Unionists protest at loss of symbols…

ORANGEMEN turned up in force at Banbridge Council offices earlier tonight to protest against the removal of British symbols from council offices. If it’s all about creating a neutral working environment, presumably the least unionists can expect is for the removal of IRA memorials from council property? In today’s ‘enlightened’ climate of sectarian carve-ups and tribal balance, surely it’s only fair?

  • Paula

    eranu,

    While that is certainly true in the central city, go to a more residential area such as Croydon for example. I saw many cases where residents had a Union flag attached to a large wooden stick from their house. I even saw a couple from lamp-posts. Though I have to agree that the lamp-post flags and kerbstones are tatty, and that it’s unlikely to see any of the painted kerbstones anywhere in GB apart from perhaps some parts of Glasgow (though I’m welcome for someone to prove me wrong).

  • Paul

    Nice try Paula, we ease off and leave it to Unionists to decide what symbolism of Irishness is acceptable? If only the ketholics would no their place eh.

  • Paula

    Believe it or not Paul, ‘Irishness’ is actually something that has much common ground within Northern Ireland, including with unionsts. This is not about ‘leaving it to Unionists to decide’, but promoting and Irish identity that does not have such aggressive and threatening connotations.

    Introducing nationalist/rebel Irish symbols implying the aim of destroying Northern Ireland from within is totally counter productive, and only incites further hatred and community tension. By aggressively pushing Irish nationalism the likes of Sinn Fein are failing to see the big picture and causing more harm than good to their own support base.

  • PaddyReilly

    This attempt to imply that the Union Flag is rare around London is complete tosh. I recently explored London properly for the first time, and from my observations there were a more Union Flags (including in residential areas) than you would see around Belfast or Northern Ireland in general.

    I assume that complete tosh is a phrase meaning complete truth. The inhabitants of England have better things to do than silly flag-flying, except during the World Cup, when it is the cross of St George that gets flown. I see more Brazilian flags than Union ones. If you do see a Union flag other than on a government building, knock on the door and you’ll probably find it is the home of Ulster Protestants. On the other hand two English friends of mine visited Belfast for the first time, and were appalled by the number of flags between George Best and the City centre.

  • Paula

    PaddyReilly

    tosh 1 /tɒʃ/
    –noun Chiefly British Informal.
    nonsense; bosh.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree – my eyes saw different.

  • Paul

    Paula, which aspects of Irishness are threatening and aggressive to you and which are not?

  • eranu

    nothing like a good ol flag chin wag 🙂

    “I see more Brazilian flags than Union ones.”
    either you’re deliberately talking keek, or you’re standing outside the Brazilian tourist office!
    a mate of mines from liverpool and a few years back we were over there for the weekend. lots of the houses in his area had union and st george flags out in support of the troops in Afghanistan.
    But don’t let peoples actual experiences stop you from trying to run down NI in any way you can 😉

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Kensei: ”With SF the situation is somewhat more complicated: there is no particular love between them and the Catholic Church, and they are supportive of various minorities, immigrants and even some gestures toward Unionism”

    Interesting logic there Kensei — I think it’s fair to say that the Catholic Church is much better attended and heeded in NI, yet SF manage to poll consistently well here.

    You really think SF lost ground because they support immigrants and minorities? Other than possibly the PDs (who also crashed & burned last time round), I’m unaware of any serious anti-immigration policies by the main parties. Perhaps you can tell me differently.

    Gestures towards Unionism? Middle fingered ones you mean? Certainly appointing Martina Anderson to Unionist outreach was an (amusing) improvement on previous gestures involving semtex and AK-47s, but I rather doubt this was a factor in the recent ROI election.

    Much more likely is the fact that SF are perceived by the ROI electorate as a NI one-issue party (and given Gerry’s TV performance who could blame them?) There is also the unfortunate baggage of a 30 year murder campaign, recurring criminality allegations and incoherent policies.

    ”It is unlikely a referendum on the issue would fail in the South.”

    I can’t argue with you there Kensei, but I also doubt you would argue that there is any realistic prospect of NI voting itself out of the UK in the forseeable future. If there were, SF would be camped out demanding a referendum as we speak, rather than messing around with emblems.

  • PaddyReilly

    Either you’re deliberately talking keek, or you’re standing outside the Brazilian tourist office!

    Neither I’m afraid. I’m obviously suffering from the effect of more than a decade spent in the London smog (something else I don’t see much of). I wander all over North London, but for some reason I am unable to see Union Flags, though I am reliably informed by people in Northern Ireland that they abound in this region. I think there’s one over the MI5 building though. Where they do appear, they usually are in the company of a lot of other flags, from other European Countries.

    The Brazilian flags are football related, I think. Flying the Union Flag on a private house would, I think, indicate that you are a National Front supporter. We don’t get many of those round here.

  • Paula

    RE: Paul@6:29:

    Aggressive:
    – Irish = ‘not British’, despite the fact that Irish and British are completely inter-related and entwined – neither is complete without the other – they are not mutually exclusive. Disregard for British commonalities.
    – Irish = Republic of Ireland. Southerners forgetting that they are just that – southern Ireland and not the whole island. Mary McAleese walking about like she owns the whole island, and her over exaggeration of the past.
    – Hatred of ‘the Brits’ as a core part of the identity. Finding offence in anything British, rather than accepting the diversity. Failure to call ‘Northern Ireland’ by its name.
    – Any association with Irish Rebels / Freedom fighters. This is fine in the Republic in relation with those that created the state, but not in Northern Ireland, where many have been recently affected by deaths from such people and it is clear that the idea of Irish independence is contentious and has no consensus.
    – Glorification of IRA/INLA etc. ‘volunteers’ in any way, shape, or form. Any attempts to re-write history to place a more positive light on the ‘fight against oppression’.
    – Constant talk and pressure of a hypothetical ‘United Ireland’ and the subsumption into an all-Ireland state. Talk of ‘our day will come’. Articles 2/3 still mentioning an ‘aspiration’ in the Republic’s constitution.
    – Underhand tactics to constantly promote all-island integration, as opposed to open discussion with all.
    – Irish language as a political weapon – SF using it to make political points.
    – Politicisation of ‘Gaelic’ sports – flags and anthems of the southern sovereign state, implying they are that of the whole island.
    – Controlling nature of catholic church in south (though in modern times it is becoming less and less relevant). Association that Irish = catholic and religious.

    Non-Aggressive:
    – Common Scottish/Irish heritage, rituals, dance, tartans, and customs.
    – Irish forms of song and dance.
    – Non-politicised Irish sports. Many sports from unionist community also on an all-island basis – Rugby, hockey, sailing etc.
    – Cooperation on all-island basis e.g. economic, tourism, transport, but only where it make sense, and with no part of the island overruling or threatening the other. All-island competition is healthy.
    – Common traditional beliefs – the importance of the family and rural communities. General shared Christianity and values, St. Patrick etc.
    – Common rugged island landscape.
    – Common demographic problems. Isolated west, populated east. similar recent trends in immigration.
    – Symbolism including shamrocks, harps, etc. and general ‘greenness’. Since when did the colour green become associated with the nationalist community? Green is also a traditional British colour – British racing green etc. I also thought the traditional colour of Ireland was blue anyway?
    – Irish Gaelic language in non-political contexts – common to unionist and nationalist place names. More co-operation with Scotland and the Scots Gaelic (they are essentially the same language) communities in Scotland would help this a lot. It is noted that the term ‘Irish language’ is being of favour recently with the ‘Gaelic’ part dropped, particularly since southern independence – a reversal of this trend would help things a lot. More commonality between the Scottish and Irish forms of Gaelic would also help remove political connotations immensely. Additional recognition that English is the language spoke by all.
    – Common slang, phrases, ways of speaking etc. little things e.g. in Ireland area to dry clothes is called a ‘Hot Press’ where elsewhere they’d say ‘airing cupboard’; ‘eejit’; ‘diddies’ etc. General oddities of sentence structure throughout the island, and similar accents.
    – Celebration of a common cuisine (potatoes, sodas, stews etc.), common drink (whiskeys, malt beers etc.)
    – common gabbiness and ‘craic’/’banter’/sense of humour. Common reputation of friendliness (is that a paradox?)
    – Recognition that many of these things are also part of an inclusive, and wider British culture (similar to Welsh/SE English/Scottish/Cornish/Yorkshire/Geordie/West Country/North-West etc.) The recognition that British does not equal London or the power and money in the south-east only. Recognition or strong links between particularly Scotland and Ireland, more so than to the the other UK regions. Recognition that the ‘Brits’ are equal neighbours on the island of Ireland and not only on the neighbouring island.
    – Shared Myths and legends, stories and a common ancient history. Ancient Irish kings etc.

    That’s what I could come up with in 10 minutes – I’m sure there are many more, but that should get you started. Note that the ‘non-agressive’ section is larger than the ‘aggressive’, so there is plenty that you can promote that should acceptable to most of the community in Northern Ireland without causing tensions or offence.

  • lib2016

    Love the description of McAleese and her ‘over exaggeration of the past’. Would that be the past of the island? In which case one would have to ask if you have read an Irish history book. It is not for nothing that a string of British historians have described their history here as shameful in comparison with their behaviour elsewhere, as in India for example. In India the British are remembered for the extreme ferocity with which they ruled.

    If you are referring to the fact that she and the rest of her family were attacked and burned out in the 1970’s then would you prefer her to ignore that fact in order to build a false history which wouldn’t last long in the light of objective truth.

    Given that the leader of Irish Methodism has today admitted that the Protestant churches didn’t speak out against injustice when they should have this would seem like denial of accepted facts. There were centuries of injustice before the pogroms of the early 1970’s. It happened and somehow we have to come to terms with it, just as we have to come to terms with the injustices and cruelties committed by both sides during the long war.

    Unionists have a colonial background and have to realise that they live in a part of Ireland with a large and growing percentage of nationalists. Naturally we expect early moves towards a re-United Ireland but in any case they will soon become inevitable. The British government has accepted that it’s behaviour was wrong in the past while denying some few of the current allegations but refusing to supply proof of their alleged innocence in the form of records or the results of its own inquiries.

    The founders of the IRA were the fathers of the Free State which has grown into the 26-county Republic. All of it’s leading political parties descend from groups which had a prominent part in the struggle for independence and it would be political suicide for any politican who forgot it – google Conor Cruise O’Brien for confirmation.

    Nationalists have had to accept that unionists have a right to their unionism, but nationalists have a right to both democracy in a six-county context and the right to be nationalists. We don’t like or appreciate many aspects of unionism, not least the militaristic ceremonies on Rememberance Day which are in fact a celebration of aggressive worldwide militarism. Tough on us – we have to accept it. In a similar way our history is what makes us who we are. We cannot deny it and you have to accept it because the British Army will not allow you to fight to the last squaddie in defence of an empire which has vanished.

  • BonarLaw

    lib2016

    “Naturally we expect early moves towards a re-United Ireland”

    Do I detect a hint of impatience? Perhpas the penny is finally dropping that what was expected in 1994 is no more attainable now in 2008. What odds on 2016 now?

    ” We don’t like or appreciate many aspects of unionism, not least the militaristic ceremonies on Rememberance Day ”

    Oh that’s why you bombed one.

  • lib2016

    BonarLaw, I have never supported the long war but if it makes you happy to pretend that anyone who disagrees with you is a terrorist go right ahead. The readers of this blog aren’t fools and they know when a poster has run out of reasonable arguments.

    I still maintain that for all practical purposes the British government will have withdrawn by 2016. With a nationalist majority at Stormont the way ahead will be sorted out easily enough and hopefully with as much consideration for unionism as possible. It was a pity that the British took so long to criminalise loyalism but with the end of the power of the loyalist mob unionism has no longterm veto. Loyalists appear to have recognised that fact rather more quickly than their political leadership in the UUP.

    The UUP refused to implement the GFA and paid the political price. It was known before the last election that the DUP intended entering powersharing and they got the mandate to do so.

  • kensei

    Interesting logic there Kensei—I think it’s fair to say that the Catholic Church is much better attended and heeded in NI, yet SF manage to poll consistently well here.

    We are speaking in relation to Irish Nationalist identity, and you suggesting an “outmoded” one is being pushed by SF. It is undoubtedly true in the past that “Irish” has been strongly entangled with “Catholic”. SF aren’t really pushing that one.

    You really think SF lost ground because they support immigrants and minorities? Other than possibly the PDs (who also crashed & burned last time round), I’m unaware of any serious anti-immigration policies by the main parties. Perhaps you can tell me differently.

    No, I don’t think they lost ground because of it. Again, we are speaking about the identity being pushed. There is certainly a reactionary element within Irish Republicanism of “Ireland for the Irish”, and racism and xenophobia are hardly unknown in Ireland. On balance I think most people in the South broadly recognise the benefits of immigration; but there are certainly people who don’t and a party that takes a tough line on immigration could certainly pull in votes and possibly transfers. It’s to SF’s credit they don’t do it.

    Gestures towards Unionism? Middle fingered ones you mean? Certainly appointing Martina Anderson to Unionist outreach was an (amusing) improvement on previous gestures involving semtex and AK-47s, but I rather doubt this was a factor in the recent ROI election.

    Again, what is under discussion is you suggesting SF are pushing an outmoded form of Irishness. SF didn’t raise any objection to the Assembly joining the Commonwealth group; though in retrospect it would have been better advised to use it as a minor bargaining chip. It has publicly supported the recent announcement of money going to the OO in border counties. And so on. Yes, they do a lot of things that piss Unionists off, but Nationalists and Unionists tend to disagree. And things do tend to be blown out of proportion by for example, the Newsletter.

    So, as I said, it looks to me that they are in a transitional phase. Whether they have the political will or ideas to come up with a batter idea of Irishness, I don’t know. But someone needs to; there are a hell of a lot of immigrants now that are going to start having Irish babies.

    Much more likely is the fact that SF are perceived by the ROI electorate as a NI one-issue party (and given Gerry’s TV performance who could blame them?) There is also the unfortunate baggage of a 30 year murder campaign, recurring criminality allegations and incoherent policies.

    I don’t think you can pin a single cause on the election result. It should be borne in mind that their vote has not melted down and polls have remained fairly steady since the election; that having a base in Government in the North gives them a long term advantage over other small parties; and even if they merely retain their present 4 seats that may give them leverage in a future Dail.

    I can’t argue with you there Kensei, but I also doubt you would argue that there is any realistic prospect of NI voting itself out of the UK in the forseeable future. If there were, SF would be camped out demanding a referendum as we speak, rather than messing around with emblems.

    It depends what you mean by “foreseeable future”. I can’t see it in the next 5-10 years. 20? Possibly. But many strange things have happened. And if we require lots of Unionists votes for it, it wouldn’t happen by incremental push. the idea will tip, and you won’t see it coming.

  • doctor

    So I guess to sum up a few of the recent posts… nationalists should respect all unionist/british symbols due to their importance to the unionist community, while at the same time nationalists must first submit all of their symbols for unionist approval. Even better, unionists will tell nationalists exactly which expressions of their culture, history, and politics are allowed. OK…

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Doctor — just out of interest — which nationalist symbols and expressions of culture, history and politics have been dis-allowed by Unionists in the 21st century?

  • kensei

    GLC

    “Doctor—just out of interest—which nationalist symbols and expressions of culture, history and politics have been dis-allowed by Unionists in the 21st century?”

    Reread the thread.