Flying the flag for the last time…

A NEW protocol agreed by the police, Housing Executive and other authorities aims to tackle the controversial issue of flags in Northern Ireland, particularly paramilitary flags and emblems.

The PSNI said:

“The main aim is to work proactively, with communities, to address the removal of flags and emblems from arterial routes and town centres and the removal of all paramilitary flags and displays. It also seeks to control displays of flags and emblems in particular areas – for example, interfaces, places of worship, schools and hospitals.

The protocol also states that a popular flag flying should also be limited to particular times and dates and flags displayed for cultural festivals should be time bounded.

A cynical Newton Emerson ponders how our ‘community representatives’ will view this ‘partnership’ approach:

Mostly though I just want the authorities to beg. I want them to come down here to my little street, summon as witnesses all of my neighbours, get down on their knees in the gutter before me and plead for my kindly cooperation.

The SDLP’s Dolores Kelly states the obvious when she says that the new scheme to tackle the flying of paramilitary flags in public areas will make little difference unless the political will is there to support it.

She is spot on – there has been little effort made to deal with this issue in the past. Complaints about paramilitary flags and emblems have mostly led to a buck-passing exercise between different agencies, none of whom want to do anything.

However, Dolores seems to be confusing the new protocol with the “legislation” she refers to – the Terrorism Act (2000). The legislation was not specifically designed to deal with paramilitary flags, but the law’s reference to soliciting support for a terrorist organisation was successfully tested in court last year.

It could be argued that even the creative use of the Terrorism Act is using a legal sledgehammer to crack a nut. More specific legislation may ultimately be necessary if the new protocol fails to produce results, as the current law has more loopholes that your granny’s knitting when applied to many of the flags and emblems that do not easily fall into the ‘paramilitary’ category.

The new protocol follows research done by the Irish Institute at Queen’s University, Belfast. There’s an executive summary here and the full report is here. This thinking was reflected in the new Government policy of ‘A Shared Future’.

The Irish News cautiously welcomed the new protocol in its leader column:

Yesterday the police, the Housing Executive and four government departments launched such a joint protocol on the flying of flags.

The aim is to work with community organisations to take down paramilitary displays; remove flags from arterial routes and town centres; control displays in particular areas, such as at interfaces or near public buildings; and limit flag-flying to particular times.

This would not solve the problem. As one astute community worker pointed out, it could be seen as freeing the middle class from experiencing unsightly flags while leaving the poor confined to ghettoised neighbourhoods to face them still.

But it would represent a clear step towards a more normal society.

Interestingly for a nationalist newspaper, the same editorial also suggested a new flag – or “regional emblem” as the leader column euphemistically puts it – for Northern Ireland, an Alliance policy, which the BBC covered a couple of years ago:

A forward-looking solution would be a new regional emblem for Northern Ireland.

The assembly had no difficulty agreeing on its flax-flowers logo and all departments now use another based on the Giant’s Causeway.

Such a flag could be flown alone, or alongside the Tricolour and the Union flag – but only if both were flown – or along with the European Union emblem.

Now that would be a positive statement about who we are.

Yesterday, the Republic’s minister for foreign affairs, Dermot Ahern, said it was time to move beyond ‘the comfortable dichotomies of British versus Irish, unionist versus nationalist’ which deepen division.

This would be a good start.

  • franc

    Does this mean that flags should not be flown at interface areas at all,or for limited periods,or is it a question of both communities agreeing?

  • Gonzo

    franc

    It will probably depend on whether the ‘community representatives’ of the area genuinely want to bring them down or not. Every area will likely have its own unique circumstances, and I am neither defending the policy or promoting it until I see it operate in practice. There is a good reason for Newt’s cynicism.

    There seems to be some provision within the policy for flexibility on certain celebrations.

    I’m opposed to any flags at interfaces, as the reason they’re there is obvious – to piss off ‘themmuns’.

    It’s the one thing that local flag flyers and dogs have in common – they both mark out territory by marking lampposts.

  • Davros

    Gonzo – the territorial marking is more complex than just to ‘piss off “themmuns” ‘, although that is a big part of it.

  • Gonzo

    Point taken, but if we are discussing paramilitary flags, I say that’s not a tradition worth preserving.

  • iluvni

    does this protocol by any chance cover the removal of pathetic paramilitary murals as well?…just viewed the new one on the O’Neill Rd where the RHD have a charming one painted on the side of newly renovated HE properties…incredibly in 2005 these deep thinkers have re-introduced ‘Irish Out’ to their hate-filled sloganeering.

  • Davros

    I agree Gonzo, I don’t like them at all. And it get’s even more complicated when it comes to murals.

  • franc

    There have been some moves from within communities to change the nature of mural painting away from ‘masked men’ to other issues,but i suppose it depends on your own personal preference,if you have one at all.

  • IJP

    You cannot seriously attempt to impose a blanket ban on national flags. I was in South Armagh today and the place was covered with them, but firstly: a) who’s going to remove them? and b) frankly, what harm were they doing?

    However, paramilitary flags are a different matter altogether. They cause all-round offence, they are not consistent with democratic process, and they ruin villages and estates across NI.

    Two things are required:
    1. Proper application of planning laws to have such flags removed from public property.
    2. Removal of all paramilitary flags or flags containing the name or abbreviation of a paramilitary group from all parades without exception.

  • Davros

    Ian- how do we get round the appropriation of national flags by paramilitary groupings which has led to a blurring of your distinction ?

  • foreign correspondent

    One flag I would like to see more of in Northern Ireland is the E.U. flag but what are the chances of that? I think it’s conspicuous by its absence in a place that loves flags and emblems so much. I consider it our real national flag, in Ireland north and south, and in the rest of the Union, although of course that’s a whole other debate…

  • pakman

    foreign correspondent

    let’s so not go there!

  • foreign correspondent

    Well, the European flag is neutral, isn’t it? It’s flown in many places in the Republic, in France, in Spain etc. Why not make more use of it, and at the same time promote the idea of the European Union?

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Because the EU is an embarrassment. Next.

    ” b) frankly, what harm were they doing?”

    Well since they’re clearly to, among other things, mark out territory as ‘belonging’ to one side or the other, it probably wouldn’t help encourage mixed housing. Removal of said flags is hardly a panacea for it, but it’s definitely a pre-requisite.

  • PatMcLarnon

    The protocol seems a good idea, time frames on flags going up and removed etc. It should be remembered that although many unionists would refer to the national flag as a paramilitary flag (it is put on IRA coffins etc etc) out and out paramilitary flags, showing support and marking the territory of paramilitary groups is exclusively loyalist.

  • foreign correspondent

    The European Union is not an embarrassment; it is the future, for the whole island of Ireland.
    Northern Ireland has been an embarrassment for the past decades; no, with several thousand murders in a population of one and a half million, more than that-a crying shame.
    The E.U. is a TRULY culturally diverse political entity, which is what N.I. people want to belong to-don’t they ?

  • IJP

    Davros

    In my opinion I refer you to Point 1.

    We also need more responsibility on the matter from civic leaders. In the past, Nationalists in Dunloy and (independent) Unionists in my own village of Groomsport have shown the way by arguing sensibly that a flag on every pole is offensive to all sides, as it shows a lack of confidence in one’s own national identity.

    My point is there should be no ‘blanket ban’ on national flags, as people would just flout it even more and they are, after all, national flags. I know a delightful wee man in a council house down the road who flies the Union Flag in July in memory of the Somme. Nothing wrong with that. But there’s everything wrong with the Union Flag placed only a few hundred metres from him for three years running in the mid 90s on a lamppost deliberately outside a the home of a Catholic neighbour of his.

    So again, it’s about responsibility and about sensible application of the law.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    The EU as a concept was good, in practice, the institutions and the road it has taken are a joke (much like Northern Ireland but at least there are people trying to fix NI). It may be interesting though, what’s the chances of unionists and nationalists uniting in their distaste for the EU’s political direction?

    I think the policy of flying only national flags only on specific significant dates is spot on. Unfortunately I don’t hold my breath on the success of implementing said policy.

  • fair_deal

    “it shows a lack of confidence in one’s own national identity.”

    This is nonsense. I have never understood why to display a national symbols must automatically be a sign of a lack of confidence. If true then the USofA must be about to collapse entirely judging from the last time I was out there.

    It is also an attemtp to neuter and only allow expressions of identity that are that the chattering classes consider ‘safe’. I do not want communities identities and expressions to be regulated by the Alliance Party thank you very much. The goal should be acceptance.

  • slackjaw

    “it shows a lack of confidence in one’s own national identity.”

    Maybe it also shows a lack of meaningful national identity. If you see flying a flag as a fundamental component of your sense of Britishness or Irishness, there can’t be much more to it, can there?

    Perhaps the flying of flags is another Northern Ireland instance of the narcissism of minor difference.

  • foreign correspondent

    Beano
    you are probably right that a lot of N.I politicians could be united in indifference/opposition to or downright ignorance of the E.U. Maybe that’s more indicative of their own parochial nature than anything else…
    Vive L’Europe!

  • swadboy

    The thing that gets me about the whole flag flying business is that according to those who fly them “they are a mark of respect and a celebration of our culture Nationalist/Unionist”
    Well as far as Im aware a flag should never be flown at night as doing so is seriously disrespectful or if in less than pristine condition not flown at all! Check out this link http://www.unitedflags.co.uk/flagetiquette.htm

    and the following
    (a) If flying the flag from a building, the Union flag should be hoisted first and taken down last at the end of the day.
    (b) A flag should never be allowed to drag along the ground.
    (c) A tattered or faded flag should be removed and replaced.
    (d) A national flag should never be flown above another National flag on the same pole. This implies superiority/inferiority.
    (e) A guide to the order of precedence of more than one flag should be as follows:
    (1) Union flag
    (2) Any other National flag
    (3) Flag of Europe
    (4) Flag of England/Scotland/Wales
    (5) Regional/City/County flag
    (6) Corporate/House/Club/School/Organisation flag

    Where there are two or more flagpoles next to each other, the home national flag should be flown from the flagpole on the left when facing a building. In the event one flagpole is taller than the other, the home National flag should be flown from the tallest.

    The ironic thing is that the majority of flags flown in NI are not displayed in the correct fashion and are in fact disrespecting what they stand for!

  • yerman

    Did no-one see the flag designed by the greatest brain of the UUP; Billy Armstrong? – I remember seeing it on his website at the time…. he must have sharpened his crayons that day!

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    yerman:

    Have you any info on the flag you’re talking about? Just asking cuz I’d like to see a new NI flag myself and would be interested in the design and/or the philosophy behind it.

  • yerman

    Beano,
    I’ll have to try to dig it out – not sure if i saved Billy’s attempt at colouring in that day.

    I’ll not even mention as to what the UUP’s position is on flags if their Assembly Members are designing new ones…

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    “just viewed the new one on the O’Neill Rd where the RHD have a charming one painted on the side of newly renovated HE properties…incredibly in 2005 these deep thinkers have re-introduced ‘Irish Out’ to their hate-filled sloganeering.”

    The same enlightened people had a Good Riddance type message to the pope on Sunday (can’t remember the exact words) with a crude drawing of a gravestone with “RIP JP2” beside it. I couldn’t even think of the words to describe it I was so embarrassed.

  • Alan McDonald

    Fair Deal,

    As someone who has lived in the USA for over 55 years, I can bear witness to the latest proliferation of the Stars and Stripes. It happened the day after September 11, 2001. It was a knee-jerk reaction based on fear and anger. At work, every cubicle was expected to sport a tiny flag at the entrance.

    I think most Americans felt that our nation had been attacked, as it was on December 7, 1941, and that we must show solidarity in the face of the enemy. I wonder how the people of Britain reacted to the April 24, 1993 bomb in the City of London.

  • Occasional Commenter

    foreign correspondent, the EU flag is not a neutral flag. It’s a partisan flag, it’s just partisan in a debate other than the usual NI debate.

    Just because something is probably part of our future doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be criticised or even resented by some.

    Many of those who want the EU to change direction and concentrate on free trade and other sensible cooperation between neighbours are not doing so from a position of ignorance.

    How many of those who support the EU constitution, and all the other power grabs by the EU elite, know what they are talking about? I apologise for going off on a tangent, but throwing about accusations of ignorance is not a substitute for discussing the issue itself.

    I am not a nationalist (notice the small n) in any group (Irish, Ulster, British or whatever) and I will not give loyalty, respect or admiration to any state or superstate unless and until it proves it deserves it. The EU has to be rolled back a little and reformed a lot before it claims more powers for itself. The same goes for the UN.

  • fair_deal

    I have visited the USA on four occassions – 3 were prior to 9/11. There was never a shortage of American flags on display

  • Circles

    OC – getting a little carried away surely by bringing the UN into what was a fairly well judged (IMO) post on the EU. There is absolutely no comparison at all there, and in fact the reference to the UN in a “superstate” paragraph reminded me of those US milita men who see a papish/jewish/commie plot for world domination hiding in Kofi Annans beard.

    Why can’t people fly their flags indoors anyway?

  • Alan McDonald

    I can’t compare flag flying in the USA to Northern Ireland or the rest of the UK, but I can tell you that there was a quantum leap in flag display after 9/11.

  • Alan McDonald

    For an interesting story about flags from one American town (Naples, Florida) see Conflict with Iraq: Flag sales don’t match post-9/11 rush. As a footnote, after we invaded Iraq, people added “Support Our Troops” magnetic ribbons to the backs of their cars.

  • foreign correspondent

    OC:

    Of course the E.U. is not above criticism and many of those who criticize it do not do so from a position of ignorance. I was referring to the comment that N.I. politicians could be unified in opposition to the E.U. I think they, on the whole, are pretty ignorant about this important issue.
    My own opinion that the European Union, the euro, and ever greating pooling of sovereignty across our continent are all good things.
    But if the majority of people in N.I. and the U.K. don’t want that they should leave the Union.
    While they are still in it, I consider the European flag a viable alternative to other flags in places like N.I. or the Basque Country…

  • Occasional Commenter

    Circles, I’m not saying there is a comparison between any of EU, UN or nation states. I’m just saying that any body claiming any jurisdiction should try to achieve a good track record first, rather than reaching for vague principles and promises to justify their power grab.

    I don’t suspect any papish/jewish/commie plot in the UN or EU.

    Again, you are trying to fit me into a stereotype that just doesn’t work. I’m not a nationalist of any kind, and do not suspect a big plot. I simply want to withhold my support from any organisation until it has a good track record, and without ignorant people trying (and failing) to pigeonhole me into a stereotype that suits them.

  • Occasional Commenter

    I went over the top insinuating that Circles was ignorant and/or attempting to prejudge my opinions. Sorry. I think I’ll reread my comments so far before posting again.

  • Occasional Commenter

    Why should the UK leave the EU because it doesn’t want to take the euro as it’s currency? If some EU members want to change the rules (whether it be ratifying the Constitution or forcing the euro) then it’s up to them to convince the UK of the reason for change. The EU will stay as it is until all countries agree a change, which is as it should be.

  • foreign correspondent

    I think that countries unwilling to accept the essential aspects of the European Union, and monetary union is one of the most essential, should leave. I don’t wish the U.K. to leave but I think that would be inevitable in the longterm.

    Anyway I have been enlightened by the information that the E.U. elite is on a powergrab (OC) and that the European Union is a joke (Beano). Maybe you’re right, guys, we should keep those dodgy continental types at arm’s length. After all, we do such a wonderful job of running our own affairs in ‘Norn Iron’-don’t we 🙂 ???

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I’ve said above, NI has been a joke too, but there are people in NI trying to change it for the better. In the EU these people are called obstructionists, “little (insert country here)-ers”, or worse.

    When the UK joined the EU it was an economic community to promote free trade, more or less, was it not? Lately it’s turned into an unaccountable dictatorship controlled by the interests of the larger continental countries.

    Wider, not deeper.

  • PS

    On the subject of flags, there are two points which must be emphasised

    a. Flying a national flag is acceptable

    b. Flying a national flag to annoy neighbours as a show of “strength” is not acceptable. Flags should not be flown when their only purpose is in making others feel uncomfortable.

    I hate seeing the tricolour flying from lamposts. I think it is disrespectful. I enjoyed the colour over the Easter period (the remnants of which you probably saw in SOuth Armagh IJP), however for the most of the year I would prefer to see just one flag in each Republican area, flown from a proper mast in a suitable location.

  • PS

    Beano

    The EU has in many ways become more accountable in the last number of years. Certainly the parliament, the only directly elected EU body, has a much greater say in much of the legislation than it previously had.

  • Occasional Commenter

    Why do you say monetary union is an essential aspect of the EU? Are you alleging that the UK is breaching a treaty obligation it has signed up to? That’s news to me. I look forward to your link to the relevant treaty text.

    Interestingly, as far as I know Sweden did agree to take the euro, and has been allowed to ignore that.

    The rest of the EU members clearly don’t think it’s that important, otherwise they would have insisted on it being in the earlier treaties like Masstricht and Nice, and would call Sweden to account for it’s breach.

    Just because Norn Iron hasn’t done a great job of governing itself, it doesn’t mean we should automatically fall in love with the EU. Anyone could just as easily substitute Dublin or Washington in place of the EU, because you claim that anyone would be better than NI governing itself.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    I’d say for most of the year even national flags shouldn’t be flown on public property (be that lamp-posts or communal greenland or whatever) at all unless it is on government property eg council buildings. Even there my preference would be for a (new) NI flag.

    Easter/July fair enough.

  • Occasional Commenter

    I don’t mind seeing the odd flag of any kind here and there. Flying huge numbers of flags close together just looks tacky, as well as the fact that it would be seen as intimidatory et cetera.

  • Alan McDonald

    Question for you EU knowledgeable folks from this American. How did it happen that “President Mugabe side-stepped a European Union travel ban to attend the service in Rome.” This story is at Charles shakes hands with Mugabe.

  • PS

    The Vatican City is a soverign state and not part of the EU.

  • Alan McDonald

    Thanks, PS

  • Occasional Commenter

    Alan, The Vatican has a deal with Italy (and presumably the EU) that Italy must give way to anybody that the Vatican wishes to allow in. Vatican City doesn’t have an airport of it’s own so visitors must go through Italy.

    It wouldn’t be very nice if Italy could blockade the world’s smallest state and not allow anybody in!

  • Alan McDonald

    Thanks, OC

  • IJP

    fair_deal and Alan

    There is a direct correlation between what I and Alan posted earlier.

    The growth of US flags was a response to a new era of uncertainty. People felt the need to express their national identity much more after they had been attacked. Similar does, in fact, apply in NI.

    I have no objection to three Union Flags being flown in Groomsport (as is the case), in fact I quite like it. What I objected to was Union Flags flying off every lamp post. There is nothing about that to be ‘acceptable’, it is straightforward naked sectarian bigotry and a divisive abuse of a flag which I, with many others, cherish. People who abuse the Union Flag in this way are not British in any remotely positive sense. (Feel free to replace with [Tricolour] and [Irish].)

    Finally, this is nothing to do with regulation by the Alliance Party, and everything to do with application of the rule of law. You know, that thing Unionists claim to support…

  • A

    Thanks, IJP, for understanding that I was agreeing with your concern about misuse of national flags.

    BTW, I don’t remember if I saw you weigh in (on another thread) as to whether Alliance is a unionist party or not. As an American with only 2 parties, it is really hard to keep this all straight.

  • Alan McDonald

    Thanks, IJP, for understanding that I was agreeing with your concern about misuse of national flags.

    BTW, I don’t remember if I saw you weigh in (on another thread) as to whether Alliance is a unionist party or not. As an American with only 2 parties, it is really hard to keep this all straight.

  • fair_deal

    IJP

    As I pointed out to Alan falgflying was common in the USA before 9/11.

    “There is nothing about that to be ‘acceptable’, it is straightforward naked sectarian bigotry and a divisive abuse of a flag which I, with many others, cherish. People who abuse the Union Flag in this way are not British in any remotely positive sense. (Feel free to replace with [Tricolour] and [Irish].)”

    This is your subjective opinion about what the motivations are for displaying the symbols. You fall into the trap of automatically seeing a form of expression as having a negative conitation and also singular in its motivation. When it can be positively motivated, negatively motivated or a mixture of both.

  • Occasional Commenter

    Alan, Alliance isn’t officially a unionist party. It claims to be a cross community party. However, many accuse it of a unionist bias.

    I forget the details, but it agreed to redesignate itself as unionist to make the numbers add up in the Assembly. I think it was because some of the Ulster Unionists withdrew their support for the Executive.

    I think this was a pretty silly thing for it to agree to do politically, even though the aim was simply to keep the Assembly and Executive going.

  • Occasional Commenter

    Alan, more info on the Alliance Party. No mention of the unionist redesignation there, but here’s a old BBC story on it.

  • franc

    Will the new protocol and those implementing it have any powers to remove flags from private homes,if there are complaints from residents within a particular area

  • fair_deal

    As far as I can make out ‘No’ and what sort of police state do you want to live in?

  • Circles

    OC – no offense taken!

  • franc

    I certainly don’t want to live in a police state,again.

    I’m just trying to get an idea of the potential powers and the remit of the organisations involved.

  • Gonzo

    You cannot seriously attempt to impose a blanket ban on national flags.

    Who did? It’s certainly not in anything I’ve written in my post or in any of the links.

  • Gonzo

    I called up to Stormont today to do some filming and had the unexpected sight of the Union flag (*2) flying over Parliament Buidings. This now only happens 17 times a year (the official compromise!), but it’s probably the first time I’ve seen them fly at half-mast.

    Does anyone know if today was a ‘designated day’ in the legislation? I was wondering which Royal’s birthday it was, until I noticed the flags at half mast, and thought it might have been a unilateral gesture of sympathy. Someone else can check it out… (hint, hint!)

    Oh man, I was about to fly off the handle at the start of this thread, cos I thought I was seeing people deliberately start to misrepresent everyone else… but the further I read, the more I saw coherent views coming across – for the first time ever in a thread about flags on any message board, possibly ever.

    So thanks. I don’t agree with everyone here obviously, but, beano and Occasional Commentator, for example, made a useful contribution. Even though I might not agree 100%.

    I would also suggest we be more categoric in our definitions of ‘flags’ and emblems or murals to discuss the issue properly, as it’s easy to muddy the waters accidentally. National and non-national flags. Paramilitary flags. Commemorative flags of historic events. Political or sectarian. Flags on public property, or on private property.

    But I’d really like to know what everyone thinks about a regional flag for NI, as suggested by the Irish News and Alliance. Strange bedfellows? Genuinely curious. Could there be an unofficially adopted flag?

    There are a couple of design suggestions in the links in the blog post at the top. Realistic or idealistic? After all, it didn’t take the last Assembly long to agree the concept of flax flowers for the parliamentary symbol… a good omen, or a necessary convenience?

  • IJP

    Alan

    I wouldn’t want to take this thread off on some tangent, but I’m not sure Occasional Commenter‘s response to your question is fair.

    I forget the details, but it [Alliance] agreed to redesignate itself as unionist to make the numbers add up in the Assembly. I think it was because some of the Ulster Unionists withdrew their support for the Executive.

    This is not correct.

    Initially Alliance members did not agree to redesignate. In response to assurances that the designation issue would be looked at seriously, Alliance members then redesignated both ways, some Unionist, some Nationalist. No Ulster Unionists that had not already withdrawn their support subsequently withdrew it.

    If you define a Unionist as someone who places maintenance of the Union with GB ahead of any other political objective and a Nationalist as someone who places the unity of Ireland ahead of any other political objective, Alliance is neither. Alliance places the establishment of democracy in our region (necessarily accompanied by fair inclusive representation, respect for the rule of law, and acceptance of each other’s legitimate national/religious affiliation) ahead of any political objective. It welcomes all people – British, Irish, both and neither – who share that as their prime political objective.

    fair_deal

    If someone comes from outside a village and places Union Flags on every other lamp post, you and I know fine rightly what the motivation is.

    You talk about ‘acceptance’. I personally am British and I expect people to ‘accept’ that. I ‘accept’ that a significant minority in our region aren’t. I ‘accept’ that placement of Union Flags on every lamp post is a deliberately exclusive and indeed provocative act. I ‘accept’ that that is not conducive to the aforementioned establishment of democracy.

  • IJP

    Gonzo

    I never said you did propose a blanket ban on national flags. I’ve had several people suggest it to me, though. I can understand why, but I disagree for aforementioned reasons.

  • fair_deal

    “If someone comes from outside a village and places Union Flags on every other lamp post, you and I know fine rightly what the motivation is.”

    Do you know them? Did you ask? Or are you trying to weasel out of the fact you have jumped to an assumption, valid or invalid? Or do you keep to the myopic view that if anyone from whatever background expresses themselves in NI in a public place then it must be for negative reasons?

    “not conducive to the aforementioned establishment of democracy.”

    If freedom of expression is not conducive then it is not democracy we are heading for.

  • Vespasian

    Allan McDonald

    Alliance is a ‘unionist’ party but not a ‘Unionist’ i.e it supports the United Kingdom but its support is not based on any sectarian or ‘loyalist’ priciples.

    This would mirror the UK Conservative and Liberal Democrat Party positions.

  • Occasional Commenter

    Thanks IJP, I didn’t know that some Alliance members had redesignated as Nationalist. I think it was reported as Unionist only by the media.

    Was I right in thinking that they were asked to redesignate because some UU members had withdrawn support for the Executive?

    Also, In my original post, I should have added that I don’t believe the accusations of Unionist bias myself.