St Patrick’s Day report, Part 2…

THE St Patrick’s Day report wouldn’t fit in one blog entry, so it’s continued below…6.5 Coverage in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day
The symbols issue dominated the substantive coverage of the event. The issue of inclusiveness also occurred frequently, although this tended to be tied to the issue of symbolism rather than receiving coverage in its own right. The multicultural dimension of the event and the depiction of the day as a family day out both received less attention. In addition, as the day of the event approached, the coverage became more specific to the details of what would actually happen at the expense of discussing the nature of the day or what the event should celebrate. Hence discussions of St Patrick and comparisons with other events were much less prevalent than in the November coverage.

The symbols debate in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day
The BCC press release on the 27th February was largely factual in content, describing the content and timings of the event on the day. The issue of inclusiveness was not addressed directly, but alluded to in the description of the concert line-up at Custom House Square. In terms of the regulations of the event, the capacity of CHS was highlighted and the release stated that no alcohol would be sold or permitted on the site. No mention was made of political symbols or the rules and regulations governing BCC/Laganside sponsored events.

The Deputy Lord Mayor was quoted in several papers as appealing to the goodwill of those attending “We are saying that there should be no symbols that would be deemed as sectarian… We are depending on the citizens of the city to have good faith and to help us generate a situation whereby there will be a good event and all will feel welcome” (eg Irish News, 28th February). However the reports do not contain a definitive statement from BCC on whether or not there would be any attempt by the carnival organisers to actively regulate symbols.

The photo shoot launching the St Patrick’s Day event was covered in many of the newspapers, but in very different ways. The News Letter (28th February) simply had a photograph with a caption mentioning that the BCC will be organising a carnival procession as part of Celebrate Belfast 2006. The Irish News (28th February) and Belfast Telegraph (28th Feb) featured similar photographs but also included reports of the details of the event which highlighted the issue of symbols.

The Andersonstown News (4th March) mentioned the details of the event and the regulation of alcohol, but neglected to mention anything at all in relation to flags and emblems. However, in its “texts” page, four separate items all strongly criticised the ‘ban’ on symbols in the event (6th March). All these texts took the regulation of symbols to threaten their national identity but advocated different actions: one promised to deliberately attend wearing football top and with Tricolour, while another advocated a boycott of the parade. Two similar texts appeared in issues leading up to the event (11th March; reprinted 13th March).

In the days preceding the event, the newspaper coverage became more concerned with the details of the event itself, often providing brief factual accounts of the timing and location of the Belfast event alongside coverage of other events around Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This was reflected in a shift in emphasis in the symbols debate from whether a ‘ban’ was a desirable to whether it would in fact be enforced. Several conflicting lines of argument were apparent according to whether the ‘ban’ was accepted as fact or not and whether it was practical to enforce it.

The first continues the previous emphasis on the ‘ban’ on symbols so, for example, the Belfast Telegraph (16th March) state: “To make this year’s event as inclusive and family friendly as possible, Belfast City Council has banned all alcohol and emblems including flags”. The Sunday Life presented this in a more extreme fashion with an article provocatively entitled: “Behave like saints or we pull funding” (Sunday Life, 12th March). The article largely cast the issue as one of suppressing republican symbols, reporting unionist councillors’ threats to withdrawing support if this fails.

At this stage though, the efficacy of the ban began be called into question. In the same Sunday Life article, one unionist councillor is reported as saying “There are worries and we can only hope the stewards and police are able to do their jobs”. Likewise, an article in the News Letter (printed on 18th March, but acknowledged by the author to have been written before the event) argues that the retreat of the carnival committee from the regulation of symbols puts BCC in a difficult situation of having to enforce a ban at the event itself and asks whether this is possible.

In contrast, the North Belfast News published an article (18th March edition, published 16th March) in which it stated “Two weeks ago the North Belfast News asked Belfast city Council (BCC) to confirm if those carrying Ireland’s national flag or wearing its colours will be barred. The answer was a definite no.” A member of the Carnival Committee is quoted as saying “We would ask however that people are also mindful of the fact that this is an event open to all sections of our community and that everyone should be given the opportunity to enjoy the event in a family orientated atmosphere…” thereby echoing the Deputy Lord Mayor’s approach by appealing to the social responsibility of those attending.

In line with the November press coverage, the symbols issue overshadowed the lead up to the event itself. The BCC press release and accompanying statement was in line with the spirit of the original plan for the event, but unfortunately did not resolve the issue. Competing arguments as to what should happen gave way to conflicting accounts of what would actually occur.

Conclusions
Overall, the media coverage preceding the 2006 St Patrick’s Day event has reproduced the longstanding arguments around what St Patrick’s Day should celebrate and what the valid model for the Belfast event should be.
The initial press release stressed the necessity of an inclusive event and the good relations dimension of the project. This was accurately reported in the newspaper coverage, though some reports persisted in characterising the issue as a power struggle.
The tone of the coverage was set in November 2005 when details of council discussions were taken up by most newspapers as controversial. One article in the Sunday Times (6th November) was particularly critical and contained several factual errors (including the suggestion that there was a ban on face-painting) which were then reproduced in other newspapers
The controversy was fuelled by disagreement between councillors and members of the St Patrick’s Day carnival committee as to whether a ‘ban’ on symbols should be enforced.
The debate remained unresolved and fuelled speculation as to what would actually happen. Though most reports expected some form of regulation, one stated that BCC had confirmed that no ban on symbols would be enforced (North Belfast News, 18th March edition).
The end result was that the event was predominantly characterised as a power struggle rather than a cooperative inclusive event and a range of different expectations of what would actually happen on the day coexisted.

7. Postal survey of perceptions and expectations of the St Patrick’s Day
event 2006

7.1 Given that only a small proportion of Belfast residents will actually attend St Patrick’s Day (or any single event) in the city centre, it is important to attempt to assess the views of those who do not attend. In order to do this we conducted a small-scale postal survey.

Survey tool (Appendix II):
Questions were developed from the council discussions of relevant issues, the analysis of press coverage of the issue as well as previous academic research on popular perceptions of St Patrick’s Day.
The survey was designed as short and self-explanatory so as to be answerable within a short space of time in an uncontrolled environment.
Questions addressed:
o Interpretations of St Patrick’s Day
o Perceptions of the day in previous years
o Expectations of this year’s events
o Self report of how comfortable the respondent would feel at the event (in line with the BCC specification that the event should ensure that all residents of Belfast would feel ‘comfortable’)
o Perceptions of how various political groups may feel at the event

Method of distribution:
Two electoral areas, Ballymacarrett and Malone, were selected on the basis of containing an approximately even balance of nationalist and unionist residents in each and spanning the socioeconomic range of the city. From the electoral registers 200 names and addresses were randomly selected for each district. The questionnaire was sent out with a cover-letter explaining the rationale for the study and offering the incentive of a prize draw for those who would fill out and return questionnaires.

We received 83 responses indicating a response rate of 21% which is characteristic of postal questionnaire returns. Of these, 4 were posted after St Patrick’s Day and were thus discarded and a further 3 contained substantial omissions and were discounted. Overall, the distribution resulted in 76 usable questionnaires. Given the sensitive content of the questionnaire and the involved nature of the request (to complete two questionnaires over a four week period), this is a relatively satisfactory completion rate.

Demographic profile of respondents
Location: 30 respondents were from the Ballymacarrett district and 46 from the Malone area.

Gender: 41 respondents were male and 35 were female.

Age: Many respondents did not give their age, but for the 34 who did, ages ranged from 17 to 80 with an average age of 45.74.

Religion: In response to a closed ended question asking respondents to provide their religious affiliation, 29 indicated Catholic, 38 indicated Protestant and 2 indicated that they belonged to another religion.

Nationality: In response to an open-ended question: “What nationality do you consider yourself to be?”, 29 answered Irish, 38 answered British, 8 gave another answer.

Overall there did not appear to be substantial age, gender, religious or nationality biases in the sample and we have sufficient numbers in each category to make meaningful comparisons between different groups. In other words, while the views of the sample cannot be taken to be representative of the broader groups from which they are taken (ie the entire population of Belfast), the differences between the average scores for each group should give some indication of wider group differences (for our purposes, between Catholics and Protestants).
7.2 Interpretations of St Patrick’s Day
Respondents were asked “What do you think St Patrick’s Day should celebrate?” and asked to agree or disagree with a variety of items taken from the media coverage preceding the event. Answers were given on a five point scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly disagree’, with a midpoint of ‘neither agree nor disagree’. The table below shows the numbers of respondents answering ‘agree or strongly agree’ as well as those answering ‘disagree or strongly disagree’. The remainder who answered ‘neither agree nor disagree’ or left the question blank are omitted. For ease of comparison, the proportions of respondents in these two answer categories are expressed as percentages with the actual number of respondents in brackets below:

Item % agreeing or strongly agreeing % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing Total no. answering
St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland? 83.6% (56) 7.5% (5) 100% (67)
St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? 75.0% (48) 9.4% (6) 100% (64)
Irishness 46.6% (27) 32.8% (19) 100% (58)
All religions and traditions on the island of Ireland 65.6% (42) 20.3% (13) 100% (64)

We can see that overall respondents tended to agree or strongly agree with the items suggesting that St Patrick’s Day celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, bringing Christianity to Ireland and all religions and traditions on the island of Ireland. In other words there would appear to be a broad consensus that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate these things.
Responses were more mixed to the suggestion that St Patrick’s Day celebrate Irishness, with a substantial proportion disagreeing.
If we look at the average scores of Catholics and Protestants (1= strongly disagree, 5= strongly agree) we can see that the disagreement over St Patrick’s Day celebrating Irishness is largely a matter of religious difference:

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for total sample
St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland? 4.03 4.64 4.29
St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? 4.02 4.27 4.12
Irishness 2.46 3.77 3.04
All religions and traditions on the island of Ireland 4.00 3.54 3.80

Though Catholics tend to agree slightly more strongly than Protestants that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland and bringing Christianity to Ireland, the differences are small and the average scores for each group are positive. We can say that there is a good degree of cross community consensus that St Patrick should be celebrated in this fashion.
Likewise, the idea that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate all religions and traditions on the island of Ireland is slightly more popular with Protestants than Catholics, though scores for both groups indicate an average agreement.
However, the difference in agreement that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate Irishness is much more substantial and reflects polarised attitudes to this issue. The score for Protestants is below the midpoint of 3, indicating a general disagreement, while the score for Catholics is above the midpoint, indicating an average agreement.

Summary:
There would appear to be agreement across the postal sample that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate the St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland, bringing Christianity to Ireland and celebrating all traditions and religions on the island of Ireland. This would appear to constitute a degree of cross community consensus on several aspects of St Patrick’s Day. However, on average Catholics see it as celebrating Irishness while Protestants do not.

7.3 Perceptions of previous years’ events.
In order to assess popular opinion of previous years St Patrick’s Day events in Belfast, people were asked: “Do you think that St Patrick’s Day in previous years…?” and presented with a number of items adapted from news coverage of previous years events to capture the essence of the BCC’s ideal St Patrick’s Day event. The elements of being welcoming, inclusiveness, being a family day out and an explicit assessment of the symbols issue were thought to capture the various dimensions of the BCC plan. As in section one, respondents were asked to indicate agreement or disagreement on a 5 point scale:

Item % agreeing or strongly agreeing % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing Total
Has been welcoming to everyone? 15.9% (11) 71.0% (49) 100% (69)
Has had all communities in Belfast taking part? 4.3% (3) 84.1% (58) 100% (69)
Has had too many symbols that could be seen as political? 69.9% (51) 13.7% (10) 100% (73)
Has been a family day out? 29.0% (20) 44.9% (31) 100% (69)

For the majority of respondents, previous year’s events were not welcoming to everyone and did not have all communities in Belfast taking part.
The sample was divided as to whether previous events had been a family day out
The majority agreed that there had been too many political symbols in previous years
Taking average scores of Catholics and Protestants:

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for total sample
Has been welcoming to everyone? 1.71 2.78 2.18
Has had all communities in Belfast taking part? 1.68 2.11 1.86
Has had too many symbols that could be seen as political? 4.24 3.41 3.89
Has been a family day out? 2.29 3.15 2.67

While both Catholics and Protestants indicated that previous years had not been welcoming to everyone, this sentiment was much stronger among Protestants
On average, both Catholics and Protestants disagreed that previous years had all communities taking part. Though Protestants disagreed slightly more strongly than did Catholics, this was not a substantial or significant difference.
Both Catholics’ and Protestants’ on average agreed that there had been too many symbols that could be seen as political. However Protestants agreed with this substantially more than did Catholics.
On average, Catholics and Protestants differed in their assessment of previous events being family days out. Catholics marginally tended to agree, Protestants tended to disagree.

Summary.
There are substantial differences between Catholics and Protestants as to their perceptions of previous year’s events especially in relation to the levels of political symbols at the event. However it must be stressed that these differences are a matter of degree and that on average both Catholics and Protestants reported that there were too many symbols at previous events and that the event had not been welcoming or inclusive of all communities.

7.4 Expectations of this year’s event.
As respondents completed the survey questionnaire before the 17th March, we could inquire what they expected from this year’s event. Respondents were asked “Do you think that this year’s event…?”:

Item % agreeing or strongly agreeing % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing Total
Will be welcoming to everyone? 34.7% (25) 38.9% (28) 100% (72)
Will have all communities in Belfast taking part? 26.8% (19) 47.9% (34) 100% (71)
Will have too many symbols that could be seen as political? 39.4% (28) 23.9% (17) 100% (71)
Will be a family day out? 37.7% (26) 31.9% (22) 100% (69)

Responses to these items were much more divided than in the previous sections. Broadly speaking equal proportions of the sample agreed, disagreed and indicated neither agree nor disagree.
Only slightly more people disagreed than agreed that this years event would be welcoming and a greater proportion disagreed that it would have all communities taking part
Slightly more people agreed than disagreed that it would be a family day out and a greater proportion thought that it would have too many political symbols.
Taking the average scores of Catholics and Protestants we can see that for both groups, scores even out around the midpoint for most items. This indicates a variety of opinions within each group

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for all sample
Will be welcoming to everyone? 2.53 3.33 2.87
Will have all communities in Belfast taking part? 2.50 3.00 2.73
Will have too many symbols that could be seen as political? 3.50 2.85 3.23
Will be a family day out? 2.65 3.58 3.05

Catholics on average agreed slightly that the event would be welcoming, and a family day out, while Protestants, on average, disagreed
While Protestants were slightly more pessimistic about the likelihood of all communities in Belfast taking part and agreed slightly more that there would be political symbols at the event, these differences were not statistically significant.

Summary:
Expectations of this year’s event were very mixed across the sample, with large proportions of both Catholics and Protestants giving positive and negative forecasts. On balance, Protestants had more negative expectations than did Catholics in terms of the day being welcoming and a family day out.
7.5 Anticipated personal feelings if attending this year’s event.
The Council explicitly wished for an event at which “all of the residents of Belfast will feel comfortable” (BCC Press release, 5th July, 2005). Respondents were asked: “If YOU were to go to this year’s event, how do you think you would feel?” Answers recorded on a five point scale from ‘very uncomfortable’ to ‘very comfortable’, with a midpoint of ‘neither comfortable nor uncomfortable’.

Very Uncomfortable Quite Uncomfortable Neither Comfortable nor Uncomfortable Quite Comfortable Very comfortable TOTAL
Total 14 13 16 17 14 74

The question elicited a wide variety of responses. Roughly equal numbers of the entire sample expressed some degree of expected comfort 41.9% or discomfort 36.5% at the event
Examining the average scores of Catholics and Protestants on this item, we can see that much of this variation is related to religious differences.

Very Uncomfortable Quite Uncomfortable Neither Comfortable nor Uncomfortable Quite Comfortable Very comfortable Average score on 5pt scale
Protestant 14 6 8 8 1 2.35 (37)
Catholic 0 5 6 6 12 3.86 (29)

Of Catholic respondents, the majority (62%) expected to feel comfortable or very comfortable and the average score falls well above the midpoint reflecting this
Of Protestant respondents, the majority (54%) expected to feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable and hence the average score falls below the midpoint.
This difference is substantial and statistically significant

Summary
Despite mixed anticipations of this year’s event and varying expectations of improvements, ratings of expected personal comfort are very polarised between Catholics and Protestants.

7.6 Perceptions of group comfort at the event
We were also interested in whether members of one group can accurately empathise with the other group’s feelings towards the event. We asked respondents to rate the level of comfort experienced by members of different groups at the event. In order to examine the relationship between level of comfort and perceived political preference, we asked them to rate how comfortable they thought ‘nationalists’ and ‘unionists’ would feel at the event.

Very or quite comfortable Very or quite uncomfortable Total
How would nationalists feel? 87.7% 64 6.8% 5 100% 73
How would unionists feel? 21.9% 16 60.3% 44 100% 73

The vast majority of the sample thought that nationalists would feel comfortable or very comfortable at the event
A sizable majority of the sample agreed that unionists would feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable
There were no differences between Catholic and Protestant expectations of how comfortable nationalists would feel at the event but considerable differences between Catholics and Protestants expectations of how comfortable unionists would feel:

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for total sample
How would nationalists feel? 4.58 4.28 4.44
How would unionists feel? 1.89 2.79 2.28

On average Protestants rated unionists as much more likely to feel uncomfortable than did Catholics

Summary
Though respondents across the sample concur that nationalists are likely to feel comfortable at the event, there appears to be a degree of underestimation of how uncomfortable unionists would feel among the Catholic sample.

7.7 Conclusions:
There appears to be a degree of cross community consensus on several aspects of St Patrick’s Day except that it should celebrate Irishness. In other words there is evidence to suggest that there is some latitude to develop a celebration of St Patrick’s Day that has support from both communities.
Previous year’s events are generally perceived by both Catholics and Protestants not to have fitted the desired model of a welcoming and inclusive family day out. Both groups agreed that there had been too many political symbols, though Protestants responded more emphatically.
Expectations of this years event were very mixed among within both communities with roughly even proportions expecting the day to fit to the BCC desired model and expecting it to fail. This parallels findings in the previous chapter that media messages as to what to expect from the event were contested and contradictory.
In terms of respondents personal expectations of the event, nationalist reported expecting to feel more comfortable than unionists, though a proportion of nationalists expected discomfort and some unionists expected to feel comfortable.
There is some evidence to suggest that Catholics do not appreciate the level of discomfort anticipated by unionists at the event
8. St Patrick’s Day March 17, 2006: Chronology of Events

8.1 This description of the St Patrick’s Day event in Belfast in 2006 is drawn from observations made by 10 observers and from video and photographic footage. As such we believe it to be reasonably accurate, however, observations of mass participation events are notoriously difficult to undertake. Numbers were estimated at different points using hand-held counters.

8.2 In 2006 St Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday. Given that St Patrick’s Day is not a public holiday, many children attending state schools were not on holiday.

8.3 The Beat Initiative was engaged by Belfast City Council, with a grant of 25,000 to organise the Carnival. Although the Beat Initiative had worked with some groups from Protestant areas, none of these groups took part on the day. There were, however, members of the Protestant community within the Beat Initiative Carnival displays.

8.4 Belfast City Council had 5,000 St Patrick’s Carnival t-shirts printed (1,780 were distributed to community groups beforehand) and 8,000 flags showing either the cross of St Patrick or a multicoloured Shamrock (2,000 were distributed to community groups beforehand). These were distributed to community groups in advance and also at Custom House Square.

The Carnival

11.40 Short Strand: Approximately 330 people (+2 vehicles) left the Short Strand area. There appeared to be four different groups in costume. The Carnival was led by a ‘Short Strand St Patrick’s Day’ banner and there were clearly designated stewards at the front and the rear of the event. This section of the Carnival was predominantly made up of women and children. The t-shirts provided by Belfast City Council were widely used but no one carried either the flag of St Patrick or the multicoloured Shamrock flag. Two middle-aged men walking with the event carried large Tricolours and there were six children carrying smaller Tricolours. (The parade took the following route: Mountpottinger Link, Short Strand, East Bridge Street, Victoria Street, May Street, Donegall Square South, Donegall Square West.)

12.00 Belfast City Hall: Security company Eventsec undertake briefing of stewards. The briefing was in two parts – health & safety and crowd regulation. The first detailed the logistics of the operation, the layout of the Custom House Square (CHS) and the position of entrance, exit and the 5000 limit on attendance. Entrants would be subject to bag-checks and a pat-down at the discretion of stewards. In terms of crowd regulation, stewards were informed that alcohol was banned from the event and blue bags or overt intoxication meant no access. There would also be a team enforcing the no-drinking laws in the city centre.
Flags and football shirts should not be taken into CHS, council flags and t-shirts would be issued. Flag poles would be removed. It was stressed that this was a politically sensitive event so that people should be ‘persuaded and encouraged’ to replace political symbols. The emphasis was on positive communication and advice should not escalate into ‘huge debates’. If anyone protested, they should be advised again and then, if they persisted, referred to a supervisor. It was also noted that two teams of roving stewards would be regulating flags and symbols within the event.

12.15 An estimated 1,000 crowd gathered on Royal Avenue, this included some tourists. Two ‘street traders’ were selling Tricolours (at a cost of between 20p and 50p) outside the City Hall. There were also some multi-coloured shamrock and St Patrick’s Cross flags visible in the crowd, though not many. Those carrying flags tended to be children and infants in prams. No large Tricolours were visible in the crowd. There were a small number of police officers in high-visibility uniforms. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.

12.20 The Short Strand group arrives at the City Hall, moving around the rear of the building down Donegall Square West as arranged.

12.35 The Short Strand group leave the City Hall and move along the Carnival route (Donegall Avenue, Castle Place, High Street, Victoria Street to Custom House Square). There is a warm reception along the route.

12.50 The Carnival Parade comprising the Beat Initiative and community groups from other parts of Belfast (approx 300 people) leaves the City Hall. The Carnival was colourful and received a good reception from spectators. Diverse groups were involved including a Travellers group, the Filipino Sports Association, the Lesbian Advocacy Service Initiative, and Irish language groups. However, community involvement from parts of the city, other than Short Strand, appeared lower than in previous years. There were no Tricolours in the section of the parade organised by the Beat Initiative, a number were held by spectators and a few smaller flags held by people joining the rear of the event. There was a reasonable range of green, white and orange hats and whistles amongst spectators. There were very few Council supplied flags at this point in the Carnival.

13.20 Carnival arrives at Custom House Square.

Custom House Square Event

8.5 Custom House Square is a site newly developed by the Laganside Corporation. The stage was placed at the northern end, toilets and two food kiosks were at the southern end near Donegall Quay and the main entrance was through Queen’s Square. On St Patrick’s Day 2006 there was no decoration around the area. There was no other entertainment in the area other than the stage show.

8.6 Custom House Square opened at 13.15. Stewards managed the entry of people into the square, forming a line at the end of barriers. On the other side of the stewards, tables were set up to hand out St Patrick’s Day t-shirts, the Cross of St Patrick and Shamrock flags. There were no notices at the entrance concerning flags or football shirts.

8.7 Four street traders were observed in the area of the entrance to CHS, one was selling Tricolours, one green and white hooters, one sold hats and the fourth was campaigning on behalf of the Irish Anti-War Movement and sold Black Shamrock badges. The PSNI dealt with at least one of these traders.

8.8 Approximately 4,200 people entered the area by 14.00. For a short period of time there was a large number of people attempting to enter the area and this seemed to overwhelm the number of stewards. Some people appeared to go in to pick up a BCC t-shirt and leave CHS almost immediately. The weather was bitterly cold and many people with young children left during the event. We estimate that by 14.00 approximately 3,000 people were still in CHS, however, numbers fell quickly and by the end of the afternoon there were less than 1,000.

8.9 We had two observers attempting to count the number of people who entered the area carrying Irish Tricolours through the line of stewards. We counted 98 Tricolours in all plus three other flags of a broadly nationalist type (1 x Celtic, 1 x Provinces of Ireland and 1 x St Gall’s GAA flag). Most of the Tricolours brought into the area were of the small plastic variety (12” x 8”) that were being sold in the City centre. Most of the flags were carried in by teenagers. We believe 12 had larger flags (4 x 6 feet) draped over their shoulders.

8.10 18 Celtic shirts were observed, although given the cold day most people were wearing coats. Another 8 people were wearing GAA shirts and two people wore Irish Rugby jerseys (one person wore no shirt whatsoever!).

8.11 As far as we could see no attempt was made by stewards to encourage people to put away Tricolours or cover up clothing. One person was asked to remove a flagpole and complied. Another carrying a flag on a pole easily gained admittance to the event. In periods when there was a long queue to get in, particularly around 13.00, the stewards could not realistically have asked people to put away contentious displays. A number of stewards were seconded to distributing flags and t shirts, leaving only 3 to 5 to supervise entry. The bulk of people entering the event, entered in this busy period. As numbers thinned, stewards instigated bag searches on many individuals, but again no observable attempt was made to encourage people to cover up/put away flags and football shirts. This said, one of our observers described the situation at the entrance as ‘at all times relaxed and under control’. Stewards working on the day seem to be relaxed and polite with all those involved.
Stewards did stop people from entering CHS who were carrying alcohol.

8.12 There was a broad range of acts on the stage, between 13.30 until after the advertised finishing time at 17.00. These included Irish dancers, Indian dancers and an Ulster Scots band which included Lambeg Drums.

Torann
Indian Dancers
Chinese Martial Arts demonstration
Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra
Wanderlust
Taste the Tradition
Conway Sisters
Gimik
Body Rockers

The compere for the events was John Daly.

8.13 The audience contained both young and old but teenagers made up a large section of the audience. All of the acts, including the Ulster Scots band, were received with enthusiasm and appreciation. Stewards continued to watch for behaviour that suggested people were drunk and we saw a couple of youths removed. The stewarding inside the event seemed to be very effective. The overall atmosphere, at what was a predominantly youth-orientated event, was welcoming.

8.14 There were Tricolours on view throughout the event. Our observers reported that the maximum number being waved at any one time was approximately 20 though often there were less than 10. Numerically, there were many more of the flags handed out by the Council (Cross of St Patrick and multi-coloured shamrock), however, these were less visible because of their smaller size (7” x 5”). The Tricolours were nearly all carried by teenagers. There was a range of green, white and orange hats, inflatable hammers and hands, whistles and other items. There was also a wide range of items displaying the green shamrock. Tricolours were certainly visible throughout the event but a later description in the media of ‘a sea of Tricolours’ is an exaggeration.

8.15 The event appeared to finish peacefully and our observers witnessed no behaviour that was in anyway problematic.

City Centre

8.16 A number of our observers visited the area of High Street and Royal Avenue during the afternoon. The atmosphere was relaxed. There were groups of teenagers, some wearing Tricolours, wondering around and a number of street sellers remained active.

Evaluations by others

8.17 Millward Brown Ulster provides a monitoring service on tourism for Belfast City Council. Their report to the Council on the 2006 St Patrick’s Day offered a range of information including:

38% of those attending the Carnival were aged between 16 and 34, 48% between 35 and 54.
49% came as family, 23 % as a party of friends, 10% as couples and 19% as individuals.
7% were from outside Northern Ireland, 65% were residents of Belfast.
Overall the event was viewed slightly less positively than in previous years nevertheless 69% viewed the event positively.
The survey revealed that people felt there should be more activities for children.
The total economic benefit of the event was estimated at £119,000.

8.18 Belfast City Centre Management group also conducted a survey of the views of retailers. The following findings appear particularly relevant:

20% of businesses reported an increase in customers whilst 63% reported a decrease.
19% reported an increase in sales while 47% of businesses reported a decrease.
53% of respondents felt that the event was as inclusive as possible while 32% thought it was not.
67% thought the event was well marshalled and organised, however, 11% thought it was not.
52 out of 74 businesses were in favour of the use of CHS for the event.

In comparison with previous years, it is pointed out that some reduction in customers may have been caused by moving the venue to CHS. However, the reduction in sales was less than in 2005.

The report suggests that there was some anti-social behaviour witnessed by the businesses that responded but it is not clear if this is any different from any normal day of the week. There was also a reduction in anti-social behaviour compared with St Patrick’s Day 2005 which may also have been associated with the change of venue.

8.19 An official at the Welcome Centre in Belfast offered the following assessment of the 2006 St Patrick’s Day Carnival.

St Patrick’s Day is an important date for Belfast tourism and the Council’s initiative of organising events on this day has proved to be a major asset in this regard. The potential of targeting St Patrick’s Day as a focal point for celebrations in the city and promotional activity in the city is significant and improving all the time. Indeed we experienced an increase in the www.gotobelfast web site. It is important therefore that Belfast City Council build on the good work thus far to ensure that St Patrick’s Day becomes a major date in the events calendar in Belfast as there is no doubt this date is important for tourism to the city.

8.20 The PSNI suggested that ‘the event passed off very peacefully. A small number of arrests for public order offences were made in the city centre, however, none of these incidents were attributable to the Council’s St Patrick’s Day events’. They also commented that CHS proved an ideal venue, police were not required in the Square at any point as the security organised by the Council dealt so well with the event.

8.21 The Events Unit in Belfast City Council produced its own evaluation. The broad aims of the events they viewed as an attempt to ‘show-case the city’ to deliver a significant positive economic impact and to enhance the cultural life of the city. In addition Carnival was to ‘encourage participation by all’, provide ‘quality arts content’, improve good relations in the city through networking partnerships, and provide a family oriented event.

8.22 The Events Unit pointed out that ‘patrons were encouraged to take special St Patrick’s Day t-shirts and flags. However, this had limited impact on the number of partisan flags or other symbols.’

The report noted that there had been significant networking prior to the event. It was also pointed out that the Good Relations Unit at BCC had organised meetings with community groups before and after the event.

Amongst the report’s conclusions were the following:
‘Overall the St Patrick’s Day event was a reasonably successful pilot. All elements were well received by the community overall and the press coverage projected a positive image of Belfast.’
‘The event was managed in a safe manner with no public disorder or injury incidents. This was helped by the ban of alcohol on site and the early starting times.’
‘In general there was low involvement from the Protestant community. This was perhaps due to the day not being a holiday for Protestant schools. In addition some Protestant groups may also feel uncomfortable in taking part due to some symbolism, which was evident on the day.’
‘During the concert there were some Tricolour flags visible. It was evident that Belfast City Council could not remove such emblems, in the interest of public safety. Efforts were made to counteract this by providing free St Patrick’s Cross and multi-coloured shamrock flags, as well as t-shirts. This had a small but encouraging visible impact during the concert, but the number of Council supplied flags and t-shirts visible in the parade were very low.’

The following budge breakdown was also supplied:

Element Expenditure
Carnival Parade £25,000
Artistes/Entertainment £18535.83
Production £43,057.28
Marketing £13,312.36
Other/Miscellaneous £5,646.25
Total £105,551.72

Income
Belfast City Council £70,000
Laganside £10,000
Arts Council NI £25,000
Total £105,000

Balance – £551.72

8.23 St Patrick’s Day Carnival Committee (SPDCC) provided a report that made a range of comments. In regard to Good Relations they noted;

(W)e continue to encourage those communities who feel no sense of belonging to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to engage not only with us, but also within their own community to enable debate or discussion around their participation in the celebrations. …We have always positively encouraged more diversity around the celebrations and we will continue to do this.

The carnival celebrations provide a platform for local communities and minority ethnic groups to get involved. This in turn lends support to communities who don’t feel confident to expression their identity or beliefs. We are always seeking to develop new and existing networks of communication throughout Belfast and also on an international field through the medium of art. We actively include young people, disability groups, minority groups and the language sectors in Belfast, to advance the celebrations.

The SPDCC had a number of observations about lack of communication before and during the day and some criticism of the line-up of the event including:

We agree with the aim of striving for an inclusive day, however, we also believe that serious thought should go into how that is actually done – without removing the Irishness. It is, after all, St Patrick’s Day.

In terms of the community relations outcomes they believed that the Beat Initiative provided ‘professional input to local groups.’

Cross community input was significant. Community liaison meetings at the City Hall brought groups together from across the city.

In terms of the management of symbols they suggest:

There was a common sense approach by the Council in terms of event guidelines in that the St Patrick’s event was given equal treatment to all other Council-run activities.

We feel that the media were entirely misleading regarding the guidelines and gave the wrong impression that certain flags/emblems were not allowed at the event.

The St Patrick’s cross flags that were officially distributed were not agreed and not appropriate. We are not saying that these flags are unwelcome, if people feel they need/want to bring them, however, we feel the Council should not have promoted this flag to the detriment of other flags.

We also spoke to a unionist politician who had attended the event. He believed that the part of the Carnival run by the Beat Initiative had been successful and that the line-up of stage performers had been good. However, his impression was that the St Patrick’s Day event remained an occasion with significant displays of Irish nationalist and republican symbols and the stewards had done nothing to deal with this problem. He said that he was aware of Protestants who had come to the event and left and he remained of the belief that Protestants would find the event threatening.

Conclusions and Suggestions

8.24 The following conclusions and suggestions view the event from a Good Relations perspective:

The St Patrick’s Day Carnival is a culturally diverse event and the Beat Initiative were viewed as successful in providing a colourful part of the procession. The line-up of the stage event lacked the big name act that some would have liked but the acts were diverse and well received by spectators.

In terms of the displaying of political symbols, specifically Irish Tricolours, there was general agreement that there was a reduction in numbers from previous years, particularly in the Carnival procession but also at CHS.

Nevertheless, some people carrying Tricolours were given entry to CHS and this did not strictly conform to the terms and conditions of entry provided either by Belfast City Council or Laganside Corporation. There is of course an argument to be made that a reduction in the number of flags is better achieved through persuasion rather than through an outright ban.

The supply of alternative flags (Cross of St Patrick and the multi-coloured Shamrock) and t-shirts by Belfast City Council was only partially successful. Community groups did not use the flags although there was widespread use of the t-shirts. In addition, the flags and t-shirts were only handed out to members of the public after they had entered CHS. If the flags had been handed out at the City Hall it may have reduced the numbers of Tricolours sold by street traders.

A number of representatives of the nationalist community have made it clear that the Cross of St Patrick is not, in their opinion, an acceptable symbol (although it has been used successfully at the St Patrick’s Day event in Downpatrick). There may be an argument for Belfast City Council, if it is to fund future events, to concentrate on the use of the green shamrock as the St Patrick’s Day symbol for the city.

The new route and venue appeared to be successful. However it has been noted by a number of people that the City Hall may not be the ideal starting point, and that Custom House Square could have been ‘dressed’ to provide a greater visual impact.

The event remains one for young people. It has been argued by a number of people that we have interviewed that this remain an event orientated to children and that more activities be provided, both at CHS and in the City Centre, for that age group.

Whilst there is no doubt that some Protestants did become involved in the event and some were amongst the spectators there was still a lack of involvement in terms of community groups. Some have argued that this is because of the continued Irish nationalist tone of the event whilst others suggest it is because unionist politicians have refused to give the event their backing. As mentioned above, the fact that many state schools are not closed on St Patrick’s Day is also clearly an important factor.

Compared to previous St Patrick’s Day Carnivals, which a number of our observers had attended, there was a reduction in the number of Tricolours both within the Carnival, amongst spectators and at the stage event. There were also no overtly political banners. The event was a predominantly young persons’ event and the atmosphere was non-threatening and friendly.

Tricolours were, however, carried by some people, particularly teenagers, and whilst the events were not threatening, individuals from a unionist background might well still feel uncomfortable at such an event.
It is unclear whether those bringing Tricolours to the event do so to create such an atmosphere, because they think that it is an essential part of St Patrick’s Day or because they do not realise how other people in the city might view the flag. Which ever of these it is, if Belfast City Council is to continue to run the event, it is essential that they provide a clear message as to why political symbols might be problematic in these circumstances, and put a positive argument for the development of ‘shared space’.
9. Onsite survey of perceptions and evaluations of the St Patrick’s Day event 2006

9.1 Survey Method
Survey tool:
Questionnaires were adapted from the postal versions, hence asking about people’s actual experience of the event rather than their expectations (Appendix III). For rationale for each section of questions, see chapter 7 above.

Distribution:
The questionnaires were distributed by means of a quota sample: researchers actively targeted different demographic profiles of respondents in order to ensure an even spread of respondents along different demographic axes.

The questionnaires were distributed evenly between the procession route and the Custom House Square event to control for differences between those attending one part of the event only. Analyses showed that perceptions of the event did not differ between respondents at these two sites.

In total 257 respondents completed the questionnaire. Although all respondents filled out most of the questionnaire, some omitted one or two answers and so response totals in the following sections vary accordingly.

Sample:
Characteristics of the sample: This sample is likely to be quite different from the postal sample as these people have elected to spend St Patrick’s Day in the city centre and hence to some degree have already endorsed the event. However, researchers reported a very high uptake on requests to fill out the forms and hence there is likely to be less of a self-selection bias among the population of people attending the event than there was among those receiving the questionnaire by post.
Location: 131 were approached outside Belfast City Hall and along the procession route and 126 were approached at Custom House Square

Gender: 135 respondents were male and 119 were female. Three declined to give their gender.

Age: Ages ranged from 17 to 81 with an average age of 35.13.

Age % respondents
17-25 28.8%
25-35 29.9%
35-45 19.2%
45+ 22.1%

Nationality: In response to an open-ended question: “What nationality do you consider yourself to be?”, 62.4% (161) answered Irish, 15.1% (39) answered British, 2.7% (7) answered Northern Irish and 11.6% (30) gave another answer.

Religion: In response to a closed ended question asking respondents to provide their religious affiliation, 69.8% (180) indicated Catholic, 12.0% (31) indicated Protestant and 5.8% (15) indicated that they belonged to another religion.

For the subsequent analyses, respondents’ answers will be given for the whole group, then broken down by religious affiliation.

9.2 Interpretations of St Patrick’s Day
As in the postal questionnaire, respondents were asked “What do you think St Patrick’s Day should celebrate?” and asked to agree or disagree with a variety of items. Answers were given on a five point scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly disagree’, with a midpoint of 3 for ‘neither agree nor disagree’. The table below shows the numbers of respondents answering ‘agree or strongly agree’ as well as those answering ‘disagree or strongly disagree’. The remainder who answered ‘neither agree nor disagree’, or left the question blank, are omitted. For ease of comparison, the proportions of respondents in these two answer categories are expressed as percentages with the actual number of respondents in brackets below:

Item % agreeing or strongly agreeing % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing Total
St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland? 94.8% (236) 0.8% (2) 100% (249)
St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? 78.8% (193) 5.3% (13) 100% (245)
Irishness 85.5% (201) 6.8% (16) 100% (235)
All religions and traditions on the island of Ireland 86.1% (210) 7.0% (17) 100% (244)

As with the postal survey there was a high degree of consensus among the sample that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, bringing Christianity to Ireland and all religions and traditions on the island of Ireland.
However, unlike the postal survey, there was also an overwhelming agreement that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate Irishness.
If we break down the results by religion and examine the average scores of Catholics and Protestants, we see that this is because of the proportionately higher number of Catholics in the sample:

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for total sample
St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland? 4.30 4.79 4.71
St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland? 3.86 4.40 4.32
Irishness 3.50 4.58 4.43
All religions and traditions on the island of Ireland 4.00 4.44 4.38

Although on average both Catholic and Protestant respondents agreed that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate St Patrick as the patron saint of Ireland, Catholics agreed more strongly than did Protestants. This was also the case for St Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland.
There was a much larger difference for St Patrick’s Day celebrating Irishness Protestants tending to agree much less strongly than did Catholics.
There were no differences in agreement that St Patrick’s Day should celebrate all religions and traditions on the island of Ireland.

Summary:
As in the postal survey, the issue of whether St Patrick’s Day should celebrate Irishness was the most divisive for Catholics and Protestants though it should be noted that on average the Protestants attending this event did agree with this item. Likewise other group differences are a matter of strength of agreement rather than opposition between Catholic and Protestant, indicating a broad consensus as to what St Patrick’s Day should celebrate.
9.3 Perceptions of previous years’ events.

In line with the postal survey we assessed how those attending this years event view previous event. Respondents were asked “Do you think that St Patrick’s Day in previous years…?”

Item % agreeing or strongly agreeing % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing Total
Has been welcoming to everyone? 54.5% (132) 28.9% (70) 100% (242)
Has had all communities in Belfast taking part? 30.3% (71) 48.7% (114) 100% (234)
Has had too many symbols that could be seen as political? 44.9% (105) 34.6% (81) 100% (234)
Has been a family day out? 74.9% (179) 6.7% (16) 100% (239)

Broadly speaking, perceptions of previous years’ events among those attending this year’s event were more positive than in the postal sample.
The majority of respondents thought that previous years’ had been welcoming and a family day out, though a greater proportion disagreed that all communities had taken part.
The sample was split as to whether there had been too many political symbols
Examining average scores for Catholics and Protestants, we see differences on all items except having all communities taking part:

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for total sample
Has been welcoming to everyone? 2.65 3.56 3.44
Has had all communities in Belfast taking part? 2.37 2.86 2.80
Has had too many symbols that could be seen as political? 3.89 3.05 3.17
Has been a family day out? 3.23 4.28 4.16

While both groups on average agreed that previous year’s events had been a family day out, this agreement was stronger among Protestants.
Protestants agreed more strongly that there had been too many political symbols at previous event; Catholic opinion was more mixed.
Catholics on average agreed and Protestants disagreed that previous events had been welcoming.
Both groups concurred that previous events had not included all communities in Belfast.

Summary:
As in the postal survey, most respondents acknowledged that past events have not adhered to the BCC ideal model of an inclusive event. However, previous events are rated positively in terms of being welcoming and a family day out. Once more Protestants tended to evaluate previous events more negatively than did Catholics.

9.4 Perceptions of this year’s event.

Perhaps the most important aspects of the onsite survey were respondents’ reactions to the event itself. People were asked “Do you think that this year’s event…?”:

Item % agreeing or strongly agreeing % disagreeing or strongly disagreeing Total
Is welcoming to everyone? 84.1% (212) 9.1% (23) 100% (252)
Has all communities in Belfast taking part? 52.9% (128) 27.7% (67) 100% (242)
Has too many symbols that could be seen as political? 29.2% (70) 52.5% (126) 100% (240)
Is a family day out? 88.6% (217) 4.5% (11) 100% (245)

The vast majority of respondents agreed that the event was welcoming to all and a family day out.
Estimations of inclusiveness were mixed with over half agreeing, but over a quarter disagreeing that the event had all communities in Belfast taking part.
Opinions on the level of political symbolism was also split with almost a third agreeing that there were too many symbols but over half disagreeing.
Breaking these down into average scores for Catholic and Protestants we see group differences for all items, except estimations of the degree of participation of all communities:

Item Average score for Protestants Average score for Catholics Average score for total sample
Is welcoming to everyone? 3.47 4.28 4.16
Has all communities in Belfast taking part? 2.90 3.45 3.37
Has too many symbols that could be seen as political? 3.37 2.56 2.68
Is a family day out? 3.57 4.48 4.34

While both Catholics and Protestants tended to agree that the day was welcoming and a family day out, Catholics agreed more strongly.
There was some disagreement as to whether there were too many political symbols with Catholics on average disagreeing and Protestants agreeing.

Strongly Disagree Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Agree Strongly agree Average score on 5pt scale
Protestant 4 4 6 9 7 3.37
Catholic 31 70 29 20 19 2.56

53.3% of Protestants agreed or strongly agreed that there were too many symbols that could be seen as political while 26.7% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
23.1% of Catholics agreed or strongly agreed with this item while 59.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Although on average Catholics agreed that the event had all communities taking part while Protestants tended to disagree, this difference was small and statistically insignificant. On balance people gave mixed responses as to the degree of inclusiveness at this year’s event.

Summary
Overall the event is rated very positively by those attending and in line with the BCC ideal model of an inclusive, welcoming family day out. It is notable that the event was rated as more ‘welcoming’ than ‘including of different groups’ suggesting that people saw the event as potentially inclusive, but recognised that it has some way to go to achieve cross community support.

Where differences between Protestants and Catholics exist, they are a matter of degree rather than opposition: Protestants tend to rate the event positively, but Catholics are stronger in their endorsement. The exception to this pattern is the evaluation of political symbols, where the majority of Protestants agree that there are too many and the majority of Catholics disagree. However again it must be pointed out that this is not a completely divided perspective: almost a quarter of Catholics agree that there are too many symbols and a similar proportion of Protestants disagree.

9.5 Reported level of comfort at the event

Respondents at the event are best placed to assess whether the event met the BCC goal of enabling all the residents of Belfast to be comfortable at the event. We asked “How do you feel about being at this event?” Answers were again recorded on a five point scale from very uncomfortable to very comfortable, with a midpoint of 3 for neither comfortable nor uncomfortable.

Very Uncomfortable Quite Uncomfortable Neither Comfortable nor Uncomfortable Quite Comfortable Very comfortable TOTAL
Total 8 9 20 60 155 252

The vast majority of those attending the event (85.3%) felt comfortable or very comfortable
Breaking these down by religion we see a substantial difference in Catholic and Protestant responding:

Number answering: Very Uncomfortable Quite Uncomfortable Neither Comfortable nor Uncomfortable Quite Comfortable Very comfortable Average score on 5pt scale
Protestant 4 5 8 6 8 3.29 (31)
Catholic 3 3 8 43 122 4.55 (179)

Of Catholic respondents, the majority (93.2%) reported feeling quite comfortable or very comfortable as reflected in the high average score.
Of Protestant respondents, 29% reported feeling some degree of discomfort and 45% felt quite or very comfortable. While the Protestant comfort ratings were on aggregate substantially and significantly lower than that for Catholics, the average Protestant score indicated a degree of comfort at the event.

Summary:
In contrast to the expectations of those responding to the postal survey, the majority of Protestants as well as Catholics reported feeling ‘quite’ or ‘very’ comfortable at the event. However a greater proportion of Protestants relative to Catholics reported some level of discomfort.

9.6 Perceptions of group comfort at the event

Attending the event allows people to feel for themselves the atmosphere and see the environment. On this basis they should be well placed to imagine how others from their own group and the other community feel at the event. In order to make examine the relationship between level of comfort and perceived political preference, we asked them to rate how comfortable they thought ‘nationalists’ and ‘unionists’ would feel at the event.

Very or quite comfortable Very or quite uncomfortable Total
How would nationalists feel? 92.0% (231) 2.0% (5) 100% (251)
How would unionists feel? 37.2% (93) 41.2% (103) 100% (250)

The vast majority of those attending the event reported that nationalist would feel quite or very comfortable
The sample were split on whether unionists would feel comfortable or not.
There were no differences between Catholic and Protestant expectations of how comfortable nationalists or unionists would feel at the event
Both Catholics and Protestants gave mixed estimations as to how unionists would feel:

Very Uncomfortable Quite Uncomfortable Neither Comfortable nor Uncomfortable Quite Comfortable Very comfortable Total
Protestant 10 32.3% 7 22.6% 6 19.4% 7 22.6% 1 3.2% 31 100%
Catholic 35 19.4% 37 20.6% 36 20.0% 49 27.2% 20 11.3% 177 100%

Summary:
There was an overwhelming consensus that nationalists feel comfortable at the event and an average rating of unionists as less comfortable. Notably both Catholics and Protestants gave mixed evaluations of unionists’ feelings, reflecting a range of perspectives within each group on this issue

Conclusions:
The onsite survey supports many of the postal survey findings:
o There is a degree of agreement among both Catholics and Protestants as to what St Patrick’s Day should celebrate, though disagreement over the specific issue of celebrating Irishness.
o There is a general consensus that previous St Patrick’s Day events have not been a welcoming, inclusive event for all communities. This perception is stronger among Protestants.
The vast majority of respondents rated the event as welcoming and a family day out, though assessments of the inclusiveness of the event were mixed.
Notably, though a majority of Protestants thought that there were too many political symbols and a majority of Catholics did not, substantial proportions of each group adopted the counter position. In other words there was a mixed perception of the level of political symbols within both groups.
The majority of the sample reported that they felt comfortable or very comfortable at the event. On average, both Catholics and Protestants reported a degree of comfort, though Catholics reported significantly higher comfort.
There was a consensus across the sample that nationalists would feel more comfortable at the event than would unionists. However, both Catholic and Protestant estimates of unionist comfort were mixed suggesting a variety of opinions as to what would cause discomfort for unionists.
In general then, the recorded perceptions of both Catholics and Protestants at the event suggest that if the event was not entirely inclusive, neither was it entirely exclusive. In fact there is substantial evidence to suggest that people viewed the event as adhering to the BCC model of a welcoming family day out for everyone but there were mixed opinions as to the degree of inclusion of all communities and the level of symbols.
10. Media coverage of the St Patrick’s Day event.

10.1 As illustrated in chapter 6 above, the media coverage preceding the St Patrick’s Day event has perpetuated longstanding debates over what St Patrick’s Day should celebrate and focused largely on the issue of symbol regulation. The coverage had been complicated by competing versions of what would happen at the event. These competing attitudes and opinions were in circulation right up to the morning of the event itself.

10.2 Television coverage
Against this broader media background, the television coverage of the event was broadcast on the afternoon and evening of the 17th. Most reports were brief, lasting between 1 and 2 minutes. As with the print coverage preceding the event, the coverage of the day itself varied widely, both in the content of what was reported, the evaluations of the event and the camera footage itself.

UTV Live: lunchtime report
The lunchtime UTV news report featured a brief (1 min 10 sec) report from City Hall, where crowds were beginning to gather for the procession. It pointed out that this was the first time that BCC had organised the event and that it was intended to be inclusive.

The report highlighted the ban ‘on drink and flags’, but did not specify whether this applied to the entire event or CHS only. Hence instances where flags were in evidence were presented as breaches of the ban. Of eight camera shots of the area around the City Hall, four clearly focused in on Tricolours. The reported stated “But in the last half hour at the city hall, a number of people gathering for the parade to the square have ignored the ban, though they are in the minority”.

The Deputy Lord Mayor was interviewed and asked about these flags. He denied that BCC had any responsibility for or control over flags held by people in the city centre. However on the