Belfast DUP councillor Ruth Patterson has refused to condemn the burning of the Irish Tricolour at today’s BNP-addressed loyalist rally at Belfast City Hall, and has even claimed that nationalists and republicans often burn their own National Flag at commemorations. Here’s Ruth speaking straight from the school of ‘you couldn’t make it up’:
“They are disillusioned, they are left in like a wilderness and they need the leadership to take them from that wilderness. Burning the Tricolour is something that the nationalist/ republican community do at most of their parades. It’s not something you wouldn’t see at a republican parade. But I don’t condone it but I’m not going to condemn it.”
Oh, where to start? Maybe with pointing out that, as the lead party in unionism for a decade, perhaps the fault lies with the DUP’s ‘confident’ brand of unionism which seeks to foment hate and tribal divisions as a strategy to re-engage with loyalist grassroots. We can certainly see how effective that strategy is right now as more rioting occurs across Belfast.
And as if to avoid being undone, fellow Belfast DUP councillor Guy Spence has firmly laid claim to the title of King of the Forked Tongue Unionist, having flip-flopped over the protests throughout the week. Firstly, he spoke in defence of the protests at City Hall before condemning the very same crowd for accidentally smashing up his car (presumably they mistook his vehicle for one belonging to a catholic.) Then, following his party leader’s call for a ‘suspension’ of the protests, Guy commended the loyalist road blockers in Tiger’s Bay/ Limestone Road last night, before having to condemn their fellow protesters in Monkstown for ruining the DUP Mayor’s Christmas Party by rioting and smashing car windows at the venue.
Meanwhile, yet another loyalist attack on the home of an Alliance elected representative has taken place, this time in Newtownards, whilst the Irish News reported this morning that loyalists are ratcheting up the tension at Belfast’s many interface communities by erecting flags in areas where informal agreements had been in place to ensure flags were not erected.
Looks like those who rolled the snowballs are out of ideas and are left praying for the thaw to come…..