peace dividend’ which as a Republican i would love to see what it looks like as it seems to be missing for the Republican community, however Republicans are actively working to better their communities.

    These excuses are trotted out to somehow justify the recent violent actions of loyalist, while implying that somehow its the fault of Republicans.

    Loyalism needs to look a lot closer to home when pointing the finger of blame.

  • “They don’t like it up “em” to quote a favourite comedian. “It” being democracy.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    As I said on another thread, NI’s chances of creating a functioning economy is stifled by easy public sector jobs, so to was loyalist working class political thinking by being the DUP and UUPs muscle, always available to be a rent a mob with the hard work of thinking done for them by others, anyway wasn’t the DUP meant to be the reps for these people once upon a time?

  • boondock

    A quick message to the slow on the uptake sluggerites – if it wasnt for the Alliance party the Union flag would not fly at Belfast City hall full stop. Lets fast forward to the next council elections or the one after that and hey prsto SF/SDLP majority take down the flag for good. These so called loyalists should be showering the Allaince with gifts for keeping the flag flying for an extra few years but I guess they just want to put the head back in the sand and think of the good old days. I hope the bright spark who initiated the leaflet campaign against Alliance is really proud of his/her work – well done did it get the desired results?

  • boondock Wasn’t it trimble who taked about the need for housetraining among politicians, but it’s unionist ones who need to be house trained in readiness for the democracy that’s finally about to arrive here for the first time in 90 years. It’s going to a steep learning curve for DUP ones in particular, but trained is what they need..

  • @Comrade Stalin
    “I agree with you and I pointed this out on another thread. I’m unhappy about some recent attempts by SF to stir trouble, Newry & Mourne is a case in point”

    Recent? You see a park being renamed in 2001 as recent?

  • “A quick message to the slow on the uptake sluggerites – if it wasnt for the Alliance party the Union flag would not fly at Belfast City hall full stop.”

    Boondock, this intrepid friend of Slugger has already pointed that out 😉

    Sadly, I humbly submit that Slugger appears to be somewhat bereft of bloggers who can read the NI political landscape.

    APNI is just about the only party promoting a shared future. It has now found itself on a loyalist bonfire in no-man’s land after Nationalists lit the bonfire at City Hall and Unionists put fuel on the flames with their yellow leaflet.

    Naomi Long appears to be the ‘only man’ in APNI as some of the males display the characteristics of a small yapping dog – yapping at dissenting republicans one minute and yapping at dissenting loyalists the next. Naomi emphasised the rule of law; she also opened the focus to include both militant dissenting factions.

  • BarneyT

    What we need is a big ship building project! In fact we need several contracts. Contracts need to be nationally commissioned without fear of being undermined through unnecessary international tendering and competition.

    The right leaning DUP and UUP are not going to push for anything like this, as like their cousins in the Tory party they are happy for work to go offshore in protection of conservatism, competition and other survival of the fittest nonsense.

    We need to put people to work in East Belfast and extend this to other Belfast communities to foster a mixed culture in the traditional protestant industry.

    This is what SF should be pushing for as the only party that sometimes wears the socialist badge.

    There is no better way for a loyalist to become more politicised through the words, “SF got me a job…as an East Belfast ship builder”

    Maybe this is romantic nonsense.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    Nevin, struggling to see your concept of a shared future in the context of this situation. The nationalist parties wanted both flags or no flags, the Alliance idea was a move in that direction, ie just our flag BUT just for 15 days.

    That’s a compromise between big U and little U unionism in offering a concession to the majority community in Belfast. It’s just the Big U unionists feel aggrieved at giving a concession to nationalists

    I’m not sure but is there a law in the UK saying the flag MUST be flown. If not than there is nothing ‘shared’ about it.

    BarneyT the PUP want to build a full scale floating replica of the Titanic in Belfast as a hotel, they also the creation of an Orange Quarter in Belfast, which isn’t a bad idea as all OO marches could be confined to it and the savings on policing costs would pay for it in a few years, possibly they could also hold all their riots and bonfires there aswell

  • I tend to agree with Boondock but not actually sure that his basic premise is right.
    Alliance could have voted with DUP/unionists.
    Im not sure that I am right about these figures but as I understand it the vote was 29-21………an the make up of council is SF/SDLP 24…..DUP/UUP/PUP 20…….there are 6 Alliance.
    So who was the 21st voter (if my figures are correct)? Id assume it was an Alliance vote.
    Presumably AP thought the way they were voting was the right course but had they voted with DUP would republicans have reacted as badly.
    In fairness AP has suffered intimidation at the hands of republicns…dissidents attacked their HQ earlier this year and there is the absolutely disgraceful treatment of Danny McGuinness in West Belfast. But usually the non-sectarian nature of Alliance is in itself a shield against intimidation. Obviously Alliance members will have their own stories which never made headlines.

    But I wonder if this week started with a serious miscalculation by the Alliance Party. Clearly they did not foresee that the vitriol would go beyond ritual rhetoric and low key rioting.
    While I fully understand and agree with the “we will not be intimidated” line, I wonder had they actually foreseen the burning of Alliance offices and the disgusting attack on the Bowers would they have voted differently……..or should they not have agreed (and DUP at fault here too) the Cenotaph proposal as Plan A rather than Plan B. Making it the headline they would have been recast as heroes.
    But clearly this is a worrying development and being a fly on the wall at Alliance High Command and their Belfast councillors would be interesting.
    Over the past few months I am increasingly of the opinion that Stormont is a sham and we are all deluding ourselves and falling for the MTV-G8 narrative. Ford has an opportunity to (at least) put DUP/SF on notice that they cannot provide a fig leaf to cover up nonsense.
    There must surely be a lot of anger in the Alliance rank and file today and the only decent response is to share it.

  • iluvni

    I’m not sure what this shared future APNI yaps on about really is.
    Are we all to aspire to be like David Ford?

  • Paulk

    The reason things like the vote on flags are happening is because nationalist parties are flexing their democratic muscles, it means little to me but there you go. As i’ve said before on another thread Unionists cannot go on about democracy then throw their toys (or other objects!) out of the pram when the vote goes against them but if i were a unionist i’d start to get used to this type of thing because it’ll happen more and more where N/R’s are in the majority.

    The big difference between N/R’s and U/L’s is that they’ve educated their knuckledraggers to the extent where they feel they are heading towards a particular goal and are energised and invested into achieving it. U’L’s in my opinion are content to use working class unionists when they want a little threat or muscle but have little real interest in educating and getting them properly involved in the system lest they realise how badly mainstream unionism has failed them.
    I await the great DUP disappearing act imminently after last nights actions.

  • BarneyT

    RFTS: Well Orangism is not going away in the short term so if an Orange Quarter can be used to localise the “festival” that suits me. In time it can become cultural and less of an in your face antagonist event.

    I think the notion of a full scale Titanic replica is a great idea for Belfast as a whole, but for me it does not represent the kind of politics that need to emerge for the working class. Perhaps the working class of East Belfast can build it and then when it’s up and running they, be restricted to the lower decks 🙂

    But you take my point? Unrest and distraction sets into any community that faces deprivation or social injustice. They represent rich pickings for their manipulators and in the case of East Belfast, the DUP that are happy to exploit and provoke “their social underlings” to further their cowardly cause. And who suffers at the hands of the DUP? Working-class Protestants.

    I am not of course absolving the manipulated, as they have minds of their own and are responsible for their actions. Whilst they have no direction, they still don’t have to respond as they have however this is where the vacuum exists.

    As this article suggests they can politicise and meet their own needs lawfully.

  • weidm7

    What I’d love to see from SF is, instead of this silly tribalist finger-poiting, they acknowledged the grievances of the loyalist community, especially the moderate,non-violent part of that community and condemned the big unionist parties for letting them down. They could sympathise for those who were drawn into violence, but plead that this was not the way to go. To be really radical, they could pledge to champion the causes of working class loyalists, (apart from the obvious). I know rhetoric is cheap, but if it was constant and matched by actions (including the respectable decision to lobby for funding for Orange bands), it might get somewhere.

  • “Nevin, struggling to see your concept of a shared future in the context of this situation.”

    RTFS and fjh, I don’t think there is any hope of a shared future in the context of the 50%+1 ‘settlement’ of 1998; I think what we’re seeing in various places are the outworkings of that arrangement; Unionists think they can hold the line; Nationalists think they can cross the line; APNI is piggy-in-the-middle.

    An example I’ve referred to but one that has received little or no attention is the changing face of the UK City of Culture project. A member of the team was dismissed and another brought in under a different label but without a recruitment process. [Fair Employment?] The team itself was then brought ‘in-house’ under the care and attention of the mainly Nationalist council and the programme was launched in London in the Irish embassy – and one of the guests was Ian Paisley jnr. Surreal or what? 🙂

    Hence my suggestion for devolution under shared sovereignty [as distinct from Joint Rule], the merger of Strands 2 and 3 and the design of some more shared symbology [cf Stormont and PSNI] and decision-making.

  • Alan in Belfast[11.31]
    Obviously alliance resove was wavering in the face of the intimidation, whensuggesting they would agree about planting the flag on the cenotaph, but that is using the dead as a part of a political stunt. You know exactly what would happen if that was done, then unionists would claim that was victory. That’s why Kearney called the idea gratuitous.

  • Professor Yattle

    I’m not sure why Fitzjameshorse is wringing his hands about this after years of postings that have all basically amounted to slagging off Alliance-style “letsgetalongerism”. Isn’t the whole point of his single transferable post essentially the same as the current unionist and loyalist line? I will stand to be corrected, as I’ve never been entirely sure what (if anything) he actually means by it.

  • Nevin……a little too early to talk about joint sovreignty but there is a certain long term inevitability. I think it all goes back to Creative Ambiguity (the Big Lie). Im not convinced anything…..except arguably a Peace Process ……deserves to succeed on the basis of a series of lies.
    I think the City of Culture thing……you are both right and wrong. As I recall (maybe wrongly) from a summer trip (courtesy of my bus pass) the Derry HQ made no reference to UK on its signage. So in that sense you are right.
    But I note a creeping……and I am sure organised……usage of “Derry-Londonderry”> The big boat was called this, nationalist politicians and TV are using it and Id expect an announcement making it official at end of 2013.

  • sonofstrongbow

    The ‘shared future’ nonsense is just that; nonsense. What we are seeing is nationalists behaving in exactly the same way as they have long accused the political class of post 1922 Northern Ireland.

    Of course the ‘Orange State’ proceeded on its ‘triumphalist’ way by virtue of ‘Majority Rule’ (used by nationalists in a pejorative way). In Belfast City Hall (bad) majority rule has been reborn as (good) democracy. The outcome remains the same.

    Perversely this is all to the good as it exposes the lie that is the ‘Ireland of Equals’, the overarching name for the strategy that is all about dominance and replacing the ‘Orange State’ with the Green State.

    The project is couched in touchy-feely language with tiresomely repetitive use of meaningless buzz words such as ‘equality’ and ‘impartiality’. Nationalists are pretty good at smiling in your face whilst sticking you in the guts, metaphorically speaking.

    Another Ghost of Christmas Past has made a visit with the SDLP rowing in behind Sinn Fein and reviving the Pan-Nationalist Front. Both equally at home with their Janus-faced exhibitions of the ‘shared future’ in Newry and Belfast.

    As I’ve said it’s all useful stuff. Catholic moderates will be as turned off by political nationalism’s coat-trailing as will liberal unionists, who may have toyed with the idea that a coming together of north and south may not be all bad.

    Who would have thought that the City Hall Christmas Market would have brought such presents?

  • fjh, I deliberately chose ‘shared sovereignty’ as I wanted to move away from the language of John Hume and from the practice of Joint Administration that still exists – even if our political commentators are largely ignorant of it 😉

    The culture project has slowly morphed from a UK city of Culture to an Ireland City of Culture; the main funder is also BT Ireland, not BT.

  • FJH [1.16]. Gregory will have a fit if they do. You may have read his entry in the Derry Essays here on SoT last year, where in a piece which counted about 70 words, about 45 were Londondery. He was spitting nails.Most entertaining blog I’ve read, albei unintentionally so. The charter should be changed to the CoC title but leave the hyphen out.

  • sos, I’d put it another way: the absence of a shared future facilitates the Unionist v Nationalist nonsense and APNI is currently caught in the grinder.

    I think the Nolan Show called it wrong today when it put the APNI up against the DUP and UUP. How could that possibly reflect the bigger picture?

  • Nevin……as has been pointed out in another thread even George Osborne was using “Derry-Londonderry”.
    Mark my words 😉 ……it will soon be official.
    We are being prepped.

  • BarneyT

    I see you point SOSB but is there not a difference between majority rule in a deliberately architected and contrived state and a state shifting balance through normal and accepted population dynamics?

    I don’t want to bleat on about the past but Northern Ireland was never established for anything else other than to secure a protestant majority to protect against perceived threats from a Dublin parliament in a pre 1921 context.

    One might argue that they did the right thing on the basis that Protestants in a United Ireland (with majority catholic rule) would have fared as well as Catholics did in Northern Ireland, but that’s all conjecture. I hold on to the notion that Protestants in an all-Ireland environment may have helped avoid the church control and in the Free State and subsequent Republic. The border helped polarise both north and south and allow both domains to fester in their respective religious extremism.

    With regard to shared sovereignty I can’t see what working. To accommodate that shift in opinion, you might has well push for a pre-1921 status…and revert to the offer that was on the table at that time…home rule within home rule.

    I suspect now that the Entity that is Northern Ireland in itself is a real impediment to any political normalisation.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    Funny you mention fair employment Nevin, I note the previous head of the BBC was fairly employed to the max with everyone and his brother involved in the process and then he was er… removed….

    Now, Lord Patten had asked Tony Hall to stand that time round but he wasn’t available so didn’t.

    When Enwhistle left Patten said he would review all new candidates.

    Surprise, surprise Tony Hall is the only candidate and duly gets the job.

    So now whats your point?

  • RFTS, FE is a key component of our political arrangements so I think it’s perfectly fair to point out a breach. Other breaches elsewhere don’t nullify the point I’ve made.

  • Paulk

    Hearing rumours (on FB) that protests might be taking place this afternoon in Belfast on some arterial routes Crumlin Road etc… anyone hearing the same things?

  • sonofstrongbow


    I’ve never really got the nationalist ‘engineered statelet’ thing, or at least why NI is seemingly regarded as such an aberration in the world.

    Unless you go down the route that says that nations can only truly exist where they are made up of the ethnically pure then you have to accept that the world is a politically untidy place. Such untidiness has lead in many places to minorities seeking to secede or otherwise go their own way.

    Ireland divided in the way that it did because the majority on the island chose to ignore a significant minority’s views in the belief that that minority’s mind would be changed by the fait accompli of independence from the rest of the UK.

    Irish nationalism does not have a good track record when they have had the whip hand. From the fondness for the pike in the 1640s to the winnowing of the Protestant minority in the south post 1922 passing by the Dunmanway and Kilmichael murders magnanimity in victory has been absent.

    To suggest that if NI had not existed things would have all gone swimmingly is at best disingenuous and is as flawed as the point that it is NI itself that is now the block to “normalisation”.

    Btw I hope the ‘B’ you added to my title was a typo rather than a unpleasant accusation as to the character of my mother.

  • It would seem that some of our politicians are like a string of used Christmas lights –
    – They all hang together
    – Half of the feckers don’t work
    – The ones that do work ain’t too bright.

  • SK

    So they’re still whinging. Two Alliance Councillors put out of their homes, one office gutted by fire and still the unionists are insisting that they’re the REAL vitcims in this whole, sorry, unionist-instigated episode.

    And here’s me thinking it was the nationalist community who had the reputation for MOPEry.

    “Equality” has nothing to do with what they’re asking for. Only in their warped minds could ramming a flag down another community’s’ throat 365 days a year constitute “equality”. No, they’re merely a group of people who are so used to having things their way that the very idea of compromise is enough to prompt mass hysteria. You don’t reason with them any more than you’d reason with a spoiled child.

    Consider the lowering of this flag the end of lesson 1.


    Can anyone explain to me why those who want their “Britishness” recognised 365 days a year and who want the union flag to fly 365 days a year and who claim to be committed to a shared future did not vote for a proposal to fly both the union flag and the tricolour 365 days a year? That way they get what they wish for, themuns get something they wish for and the rest of us who couldn’t give a hoot still couldn’t give a hoot? Or am I missing something?

  • Comrade Stalin

    John, the goalposts move as you work through the issue.

    The unionists will tell you the flag is being taken down because republicans are intolerant.

    When you suggest flying another flag (which is the other major opinion expressed by those surveyed by the council) they’ll tell you that you can only fly the sovereign flag. So suddenly it’s not about tolerance, it’s about sovereignty. When you point out that the sovereignty of this place is disputed, they’ll just fall back to ULSTER IS BRITISH.

  • Greenflag

    @ NOT NOW JOHN ,

    ‘Or am I missing something?’

    Not at all – the problem is common sense and flexibility .You have it -to judge by your post . The loyalists don’t .They to be charitable don’t common sense or flexibility -That’s what makes them ‘loyalists’.

    These folks are about ALL or NOTHING . As long as they can have ALL you can have NOTHING .

    It’s called being British but I don’t believe that for a moment 😉

    Actually not a bad idea that of flying both flags from every flagpole .It could give a boost to the local economy and would certainly show a parity of esteem for both traditions in NI . Could confuse the inveterate flag burners though ?

  • carl marks

    Does anybody else see the sheer hypocrisy of a group of people demanding respect to be shown for their flag but who take great delights in burning the other side’s flag at every opportunity?
    During this years 12th I asked several times both collectively and in some instances of individual posters on this site about the burning of Irish flags on Bonfires, Not one cared to answer, when I pointed out that going out of the way to insult nationalists by burning their symbols, was not the best tactic if you wanted respect for your own (then it was parades) i got the impression that some were amused by this simple idea not many smiling at the moment, so as they say KARMA’s a bitch.