If you were there, what did you think..?

DUP and UUP representatives have complained that yesterday’s Council-funded St Patrick’s Day event in Belfast wasn’t welcoming for unionists. The punters interviewed here feel differently, and the Council hailed it as a success – although the freezing wind probably kept the numbers down in chilly Custom House Square. I’d be particularly interested in hearing from any Protestants or unionists who attended the Belfast event, maybe for the first time…Highlights: Seeing an impromptu Irish dancing session by some 10-year-olds to the tunes of the Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra; bumping into a few old friends; the involvement of non-Irish cultures; a fairly respectable number of non-white faces.

Lowlights: the bitter wind; the millie wearing the ‘Brits Out Now’ headband (does that include St Pat himself?!); the lack of other ‘fringe’ events or stalls. A burger van doesn’t really count!

And is it just possible that there were more event monitors than unionists in Custom House Square – I know I got approached by interviewers twice in 10 minutes! :o)

  • alfredo

    it is obvious if you think about it for one moment that the securocrats made a deal with god to ensure that the weather in belfast for st patrick’s day was cold and windy, thus reducing numbers at an event that was inspired by our great and beloved leader, now stranded at washington airport – these securocrats will do and deal with anyone comrades to do our great leader down! beware!!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    LOL!

  • missfitz

    St Faustus Day parade?

  • I was surprised that from the Telegraph, BBC NI and UTV, it was only the latter who noted the prevelance of tricolours (still) on the streets of Belfast on Friday.

    Whether it was lazy journalism or an deliberate attempt to paint things as rosier than they actually were I’m not sure.

    This was my first trip to the parade and it seems an improvement from last year (based on the news reports anyway), but it does seem like there’s still work to be done.

  • smcgiff

    ‘This was my first trip to the parade…’

    And were you waving your multi-coloured shamrock with shameless abandon? 😉

  • LOL the multi-coloured shamrocks was extracting the urine somewhat. I did stick on a green t-shirt though – it wasn’t my fault it was so cold I had to wear a jumper over it!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I wasn’t at the parade so can’t comment, but it sounds like the unionists taking a cheap shot.

    The city council also funded several bonfire events last July. There were probably a lot of union jacks, and there were undoubtedly burnt tricolours and burnt effigies of the pope. Thrown into the deal were groups of drunken loyalists firing off pistols into the air.

    Unsurprisingly, no unionists complained about the decidedly unwelcoming atmosphere at the bonfires. Wait until you hear the shrieks of anger this year when the council tries to get this funding withdrawn.

  • I was cautious in my welcome for bonfire funding, and reacted similarly over funding for Saint Patricks day. In both cases I hoped that council funding could help bring the events under control to a degree.

    I think it’s too early to pull funding from the St Patrick’s day parade, given that it seems progress was made, but would like to see progress continue with next year’s event.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Well, I think that’s encouraging beano. There certainly weren’t as many Irish tricolours at Custom House Sq as there were at City Hall a couple of years ago, if that’s how these things are measured.

    It is really for the kids – and it should be a family day out (as the ‘dults can head to the pub later) – but there’s a lot of potential for things to keep the adults occupied while the children watch the stage, at the back of the Square.

  • Paul

    It’s friggin freezing every St Patrick’s Day. Why don’t they move it, to July 12 for example? Then we could have all the spides from both traditions having a public piss-up. That’s what it’s all about, after all.

  • Finn Isdahl

    I just got back from Dublin, where I found St. Patrick’s Day one of the best festivals I have ever attended. Friendly, witty people celebrating in such a creative way. And far less hassle than you would get if that many Norwegians drank as much, and we are likewise more into fun than making trouble.

    Why is it that every time I hear a comment from the Unionists/Duppies and their ilk that the words “anal retention” keeps popping into my mind? They ought to get out there, just for once, and let their hair down. Besides, from what I’ve heard, King Billy himself wasn’t a bit anal retentive.

  • fair_deal

    “There certainly weren’t as many Irish tricolours at Custom House Sq as there were at City Hall a couple of years ago”

    Because there were a lot less people. I was there for the second time in five years and didn’t notice any significant change.

    No one has commented that the numbers attending this year and in previuous years has been consistently dropping.

    The cost-effectiveness has to be questioned too, over £70,000 for a few thousand people?

    I also heard Short Strand paraded across to the Customs House even though it had been agreed it would all be centralised and there is doubt if a parade notification was submitted. If so I wonder if the Parades Commission will act?

    The comparison with 11th night bonfires is a false one. The bonfires do not claim to be cross-community events. That funding was to address environmental issues and paramilitary displays with mixed but overall results 9 of the 10 had no displays (unlike previous years) and 9 out of 10 kept to the rules on bonfire material.

    The nationalist position on St Pat’s in Belfast is schizophrenic. It says the St Pat’s celebrations are for everyone but if you decline funding they are discrimination against one community / second class citizenship etc. It cannot be both.

  • smcgiff

    ‘The cost-effectiveness has to be questioned too, over £70,000 for a few thousand people?’

    Would you put a price on normality? £70k on something that is managed in many other countries seems cheap enough.

    ‘The nationalist position on St Pat’s in Belfast is schizophrenic.’

    It can be for everyone, but clearly aren’t at present. Therefore the ‘other lot’ wouldn’t mourn its passing. They CAN in the future. I know this logic isn’t beyond you because I seem to remember you saying something similar regarding the RIR.

  • Weapons of Crass Instruction

    “That funding was to address environmental issues and paramilitary displays with mixed but overall results 9 of the 10 had no displays (unlike previous years) and 9 out of 10 kept to the rules on bonfire material”.

    Envireomental issues eh?

    I’ve a better idea FD, why don’t BCC withdraw the funding and just fine the bonfire organisers if they pollute the envireoment with all the shite that they burn instead of squandering my rates on it?.

  • kensei

    The Nationalist position on St Pat’s is not schizophrenic. St Pat’s is ultimatley an expression of Irishness. It is utterly inescapable, in the same way that the 12th is a Unionist festival, and to change that would make a mockery of what it is. I was in New York for St Pat’s and they gave out tricolours, nevermind displayed them. Also – were there any tricolours in London, out of interest.

    With that said, we don’t want it to an exclusive, Nationalist only thing. Join us in the fun. You won’t catch Irishness off it, I promise. If Unionism had any sense it would be trying to reform the Orange Order so the twelth could be a Unionist equivalent.

    And if the thing wasn’t so mired in controversy and allowed to run for it is, then maybe we’d be getting more people.