Going gaa-gaa over flags…

I wonder if the Irish News had discovered what the mysterious flags erected on the Ormeau Road were a day earlier would this riot have happened?! During the trouble, loyalists threw petrol bombs into the police car park opposite Donegal Pass PSNI station.

  • Denny Boy

    Not for the first time I’m left thinking: What are flags for?
    Do we need them?

    Isn’t a flag simply a hangover from the colours carried by armies into battle? I wonder if we really need to make such militaristic emblems, even in sport.

    Would anybody’s life be the emptier were ALL flags done away with? Honestly now.

  • DaithiO

    Perhaps the 5 “controversial” flags were a flag for each of the 4 provinces of Ireland and the national flag.

    Hardly paramilitary, and surely not enough to justify such disorder !

  • fair_deal

    The flags are in the colours of the local GAA team St Malachy’s – Black and Gold.

  • Denny Boy

    DaithiO and fair_deal

    Isn’t this the problem? ANY flag is certain to annoy somebody, rightly or wrongly. We don’t need them but we do need harmony.

  • fair_deal

    Denny boy

    Harmony can be achieved in two ways – hiding differences or accepting differences. Roll on acceptance.

  • Ricardo

    Are St Malachy’s in a cup final or what? The flags are all over the place round here, why did they just appear overnight?

  • fair_deal

    They are in a final

  • Ricardo

    Well good luck to them. It’s a shame that the flags provoked the disturbances last night. In rural areas villages and the like would be festooned in colours if the GAA team was in a final, so it’s a pity that urban ones can’t do likewise.

  • Denny Boy

    fair_deal

    “Harmony can be achieved in two ways – hiding differences or accepting differences. Roll on acceptance.”

    Amen. But in all likelihood we’ll both be a long time in our graves before nationalists are happy with Union Jacks and unionists with Tricolours. So unless we really, really need both, why not suspend the flying of the damn things?

  • fair_deal

    Denny

    Flags are a symptom. We don’t get on and we like finding ways not to get on. If flags went we’d find something else.

  • fair_deal

    PS

    Sorry to be pernickety but it is Union flags not Union Jacks (for some reason that always grates me)

  • DaithiO

    “DaithiO and fair_deal

    Isn’t this the problem? ANY flag is certain to annoy somebody, rightly or wrongly. We don’t need them but we do need harmony.”

    Posted by: Denny Boy at September 2, 2005 01:58 PM

    Yes I would wholeheartedly agree.

    Last year I was over to observe the parades on the 12th, I was based in Short Strand. The only flags on display were loyalist flags and union jacks. The residents of Short Strand had decided to remove any of their flags in an effort to diffuse the situation.

    Up in Ardoyne at the same time there were paramilitary flags a plenty at the interfaces, yet there were none on the nationalists side.

    The whole flags and emblems things is ridiculous but the blaming a riot on the fact that a GAA club has (non political) flags flying is even more so.

  • Keith M

    “Flags are a symptom. We don’t get on and we like finding ways not to get on. If flags went we’d find something else.”

    Never was a truer word spoken. People in Northern Ireland use flags in a disgraceful way; to “claim” their patch, to deliberatly cause offence and other to don the cloak of victimhood and to be offended. That applies to all sides.

    The ideal solution is to find a new and agreed national flag for Northern Ireland, just like the other parts of the U.K. It should then be unlawful for anyone to fly to Union flag or the Republic’s tricolour except withh permission from the police. All other flags, banners, bunting etc, should also need the permission of the police. I know that this sounds very heavy handed, but lives are at risk. Let’s not forget that nationalists flying the Republic’s flag in 1966 was one of the triggers to the trouubles.

  • Dec

    Technically Keith, the flag was not actually ‘flying’ but was on display in the window of a Republican office in Divis Street, clearly intimidating any passing Unionist with sharp vision. However, you are correct in identifying this as one of the main reasons ‘the troubles’ broke out, the others being the ongoing refusal of Pope Paul to admit he was the anti-Christ and Northern Ireland’s failure to qualify for the World Cup of that year.

  • brendan,belfast

    well done St Malachy’s in reaching the junior final. I have no problem with GAA flags flying in a parish if the local team does well. Assuming the flags are taken down pretty soon after the final – as St Brigid’s did after their junior final victory last year- then surely sports related flags are better than paramilitary flags.

    Last year the Malone Road was festooned in St Brigid’s flags for a few days. by the way who did they beat in the final? St Malachy’s! perhaps the markets boys learnt a lesson.

  • Biffo

    “Let’s not forget that nationalists flying the Republic’s flag in 1966 was one of the triggers to the trouubles.”

    The year was 1964 and the trouble began when Ian Paisley led a mob to have it removed.

  • Macswiney

    DENNY BOY,

    Lighten up please! “militaristic emblems, even in sport”…”armies in battle”…

    For goodness sake! These were the colours of The St Malachys Junior Team! A group of kids flying a few flags in their OWN area to celebrate a long overdue success. Were’nt you ever young…?

    The problem lies with the bigoted idiots who take every strange flag as a sign of aggression. Their tolerance levels sum up this society I’m afraid…

  • Keith M

    Dec, I never said that it was one of the main reasons for the troubles, but it did stir up inter-community rioting.

    Biffo, I stand corrected on the year, but you forgot to mention that flying the flag of the republiuc was illegal at the time.

  • Niall

    *…but it did stir up inter-community rioting.
    Biffo, I stand corrected on the year, but you forgot to mention that flying the flag of the republiuc was illegal at the time.
    Posted by: Keith M at September 2, 2005 04:14 PM*

    In my understanding of the time stirring up inter-community rioting was the prerogative of Papa Doc.

    “flying the flag of the republiuc was illegal at the time.” And hardly a more biased, bigoted and disgraceful law passed thus shaping the development of the dysfunctional society that is NI today – congrats to the bigots of Stomont.?!?! KeithM, (40 odd years later) you seem to consider this normal?

  • pacart

    Context is everything, the Lower Ormeau has been on the frontline of the parades issue for years, I remember the guy behind the “Lower Ormeau Concerned Residents” getting a standing ovation at a Sinn Fein Ard Feis. Nationalists got a result there. The people who put up the GAA club flags there were a bit naive to think it would be taken in good spirit. Remember Sammy Wilson describing the GAA as “the IRA at play”? Complete bullshit of course, and an invite to sectarian murderers, but this is the mentality you are dealing with.
    I’m with Dennyboy on this one, it should be illegal to place any flag on a public road, no exceptions. I understand the DOE have a machine that can remove them quickly and safely, like a cherrypicker, get a dozen of them and get cutting.

  • Keith M

    Niall “you seem to consider this normal?”. At the time the Republic had an illegal claim on Northern Ireland and its citizens. In such circumstances flying the flag of the Republic was clearly provocative.

    Please see my earlier post. Flags are being abused in Northern Ireland, and I think legislation is required.

  • Biffo

    Keith M

    “Biffo, I stand corrected on the year, but you forgot to mention that flying the flag of the republiuc was illegal at the time. “

    I didn’t forget, it wasn’t worth mentioning as a provocation – it being an iniquitous kind of law that should never have been on the statute books.

    Paisley’s actions were incredibly intolerant and incredibly dumb, he was only ever going to inspire passionate defiance.

  • Denny Boy

    Just back from the shops. Hmm, let’s see…

    fair_deal

    “Flags are a symptom. We don’t get on and we like finding ways not to get on. If flags went we’d find something else.”

    You’re probably half right. But I’m thinking of bulls and red rags. If the beast don’t SEE the rag then the beast don’t rage. Ergo: lose the rag, gain some P&Q.

    “Sorry to be pernickety but it is Union flags not Union Jacks (for some reason that always grates me)”

    Here in Britain they call it the Union Jack. One presumes that because it’s their flag then they may call it anything they jolly well please. If that grates you then it might be something you need to work on, as the Americans say 😉

    Keith

    “The ideal solution is to find a new and agreed national flag for Northern Ireland, just like the other parts of the U.K.”

    The only solution? I’ll ask it again: What is a flag FOR? Does it serve the function a signboard used to, ie as visual identification for illiterates?

    Want to support your team? Then wear a silly hat and the team/county/country colours. Want to parade on the 12th? Wear a red, white and blue sash. Etc. Leave the lamp posts for the dogs to piss against.

    McSwiney

    “For goodness sake! These were the colours of The St Malachys Junior Team!”

    I was referring to the origin of the wretched things. You know: in 1105 a knight paints a mythical beast and a cross or two on his battle-shield, and sets out to pulp somebody’s brain with his morning-star. Fast-forward to 2005 and his descendant has the same emblems on his notepaper (and if he’s a real prat, on his front door as well).

    Flags? Lose the damn things I say.

    Biffo

    “Paisley’s actions were incredibly intolerant and incredibly dumb, he was only ever going to inspire passionate defiance.”

    Defiance? I thought he inspired mayhem and 35 years of bloodshed.

  • Ling

    “The ideal solution is to find a new and agreed national flag for Northern Ireland”

    You’ll never get one flag to represent everyone when society is so strongly split in two. If unionists refuse their Irishness and the nationalists refuse their Britishness then you’re not going to be able to represent either on a flag that keeps either side happy.

    A flag that represents nobody will get ignored by everybody. Flying the Tricolour and the Union Jack together (while in my opinion represents a partial truth in a lot of ways) would annoy a phenominal amount of people, as would St Patricks Cross, for a whole heap of varying reasons.

    And no matter what was cooked up each camp will keep flying their Tricolours and Union Jacks anyway.

    Anyway, flag flying in general isn’t such a hot thing, even quite a lot of English people (in England) find Union Jacks and St Georges Crosses flying to be quite intimidating.

    Outside of official celebrations, state business and sporting events (like this one) it’s generally not a done thing.

  • Biffo

    Denny Boy

    Defiance at that particular time – rioting followed after Paisley and the mob got the tricolour down. Then 10 new flags were put back up.

  • Niall

    * At the time the Republic had an illegal claim on Northern Ireland and its citizens. In such circumstances flying the flag of the Republic was clearly provocative.

    Posted by: Keith M at September 2, 2005 04:37 PM *

    …in your opinion but I don’t consider it to have been illegal. It was probably supported by just less than half the residents of NI at the time and part of the accepted constitution of the citizens of ROI.

    I’d say that most who could view the flag (ie. Falls Road passers by) would have approved of it => not clearly provocative. Methinks the problems caused by the reverend fella !?

  • Gonzo

    This is because flags are powerful symbols everywhere, although there are different responses to them in different contexts.

    Flags are tribal symbols. They symbolise a unity, real or imagined, amongst a group. That group may be a nation, or a football team, or a company, or…

    So flags are not inherently ‘bad’, since they are just another symbol that people use to signify their belonging to a group.

    It’s the uses they are put to that bother those who do not belong to the “other group” (ie those they define themselves against, in most cases).

  • Denny Boy

    “So flags are not inherently ‘bad’… It’s the uses they are put to … “

    Gonzo, why does this remind me of another argument put forward in another country about other inanimate objects? 😉

  • ron

    While there are issues surrounding the flying of different flags, the St. Malachy’s flags seem to have been a simple way of expressing their pride in the local team. i doubt if their was any malice or intent in this gesture.

  • MARY

    The local community worker phoned the pass to tell them what the flags was about and the ones in the pass said that there would be no problem with this. I hope we will not be as trusting in the future. By the way St Malachy’s won the final.

  • tongueincheek

    You’ll never get one flag to represent everyone when society is so strongly split in two. If unionists refuse their Irishness and the nationalists refuse their Britishness then you’re not going to be able to represent either on a flag that keeps either side happy.

    How about a plain green flag then? The NI football team wear green shirts, green is part of the tricolour, colour green is part of Irish history. If people insist of putting flags on lamp posts etc how about just a flag shaped plain emerald green

  • Alan McDonald

    One flag is simple really. Just use the one color (I’m a Yank) that appears in both flags: white. When someone asks you what is that, you can answer: I give up!

  • Denny Boy

    LOL