Flag wars over St Patrick’s Day in Downpatrick

UTV are covering the story of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Downpatrick. For the last 25 years the local council have handed out red and white St. Patrick’s cross flags. Sinn Féin councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe has announced that he will be carrying a tricolour during the parade. He stated:

“I’ll be there on Thursday with my tricolour marching down the street with the councillors as I said I would be.
“Very little unionist councillors have ever participated in the parade, so why are they telling people to stay away when they never came themselves?”

Local DUP councillor William Walker was part of a protest outside a council sub committee this evening:

“What he has done is driven a wedge between the two communities, tried to divide the two communities,” local DUP man William Walker told UTV.
“Now if people turn up at the parade with the tricolour he’s succeeded at that.”

The council’s SDLP chairman Eamonn O’Neill said it dishonours the flag to use it as a “taunt”.

“I’m very proud of the flag, but it stands for peace between the two traditions on the island,” he told UTV.
“In fact, that’s the honourable nature of the flag and I would never dishonour it by using it as a taunt.”

Sinn Fein MLA Willie Clarke clarified the party’s position saying:

“The display of our national flag on St Patrick’s Day is a legitimate position and something I would robustly defend,” he said.
“As political representatives we have an obligation to represent the views of our constituents. I also recognise the St Patrick’s Day event as an occasion everyone should share and enjoy.
“It is unfortunate that the debate around this issue has been blown out of all proportion and I believe that all of us need to be sensitive to causing offence but also mature enough to debate these issues without inflaming passions.”

Apparently there have been claims that the cross of St. Patrick is a unionist symbol and as such presumably from Sinn Fein’s viewpoint carrying tricolours fits in with their equal or neutral position on flags and emblems. However, it is far from universally accepted that the cross of St. Patrick is a “unionist” symbol. Maybe to ensure true equality Sinn Fein should encourage the carrying of a flag composed of the cross of St. Patrick along with a St. Andrew’s and a St. George’s cross – pretty definitely a unionist symbol. Then everyone might be happy and could share in the day? As it is a number of primary schools may decide not to attend the parade.

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  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Republic of Connaught,

    “But the broader question is when exactly are nationalists in Northern Ireland entitled to fly their national flag according to Unionists?.”

    I agree, except I would treat occassions when contentious flag flying is relevant as a separate not a broader issue.

    We should be delighted that Unionists and Nationalists can both celebrate St Patrick’s day and fight to keep it that way.

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    Ah, I get what you mean by ‘ban’ now. There’s an ambiguity in that term that’s potentially misleading for the reasons I’ve recounted above.

    It’s the same order of ‘banning’ that’s leading us into the same kind of political stasis we had pre 69.

    Paul Arthur’s excellent tome Special Relationships is particularly good at highlighting just how dysfunctional unionist politics were under the Ancien Régime at Stormont.

    50 years of Unionist non rule would be a better term for it. For instance, they had to be brow beaten into introducing the welfare state and educational reforms by Atlee.

    It’s one of the reasons there was such unrest within wider unionist society in the 50s and 60s. Both Paisleyism and the NILP have their roots in response to such rigid social and fiscal conservatism.

    Now we have another kind of legalistic conservativism, which is in force not because anyone believes it’s good for us but it’s what the law says.

    Ah, I’m sorry. I digress.

    The point is given our politicians are compelled to behave publicly in all kinds of polite, mannered and equality conditioned ways, it’s almost refreshing to see a piece of local political enterprise.

    That SF feel they have to consign Mr Mac Con Midhe to outlier status is as much an indication that they don’t want to be seen to be breaking these rules of polite engagement (as someone above points out it also runs against the party’s local manifesto).

    As to your last, Irish Nationalists are entitled to do what they like. All I am pointing out is that when you make choices there are associated opportunity costs. Given Gerry reads Frost, he’ll be familiar with these lines:

    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    When you plump for one set of actions, it is hard to go back and take the alternative track. All I see here is a privileging of short term electoral gain over longer term benefits…

    I’m not at all sure it’s what Connelly meant when he talked about the re-conquest of Ireland… But it could be what Gerry’s thinking…

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Mick,

    Who is this (Michael) Connelly chap of whom you appear to speak so highly?

  • Cynic49. As I have mentioned elsewhere, St Patrick’s |Day is getting a bit like Xmas, secular and commercial and the ‘Man’ is the least prominent part of it. 17th March throughout the world is a celebration of irish culture and people. If it had’n’t been this date, it would surely have been another.

  • 241934 john brennan

    If Marty gets to be first minister, will he unilaterally run a tricolour up the Stormont flagpole – or will he continue “going forward”, according to the present rules of SF/DUP stalemate, which mean keeping the union flag and going nowhere?

  • granni trixie

    Noone here has mentioned so far that the IRA brought the Irish flag and even things Irish into disrepute.With good will all that can be got over through time. But the act of that Councillor in Downpatrick was mean spirited, but nothing that cannot be repaired.

  • Greenflag

    What a load of ould rubbish . All over the world wherever St Patrick’s Day bacchanalia are indulged in from Seoul to New York to London to Sydney the Irish Tricolour is waved . The fact that St Patrick was dead about 1,400 years before the Tricolour was first unfurled in Waterford in 1848 by Thomas Francis Meagher -patterned after the First French Republic’s Tricolour is immaterial . St Patrick would also have been blissfully unaware of the Red and White St Patrick’s . Meagher was exiled to Van Diemen’s Land from which he escaped to the USA and later led the Irish Brigade in the American Civil War and was appointed Governor of Montana .
    Heres a link to a recent commemoration in Waterford at which Canadian and French and USA Army reps attended .

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0306/tricolour.html

    Trying to prevent the Irish Tricolour being flown on St Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland is about as barmy as trying to prevent the flying of the Union Jack on July 12th -i.e peeing into the wind . If Unionists feel uncomfortable about waving tricolours can’t they wave union jacks , the NI flag or the St Patrick’s Saltire ?

    St Patrick’s Day is less about religion anyway and more about ‘Carneval ‘ just like Venice or Cologne or many other cities in Europe . It’s a let down the hair and have a good time day .It’s a celebration of being Irish which is open to all comers Irish or not . It is NOT the CATHOLIC equivalent of July 12th which is effectively a non inclusive purely sectarian day out for the bible thump. If Unionists feel unwelcome because of the Tricolour then they are the only people on the planet who do so – i.e So who’s out of step ?

    Mick and other ‘apologists ‘ should remember that for some and I repeat some ‘unionists ‘ they the ‘apologists’ will never bend over far enough to ‘accomodate ‘ unionist sensitivities . So far will they have to bend over that they risk banging their foreheads against their rear ends and they’ll then be asked to bend a little more .

    Enough already I say.

  • Mark

    Granni Fixit ,

    “…………………….but nothing that cannot be repaired ”

    Today still feared by the government ,

    They survive as politicans of fortune ,

    If you have a problem ,

    And if no one else can help you,

    And you can find them ….?

    Maybe you can hire the A – PNI TEAM – cue the A – TEAM music…….

  • Mick Fealty

    Greenflag,

    “If Unionists feel uncomfortable about waving tricolours can’t they wave union jacks, the NI flag or the St Patrick’s Saltire?”

    So you didn’t get to the bit about the big dog and the tricolour? Do keep up!

  • Mike the First

    Chris

    “I am perfectly happy for everybody, Irish and/ or otherwise, to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, not least people of a unionist persuasion.

    But my point is that it is unacceptable for unionist leaders to demand that Irish nationalists suppress the expression of their national identity on this of all day’s just to keep unionists happy.”

    What you’re actually saying is that you believe St Patricks Day should be about a “celebration of [Republic of Ireland- or Nationalist-] Irishness” – most people in Northern Ireland should essentially butt out as this isn’t for them. Or if they do want to turn up, remember this doesn’t include them, and act accordingly.

    The trolling SF councillor in Down similarly seems to want an exclusive ethos to the currently cross-community event in Downpatrick.

    “After all, Mark has already highlighted on another thread the fact that flags associated with unionism continue to fly on a regular basis throughout the state, never mind the proliferation of such flags for months before, during and after the annual summer celebrations associated with unionism.”

    And so you want to claim St Patrick’s Day, which could and should be for all people in the island, as some sort of nationalist Twelfth then.
    “Your point regarding the ‘country’ actually neatly encapsulates the arrogance of the unionist position. Quite frankly, I don’t care if you regard Britain, the UK,the 6 Counties or Dalriada as your country and it really should not vex you that your nationalist neighbours are quite content to regard the country as being inclusive of all four provinces of Ireland”

    I’ve already said I’m perfectly content to recognize that you see the island of Ireland as “your” country. I don’t even have to go as far as a neighbor to find someone with But your pretending that “the” country can be a concept without any grounding in objective reality is silly – and self-serving, since it means continuing to ignore the implications of us actually being in the UK. On the subject of “arrogance” – I note that you couldn’t even use the name of “my” country.

    By the way, you say that the Union Flag at a St Patrick’s Day celebration would not be “relevant or appropriate” – here are four reasons why it could be, if you really want to go down that line:

    1 – St Patrick is the patron saint of the whole island, and it is the official flag of Northern Ireland, which is of course a significant part of the island.
    2 – It represents hundreds of thousands of British people on the island
    3 – St Patrick was British
    4 – It contains the St Patrick cross

  • Mike the First

    Just noticing some of the latest words from Cllr Mac Con Midhe:

    “This is the day for Irish nationalists.”

    Righto.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Greenflag,

    “Trying to prevent the Irish Tricolour being flown on St Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland is about as barmy as trying to prevent the flying of the Union Jack on July 12th -i.e peeing into the wind ”

    The issue for me is not about Unionists (or apologists like myself lol) trying to stop the flying of the Irish tricolour but identifying those aspects of Ulster society that are Irish and inclusive and trying to keep them that way.

  • Greenflag

    ‘So you didn’t get to the bit about the big dog and the tricolour?’

    I did . An SF publicity stunt and as usual the opposing gobshites fell for it . Had they ignored it, it would not have made the SOT blogboard.

  • Greenflag

    IWSMWDI ,

    ‘the issue for me is not about Unionists (or apologists like myself lol) trying to stop the flying of the Irish tricolour but identifying those aspects of Ulster society that are Irish and inclusive and trying to keep them that way.’

    Fair enough and you are entitled to your point of view . Good luck with that. Just don’t bend over too far .

    I had a good chuckle at the comment of the SDLP Chairman of the local Council Eamon O’Neill

    “I’m very proud of the flag, it stands for peace between the two traditions on the island,” he told UTV.
    “In fact, that’s the honourable nature of the flag and I would never dishonour it by using it as a taunt.”

    I take it Mr O’Neill is totally oblivious of the three months of union jack waving and flag taunting and marching that keeps the Orange Order from accruing too much lard on their rear ends ?

    Again I make the point that the whole incident was blown out of all proportion .

  • 241934 john brennan

    Apart form Sinn Fein’s crass tricolour carrying/gate-crashing of a long established neutral cross-community event in Downpatrick the whole thing was indeed blown out of all proportion.

    No on was killed.

    So let’s leave the last word to Sinn Fein’s press ganged bow-wow:
    “I’m that bluddy mortified, I never again want to be seen pissing on a Downpatrick lamp post.”

  • Tweedybird

    I think a lot of posters are getting away from the issue raised by this sf councillor. It is not about Unionist demanding this or that, he, Sinn Féin councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe, is stirring this whole issue of the flags up. There was an agreement by all concerned for the past 25 years that no flags would be flown, only the st pats flags, to accommodate both traditions, thus eliminating any conflict issues that might come up. This councillor has got exactly as he wanted,- a debate on the legitimately of the Irish flag. This is not what it is all about…the Irish flag has as much right to be there as the ulster flag and the union jack but for the sake of harmony, to quell anybody being offended, the decision of no flags displayed, was made. Is that not a common sense decision? Once again people have got on their high horse and tried to make out that it is repression again, with the ole victim syndrome kicking in, can we not, for the sake of our youngsters and our youngster youngsters, not let common sense prevail and not be drawn into the bowels of yesteryear? Has the buzz word,”respecting each others traditions” been lost? It is just so sad to read a lot of the comments, have we not moved on at all?

  • between the bridges

    tweedybird, ‘he wanted,- a debate on the legitimately of the Irish flag’ nope he wanted a bit of attention to get the old name out there etc it would almost make you think that he was a politician and that there was an election coming up.

  • lamhdearg

    between
    This post almost slipped of the “active” list, I beg you and others, please let it go.

  • SK

    “The twelfth is a celebration of loyalism. The 15th of August is a celebration of nationalism. The St Patrick’s day parade in Downpatrick was supposed to be an inclusive cross community parade. If you think that it should only be for nationalists then just come out and say so.”

    St Patrick’s day is a celebration of Irishness and there is not a place in the world where it is commemorated without the presence of the odd tricolour. Suck it up.

    The fact that unionists have not yet evolved to a point where they can tolerate the presence of an Irish flag- particularly on what is universally recognised as an Irish day- is unfortunate, but it is also their problem. Four months from now, your ilk will bedeck NI in flags that are just as alienating to nationalists, and you will do so without giving a second thought to “community relations” or a “shared future”.

    The idea that nationalists should be hyper-sensitive to your sensiblities while you idiots run roughshod over theirs is absurd.

  • andnowwhat

    SK

    It will take a wee while for some (by no means the real majority of good) unionists to realise that the Orange state is in its death throws.

    THe 12th closed the city for many years. Even now, Belfast is only open for a few hours. The pretence of religiocity means that the city is a joke on a Sunday morning.

    The flag of the union, so despised throughout the world, hangs over my local leisure centre like a sanitory towell of an insecure, laden old lady.

    I cannot feel anger at such things. Only pity at the insecurity.

    Having said that, I can feel nothing but disgust at the basterdisation of the tricolour by Eammon O’ Mc flattery and his muckers. His/their ignorance and opportunism is patheic.

    Who would vote for that immature git?

  • Greenflag

    SK,

    ‘The fact that unionists have not yet evolved to a point where they can tolerate the presence of an Irish flag- particularly on what is universally recognised as an Irish day- is unfortunate, but it is also their problem. ‘

    It is indeed . The French and Germans and British fought a couple of World Wars in which millions were killed yet one never hears of any of these nationalities ‘burning each other’s ‘ flags . Unionists are unique in Europe and quite possibly in the world in having an established annual ‘ritual ‘ in which the flag of the neighbouring state is burnt despite the fact that that flag is considered to be the National emblem for almost half the NI population as well as that of 85% or more of the population of this island . Irish nationalists are not supposed to have ‘sensitivities’ and are expected to suck up to unionist flag waving with out a murmur ? Well bollocks to that .

    ‘Four months from now, your ilk will bedeck NI in flags that are just as alienating to nationalists, and you will do so without giving a second thought to “community relations” or a “shared future”.’

    True . Although there appears to be some signs of recognisance of the ‘neighbours’ by some lodges .

    ‘The idea that nationalists should be hyper-sensitive to your sensiblities while you idiots run roughshod over theirs is absurd.’

    Not if you are a Unionist it isn’t -but then unionism did’nt think it was absurd to establish a one party sectarian state nor did they think it absurd to make sure that no RC or Fenian ever sat in Government in NI from the foundation of the State in 1920 to the forced suspension of Stormont in 1972 . And had there been no Civil Rights Movement or mass protests against Unionist one party rule -no nationalist would sit in the NI government today .

    Power sharing is still an experiment . It should not be taken for granted.

  • SK

    “I cannot feel anger at such things. Only pity at the insecurity.”

    I find it amusing that unionists wish to spend 364 of the year basking in Britain’s reflected glory, and then 1 day of the year basking in ours.

    “Having said that, I can feel nothing but disgust at the basterdisation of the tricolour by Eammon O’ Mc flattery and his muckers. His/their ignorance and opportunism is patheic.”

    I don’t dispute that he is a muppet.

    But we’re constantly reminded of how Unionists want absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the island. How then can they start whingeing about feeling excluded on a day that celebrates Irishness?

  • SK

    “Unionists are unique in Europe and quite possibly in the world in having an established annual ‘ritual ‘ in which the flag of the neighbouring state is burnt despite the fact that that flag is considered to be the National emblem for almost half the NI population as well as that of 85% or more of the population of this island . Irish nationalists are not supposed to have ‘sensitivities’ and are expected to suck up to unionist flag waving with out a murmur ? Well bollocks to that”

    The day they stop dancing around burning tricolours like animals is the day they can start pontificating about that flag’s presence at a parade.

  • Mark

    SK

    The 15th of August ?????? is a celebration of nationalism ?

    Check your dates !! see what happened

  • SK

    Mark,

    Please excuse the newbie…I was quoting a statement from Alf earlier.

  • andnowwhat

    SK,they had a chance for peace and brought Ni to it’s knees in the “ulster worker’s strike”.

    Possibly, republicanism could have been left aimless (media accounts of the IRA’s support was a sham. Even passive support was much larger than they ever said) as it was on the back of the civil rights movement.

    Funny how unionists politicians idolised Carson and yet ignore his warning to treat the catholic populace with fairness.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    ‘“The twelfth is a celebration of loyalism. The 15th of August is a celebration of nationalism. The St Patrick’s day parade in Downpatrick was supposed to be an inclusive cross community parade. If you think that it should only be for nationalists then just come out and say so.”

    St Patrick’s day is a celebration of Irishness and there is not a place in the world where it is commemorated without the presence of the odd tricolour. Suck it up.

    The fact that unionists have not yet evolved to a point where they can tolerate the presence of an Irish flag- particularly on what is universally recognised as an Irish day- is unfortunate, but it is also their problem. Four months from now, your ilk will bedeck NI in flags that are just as alienating to nationalists, and you will do so without giving a second thought to “community relations” or a “shared future”.

    The idea that nationalists should be hyper-sensitive to your sensiblities while you idiots run roughshod over theirs is absurd.’

    In fairness, some very good points. Ultimately, it comes down to ‘do you want a prod about the place’. There appears to be an element that want St Paddy’s day to be an exclusively nationalist event which can compete with the twelth – ie get pissed up and wave a few flegs. Personally, I think the last thing we need is another contentious day.

    When you get primary schools pulling out of an event, you know something has gone very very wrong.

  • August 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was the traditional AOH marching day. That is ocrrect. Sinn Fein hijacked that with intenrement day, 9th August and 15th AOH marches are much smaller now.

    The DP squables just ahow how petty are the minds of politicians.

  • Rory Carr

    It is undoubtedly, as Alan Maskey writes, “ocrrect” that 15th August, the Feast of the Assumption was the chosen day for the AOH annual parade, but Sinn Féin can hardly be blamed for hijacking its importance by earlier protest marches against (and now commemorations of) internment (or “intenrement” as Alan prefers it), it was not Sinn Féin after all who chose to introduce internment on 9th August 1971- indeed, by and large, its members or supporters were the victims of it. If there was any hijacking going on it was the AOH choosing a Catholic religious feast day to make a purely nationalist celebration.

    But then it seems that every day is a festival in some quarters, what, Alan?

  • Mark

    It’s also the date of the Omagh bomb and that’s where alanmaskey is coming from …… its a wind up !!

    Have the wife mentioned Barcelona yet Rory ?

  • Greenflag

    FBFO,

    ‘Ultimately, it comes down to ‘do you want a prod about the place’. ‘

    There are ‘Prods’ the world over who take part in St Patrick Day parades as marchers and just as spectators . And those of many other faiths and no faiths . So to be blunt it’s up to ‘prods ‘ whether they do or not .

    ‘there appears to be an element that want St Paddy’s day to be an exclusively nationalist event which can compete with the twelfth ‘

    Element = A couple of SF’rs a flag and a big dog. Bowsy wowsy a terror inspiring spectacle 😉

    Apples and Oranges here FBFO – There is NO competition between St Patrick’s Day festivities and bacchanalia and July 12th . The former is an international event which celebrates ‘Irishness’ ( subject to many varied local interpretations ) in Ireland and around the world. The latter celebrates a local event which has yet to move beyond it’s self imposed ‘isolation ‘ Dragging in the odd black Orangeman from Ghana or marching through a few wet streets in Lanarkshire doesn’t cut the mustard as an ‘international all inclusive’ spectacle .

    ‘ Personally, I think the last thing we need is another contentious day.’

    Doesn’t make any difference -There will always be ‘contentious ‘ days in a polity like NI -It’s their ‘birthright’. What needs to happen is for people to accept the ‘other’ and get over past injustices and move on and not be upset by the sight of a tricolour or union jack whether waved in isolation or even together as can be expected when Queenie visits Ireland in May

    ‘When you get primary schools pulling out of an event, you know something has gone very very wrong.’

    Not wrong just skewed thinking and overreaction which spoiled a day out for the kids who are of an age when they enjoy these kind of events . . It probably means that the parents or the school board members might need to go back to school . I don’t know which denomination /denominations these schools were but the very last thing that parents should be teaching their children is that they should be afraid of a few men carrying a coloured cloth in public beside a big dog .

    I suggest that for next years Downpatrick parade that the committee seeing as the SF man broke the ‘protocol ‘ of a local agreement- that both SF and the DUP be permitted to march together in a small group side by side with their respective ’emblems ‘ and an Irish Wolfhound bedecked in Green with a Corgi (in deference to St Patrick’s place of birth draped in red and blue )

    They might even win first prize for best ‘entry’ 😉

  • SK

    “In fairness, some very good points. Ultimately, it comes down to ‘do you want a prod about the place’. There appears to be an element that want St Paddy’s day to be an exclusively nationalist event which can compete with the twelth – ie get pissed up and wave a few flegs. Personally, I think the last thing we need is another contentious day.”

    The Futures Bright,

    No. Ultimately it comes down to ‘have the prods grown up yet?’.

    Tricolours are on display everywhere in the Western world during St Patricks day- London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff included. With that in mind, is it not fair to say that this peculiar unionist intolerance for them is distinctly un-British?

    Come July 11th the fenians will have to keep their heads down while you burn the tricolour on bonfires throughout the province. The least you can do in return is bite your forked tongues if you see one on St Patricks day.

  • Alf

    “St Patrick’s day is a celebration of Irishness and there is not a place in the world where it is commemorated without the presence of the odd tricolour. Suck it up.”

    Oh really? Presumably if you close your eyes and wish for it really hard the Orange Order parades on St Patrick’s day will simply not exist?

    “The fact that unionists have not yet evolved to a point where they can tolerate the presence of an Irish flag”

    Hilarious. Presumably you are utterly unaware of the nationalist intolerance of the Union Flag which just happens to be the flag of the country in which they, like it or not, reside. You must be unaware of the strenuous efforts that they have made down the years to have it removed from public offices, workplaces etc, because they want to create a ‘neutral environment’?

    I’m betting that you know very little about Northern Ireland. Where are you from?

    “I find it amusing that unionists wish to spend 364 of the year basking in Britain’s reflected glory, and then 1 day of the year basking in ours.”

    Presumably you are also utterly unaware of the fact that St Patrick was British.

  • Alf

    “Unionists are unique in Europe and quite possibly in the world in having an established annual ‘ritual ‘ in which the flag of the neighbouring state is burnt”

    Greendub,

    Not quite unique. Nationalists in Northern Ireland do exactly the same thing despite the fact that the majority of people here are British.

    Didn’t you ever notice?

  • Alf

    “Dragging in the odd black Orangeman from Ghana or marching through a few wet streets in Lanarkshire doesn’t cut the mustard as an ‘international all inclusive’ spectacle .”

    Greendub,

    There is nothing that they could possibly do which would stop you from detesting them. That runs deep in your psyche.

  • SK

    Alf,

    “Oh really?”

    Yes really. And if your argument here is that St Patricks Day is not internationally recognised as a celebration of Irishness, then I would suggest you get out more.

    “Hilarious. Presumably you are utterly unaware of the nationalist intolerance of the Union Flag which just happens to be the flag of the country in which they, like it or not, reside. You must be unaware of the strenuous efforts that they have made down the years to have it removed from public offices, workplaces etc, because they want to create a ‘neutral environment’?”

    Oh God, the oppression!

    Whataboutery aside, you are simply not comparing like with like. Banning the Irish flag from a Paddy’s day parade would be akin to banning the union flag from the 12th of July. Now what do you think would happen if nationalists started campaigning for that? The tricolour is present at every major parade in the Western world on March 17th. You reckon NI should be the exception, simply because backwards folk like yourself are more used to putting it on top of bonfires? Forget it.

    Hardliners such as yourself spend most of the year telling us you want nothing to do with “The Irish”. If that is truly the case, then why would you even want to participate in what is a celebration of Irishness?

  • Yes Rory, every day os the 12th of July. Snigger away at my bad eyes (-> typos) but

    1. The AOH day was always a weak affair. It was used by Carson etc as a pretext for the Blood and Thunder of the 12th, aka the 1920 Belfast pogroms.
    2. The AOH/15th August was an expression of Irishness (Hibernicism) just like how St Pat’s day used to be celebrated.
    3. Internment night, commemorating the internment of John McGuffin and OIRA men, was used by Sinn Fein as a turf pissing gambit to supplant the AOH and all its pomps. It helped the Provos colonise their turf.
    4. Sinn Fein no longer need the 9th August drink fest.
    5. Sinn Fein are your typical, petty Irish politicians, wanting to be in the fore of everything like the DP march, which like all good marches, should be for kids only, not for the drunken hooligans of Sinn Fein and the politicians who harness the energies of these ne’er do wells.

    Alf: St Patrick was a tool of the Northern chieftains and who or what he was has changed time and again down the centuries. Indeed, though he never got to Kerry, I believe the direct ancesor of one of our most long winded posters here led a protest saying: Brits Out.
    They had, by all accounts, plans to disappear him and bury his body in Louth. But they only got as far as DP. So the story goes anyway.

  • Alf

    “Yes really. And if your argument here is that St Patricks Day is not internationally recognised as a celebration of Irishness, then I would suggest you get out more.”

    My argument is simply that your assertion is demonstrably wrong. The fact that you are utterly consumed by hatred of the Orange Order does not make the fact that they have Tricolour free St patrick’s day parades go away. Nor does it make the parades of the Royal Irish regiment, Irish Guards, Royal Dragoon Guards etc go away. You are wrong, but I’m willing to bet that you are utterly incapable of admitting it.

    “Oh God, the oppression!”

    The bedtime prayer of the Irish republican.

    “Whataboutery aside, you are simply not comparing like with like. Banning the Irish flag from a Paddy’s day parade would be akin to banning the union flag from the 12th of July. ”

    How would it? Are you seriously proclaiming that the British born St Patrick is purely the preserve of the Irish who reject the United Kingdom?

    “If that is truly the case, then why would you even want to participate in what is a celebration of Irishness?”

    Not all of the Irish subscribe to your narrow views on what being Irish entails. Are you incapable of grasping that?

  • andnowwhat

    Could unioniosts/loyalists please desist from claiming to know what went/goes on in nationalist areas?

    I would never presume to do the same regarding unionist/loyalist areas.

    I am from a nationalist/republican area, the Falls if you must know, and you all show shite all knowledge of what went on.

    If your perspective is based on media coverage, you should know enough about your own community to knowhow useless that is.

    If it is based on rumours and paranoia, grow the hell up. Such things created the conflict.

  • Alf

    andnowhat,

    Has the absence of an MP had any noticable effect on your neighbourhood?

  • SK

    “The fact that you are utterly consumed by hatred of the Orange Order does not make the fact that they have Tricolour free St patrick’s day parades go away. Nor does it make the parades of the Royal Irish regiment, Irish Guards, Royal Dragoon Guards etc go away. You are wrong, but I’m willing to bet that you are utterly incapable of admitting it.”

    Alf,

    What I take issue with is the idea that Paddy’s day must be some kind of zero-sum game, whereby the presence of a tricolour deems the parade an automatic “No Prod Zone”. Irishness is a broad church, and it is possible to celebrate one element of it without demeaning another. Sadly, this is something that you seem unwilling (or unable) to accept, but again that is your problem. If the mainland Brits can tolerate the odd tricolour on March 17th then why can’t the NI ones?

  • Alf

    “What I take issue with is the idea that Paddy’s day must be some kind of zero-sum game, whereby the presence of a tricolour deems the parade an automatic “No Prod Zone”. Irishness is a broad church, and it is possible to celebrate one element of it without demeaning another. Sadly, this is something that you seem unwilling (or unable) to accept, but again that is your problem. If the mainland Brits can tolerate the odd tricolour on March 17th then why can’t the NI ones?”

    How far would Downpatrick unionists get carrying a Union Flag on St patrick’s day?

  • 241934 john brennan

    An extract from SF’s South Down election manifesto.

    SINN FEIN WILL PROVIDE STRONG AND EFFECTIVE TO:

    a. “Defend the progress made through the peace process – stand up to those who would drag us back to the divisions and conflict of past”
    b. “Build reconciliation between our communities based on understanding and mutual respect”

    To the impartial observer:
    Item a. indicates that Sinn Fein will oppose so-called Dissident Republicans

    Item b. Indicates that Sinn Fein’s election candidates will do as it says on the tin – by not marching with a tricolour at the head of an agreed cross-community parade, expecting protestant primary school children, DUP Councillors etc to fall in behind.

    Would any impartial observer of the parade not reasonably conclude that the marching Sinn Fein election candidates are all Dissident Supporters? Also given that the SF manifesto was issued prior to the parade, would same impartial observer be blamed for judging Sinn Fein’s’ fine words as hypocrisy.

  • SK

    “How far would Downpatrick unionists get carrying a Union Flag on St patrick’s day?”

    Why would they carry a flag denoting their union with England Scotland and Wales on a day dedicated to Irishness?

    You mentioned the Irish Guards a while ago. Does their hoisting of the Union Flag to commemorate St Patrick’s day take away from the cross-community nature of the event?

  • Mick Fealty

    Can I ask those of you still reading this thread to move towards summing up?

    I think we are at the stage where we’re all beginning to repeat ourselves, so some finishing statements might be good to summarise what we each think we’ve covered here?

  • If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Downpatrick, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs. James Connolly, Shan Van Vocht, January, 1897.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Disappointing move by SF.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Summary:

    The Dissidents haven’t gone away you know.

    On St Patrick’s Day,1 SF MLA , 3 SF councilors and 1 Irish wolfhound, very publicaly dissenting from their leaders, publically stated party policy.

  • SK. I think the answer to that one is quite simple. Unionist politicians don’t want any prominience in NI [which they see as their property] for nationalist culture and want it toned down. This is due to the historical insecurity they have now that there’s little left of their ‘wee country’ as they would love to get back, ie as it was pre 1968. They know the British wouldn’t wear that, so they’re having to lump it.

  • Neil

    Of all the special days in the calendar in NI, which would Unionists be prepared to ‘allow’ a Republican flag? None? As I thought.

    Not long ago we were told July 12th was to be Orangefest, complete with cartoon hero. A cross community day which would be great for tourism. What’s amusing about that, other than the fact that the 12th usually has a repellant effect on non Scottish tourists, is the fact that somehow the powers that be assumed that Nationalists/Republicans could handle being in the presence of a rectangular piece of cloth in red, white and blue.

    The truth of the matter is that, for many Nationalists, they are well used to being in the presence of Union flags (and other, more sinister flags on occassion). As an example (being from the town myself) I can attest that the 1 in 4 Christians living in Ballymena who are Catholic will see a flag every time they walk past a lamp post for three months every year. Those in Dunclug, Dunvale etc., may only see them when they go to town for groceries, but let’s face it, the territory’s been well marked.

    It’s the same in towns across the country. If the poulation’s approaching 50:50 or has a Unionist majority of any kind, the whole place will be plastered in flags. Well fuck it, we say, what can you do. Certainly in Ballymena people didn’t complain for obvious reasons (the guys hanging the flag on the lamp post outside your house didn’t look responsive to reasoned argument).

    Unionists can’t tolerate any equality around flags, they can’t see one. Saint Patrick’s day (as good a day as any for Irish celebration) is largely about celebrating Irishness. It’s not about faith any more for most people that’s for sure.

    People around the world celebrate their Irishness (having travelled with Unionists it’s interesting to see them embrace their Irishness, flag and all, when away from home).

    Unionists by and large understand that Republicans see themselves as Irish, they see the tricolour as their flag, and on a day for celebrating Irishness, those Irish people wave the Irish flag, in Ireland. And that’s a problem.

    “It has to be cross community” say Unionists. But cross community means no Irish emblems. Different to what cross community means come ‘Orangefest’ though that means come along, but don;t cause trouble.

    If Unionists want equality, bring a Union Jack, and walk alongside the Shinner with his tri colour. You ask how far you’d get? A whole lot further than if the situation was reversed apprantly, obviously, demonstrably.

    Summary: Unionists expect to hang about 50,000 flags for a quarter of the year and that’s ‘their right’. Irish people try to wave an Irish flag on the main Irish holiday, in Ireland and that’s Nationalism hijacking a cross community day (which Unionists refused to celebrate, or, famously, fund in Belfast until recently). Equality? Means do as I say by the sounds of things.

  • dmcoop

    Neil,
    It’s interesting how you seem to lump all unionists together.
    What about the significant proportion of the unionist population who aren’t members of the Orange order, wouldn’t attend a parade or who don’t want flags hanging off every lamp post?
    Isn’t it good to have at least one place on St Patrick’s day when they can celebrate the patron saint with their neighbours without any political flags or symbols?

  • Neil

    It’s interesting how you seem to lump all unionists together.

    Yes, an error on my part, though this argument has been given enough air time to assume that a significant proportion of Unionists seem to have a problem with Irish people carrying an Irish flag on Saint Patrick’s day. I’m 100% certain that there are Unionists out there who don’t care at all.

    What about the significant proportion of the unionist population who aren’t members of the Orange order, wouldn’t attend a parade or who don’t want flags hanging off every lamp post?

    Fair play to them. And as you know there are a significant proportion of Nationalists who also wouldn’t attend a parade nor want any flags on lamp posts. The primary difference being that Nationalists accept that it’s part and parcel of life here. There are few Nationalists calling for the removal of Union flags etc. from Orange Order parades.

    However it seems to be (a significant proportion of) Unionsts trying to have the tri-colour removed from a day for celebrating Irishness.

    Isn’t it good to have at least one place on St Patrick’s day when they can celebrate the patron saint with their neighbours without any political flags or symbols?

    Wouldn’t it be even better if everyone (Nationalist or Unionist) could tolerate the flag of the other community? Imagine a Shinner and a DUPer carrying their respective flags at the head of the parade? Would that not have been a sign of our having moved a little bit further towards normality?

    And I repeat, on what special calendar day would it be acceptable to celebrate Irishness – and hence would be acceptable for Irish people to carry Irish flags in (Northern) Ireland?

    We had thought St. Patrick’s day, but it appears we’re wrong. Apart from Saint Patrick’s day there is no day where one would expect Unionists to accept Nationalists carrying the Nationalist tricolour. So what day would be acceptable? Or is it the case that no day is acceptable?

    Equality would suggest that as (some/many) Unionists bang the drum throughout the summer for their Britishness, that Nationalists might also be allowed a day for their patriotism. However it would seem that’s not correct. The day everyone on the planet celebrates their Irishness is the one we’re not allowed to, handily ruling out the only day where it might happen.

    Ah well Nationalists should just accept that and pack their flag away. You’re not allowed to wave it any more folks. There is no day where tricolour waving Irishness will be allowed in public. Now onward towards the marching season where bands will celebrate their britishness from now til September and march through Republican villages like Dunloy. That’s equality for ya.

  • dmcoop

    I have no problems with the tricolour being waved, but as a unionist, I don’t want to parade behind it. That was the major issue, if the flag was in the parade and not leading it then it would maybe have been less of a problem.
    You could have “a Shinner and a DUPer carrying their respective flags at the head of the parade”, but I’d rather not walk behind any of them.

  • between the bridges

    neill, oh the oppression!! lmao!
    i think you will find that the tryncolor was carried and on display at quiet a few paddy’s days parade’s. the difference with this parade in downpatrick is that for 25 years they have tried to make it a neural event which no one can take any offence, (no matter how hard they tried).
    now regardless of wether you belive the tryncolor to be offence or not i am sure you will agree that eamonn mcfiddle carrying it was against the ethos of this particular parade and was more about a publicity sh it stirring stunt than any ‘greater’ cause.

  • andnowwhat

    Neil

    Not long ago we were told July 12th was to be Orangefest, complete with cartoon hero. A cross community day which would be great for tourism. What’s amusing about that, other than the fact that the 12th usually has a repellant effect on non Scottish tourists, is the fact that somehow the powers that be assumed that Nationalists/Republicans could handle being in the presence of a rectangular piece of cloth in red, white and blue.

    Personally, I think it was the followers with their KAT teeshirts that put pay (in part anyway) to the illusion/cash in that was Orangefest.

    Maybe some here will remember the interviews on Radio Ulster with tourists who were disgusted (after having attended the parades) what KAT stood for.

  • between the bridges

    andwhatever. did the said T-shirt have kit and Cadbury’s on it? anyway using your own standard bearers, we should all condemn anyone that has any involvement in any parade if anyone at said parade behave’s in a manner not con forming to the rules of proper whataboutery….

  • Alf

    “Why would they carry a flag denoting their union with England Scotland and Wales on a day dedicated to Irishness?”

    Perhaps because St Patrick was Welsh.

  • Alf

    “Can I ask those of you still reading this thread to move towards summing up?

    I think we are at the stage where we’re all beginning to repeat ourselves, so some finishing statements might be good to summarise what we each think we’ve covered here?”

    Mick,

    In summary. The events in Downpatrick serve as a timely reminder that any claims by Sinn fein that they are interested in equality and unionist outreach are a sham.

  • It’s very telling that the Sinn Fein members involved in leading the St Patricks Day parade weren’t even born in Downpatrick.

    Most residents in the town have been known for their lack of bitterness towards the minority protestant community.

    I hope that the Sinn Fein publicity stunt backfires on those who have little knowledge about the town or its people.

  • Sean Og

    Why post that now 6 months after the event?