New inclusive St Patrick’s Day…

Belfast City Council has approved its £30,000 funding for the St Patrick’s Day parade. Last year it decided against because it was not inclusive of Irish traditions other than nationalism. Clearly Unionists remain sceptical, since the vote was only just carried, 25 votes to 24. It will be interesting to see what qualitative differences result from the council’s involvement with the organising committee.

  • And, from the Belfast Telegraph article on the Council’s decision, Mick –

    The decision means the council will now organise a “neutral” celebration which will be “an inclusive event which can be enjoyed by everyone in the city, whatever their background” at Custom House Square.

    Alcohol, green shamrocks, national flags, partisan face painting and football tops are to be banned and revellers will only be allowed to sport rainbow-coloured shamrocks or a cross of Saint Patrick.

    Those wearing Rangers or Celtic tops will get green T-shirts to put over them.

    It will be interesting to see how they propose policing those constraints.. what happens when someone refuses to wear the official T-shirt?.. and who gets the job of running around wiping the faces of the kids with partisan face-paintings?

  • PS

    Why is a green t shirt acceptable but a green shamrock not?

  • Harboy

    No green shamrocks as they featured on the old RUC Crest.

  • Keith M

    What pray tell is wrong with green shamrocks? Are the council going to go around re-spaying all the shamrock growing in the Belfast area and aren’t the rainbow coulours associated with the gay community? . “It’s political corrrectness gone mad”!

  • Baldrick

    As far as I am aware “The wearing of the Green” has historically always had a strong nationalist/republican angle to it but if wearing green shamrock is accepted as symbolising “Irishness” on St Patricks day (and it is the whole world over) then it seems stupid to make artificial distinctions between T-shirts and shamrock because a handful of people feel threatened by it. (I hope they feel equally threatened when they see it feature in the TV coverage from New York’s parade).

    I’d also like to see the mythical plant which produces rainbow shamrock. I suspect two things – one – This marvellous creation will look like sh*t to the point were it will be farcical (hopefully reflecting straight back onto the prats that came up with the concept.) Two – Like the average attendee in Belfast, The RIR will not be rushing to wear “The Rainbow” on the big day either.

    By the way: I’m in favour of both a more inclusive day and with the council supporting the event. My biggest concern on hearing the news is that this will add to the calls from DUP/Lord Laird that we now “need” a publically funded “Orangefest” on the basis of parity of respect for the two traditions.

    I’m one Prod who already has to listen to too many flute bands for more of that crap!

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I sympathise with Baldrick. An Orange flute band is bad enough without having to put up with the tuneless whine of Lord Laird!
    Am I right in saying that I won’t be able to wear Shamrock, the plant, in my lapel at this event.?
    It’s unbelievable if its true. Surely all followers of St Patrick can support the shamrock, whatever their political hue as it’s purely a religious symbol.
    And I’m in favour of banning drink on the day, everywhere. Also on the Twelfth – too often are our public celebrations marred by drunken yobs.

  • Daisy

    Making it more neutral and inclusive would be a blessing. I had the misfortune to be in Belfast for last year’s parade and it certainly did not have an air of a family day out. There was quite a low turnout in comparison to the previous year and, at times, it was quite intimidating to have to pass hordes of drunken teens in their Celtic shirts. Other places throughout Ireland make it a day of fun and celebration for all, so it’s about time Belfast grew up, stopped the tribalism and had a bit of crack.

  • Joe

    I hope that similar anti-sectarian conditions will be imposed on council-funded 12th bonfires this year, because we wouldn’t want anyone thinking that the Unionist faction on Belfast Council are a shower of bigoted hypocritical sh*tehawks or anything.

  • Daisy

    The one big difference with the 12th ‘celebrations’ and those on St Patrick’s Day is that St Patrick does not belong exclusively to one tradition (although nationalists have been accused of making it that way). The 12th is only of interest to a certain section of the population and should not receive anywhere near the same level of funding (although I’m sure in some unionist dominated areas it does).

  • Belfastwhite

    Oh the wearing of the green oh the wearing of the green sure they’re hanging men and women for the wearing of the green!

    It is quite obvious that Unionist politicians at city hall don’t want a St Patrick’s day parade changes or not. I’m sure the rate paying business owners in the city centre don’t object.

  • headmelter

    Does anyone know who proposed these ‘all inclusive’ conditions?
    I only despair at the bizarre suggestion That green shamrock should be replaced by rainbow colours.
    The feckwit that came up with this needs to stay away from the magic mushrooms.

  • GavBelfast

    The banning of a green shamrock is bizarre.

    All-in-all, it sounds like it will be as tacky as ever and, therefore, an opportunity to have a lie-in and give the grass a first cut if Spring comes early.

  • Keith M

    “I hope that similar anti-sectarian conditions will be imposed on council-funded 12th bonfires this year.” I wasn’t aware that Belfast City Council organised these events as well.

  • páid

    If certain symbols stop people from enjoying the day out then they should not be worn. The fact that they make people FEEL uncomfortable is enough. Folk who are being asked to re?join an inclusive tradition should be given a bit of room.
    Personally i doubt that green shamrock is offensive; nor is the simple cross of st.patrick (and i know it forms part of the union jack). Anything else is a bit of inyerface which should be dropped. Save football shirts for football matches, and, if you’re lucky, kinky bedroom scenes.

  • TAFKABO

    How about just banning Spides?

  • nationalist

    I don’t see why “green” shramrocks are banned. I thought the shamrock was used by Patrick to help convert pagans. But I guess since they happen to be green they’re pro-IRA or something. So everybody dye your shramrocks. Wanna see a tri-colour? Go to America or something. Then watch in awe a couple of months later at UDA or UVF gunmen showing up at bonfires to shoot at the sky whilst any irish symbols about the place burn to ashes.

  • Daisy
    “The one big difference with the 12th ‘celebrations’ and those on St Patrick’s Day is that St Patrick does not belong exclusively to one tradition”

    Correct, though it’s worth adding that Paddy’s Day is a “national holiday” for only 1 tradition.

    It’s totally scandalous that green shamrocks aren’t allowed, doesn’t make any sense.

  • smcgiff

    I must be missing something here. Isn’t the Belfast St Patrick’s day parade an excellent opportunity for Orangemen et al to parade with as much gusto and British flags as they can carry?

    If I were leading the OO I’d be pushing for the biggest spectacle possible.

    As for the penal laws re green shamrocks etc – does this mean you’d have to spray paint natural shamrock. Well, I suppose it’s one way to get a free t-shirt.

  • barnshee

    “I must be missing something here. Isn’t the Belfast St Patrick’s day parade an excellent opportunity for Orangemen et al to parade with as much gusto and British flags as they can carry?

    If I were leading the OO I’d be pushing for the biggest spectacle possible. ”

    What a good idea -lets see the OO run with that one

  • Brian Boru

    To the Unionists: Why are you objecting to Tricolors at St.Patrick’s parades when people in numerous countries across the world e.g. mainland UK, US, Australia, Canada, are not objecting to these flags at parades in their respective countries? The flag represents peace between Green and Orange, and as such should not be seen as offensive.

    I also sense a gross hypocrisy from Unionists who force Catholics to put up with 3,500 Loyalist marches waving Union Flags and playing “The Sash” every year going on for months, yet are so touchy about allowing the Green tradition to express itself. I feel no affinity with the symbol of Ireland in the Union Flag.

  • Crataegus

    Daisy

    “Making it more neutral and inclusive would be a blessing.”

    I agree. This is good news and a step toward normalisation. I hope people will have the sense to endeavour to make this an inclusive event. St Patrick is the patron saint of all of Ireland

    I can’t fathom what the problem with a shamrock would be but equally don’t see what St. Patrick has to do with flags. He predates any of them in current use so be clever and leave all of them at home. I would hope the Unionists take a more positive attitude and if not participate at least ensure that those that do have a good day. Be good neighbours and perhaps it could be reciprocated?

  • Keith M

    BB “To the Unionists: Why are you objecting to Tricolors at St.Patrick’s parades when people in numerous countries across the world e.g. mainland UK, US, Australia, Canada, are not objecting to these flags at parades in their respective countries?”.

    I’m sure if the territory of Australia, Canada etc had been claimed by the Republic of Ireland for 60+ years, the people there might not be so welcoming to the the national flag.

    If you believe that national flags are of so little importance, then I’ll send you a union flag to wave when the Queen visits Dublin.

  • Brian Boru

    “If you believe that national flags are of so little importance, then I’ll send you a union flag to wave when the Queen visits Dublin.”

    Keith M, well when she visits no doubt her car will have a Union Flag on it anyway so that should do. And anyway the % of people considering themselves Irish or of Irish ancestory (and not British) is far higher in Northern Ireland than the % of the population in the South i.e. 40%. Considering that only around 9% of Americans know consider themselves “Irish” yet in New York every year is the biggest St.Patrick’s Day parade, I think it further emphasises the right of people to have the one day of this kind of parade in the North each year – including the Tricolors. Political-Correctness should not require that anyone is denied even one day of waving their respective community’s flags. Gawd knows the Unionists have months of it.

  • I am from Canada and now live in Belfast. Canada is a commonwealth country and had the Union Jack as their flag until…when? 1965, 66? I dunno and I’m not going to check… Anyway, we Canadians are sort of a weird bunch, not quite British, not quite American. Many people are very proud of the commonwealth connection and would like the Queen to remain on our money forever… some would like to be monarchy-free, and some would like to leave all together (oh those zany French!)

    In Canada, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many of the large cities. People wear green clothes to work…try to leave work early…drink lots of green beer at the Irish Pub and listen to Irish music they’d never listen to on any other day… and wave wee Irish tricolour flags. Nobody gives a rat’s ass if you’re Protestant or Catholic, it never comes up.

    I do love living here, it is never dull. I think Eamonn McCann is brilliant.

  • frank

    I’ll be wearing my green shamrock and hat at the celebrations.

    I have never heard anything so ridiculous in all my life.

    Trying to ban the wearing of the country’s national symbol is simply unionism showing their continuing sectarian attitudes.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lot of the usual disinformation and rubbish going around. Let’s first look at the contribution from “Joe” :

    I hope that similar anti-sectarian conditions will be imposed on council-funded 12th bonfires this year, because we wouldn’t want anyone thinking that the Unionist faction on Belfast Council are a shower of bigoted hypocritical sh*tehawks or anything.

    Council funding for 12th bonfire events will almost definitely be withdrawn due to the UVF choosing to stage a show of strength at a number of bonfires in East Belfast last year, despite the council issuing an explicit stipulation that this was forbidden. Kinda makes a hole in your argument when you burbled about bigoted hypocritical unionists screwing the poor innocent nationalists.

    Secondly, the city council provides funding for the Feile in West Belfast. Note how the Feile isn’t exactly the type of thing that your bigoted hypocritical unionists would go for, is it ? That also seems to be a wee bit of a hole in your silly argument about evil bigoted unionists screwing nationalists too.

    I believe that the degree of funding for the Feile is somewhat similar to the money provided for 12th bonfires. I don’t think it is right to compare either the Feile or the bonfires with the St Patrick’s Day parade which clearly has a much more cross-community emphasis and appeal. If you’re going to continue to try to perpetuate these tribal stereotypes, please take some time to inform yourself of the facts first.

    Brian Boru, unionists object to the tricolour being flown anywhere. I agree that it is very silly and petty. However republicans also object to things like the UJ being flown everywhere. They also object to things like the word “Derry” when it is immediately preceded by the word “London”, the colour of the uniform and badge of the police (especially when the rather innocuous word “Royal” is included – a word which is tolerated by most Irish people eg. the RDS where Sinn Fein held their conference last year). There’s a lot of petty crap in this place, and I think it is helpful to remember that all of us, not just those of us who are unionists, persist in having these silly grievances all the time.

  • I don’t really care what them Belfast ones do in the City Centre.

    I shall be enjoying a few beers with friends in the Holy Lands.

    No one stops you flying the National flag there

  • Bemused

    I too will be wearing whatever I feel like on the day – if that means an Irish football top or a green hat or some shamrock, so be it. God help any fuck-witted uionist lickspittle who tries to stop me.

  • finn

    whats happening with the DUPs call for tax relief for Orange Order Halls, surely it should be conditional on Orange bands only playing pop music while parading, and off course wearing rainbow sashes

  • Crataegus

    Hands up anyone who on St Andrews day (patron saint of Greece I think) would like to organise a parade in celebration on one of those former Greek costal towns in Turkey complete with oodles of Greek flags. Likely to generate a war!!!! Any takers?

    Let’s stop being silly we all know flags in these parts are politically loaded. What happens in Tibet or outer Mongolia is not relevant to what we should do here it merely emphasises what a sick and sensitive place this is.

  • Biffo

    “Last year the council decided against because it was not inclusive of Irish traditions other than nationalism”

    Irish flags are burnt on 11th night bonfires funded by Belfast City Council.

    The council will fund this parade to celebrate the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland – if no-one flys an Irish flag.

    Is the word “inclusive”, as used by the council here, some kind of technical term meaning “including unionists only”?

  • Biffo

    “Last year it (Belfast City Council) decided against because it was not inclusive of Irish traditions other than nationalism.”

    Irish flags are burnt on 11th night bonfires funded by Belfast City Council.

    The council will fund a parade to celebrate the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland – as long as there are no Irish flags

    Is the word “inclusive”, as used here by the council, a technical term meaning “including anything that doesn’t include Irish nationalism”?

  • iluvni

    Wasn’t it Conor Maskey and the West Belfast St Patricks Carnival Committee which came up with the rainbow shamrocks idea?

  • Headbangor

    up untill relatively recently St. Patrick as always clothed in blue. i think there may even have been a shade of that colour, refered to as “St. Patricks Blue”. i even suspect that Yeats refers to it in his work, somewhere.
    Which is why we had Blue Shirts & not “Green Shirts” in Ireland.

    I blame the Americans, for the “greening” of Pats Day.

  • No matter how hard I might try I can’t get offended by green shamrocks, unless it’s that dreadful lime green colour now that is offensive!

  • Joe

    “Comrade Stalin” – Joe *is* my name. Is Comrade Stalin yours?

    Council funding for 12th bonfire events will almost definitely be withdrawn

    I’m not entirely clear how something that hasn’t actually happened blows a hole in my argument. You say this is “almost certain” to happen; I say Dewey was almost certain to beat Truman, too.

    I haven’t seen a breakdown yet of the voting, beyond that it was 24 against and 25 for. I do not think it is stretching the bounds of possibility to suggest that most of those 24 will have been unionists of one stripe or another (as will several of the 25 in favour). Sammy Wilson may be presumed to have voted against, having complained that it would lack inclusivity. I do not recall him or any other unionist raising similar concerns about council funding of 11th night bonfires.

    And it hardly needs to be spelled out that the Feile has not historically been a favourite event of Belfast’s unionist politicians. While Gregory Campbell obviously deserves nothing but praise for appearing, the DUP in particular have in the past got their dander up about it with tedious regularity.

    I believe that the degree of funding for the Feile is somewhat similar to the money provided for 12th bonfires.

    The Feile is getting £15,500 in 2005/6, according to the Belfast Council website at http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/arts/news/press_release106.asp while according to the BBC at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4681069.stm the 2005 bonfire scheme cost £50,000.

  • Headbangor

    Bertie : the lime green really sucks.
    bring back St. Pats Blue.
    & lets really make the day non-sectarian.

    mind you blue pints of the black stuff !!!!

  • Biffo

    Comrade Stalin

    “Note how the Feile isn’t exactly the type of thing that your bigoted hypocritical unionists would go for, is it ?”

    I don’t know about that, Jeffrey Donaldson has appeared and spoken at a Féile event, and they don’t come much more hypocritical or bigoted than he.

    Last year I saw the Proclaimers at Beechmount. I don’t know if any unionists were there on the night, it would have been an opportunity for them to brush up on their Scots.

    I didn’t see any tricolours there either, so it was obviously “inclusive” by current criteria.

  • smcgiff

    Don’t know much about Feile, but do know that Irish Dancing is not unknown amongst unionist families.

  • Pure Fruit Smoothie

    I think its an absolute disgrace that unionists are trying to downgrade the celebrations of St. Patricks day. St Patrick done good for Ireland, more good than William of Orange, it is a celebration of christianity rather than a celebration of murder, battles and war as on the 12th July… it should be a time for everybody to celebrate being Irish and the Shamrock, Irish Tri-Colour and Green are symbols of Ireland and those in Ireland who are affiliated with Ireland and are proud to be Irish. These proposals are nothing but obvious bias for those in fear of a shared culture in Northern Ireland!!

  • badge

    A simple equitable and economical soloution – The council funding should be used to buy as much green & republican paraphernalia as possible for St. Patricks day, collect it all back at the end of the day and hand it over to unionists to use as fuel on bonfire night

  • smcgiff

    LOL @ badge

  • Mustapha Mond

    “God help any fuck-witted uionist lickspittle who tries to stop me”

    What you gonna do?, throw a shamrock at em?

  • Reader

    Pure Fruit Smoothie: …it should be a time for everybody to celebrate being Irish…
    Precisely – that’s why the event should be inclusive. For the celebration of a Saint’s day to be taken over by nationalistic posturing by one of the two tribes would be disgusting. Have you no shame? Anyway, St Patrick was a Brit, and never saw a Tricolour.
    I agree with you about the Shamrock, though.

  • Jimmy P

    Rainbow shamrock? – Fucking ridiculous! What does that have to do with St Patrick. If the colour green is so offensive then why are the organisers going to hand out green t-shirts for people wearing celtic of rangers tops?