#Flegs: They haven’t gone away you know…

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There was a lot of upset Crusaders and Cliftonville supporters on Twitter at the weekend. Apparently flag protesters from other parts of Belfast (let’s call them predominantly Blues and Glens supporters) turned up at the away turnstiles to prevent Cliftonville’s majority Catholic support ingress to the ground.

Result: the season’s big game between the two top clubs in the local Premier league gets call off.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere that the target was Cliftonville (currently sitting on a nice buffer of 14 pts and one game in hand over the Blues). Or that Crusaders was just as much a victim of this action as those from the club just up the road. Phillip Murphy in the Huff Po:

The great shame in all of this is the damage it does to both clubs, who provide more for local working-class communities than just about any organisation in their environs. Both clubs provide opportunities to participate in football for men, women and children alike, making them a key component of the North Belfast fabric. The clubs have worked together, fostering strong cross-community relations in recent times, setting an example for the young people of the area. Saturday will sadly however have cost Crusaders thousands of pounds and will possibly have further alienated current and potential supporters of local football. All this, at the hands of a protest beyond the control of football’s powers that be.

Football has in many ways reflected politics, especially those of the working classes in the region. In bygone decades, Northern Ireland’s political instability and football have clashed to devastating effects on the terraces. Times have changed however. The league is now a safe environment, with crowd trouble and sectarianism now confined to rare, isolated incidents. What yesterday demonstrated was a complete indifference to the protesters on the most-part from both fans, who it must be said, handled the pandemonium with impressive dignity in their large numbers. The gesture of some Crusaders fans to walk hand-in-hand with their footballing rivals, unheard of in the poisonous atmosphere of many football rivalries.

More ominously, it’s another signal that this summer is going to be worse than the last. Enter the leadership vacuum (it hasn’t gone away you know)… My good friend and long time commenter on Slugger, Ian Parsley is clear about unionist culpability in backing the flag protests in particular.

But we should not ignore the fact that the political process has been slowly unravelling for a number of years, and not least in north Belfast. The paradox is that however much people cry out for moderation, as Peter Geoghegan put it near the beginning of this crisis: with so much “passionate fury” in the air, the prospects for Northern Ireland’s shrinking middle ground look worryingly bleak.

With the words of Ass Chief Constable Will Kerr telling us from the front page of the Irish News that we should expect the worst for the summer, in the immortal words of Blackadder we’re headed for conflict because…

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  • Ulster Press Centre

    Mick, worth pointing out that a leaflet (yes, I know) was distributed around Shore Road after Cliftonville fans had verbally abused residents and damaged cars on their last visit to Seaview.

    Add into that the provocative flying of a Mairead Farrell banner in the predominantly Unionist area a few months ago at a PIPS charity event and it’s no wonder the local residents were angry enough to take to the streets.

    The plan was not to stop the match but hold a white line protest. The behaviour of PSNI was worst I’ve seen it over the past three months. Video here:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Woodvale-defenders-of-union-flag-updater/421982474542286

  • Mick Fealty

    Just remember to keep in the bounds of civil discussion and reason…

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    It is my understanding that this was not a flag protest.

    It was a protest by local people at the sectarian chanting and damaged caused by the Cliftonville supporters as they travel to and from the match along Skegoneill Avenue???

  • keano10

    I was heading to the game on Saturday down Glandore whenever the Cops stopped us and told us about the protest down the road. We all assumed that it must be have been a large protest, but I was truly dumbstruck when i got back home and watched the news to find out that there were only around 30-40 protestors in total. The PSNI’s softly-softly approach to this whole dispute is only serving to make things worse. If they adopt this attitude during the summer then they are going to leave a lot people very frightened in vulnerable areas and the potential for violence is going to increase considerably.

    Newton Emerson launched a scathing attack on Matt Baggott two weeks ago in The Irish News over his unwillingness to confront this tiny rump of loyalists and the the egotists who speak for them. Saturday’s events only served to show how meek the PSNI have become. They are now failing to protect and look after the interests of the vast majority of citizens.

    By the way. on behalf of all Cliftonville fans i would like to say a big thanks to all The Crusaders fans who spoke up and had the courage to lambast the Flag Protestors for what they did on Saturday. In particular to Mark Langhammer for his scathing attack on Willie Fraser whom he described as a “narcissist and self-publicist”.

    North Belfast United…

  • Mick Fealty

    For clarity, Irish News report (http://goo.gl/WQeYV):

    Among the protesters was controversial victims campaigner and leading Ulster People’s Forum figure Willie Frazer. Forum chairman Jamie Bryson claimed the demonstration had not been organised by the group and had “nothing to do with Union flag protests”.
    Despite many protesters being draped in Union flags, Mr Bryson said the demonstration aimed to address the concerns of “local residents” who had come “under attack” from Clifton-ville supporters at previous games.
    A statement issued on behalf of DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds and MLA Nelson McCausland said one of the party’s councillors had been struck by police amid the disorder. It described the postponement of the match as “deeply regrettable”.
    The statement said party representatives had been present “because of the previous history of difficulties caused by a small number of Cliftonville fans walking down Skegoneill Avenue behaving badly and offensively towards local residents”.

    TBH, I find that post hoc rationalisation as convincing as Ms O’Neill’s disappointment other Executive Ministers did not join her hastily called presser…

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Video of Cliftonville fans singing IRA songs as they march through protestant streets on their way home from the game last time out:

    http://youtu.be/HO4soRHs60k

    Says it all really.

  • Blue Hammer

    That’s one scandalous inference at the start there Mick. Has any research been done to identify the footballing allegiances of the flag protestors if any? If they are in any regard Linfield or Glentoran supporters, it begs the question of why they werent at the game?

    For clarity, while those disgusting scenes were being played out outside Seaview, a short few miles away Glentoran hosted Linfield at the Oval. Maybe it was the relatively decent weather, but the turnout must have been close to Glentoran’s biggest crowd of the season at the Oval. I was delighted to be part of the biggest Linfeld away crowd for some time. As word filtered through of events at Seaview, not one person I spoke to was anything other than disgusted.

    Fans of the big two are obviously both angry and disappointed at their own teams’ poor showings this year. However, both of them would undoubtedly applaud the quality of a Cliftonville side that is clearly the class of the field this term. Neither would stoop to trying to block the Reds’ march to the title in any way other than on the field.

    To suggest otherwise is disgusting. Perhaps you should retract.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    So now I get it, every time the PUL community hold a protest and someone has a Union flag it must be a flag protest???

  • Mick Fealty

    Mea culpa… I thought it had been sufficiently tongue in cheek… sorry…

  • Ulster Press Centre

    And of course we had this disgusting, racist incident carried out by hundreds of Cliftonville fans just a few months ago:

    http://youtu.be/hqZ5wsfRDEs

    And the raising of a banner celebrating a sectarian terrorist ON THE PITCH at Seaview during a charity event not too long ago either:

    http://alturl.com/97g4t

    Any wonder people are angry???

  • Blue Hammer

    Fair enough Mick.

    Although thats a lot of tongue in cheekness to cover the “let’s call them predominantly Blues and Glens supporters” quip sat just above the equally pointed “It hasn’t gone unnoticed elsewhere that the target was Cliftonville (currently sitting on a nice buffer of 14 pts and one game in hand over the Blues)”.

    I jokingly said to one guy standing beside me behind the goal at the Oval on Saturday “let’s see how long it takes for Linfield to get the blame for Seaview”. We both laughed.

    Not laughing now.

  • tacapall

    Malcolm X eat your heart out, by any excuse necessary for these mobile bigots, if this was a protest about previous behaviour of Cliftonville fans then why all the flags and the same people who promote Ulster is British, so was Wilie Frazer offended all the way from his home in Armagh ?

  • stewart1

    ‘local residents were angry enough to take to the streets’

    Seems that most of 50 taking part were not from the area, so hardly residents!

    Willie Frazer & east Belfast ‘community worker’ Jim Wilson must have just happened to be passing when the protest took place!!

    UPC

    Looks like a flag protest, smells like a flag protest, probably was a flag protest
    http://presseye.com/media/gQi6OXIqVcjLv2IL_ZkpGA..a?ts=u_lyScn8z4t-R7E0W83yXg..a

  • Antain Mac Lochlainn

    “protestant streets”

    Jesus wept.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    If the Willie Frazer stalker team were doing their job correctly they would know that he was at City Hall when this all happened and only traveled up when someone rang him to tell him the PSNI had attacked women and children with rabid dogs. It’s all on his Facebook.

    stewart1: Seems that most of 50 taking part were not from the area, so hardly residents!

    Evidence please?

  • SK

    “The plan was not to stop the match but hold a white line protest.”

    _______

    Then why were they blocking the visitor’s turnstiles?

    Also, if it had nothing to do with the flag protests, why did Jim Wilson and Willie Frazer pop up out of nowhere?

    Loyalists never really had any legitimate grievances to start with. But after yesterday’s stunt, I would imagine that even the people who initially empathised with you are starting to see you for what they really are. They’re a mob.

    In fact, their principle achievement over the past few months has been to ensure that the terms “Loyalist” and “Spide” have become interchangeable. No surrender.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    SK: Then why were they blocking the visitor’s turnstiles?

    They weren’t. Stop telling blatant lies.

    Also, if it had nothing to do with the flag protests, why did Jim Wilson and Willie Frazer pop up out of nowhere?

    As explained above – they received phone calls explaining what was going on whilst at City Hall and traveled up.

  • tacapall

    The sad reality is that the PSNI continue to facilitate these flash mobs and in some cases actually are the ones who impede other members of the public from going about their business. UPCs excuse contradicts Crusaders own statement that residents were consulted along with the PSNI for weeks prior to the match taking place, it seems everyone apart from those taking part in the protest believe it was an attempt to not only disrupt Cliftonvilles title hopes but to encourage sectarian division and unrest. The more these protests continue the more it seems Catholic citizens have just as a legitimate right to block Orange marches as protestants have to march.

  • SK

    Reports of the incident make it clear that they were blocking the away team turnstiles.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/philip-murphy/northern-ireland-loyalists-against-football_b_2706461.html

    This was a white line protest attended by people waving union flags. Most prominent amongst the protestors, were two of the most high profile leaders of the recent flag ‘campaign’. Additionally, it was described as a flag protest in that well known republican propaganda outlet, the Belfast Newsletter.

    Of course it had nothing to with flags though.

  • tacapall

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/philip-murphy/northern-ireland-loyalists-against-football_b_2706461.html?

    “As the Cliftonville fans gathered on Skegoneill Avenue, from around 2pm, however, to make their way to Seaview, they found themselves halted, as a small group of protesters blocked the away fans’ turnstile at Crusaders’ Seaview headquarters. At present, their motives seem unsure, with initial murmurings prior to the game suggesting that local residents were concerned by the large crusade of Cliftonville fans in the area. Crues Chairman, Stephen Bell, had however worked tirelessly with local residents in the run-up to the fixture and seemed confident of an amicable solution, with some Crusaders fans agreeing to walk in solidarity with their Cliftonville counterparts.

    As it transpired, the protest, of around 50 people, blocked the supporters’ final destination, leaving the PSNI unable to guarantee supporter safety, ultimately resulting in the postponement of the match. The protest itself included leading flag protesters, Willie Frazer and Jim Wilson – Frazer, comes from South Armagh, over an hour’s drive away and Wilson is an East Belfast Community worker. Neither are local residents. Why they and some Union-flag clad comrades were present remains to be seen and demands the full scrutiny of the Northern Irish media. “

  • Blue Hammer

    Tacapall : “The more these protests continue the more it seems Catholic citizens have just as a legitimate right to block Orange marches as protestants have to march.”

    In a nutshell.

    These numpties suggesting that they should have a veto on who uses “protestant streets” when referring to a pretty much main road (or any road for that matter) defeat their very own argument for when the PC block them from what are perceived as “catholic” streets. Not big on irony, these guys.

  • Submariner

    “If the Willie Frazer stalker team were doing their job correctly they would know that he was at City Hall when this all happened and only traveled up when someone rang him to tell him the PSNI had attacked women and children with rabid dogs. It’s all on his Facebook”

    Oh FFS rabid dogs! And you wonder why people dont take you seriously.

  • SK

    There is also footage from the day that shows protestors off the road and being forced away from the entrance to some kind of property (the football grounds?) by PSNI:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Woodvale-defenders-of-union-flag-updater/421982474542286

    Scroll down to first video, marked Feb 17th, 1:17pm.

  • tacapall

    Agree with you Blue Hammer, it also reinforces the view that in a shared space there should be no flags or symbols that would be offensive to either side of the community. Armchair generals like Frazer, Bryson and Wilson will no doubt be falling over themselves screaming injustice and demanding action when the inevitable happens on the 12th July and lodges dont get moving out of Belfast. Its a forgone conclusion that wide scale protests will happen on that day just to remind Nationalists how uneven handed the PSNI are and how hypocritical Unionism really is.

  • Blue Hammer

    tacapall

    Some parts of unionism.

    On Saturday, the PSNI failed in their duty to allow several hundred, perhaps over a thousand ordinary football supporters, flags and all, to access a football match in which their team could have sewn up the league. They did so at the behest of around 50 protestors. The PSNI would have had my full support to arrest all 50 for attempting to provoke a breach of the peace.

    For the record, I am not “offended” by RoI flags. I just have no affinity to them. When DC or Cliftonville come to Windsor and bring those flags I don’t take offense, and I don’t have any issue with them bringing them. Their flag and their team is part of them so they can carry what they like. I have a wee Linfield flag in my back windscreen and it’s there when I cut through the Springfield Rd / Falls Road / Broadway to get to Windsor from the Shankill. If these oiks win on this issue, I’d fully expect that route to be closed to me forever.

    What happened on Saturday was 100% wrong. UPC, you can’t keep defending it.

  • tacapall

    I never really give a toss about the Union flag being flown at Belfast City hall as it means nothing to me but now that society has been exposed to the worst elements of loyalism I would object to its being put back up on a permanent basis. There really is no other way to think about why this protest at seaview took place other than those who organised it did so to create unrest and encourage division. I can understand the position the PSNI is in but they really are digging a hole for themselves come the marching season. Until they meet head on these flag protestors they will be viewed by the Nationalist community as unreformed RUC officers who rather than uphold the law are directly responsible for the breakdown of law and order.

  • Submariner

    If this wasnt a flag protest then why was convicted UVF sectarian murderer Jim Wilson and Loyalist terrorist supporter W

  • Keithbelfast

    One of the most frustrating things about what happened on Saturday was seeing the genuine efforts of the two clubs to sort this issue in partnership completely gazumped by people keen to do nothing but disrupt and divide.

    From Cliftonville FC before the game:

    “- Free buses will be provided to transport Cliftonville supporters not travelling by car or public transport and we would encourage fans to avail of this facility. One bus will leave from Cliftonville Street and the other from the Limestone Road/ Antrim Road junction. Both will depart at 2.15pm.”

    - In the event that any supporter or group of supporters wish to walk the game, there will be a single stewarded ‘walk down’ leaving from the top of Glandore Avenue at 2.15pm, when a group of Crusaders supporters in club colours will walk, in sport and in friendship, with their Cliftonville counterparts”

    - The Club would ask that those travelling by car observe the parking restrictions in operation at the bottom of Skegoneill Avenue.”

    And from Crusaders after the postponment:

    “Crusaders Football Club would like to thank the local residents of Skegoniel Avenue for the considerable engagement that has taken place since November to manage this match. We are disappointed that these efforts have been undermined. Together with Cliftonville Football Club, the IFA and PSNI a further statement will be issued in due course.”

  • Submariner

    If this wasnt a flag protest then why was convicted UVF sectarian murderer Jim Wilson and Loyalist terrorist supporter Willie Frazer who are leading lights for the Flag protesters present. PS i hope the tetanus jab didn’t hurt the Police dog too much(ill get me coat)

  • Submariner

    Why was i given a yellow card?

  • Submariner

    Keith Crusaders supporters deserve enormous credit for offering to walk with Cliftonville fans down skegoneill avenue. Their actions are in sharp contrast to those involved in the flag protest on the shore road.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Maybe Blue Hammer can confirm, do the Linfield fans going to Solitude RV at Ballysillan Leisure centre and get bussed down and back from Solitude???

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Blue Hammer:
    What happened on Saturday was 100% wrong. UPC, you can’t keep defending it.

    Perhaps you don’t suffer IRA chants from masked gangs outside your home and having your car wing mirrors knocked off a couple of times per season by Cliftonville skinheads?

  • BarneyT

    Submariner – On a football related thread do you really expect a card or two not to be shown :-)

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Submariner:
    If this wasnt a flag protest then why was convicted UVF sectarian murderer Jim Wilson…

    I’ve taken a screengrab of this comment and forwarded on to Jim.

    For your information he has NEVER been convicted of ANY crime.

    Good luck.

  • Keithbelfast

    ArdoyneUnionist: “Maybe Blue Hammer can confirm, do the Linfield fans going to Solitude RV at Ballysillan Leisure centre and get bussed down and back from Solitude???”

    Yes, they get given their tickets at Ballysillan just before the game.

    It would be a crying shame if the N Belfast derby was reduced to mandatory bussing – Solitude and Seaview are only seperated by 3 roads!

  • Dec

    ‘Maybe Blue Hammer can confirm, do the Linfield fans going to Solitude RV at Ballysillan Leisure centre and get bussed down and back from Solitude???

    A decision that has nothing to do with Cliftonville football club. For decades, Cliftonville had to walk across town to Windsor to play a home game every season. There weren’t too many complaints from Linfield then. For all the mayhem Reds fans are supposed to carry out on Skegoneil Avenue year on year, the best anyone can muster up is a handful of supporters singing songs on the way back up to Glandore. Like that doesn’t happen anywhere else on a Saturday.

    Anyway I must admitted I laughed out loud when I saw East Belfast’s own Jim ‘No outsiders’ Wilson lurching around outside Seaview on Saturday. Clearly irony is lost on him. What is more depressing is that the DUP lines up to blame Cliftonville fans and the PSNI rather than the puplicity seeking nihilists of the UPF and their coterie of ‘University of Life’ cannon fodder..

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Keithbelfast:It would be a crying shame if the N Belfast derby was reduced to mandatory bussing – Solitude and Seaview are only seperated by 3 roads!

    Perhaps a ban on Cliftonville skinheads traveling to away grounds in protestant areas for a season or two might knock some sense into them and put an end to their sectarian coat-trailing.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Dec, would the reds supporters be like palying a tune outside an empty building???

    Funny old thing offence. Here on Slugger it seems to be a one way street.

  • Submariner

    In 1983, Seymour and UVF battalion commander JOHN WILSON were convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment on the evidence of supergrass Joe Bennett.[4] Seymour was given a total of four life sentences for murder.[5] However, their convictions were overturned in the Appeal Court after the judge found Bennett’s testimony to have been “unbelievable”.[4] According to Bennett, the UVF had targeted Burns because they believed he was Gerry Adams’ second-in-command. Wilson had allegedly described the killing as a “good job well done” and then added “Gerry Adams will be next”.[4][6]

    Apologies i was getting him mixed up with this guy

  • tacapall

    UPC, only Cliftonville fans or anyone who engages in such behaviour ? Obviously then you can understand how Nationalist residents feel when Orangemen parade past their neighbourhoods with banners supporting terrorists who murdered people from the very area they wish to coat-trail past.

  • Obelisk

    “If the Willie Frazer stalker team were doing their job correctly they would know that he was at City Hall when this all happened and only traveled up when someone rang him to tell him the PSNI had attacked women and children with rabid dogs.”

    And you’ve crossed over into pure farce. Tell you what, I’ll be cross-community about it and put your commentary alongside Gerry’s spiel he had nothing to do with the IRA in terms of trusthworthiness.

    Tell us UPC, as others on this thread have pointed out, what will you do when Nationalists block “Catholic” roads (blessed by Priests every Sunday) during the marching season? What will you say then?

    WIll you play to type and damn yourself with hypocrisy, talking about the ‘Queen’s Highway’ and the right to march?

    Will you cheer when the PSNI baton charge those protestersm in the white nights of summer to clear them (something they’ll do in minutes, not weeks, I have no doubt, much to my sadness. I don’t support law breaking but it should be even handed in terms of treatment from the police. Dissidents waiting on the sidelines to spread poison after all)?

  • Blue Hammer

    ArdoyneUnionist
    Given the numbers involved, Linfield allocate their tickets for Solitude carefully. After nearly 25 years of not having any Linfield games at Solitude, managing our fans in and out using private buses is a sensible approach. Evidenced by the almost total lack of incident since we returned. In an ideal world I should be able to drive, park, watch and go home without incident, and I hope that day is not long off.

    UPC
    On that basis I’m sure you fully support the re-routing of Loyal Orders away from the likes of the Lower Ormeau. Can’t be nice for the people living near Sean Graham’s bookies having five fingers waved at them by the hangers-on, and indeed some marchers?
    If the Cliftonville supporters or anybody else commit criminal damage, video it, call the cops and let the law deal with them. If they spout pro-IRA bile, then suck it up – it’s not like loyalists don’t do the same from time to time. No-one lost their lives due to hearing gibberish. Turning large swathes of Belfast into no-go areas for either side is not the answer. Why not grow a pair and condemn the ghettoisation of Belfast?
    King William fought for civil and religious freedom for all, not just for those you agree with. They can sing all they like – it might not be pleasant but then sometimes life isn’t.

  • Dec

    AU

    So you accept that the accusations of violence and damage are unadulterated bullshit then? Good, that’s progress.
    I would condemn any fan who sings songs designed to antagoise residents but as someone who’ made that walk , the only sectarian abuse I’ve ever heard is from the local fishwives and bucketmouths who simply don’t like the idea of fenians passing their homes.

  • Otto

    My head gets sore when people start on game theory Mick but I think what you’re arguing is that Humeism has given us a sort of temporary equilibrium – balanced community power blocks, but that, as in WW1, a lack of sufficient conditions means the current state is unstable and doomed to collapse.

    It seems you can’t have stable detente based on separate spheres of influence if the demographics are shifting. Especially when the reds (or Greens) have started throwing their weight around in your hemisphere. What you have instead is widening domino theory paranoia and fears of commie agitators under the bed (or Yellow Traitors to the Ulster People in our case)

    It’s like Dr Strangelove with Willie as looney loose cannon Jack D Ripper and Nige as cynical Gen Turgidson – happy to let the situation play out so long as he can claim victory at the end (in this case through the widespread acceptance of the Arlene Doctrine – designated days everywhere).

  • iluvni

    “(let’s call them predominantly Blues and Glens supporters)”

    What a fucking stupid comment.
    Blues and Glens supporters were at The Oval.
    Fealty’s bigtory shines through with that one.

  • David Crookes

    Call me an eejit, but good may come out of this if enough Crusaders fans are prepared to walk down Skegoneill Avenue with the Cliftonville fans on the day of the rearranged match.

    Until I was twenty-three my whole family attended a gospel hall more or less across the road from Seaview. While our new hall was being built, Crusaders FC was kind enough to let the congregation meet on Sundays in their pavilion, which was always immaculately clean and well heated. I still have a warm affection for Crusaders.

    What were the unelected mobsters doing on the Shore Road on Saturday? Trying to start up the Troubles again. For his part the elected Mr Dodds is content to be the dog that refuses to bark in the night. Having given us a spectacular demonstration of his own wimpishness, he deserves never to be elected again.

    Let me repeat. It will represent a defeat for the forces of fascism if large numbers of Cliftonville and Crusaders fans meet at the top of Glandore before walking together down to Seaview. In fact, it will set an example to the whole country. Forget about peace rallies. Be there.

  • Otto

    “Blues and Glens supporters were at The Oval.”

    Seriously? Did you really miss that his point was that these “local people” were from EB?

    Who are you accusing him of being bigoted against?

  • Otto

    “Having given us a spectacular demonstration of his own wimpishness, he deserves never to be elected again.”

    Is he really wimpish David? Or is he an evil machiavellian opportunist :x

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Otto. A leader leads.

    When David Trimble helped to “win” the “siege” of Drumcree, he was following.

    Later on he really did try to lead, and was disappointed when the people whom he had once followed refused to follow his lead.

    If Mr Dodds loses an election after rebuking people who don’t believe in democracy, he will regain the honour which he lost on Saturday night.

    The trouble is that the archons have too much anarchy in their own hearts.

  • keano10

    The bottom line is that the “Flag Protest” has now become an absolute joke. They cant get even get enough people on a Saturday at City Hall to get off the footpath and onto the road. Several thousand people in The loyalist Braniel area yet recently only one lone protestor has turned up at the weekly protest. Bizarrely, Bryson and Fraser parade this guy around as if he is a hero, without realising the complete irony that he actually represents the almost total apathy among Loyalists to these protests.

    This is our equivalent of Monty Python on acid. Jamie Bryson on a “Mission from God” aka Elwood Blues. Willie “Horseburger” Fraser making even some of our historical nutters look positively sane. Jim “BNP” Dowson landing over every Saturday to chuck in a little Islamaphobia into the mix…

    This lot are The Keystone Cops without the brains. Giving them too much credit is an insult to the intelligence of all of us…

  • Submariner

    Interesting conversation on Jamie boys twitter on his differing views on Loyalist and republican terrorists.

  • stewart1

    PSNI explanation of events outside Seaview on Saturday:

    He said a 40 minute protest outside Seaview effectively prevented Cliftonville fans from entering the grounds safely.

    “The protestors were engaged with by local people, by people from the football clubs, they were asked to move back to facilitate. Those protestors refused to do that,” he explained.

    Police moved forward after three formal warnings were given to protestors

    “That soft line was met with violent resistance. It was met with people pushing back and an exchange of missiles with the police,” said Chief Supt Clarke.

  • David Crookes

    OK. But next time, whatever happens, those who want to attend the match should be able to do so without hindrance. The fascists must not be presented with another squalid victory.

    In the meantme, if DUP appeasers in Stormont cannot stand up robustly against lawless violence, they should resign. Let PR now declare that if one hundred thugs try to stop any football match in future, he will encourage the PSNI to arrest and charge ALL OF THEM.

    Is unionism dying before our eyes? Lawless mobs do as they please, and gutless ministers do nothing. If there was some great Machiavellian conspiracy to make unionism die from its own absurdity, it couldn’t be working better.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    David Crookes I would put good money on Robinson never uttering those words you suggested, as it’s not in his interesat [for his comfortable lifestyle sake] to do other than follow those voters. He Dodds Campbel, and McCausland are only intersted in their fat salaries, No risks will be taken on losing votes by bigots.To quote Leonard Cohen ‘Follow me the wise man said, but he walked behind’

  • sherdy

    Apparently a DUP councillor was injured during Saturday’s protest.
    If a DUP official was taking part in an illegal protest then Sinn Fein should consider this would have serious implications for the future of the Stormont assembly.
    At least if we follow Robbo’s statements concerning Sean Kelly last week.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Daniel.

    Everybody knows the fight was fixed;
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich —
    That’s how it goes,
    Everybody knows.
    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking,
    Everybody knows that the captain lied…..

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    That’s one of my favourite cohen songs on that 1989 album.
    He cuts through the humbug.There’ll be droves of disillusioned catholic PSNI officers leaving after this past month’s police facillitating lawlewssness when it’s their own lawbreakers they’re now dealing with. This place is going into reverse gear back to the old days.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Certain individuals are, once again, being economical with the truth.

    I’m informed that some supporters did indeed sing inappropriate republican songs in the Crusaders ground a while back – and that they stepped up and apologized for it. I had understood that the apology was accepted. This is fair play and I would expect the same in reverse – sometimes people are out of line. Compare with, for example, another incident where a group of people singing sectarian songs outside a church refused to apologize and tried to lie about it by saying it was a Beach Boys track. A simple admission of the problem and an apology would have gone a long way. But oh no, that couldn’t stand could it ?

    It is amusing to hear loyalists, the kind who think that the roads should always be accessible to marchers irrespective of the objections of residents, suggesting that people walking down Skegoneill Avenue should be stopped due to the disruption caused. Can you guys please at least get your story straight ? Should residents be able to ask that people passing through an area be stopped, or not ? Which is it ?

    Again my understanding is that the football club spent quite some time negotiating this matter with residents of the area – as is only fair and proper – to try to sort this problem out and Crusaders supporters offered to walk down the road with the Cliftonville supporters. This is all very constructive, positive stuff, as the presence of the Crusaders supporters would reassure both the Cliftonville supporters and the residents. However, the problem of damage to property near to football stadia and other big venues is a problem everywhere. The residents of the little streets around Croke Park are constantly complaining about this and the GAA have had to do a lot to try to placate them. The way to solve is is through people talking and the clubs working with residents groups. That is the way it is done everywhere else in the world.

    The protest on Saturday was nothing to do with the residents or their concerns. It was to do with a minority of knuckle dragging wankers who do not represent the community in Shore Road, who want to tear down the efforts of others to build bridges and create a family day out. They knew what would happen when they blocked that road – they wanted that match stopped.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Daniel. (They’re sentencing us to twenty years of boredom! First they take Aughafatten, then they take Magheralin. Leonard Cohen’s original scans better.)

    Yes. There had better be a PSNI kid-gloves policy for road-blockers in July.

    In moments of gloom I suspect that the #flegs leaders are trying to keep the pot simmering for the next four months, in the hope that it will boil over when the marching season gets under way.

    In similar moments I wonder if our unionist leaders (all of them) are happy to let the RoI hear a bit of pike-rattling, by way of threatening what will happen when fifty-per-cent-plus-one vote for a UI.

    Life can be an interesting game. The #flegs business has revealed that the Lodge of Unionist Integrity and Moral Righteousness is altogether evil. I could never have believed in November past how weak and hypocritical the ungenial members of that lodge would turn out to be.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Daniel:

    There’ll be droves of disillusioned catholic PSNI officers leaving after this past month’s police facillitating lawlewssness when it’s their own lawbreakers they’re now dealing with.

    What makes you think only Catholic PSNI officers are unhappy ? This lawless mob doesn’t discriminate, if you’re a police officer you are a target.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The other thought I would leave everyone with is this.

    A tiny minority of wankers were allowed to get out of control to the extent that a football match was cancelled. What happens when the protestors realize that they can do this on a national scale ?

  • babyface finlayson

    The flag protests are losing momentum and dropping off the news.
    As keano10 points out, even the big Saturday gatherings are dwindling.
    I guess they need high profile stunts like this to keep the momentum going.
    And no doubt hoping that the 2 sets of fans would become involved and start a major confrontation.
    Well done to the fans and clubs for their decent behaviour, which should shame these idiots.

  • David Crookes

    “Should residents be able to ask that people passing through an area be stopped, or not? Which is it?”

    Bravo, Comrade Stalin.

  • David Crookes

    “Well done to the fans and clubs for their decent behaviour, which should shame these idiots.”

    Agreed, babyface. Why are unionist leaders not pouring shame on the idiots?

    Are unionist leaders any better than the “tiny minority” that Comrade Stalin is talking about?

    They’re as much use as a jellyfish burger.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail danielsmoran

    CS 9.42. I didn’t suggest that only catholic officers would leave, just didn’t address the others, so you’re right to point that out. What kind of pictures are the world’s tv screens going to see coming out of here this summer. Arlene Foster must be tearing her hair out at the images cancelling out all her boasting about the tourist magnet we’re supposed to be. ‘Sour Time, Sour Place’ would be more accurate. .

  • David Crookes

    Agreed, Daniel. When Mrs Foster is sufficiently concerned about the damage that violent loyalism is doing to NI’s image, she will resign. Until she does so, she will remain part of the culpable unionist leadership. At present, as far as the public is concerned, she agrees with everything that Mr Dodds said on Saturday evening.

    A minister who resigned from the DUP as a matter of principle might bring a notable gravity to a new law-abiding pro-union party.

  • aquifer

    All credit to the sports fans for keeping out of it.

    Have we got a credible estimate of what this is costing yet?

    No point in Foster’s InvestNI pumping up tyres if Peter Robinson keeps slashing them.

  • BluesJazz

    “There’ll be droves of disillusioned catholic PSNI officers leaving “????

    Will there hell.

    Why leave a cushy job on £30k plus generous overtime to sit around doing nothing 90% of the day. It’s almost as good as the Fire Service. The Riot Squad officers are on huge money. Having a few spides shouting at you twice a year is no big deal. Though I suppose the effort in arresting drivers using bus lanes at 9.29 am is incredibly brave.
    A PSNI officer earns at least twice that of a frontline soldier in Afghanistan. The latter don’t get overtime.

    Get real. Those PSNI officers will be spending easter in Orlando with spending money to burn.
    Including the many officers who spend a lot of time in their Jeeps at Gibbs Island on Strangford Lough most weekends. To be fair to them they do give some of their takeaway food to collies.

  • http://bangordub.wordpress.com/ Bangordub

    Interesting to see two football clubs providing a greater degree of leadership and responsibility than certain elected representatives. That gives much hope for the path ahead

  • Submariner

    Whats wrong Blues Jazz did the PSNI turn you down?

  • Brandyballs

    Interesting to see two football clubs providing a greater degree of leadership and responsibility than certain elected representatives. That gives much hope for the path ahead

    Interesting yes, hopeful no!

  • keano10

    Seems that Willie Fraser is now publicly slagging off Crusaders officials who have criticised his role in Saturdays protest.

    Magnificent that Crusaders and Cliftonville Football Clubs (and their fans) have stood together against the flag loonies…

    North Belfast United.

  • BluesJazz

    Submariner
    relatives in PSNI (including previously RUC) and Army.

    The PSNI are effectively civil servants. And they carry that mentality with them, including generous sick leave, overtime entitlement, avoiding troublesome areas etc.

    The Army never had that luxury. But with nearly 5,000 squaddies in barracks here, wouldn’t it be cheaper to utilise them against all street protests here? It would cost nothing and the PSNI could get back to their onerous task of protecting bus lanes against use by errant motorists. A task they carry out with great enthusiasm.

    Well done to Crusaders and Cliftonville though. Raised my opinion of Irish league football immensely.

  • DC

    I was speaking to a guy on the shore road and he contends that the police were heavy handed but it does look like the match was called off on the basis of a number of protesters who could have been managed: left on street or else safely isolated away from both sets of fans looking in?

    Regardless, I think the game should’ve been played even if all cliftonville fans weren’t in the ground or the crues ones either.

  • Submariner

    The PSNI are effectively civil servants.
    1.Of course they are, they are there to serve the public. They are not an Army.

    And they carry that mentality with them, including generous sick leave, overtime entitlement, avoiding troublesome areas etc.
    2 Why shouldnt Police officers be entitled to overtime? If i work over my contracted hours I get paid O/T. What troublesome areas are they avoiding?

  • BluesJazz

    1. They are supported by the Army, albeit in a technical role. Though Army Technical Officers, like all squaddies don’t get overtime.
    2. See above. And they avoid South Armagh. Their presence in Lower Falls is armoured LandRover only.
    They rely on the army’s Special Reconnaisance Service in Tyrone and elsewhere.
    MI5 and MI6 are also civil servants. But they don’t spend all day feeding peoples dogs on Gibbs Island.

  • Submariner

    Squaddies I believe get 30 or 31 days pay each month regardless of whether they are working.
    Squaddies also have a final salary pension scheme which they contribute nothing toward,Cops i believe pay 11% per month.
    Squaddies also are paid extra money on deployment and other benefits for serving overseas such as extra leave and extra money
    They also get free mail and free travel warrants
    Squaddies also get full pay if they are sick.
    Cops do work in South armagh.
    There is an old Navy saying If you cant take a joke dont join.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Blue Hammer:
    UPC
    On that basis I’m sure you fully support the re-routing of Loyal Orders away from the likes of the Lower Ormeau. Can’t be nice for the people living near Sean Graham’s bookies having five fingers waved at them by the hangers-on, and indeed some marchers?
    If the Cliftonville supporters or anybody else commit criminal damage, video it, call the cops and let the law deal with them. If they spout pro-IRA bile, then suck it up – it’s not like loyalists don’t do the same from time to time. No-one lost their lives due to hearing gibberish. Turning large swathes of Belfast into no-go areas for either side is not the answer. Why not grow a pair and condemn the ghettoisation of Belfast?

    Are you trying to say that if the protestant residents of Skegoneill Avenue simply ignore IRA chants from a coat-trailing, rampaging mob of Cliftonville hooligans through their area that suddenly sectarian protests against church parades in places like Ardoyne, Lower Ormeau and Drumcree will stop and the Orange Order and Loyalist bands will be free to march their traditional routes?

    Give your head a shake, for goodness sake.

  • Blue Hammer

    UPC

    As a traditional unionist, I shake my head when I read the sectarian crap that is posted from time to time by those supporting the flag protests. Sometimes you do things because they are right, and you do not refuse to do them just because others in a similar position do the wrong thing.

    BTW, I note you didn’t answer my question as quoted in your last post. So I’ll ask again:

    Given the fact that residents in the Lower Ormeau have been subjected to vile abuse, mocking the victims of a loyalist sectarian atrocity, do you agree that they have similar rights as those residents of Skegoneill Avenue to prevent others from having the use of “their” road?

    Alternatively, please identify the difference. You can’t be selective – either residents can block road users they find offensive or they cannot.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Don’t hold your breath trying to get an answer out of UPC. He ignores the comments he can’t respond to and snips out only the bits he he feels he can rebut.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The comments from BlueJazz about the police being on some sort of gravy train are shameful considering that police are under constant threat and recently officers have died.

    keano10 – agreed with everything you have said. Worth adding that Mark Langhammer (Crues chairman) has a long record of distinguished service to the community in North Belfast and Newtownabbey. Great to see him call this what it was, as is his custom.

  • babyface finlayson

    UPC
    What do you think of the attempt by the 2 clubs to resolve the issues around this fixture,including the Cliftonville fans getting to the Shore Rd? Do you think they were wrong to make these cross community efforts?
    What do you think is the way forward? Negotiation involving clubs, supporters and residents, or street protests?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Blue Hammer: BTW, I note you didn’t answer my question as quoted in your last post. So I’ll ask again:

    Given the fact that residents in the Lower Ormeau have been subjected to vile abuse, mocking the victims of a loyalist sectarian atrocity, do you agree that they have similar rights as those residents of Skegoneill Avenue to prevent others from having the use of “their” road?

    Alternatively, please identify the difference. You can’t be selective – either residents can block road users they find offensive or they cannot.

    The two people involved in the Lower Ormeau incident were both expelled from the Orange Order so to make a valid comparison we would need to have seen Cliftonville ban these sectarian football hooligans from Solitude and warn them to leave the frightened protestants residents of Skegoneill Avenue alone. Instead we’ve had the usual ‘Who? Us?’ response which is quite common when one exposes Irish Nationalist bigotry in NI.

    When elderly protestant men are barred from making an annual Sunday morning procession to church or a war memorial by IRA supporting thugs in Lower Ormeau, Ardoyne or anywhere else – then I will oppose these same hoods when they invade protestant areas and attack homes, cars and taunt IRA victims about the terrorism they suffered for forty years.

    Show us respect and we’ll probably return the compliment.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    babyface finlayson: What do you think of the attempt by the 2 clubs to resolve the issues around this fixture,including the Cliftonville fans getting to the Shore Rd? Do you think they were wrong to make these cross community efforts?
    What do you think is the way forward? Negotiation involving clubs, supporters and residents, or street protests?

    I don’t think these fake attempts at ‘cross community efforts’ by Cliftonville FC can be taken seriously.

    Three months after the club’s fans sang sectarian songs during a Remembrance Sunday minutes silence not a single perpetrator has been identified and/or banned from the club’s home ground.

    http://www.u.tv/sport/Sectarian-songs-in-Solitude-silence/fbba46c3-95eb-42a7-943e-2227bd6e69e3

    They seem quick to point the finger at others, but refuse to deal with cretins in their own midst.

  • Blue Hammer

    UPC

    I don’t accept anyone’s right to prevent another person or group of persons from using the public highway.

    You have to have a view, without resorting to whataboutery, on whether it is acceptable for people to be allowed to decide who, if anyone, is allowed to walk down their street.

    Either it is or it isn’t. Personally I think it isn’t.

    But at least I am consistent. I think that Loyal Orders should be able to march where they wish on public highways. I also think that supporters of football teams should be able to attend matches at away grounds (by car/foot/bus/whatever) without seeking permission from anyone.

    As regards CFC’s fans’ chanting in November, you can’t force people who don’t respect our armed forces to do so. If CFC fans wish to disrespect the Remembrance Service just let them. Does it affect your personal act of silent remembrance? If so don’t let it. Do you wear an easter lily?

    If you could concentrate on yourself, and not focus on “themmuns” maybe there’d be a lot less bother.

  • babyface finlayson

    UPC
    “I don’t think these fake attempts at ‘cross community efforts’ by Cliftonville FC can be taken seriously”
    I am truly baffled as to what CFC could hope to gain by faking cross community efforts when genuine efforts are clearly more beneficial to all.
    And they certainly seem to have fooled everyone at Crusaders with their fake efforts.
    So do you think such negotiations are the way forward, rather than more street protests?
    How will protests help solve this problem?

  • David Crookes

    I give up. What about Clontarf?

    Maybe within the next month the Crues will put on a social night for Cliftonville supporters, and Cliftonville will reciprocate. Any sub-intelligent fascists who try to stop either event going ahead must be arrested and charged.

    I can understand why the PSNI are being careful. Fascism is a truthless cult of death which needs its own martyrology. Look at what we’ve had already. Police dogs become ‘rabid dogs’, and a 42-year old man who is arrested for rioting becomes ‘an elderly pensioner’.

    The link between the BNP and the #flegs rioters is not a complete triviality.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    David Crookes: The link between the BNP and the #flegs rioters is not a complete triviality.

    Please tell us more about this link.

    I’d like to know all about it.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, UPC. Try Mr James Dowson for a start, and please don’t tell me that he doesn’t count because his subscription has lapsed.

  • David Crookes

    Then copy and paste into Google:

    Former BNP man and Nick Griffin ex-crony Paul Golding flies to Belfast for loyalist flag protest

  • David Crookes

    From the BNP site:

    “Manchester, Salford, Tameside, Stockport, Burnley, St Helens and Liverpool British National Party Members and Organisers joined Irish Loyalists, and other Nationalist groups, in Manchester City Centre to show solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Belfast.

    “Many of the nationalists had been out week after week protesting over the decision to remove the Union flag from flying over the Town Hall.”

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Jim Dowson – the guy who spends every spare second he has ATTACKING the BNP and Nick Griffin?

  • David Crookes

    Undated story from the BNP site.

    “The newly invigorated Ulster branch of the British National Party was out on the streets of Belfast once again this past weekend gathering even more signatures for the “bring our troops home” campaign, reports Tom Gower, the BNP’s Subscriptions and Enquiries Secretary.

    “The campaign took place in two parts of East Belfast, including directly outside the Glentoran Football Club stadium,” Mr Gower said.

    “…..we decided to move into the heart of East Belfast where we collected over 300 signatures and were welcomed by locals with open arms,” me said.

    “Every person who passed us showed their support, with folk signing the petitions, taking leaflets and honking their horns, proving the BNP is very popular over here,” Mr Gower said.

    “For too long the likes of the DUP have let the people of Ulster down, as the last election results clearly show when many voters chose not to vote for them, resulting in their leader, Peter Robinson losing his East Belfast seat to some obscure party called the APNI.

    “Many people were surprised to see the BNP campaigning in Ulster, with many folk saying, ‘where have you been all this time’. It is clearly time for a new party here in Ulster, a truly British party with some backbone. That party has to be the BNP,” he said

  • David Crookes

    From the Channel Four news site, 6 January:

    Hope for progress as a result of the talks was thin on the ground on Sunday. Robin Newton of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said a lack of engagement from protest organisers was making it difficult to see an end to the unrest. “We have to find a way out of this, but how we do it I don’t know,” he said.

    A banner for the far right group Britain First, was reportedly attached to the railings at Belfast City Hall during the protest on Saturday. And Mr Newton, an east Belfast MLA, said the British National Party (BNP) and other far right groups had also been addressing recent rallies.

    Must be true, then.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    I don’t see any evidence of links between BNP and flag protest organisers in there.

    A few, very tenuous, clutching-at-straws attempts to back your incorrect assertion. That’s about the height of it.

  • FDM

    Most Cliftonville fans before the game saw this coming.

    The Reds support have been through this and worse before.

    They have been attacked with grenades at Windsor Park, molotov cocktails away to Ards and have been showered with anything that comes to hand at many of the other grounds, for instance Portadown.

    The Cliftonville supporters get the dirty end of the stick every time and they get on with it and are there for the team.

    Sickening to read some posters on here trying to explain that the Reds somehow deserved this. I would put the behaviour of the Cliftonville support against any other team in the Irish League and they will look like angels in comparison.

    The remberance day fiasco was the IFA playing politics. The fixture schedule could be arranged such that Cliftonville play Donegal Celtic on the weekend closest to remembrance Sunday. But no they schedule the game against Linfield at Solitude to put the club and supporters in a no-win situation. Ramming British symbols and support for the army down the throats of the fans. It is really just another facet of “poppy fascism”.

    The County Antrim Shield organisers were at this same nonsense when they forced a minutes silence for the convicted UVF loyalist terrorist David Irvine at the Oval before a Glentoran Cliftonville game. There were Reds men in the ground who had actually suffered directly from the vile murder campaign of the UVF. Yet they are supposed to stand in silence to honour him? Gut churning events. Stephen Nolan actually called Cliftonville fans “animals” on air because some of the Reds vocally showed their disapproval of this mans contribution to the murders and attrocities committed by the UVF. It shines a light into Mr. Nolans views on our troubled past and present. You can take the boy out of the Shankill but not the Shankill out of the boy it seems.

    A few of the residents just don’t like the idea of Catholics walking through their turf and so target the Cliftonville support. I think others just didn’t like the idea of the Cliftonville side walking down to Seaview to pick up 3 points and the league title on Saturday. The Crues team were a bit depleted for that Saturday, 3 players out on suspension and their best striker injured [McCutcheon] , and I think this was part of the decision making by some to stop the game. It was basically a nakedly sectarian action to attack what they see as a Catholic football side. They see Catholic symbols and structures and attack. Think Holy Cross with footballs. Same same.

    There is a precedent for this in the Irish League. The Reds were prevented from playing at home against Linfield for over 30 years because of trouble at Solitude in a game in which Cliftonville weren’t even playing in. The IFA subsequently forced the Reds to play Linfield home and away at Windsor Park. The violence that caused the change was nothing to do with Cliftonville but they were disadvantaged because of it. The reality is that if Cliftonville are simply not able to get access to Seaview then the games will have to be played at Solitude. Can’t see the flag protestors getting a free ride on the Cliftonville Road outside Solitude. It is tough on the Crues, but hey it is their community that is causing the problem. However the IFA won’t follow this precedent because as an organisation they have a long history of doing their best to disadvantage Cliftonville FC.

    The police should have beaten the 50 off the streets into the wagons and offered each and every one of them up for prosecution. The PSNI have by their own double standard on the policing of these protests demonstrated that their raison d’etre is to police the Catholic community.

  • David Crookes

    UPC, I’m going to stop now, because you change the text with mercurial caprice as you go along. No one mentioned links between the BNP and flags protest organizers.

    FDM, I agree with you 100% that all fifty of the troublemakers should have been arrested and charged. Can anything be done to bring two lots of supporters together before the rearranged match?

    If we don’t defeat the fascists, they will defeat us.

  • FDM

    @David Crookes

    “FDM, I agree with you 100% that all fifty of the troublemakers should have been arrested and charged. Can anything be done to bring two lots of supporters together before the rearranged match?”

    I don’t think it will make any difference. The Clubs before the game two positive jointly agreed measures to calm events and it made no difference at all. Additionally I think it would put the Crues supporters who assisted potentially in difficult positions without their own communities. The flag protests are being stage managed by loyalist paramilitaries and anyone of these fans could quite readily be targeted.

    “If we don’t defeat the fascists, they will defeat us.”

    It really is very simple, the police need to enforce the law.

  • David Crookes

    “It really is very simple, the police need to enforce the law.”

    Right, FDM. It’ll help if our senior politicians back up the police by condemning the lawbreakers before, during, and after their next breach of the law.

    Quare chance.