It’s all British, even the bits outside the chapel- redux

When loyalists decided to erect flags outside the catholic church in Ballyclare, their motivation was clearly sectarian and merely followed a long tradition noted on Slugger last year at Chapel Hill, Lisburn and previously in Antrim town of loyalists seeking to antagonise catholics in majority unionist towns as they attended their places of worship.  

The widespread violence across the North Saturday night would indicate that loyalists have clearly entered the Marching Season of a mind similar to that of the dissident republican factions who showed last year a desire to manipulate the heightened community tensions to instigate violence at ground level.

Thus, we’ve had loyalist violence following the Tour of the North parade as well as the UVF-sponsored Short Strand attack, whilst dissident republican factions were evidently behind the Lurgan violence which followed the arrest of the Republican Sinn Fein leader, Des Dalton, in the town.

The Ballyclare violence was accompanied by attacks on Catholic families in Coleraine and Magherafelt, and violence was also reported in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey. The catholic church in Harryville, long a target of loyalists, was once again vandalised. There have also been a number of attacks on Orange Halls in recent days.

But there continues to be a distinction with regard to how violence emanating from those quarters is perceived by both the PSNI and political representatives. Whilst Sinn Fein representatives have had little difficulty condemning the actions of dissident republicans and actively confronting their leaders and followers during unrest in both the Short Strand this year and Ardoyne last year, unionist politicians continue to struggle to put distance between themselves and the loyalists who have sponsored much of the summer’s violence to date.

Once again, loyalist violence has precipitated a coming together of unionist-loyalist representatives, and there has been a distinct absence of robust condemnation from unionist political quarters- with the notable exception of Sammy Wilson.

Regarding the latest loyalist-inspired violence, in Ballyclare, DUP MLA Paul Girvan actually had the temerity to suggest the PSNI had “overreacted” and that residents felt “under threat” from the PSNI because the latter had removed flags clearly designed to intimidate catholic parishioners. Here’s Mr. Girvan:

 There was a heavy police presence on Saturday night and as a result tensions were high because police didn’t only remove paramilitary flags, they also removed Union Jacks and Ulster flags, which sent out a message to the wider community that they felt very much under threat.

Hence, in Mr Girvan’s world, the loyalists were “under threat” because the PSNI had sought to remove flags erected with the sole intention of intimidating members of the minority religious community in the town as they attended Mass.

Indeed, BBC News covered an interview with Willie McCrea who was at pains to emphasise how the PSNI had given an unequivocal apology to the local community for their actions. Accompanying the DUP representative was the loyalist representative, Ken Wilkinson.

Justice Minister, David Ford, has provided a press statement which offers the context to the PSNI actions. Here it is in full:

South Antrim Alliance MLA David Ford has repeated his condemnation of those who rioted in Ballyclare on Saturday and said that police officers acted entirely in accordance with the flags protocol.

David Ford said: “Last year, a number of flags were removed from the vicinity of two Ballyclare churches as a result of negotiation. This year, I understand that local police representatives had lengthy negotiations about the removal of both paramilitary flags and flags outside the Catholicchurch, but these negotiations were not successful.

“The decision to remove the flags after negotiations had failed was in accordance with the flags protocol and represented appropriate action by the police. They bear no blame for what happened on Saturday night: the blame lies entirely with those who fomented the riot and those who caused fear and mayhem in Ballyclare.”

Ford’s statement clearly indicates that all involved were aware that the erection of these flags was an issue to catholic parishioners, and hence the removal of the flags by loyalists last year in acknowledgement of this fact. Their decision not to do so this year was clearly an attempt to not only intimidate the catholic population but also put it up to the PSNI to act.

Consequently, the apology issued by the PSNI is rather disconcerting as it suggests an unwillingness to confront sectarian bully boy tactics in unionist heartlands. The absence of political support for the actions of the PSNI in such areas is not only regrettable but is also clearly causing the PSNI to think twice before confronting the perpetrators of intimidatory actions, something which does not augur well for the future.

The UTV report suggests that the PSNI removed predominantly UVF flags, with locals reportedly rehashing the facile argument that such flags were merely honouring the victims of the Battle of the Somme- cue much giggling in loyalist drinking dens. As I suggested in an earlier thread, perhaps it’s time a local journalist enquired as to the organisation responsible for purchasing and distributing these flags by the hundreds in recent weeks.

Another loyalist representative, Phil Hamilton, not only denied paramilitary involvement in the rioting but also provided this interesting analysis of the cause of the violence:

I don’t think there’s paramilitaries involved in it. I think we’ve seen a community at boiling point and it just shows what can happen, people’s tempers and patience have just gone thin.

“What I do think this has been is the community venting its anger against the PSNI and their reckless decision to remove the Union flag.(my italics)

The inference that the removal of the Union Flag sparked the violence is important as, if it transpired that the PSNI apology was in regard to the removal of this flag, then that clearly sends out a message to loyalists that the PSNI will acquiesce in any intimidatory antics which involve the erection of the British National flag whenever and wherever loyalists desire, as has been the case in Antrim previously.

Already I have noted in earlier threads the failure of unionist political representatives to make even the slightest of gestures to indicate that Peter Robinson’s expressed desire to broaden unionism’s appeal beyond the protestant community is anything more than hollow rhetoric. Indeed, I noted how the primary focus for that appeal was likely to be the more liberal wing of unionism, still yet to be convined by a DUP-led unionism.

But the inability of such political representatives to concede that such a wilful act of sectarian intimidation as that in evidence in Ballyclare deserves condemnation underlines the fact that there is little desire to conceive of a unionism detached from explicitly sectarian and supremacist trappings.

Is it possible to find a unionist political representative who will publicly state that erecting loyalist flags of any and all hues outside a catholic church is a sectarian act, not least in a town which is overwhelmingly unionist and with plenty of other places to erect the flags?

If not, then why not?

Could it be because they agree with the sentiments expressed by former DUP/TUV Antrim councillor, Mel Lucas, who asserted “It’s all British- even the bits outside the chapel” when loyalists in Antrim decided to erect flags outside the catholic church there for nakedly sectarian reasons?

  • lamhdearg

    what a long post, heres a short rebuttal, when in march the irish nationalists in cookstown put the I.R.A./oglaigh na Eireann/irish tricolour flag (Thanks Comrade) the full lenght of cookstowns main street including outside the non roman catholic church, where da F**k where the bleedin hearts and the p.s.n.i. ?.

  • april showers

    Lamhy

    Thats some first class whataboutery there.

  • There should be a law that it is illegal to erect flags etc on public property. for example, lighting, electricity poles, and the like. Bunting, non-paramilitary, should be allowed but for a limited period around significant cultural days and under permit with cost equal to what it what cost the authorities to remove the same; refundable if the named person on the permit removes the bunting within the time limit.

  • Nunoftheabove

    JoeCanuck

    Quite so. This needs legally framed properly and PSNI discretion on its application ‘depending on the circumstances’ should be nought. Any obstruction to the cops removing these items should be substantially racheted up in terms of penalties.

  • keano10

    Dont worry. Slugger is running a bus to The Orange Parade in The Sleepy Hollow of Clogher tomorrow so no doubt we will be inundated with threads tomorrow night letting us know that these Orangemen and their ‘supporters’ are the salt of the earth…

  • pippakin

    keano 10

    Its just PTT (pre twelfth tension) take a placebo and get over it.

  • Cynic2

    An everyday story of country folk ………..

  • keano10

    A remarkable analysis Pippakin. Delighted that you have the luxury of typing that somewhere free from the intimidation suffered by Catholic families in Magherafelt, Coleraine, Carrickfergus and Ballyclare.

    We should allow the loyalists their little bit of “pre-twelfth tension” then, should we…? Why exactly? Because their bigotry is ‘traditional’ at this time of the year? Because The Twelfth is now ‘Orangefest’?

    “Tension” eh? – Just gotta let it go…

  • ayeYerMa

    …. oh, here’s one I missed out to post before. A picture says a thousand words, and Unionists would be wise to highlight such graphics:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/NILT_FUTURE2_unionjack.png

  • pippakin

    keano 10

    You think my ‘analysis’ would be different if I were closer to the ‘action’? Don’t be silly. Most of the parades pass off peacefully, even happily and what’s wrong with that?

    For the rest condemning it only makes the unionist siege mentality kick in and loyalists then believe they have the ‘right’ or more likely the excuse to riot. It might actually have a better effect if the more contentious parades took place in empty streets and bands and thugs passed by with nothing more intimidating than an army of police cameras.

    Btw did I say PTT was a purely loyalist condition? I don’t think I did. Loyalists need to learn the north is big enough for their bands not to need to go where they are not welcome, and republicans need to learn that tolerance harms no one.
    .

  • thethoughtfulone

    Having read the initial post and subsequent replies, it’s obvious that rumours about the demise of bigotry in Northern Ireland have been greatly exaggerated.

    Seems to be alive and well on both sides!

  • PaulT

    Actually lambdearg, kinda put his finger on what I was thinking.

    Unionists will not accept the tricolour as they claim its been ‘hijacked’ by republicans.

    So has militant unionism ‘hijacked’ the union flag? (again)

  • Rory Carr

    …and you, Pippakin, really ought to give some thought to what you intend to write before you post it. This for example:

    “For the rest condemning it only makes the unionist siege mentality kick in…”

    is no less than an exhortation of the “Croppy, lie down !” sort and compares with AyeYerMa’s assertion on another thread that the only way to deal with those offended by the purposeful intimidatory flying of the Union flag was to offend them further with more of the same.

    It is the mentality produced in a boy by a cruel father who, when his son cries during a whipping, determines to whip him more to teach him not to cry. And of course it is all the boy’s fault.

    For you however to defend a thoughtless flippancy of the “It’s just PTT – get over it” sort with a even more thoughtless suggestion that protesting loyalist intimidation of minority Catholic communities should be avoided because “it only makes the unionist siege mentality kick in…” is quite insulting.

    Do try to think before you jump.

  • “Whilst Sinn Fein representatives have had little difficulty condemning the actions of dissident republicans”

    Chris, this would be the same PRM that has done so much worse than the so called dissident republicans; hypocrisy appears to come very easily to that movement and its camp followers.

  • pippakin

    Rory Carr

    Put your wooden spoon away I’m neither impressed or wounded. No doubt you are making your proud republican stand from London, as usual. If there is trouble or even riots this year the only ones likely to be arrested are the young. The leaders will be pouring fuel on the flames from the rear, also as usual. If that happens then a young life may well be on the road to a criminal record and permanent unemployment. I think that’s too high a price to pay just to object to something that does little harm and if left alone would probably fade away in these times of more sophisticated amusements.

    The ‘I’m a republican, I’m a victim, gotta pity me’ is very, very tired.

  • Rory Carr

    Once again, Pippakin, your last sentence in an otherwise lamentably off-the-point-entirely response (as usual) is quite gratuitously nasty and ignores the actuality of the fear and harrassment caused to small Catholic communities by loyalist thuggery almost without fail year weary year. Where anywhere in this whole thread or in any aspect of these riots has the cry “‘I’m a republican, I’m a victim, gotta pity me’ been raised except in your own fevered imagination as yoy scurry to defend the indefensible?

    Give it up. Go and lie down and have a spell of meditation or whatever it is that might calm you down.

    As for me – I am off to the riveria. Toodle pip!

  • Nice to know that the good folk of Helen’s Bay also felt “threatened” by the appearance of sectarian flags (or was it just the one?). After all, such things come in sets of eighteen, and only on the greens — there may be an irony in that.

    So, perhaps the answer lies in property values.

    I had to look up the meaning of “witches’ knickers” on the other thread. Bunting and dead polythene: I know which I find lunatic and which merely unsightly. JoeCanuck @ 5:54 a.m. is on the right lines: but surely these obscenities (and, for anyone who sees any value in flags, a dreary, ragged, washed out bit of cheap cotton, left over from the late ’90s, is close to that) are covered by the planning laws — or whatever their equivalent is in NI. In the same vein, lamp-posts and telephone poles are not “public” property — they are owned: I doubt that their owners were consulted, and therefore could order or undertake the removal of these nonsenses. They don’t, so is that complicity or cravenness?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Chris, this would be the same PRM that has done so much worse than the so called dissident republicans; hypocrisy appears to come very easily to that movement and its camp followers.

    The thing is, Nevin, the republicans have a history of being subversive and using violence. Accordingly, a requirement was added as part of the St Andrews negotiations that anyone participating in government would have to unequivocally support the work of the police and the courts.

    The attitudes of the unionist politicians who have so far chosen to comment on this matter fall short of this requirement. That requires us to trust the police to do their job, and use the accountability mechanisms provided by the DPP, the Police Board and through our elected representatives when we believe they do their job badly. By compelling the police to apologize, and by issuing these mealy-mouthed “explanations” whenever loyalists choose to riot, unionist politicians are undermining the rule of law when they should be upholding it. Our police should be entitled to the unequivocal support of our politicians – right across the board – when they are doing their job.

    Secondly, and I know this is a common theme of mine, one can’t help but to ask why the DUP feel the need to be so equivocal about this rioting. Clearly they feel there is a constituency whose electoral support they need to retain. It’s very disappointing that the DUP seem to think that there are more votes in being equivocal about the actions of the police than there are votes in swinging fully behind the police and calling for tough actions against rioters (of all shades).

  • carnmoney.guy

    Roll up roll up….Orange Fest is here again, like all celebrations and festivals, the bunting is thicker and longer, the flags are more numerous, bigger and brighter. The bonfires are lit earlier in the centre of the hijacked cars and buses.
    The fire works display has been moved to 3am, and is directed at police landrovers.
    The lighting display is provided by psni helicopter.
    We welcome the return of Action Painting, based again in Harryville, but consideration to other sites is on going.
    The annual favourite of Turning a Blind Eye has been wonderfully displayed by our politicians, and well done to the police for catching up from a slow start……..
    Remember our new scoring system, bonus points are awarded if the Catholic family forced to move have lived in their home for over 10 years.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Malcolm,

    The street furniture is owned by the DRD Roads Service and it is illegal to hang anything on them without obtaining their permission first. The only exception to this I am aware of is when there is an election on – there is a specific legal right to hang election posters so many weeks before and after polling day. Outside of that, the owners of the posters can be prosecuted.

    This problem goes to the heart of what goes on in this country – a la carte law and order. The bonfire lighting, the flag and bunting flying – all of it illegal and all of it tolerated by the authorities who fear the threat of violence were the law to be imposed.

  • I also had to look up “the flags protocol” (used above, as quoted from David Ford, and I’ve seen the same term used widely elsewhere).

    I found it as Appendix 2 of QUB’s Public Displays of Flags and Emblems in Northern Ireland Survey 2006-2009, which seems a thoroughly reasonable document. It doesn’t move the debate on very far, but it notes, for example, that 80.3% (such precision!) of flags are on lamp-posts — and these are the least likely to be removed. That, as I suggested above, could constitute complicity or cravenness. When I’ve seen “the linesman for the county” up the pole, carefully skirting the attached flag, it has to be deliberate.

    However, the “flags protocol” (now that I’ve found it) is specific:

    to address:
    • The removal of all flags and emblems from arterial routes
    and town centres;
    • The removal of all paramilitary flags and displays;
    • The control of displays of flags and emblems in particular
    areas: e.g.: mixed and interface areas and near buildings
    such as schools, hospitals, places of worship and
    community halls;
    • Flag flying should be limited to particular times and
    particular dates; and that:
    • where flags are displayed for a festive or other occasion,
    that the display is reasonably time-bounded and that:
    • flags, including plastic ties, tape and poles, should be
    removed
    by the community after the agreed period;
    • To encourage communities to accept that flags displayed
    which are tattered and torn or discoloured do not enhance
    the environment and should be removed.

    [My emphases]

  • CS, you don’t seem to be much troubled by PRM hypocrisy. It’s not so very long ago that Gerry Adams praised communal confrontation and the Irish government and some Jesuit clergy colluded with it.

    “Three years’ work went into creating that situation, and fair play to those people who put the work in”. According to Mr. O’Brien, the Sinn Fein president concluded: “And they are the type of scene changes that we have to focus in on, and develop, and exploit.”

    I’d like to see the law being applied irrespective of class, creed or political affiliation but, as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, the police operate within political constraints which have either been agreed by London and Dublin or have been specified by London alone. Do you imagine that the Minister of Justice will recommend that such political policing should stop? Were London and/or Dublin civil servants involved in the process that led to PSNI actions in Ballyclare?

  • Malcolm, I’d be surprised if the paramilitaries, loyalist and republican, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are much troubled by such legal niceties, such protocols.

    We can rant and rave, stamp our feet, be arch hypocrites but it seems that President McAleese is very relaxed about the whole murky business; I’ve not been invited to play golf with her hubby and wasn’t invited to meet the Queen 😉

  • Ah, sure, Nevin @10:24 am, it’s that à la carte law and order, as so nicely expressed by Comrade Stalin @ 9:47 am. Not so different from, if less rewarding than the menu dégustation enjoyed until recently by MPs and non-dom media moguls.

    However, I am seriously troubled you may be discountenanced in not receiving an invite to Áras an Uachtaráin, to rub shoulders with a Head of State and various nouveaux-riches, made good by “murky business”, some even of pretentious Germanic origins. (Yes: I’ve recently worked my way through Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle).

  • Oh, Law! Insert [/b] and [/i] as appropriate.

    Yet more apologies.

  • chewnicked

    The events of the summer thus far confirms that loyalist drug-dealing terrorists are in charge of the unionist community. That is the only conclusion that can be taken in light of the failure of unionist politicians to condemn and confron those who have initiated the violence.Craven cowardice of the worst kind.Why am I not surprised?

  • Reader

    Malcolm Redfellow: (Yes: I’ve recently worked my way through Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle).
    Hmmph. I got my knuckles rapped here for daring to mention it when Pete started an otherwise barren thread on Isaac Newton. Fiction being off topic on some Slugger threads apparently.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    I had to laugh at the C4 story in Chris’ OP: Local Sinn Fein councillors argue that there’s a link between the criminal element in the community and dissidents – they have a commonality of purpose to attack the police.

    Couldn’t that line of reasoning have applied to Sinn Féin a few years earlier?

  • Reader @t 11:28 am:

    I think it’s tradition that Dewi starts the summer reading thread.

    He’s been a very naughty boy.

  • andnowwhat

    Excellent point made there by David Ford.

    The road service will take people up for mounting a sign advertising a school jumble sale but not flags.

    There’s a simple answer, no flags to be flown from any publicly owned property including “street furniture”.

  • wee buns

    Keano
    please try to ignore the supercilious preaching; being told that you are over reacting and a tad more tolerance would make the problem of loyalist violence melt away. The writer has not a baldy notion what she spouts about, but that doesn’t stop the yearly shit stirring. Like that reality TV program where Tory politicians were humbled by having to survive on the dole for a short period- if only Pompouskins could be adopted into a Catholic enclave this week it might cure it.

  • Skinner

    As a unionist I would like to see more leadership here from the UUP in particular. The DUP have always been a bit flimsy when it comes to loyalist symbolism but this is an area where the UUP could make their mark. 90% of unionists would agree strongly with any unionist politician that said the rioting was a disgrace to Queen, country and the union flag, that there was no excuse for it, and that the police should not apologise for doing their legal duty.

  • keano10

    Wee Buns,

    Dont worry – I’m in the zone in relation to those posts! There comes a point (quite regularly on Slugger) where it’s better to stop even attempting to argue the case with certain people. Pointless actually…

    We all have our own ‘realities’ and we are all entitled to them. Having been brought up in Short Strand, the saddest indictment that I can make is that the behaviour of both Orangemen and their followers has not changed a single iota over the past few decades.

    The Good Friday Agreement, St Andrews Agreement et al, has come and gone and these (thousands) of people will srill be hurling sectaraian abuse as they pas St Matthews Chapel on their homeward journey tomorrow night. Perhaps Slugger should run a bus to that destination instead of Clogher and witness a piece of ‘living history’??

    Men, Women and most sadly of all even their kids will hurl the obscenities. I dont think it matters a single iota that there are country parades in exclusively Unionist towns which will pass off peacefully. Why the hell would’nt they?? Is’nt that what all parades should do…?

    Ultimatelty it is The Orange Instituion itself which stands indicted (at least by myself). The charge being that it is intrinsicly and constitutionally a blatantly sectarian organisation.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Recently flags were put up on the lamp posts out side my church, there and no where else on the road, it is Presbyterian Church with the majority of members having strong orange connections, I do not like them there, and many other members have said the same, it is not right outside a church. However to date neither myself or any others have been brave enough to take them down!

    There is a time and place to fly the flag, and yes I do enjoy seeing town decorated at this time of the year, broadly the “flags protocol” is a good enough basis, if applied with a bit of flexibility it could form a way forwards in years to come.

    As for Ballyclare, reading between the lines “community representatives” have told the police and politicians they can turn the violence on and off if they want, to most the price of taking some of the blame is a small price to pay to prevent things escalating, its a dangerous game but better than the alternative.

    It is obvious this is not just “an alienated community” or what ever the jargon is these day, but there is paramilitary involvement somewhere, on the other hand the paramilitaries could not pull it off without some degree of alienation in these communities, both feed each other and have to be tackled, power plays and increased alcohol has much more influence than any date on the calendar.

  • skinner [1.29p.] If you’re hoping for leadership on this from The UUP as ‘led’ by Elliot, his latest utterings don’t give you much hope for that. He has been frothing away at ‘Sinn Fein/IRA’ at a weekend march. [wee Jeffrey must be envious as, in the DUP, he’s banned from even using this comfort blanket anymore]. The silence from the DUP on this last fortnight of loyalist violence shows they haven’t progressed an inch in 40 years of accepting ‘civil and religious liberty from any but their own side.

  • andnowwhat

    Unconfirmed but according to Twitter, there’s a Polish Flag alongside the tricolour on a bonny on the Castlereagh Rd

  • Shy Talk

    I suppose its good to see the Pols getting a bit of equality of treatment!

  • Although curiously PSNI investigate attacks on Poles as “racist” and attacks on Catholics (or indeed Protestants) as “sectarian”.
    Seems odd to accept one as “traditional” and the other as somehow alien to us.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I just went past the bonfire in Rathcoole (O’Neill Rd). It has a big tricolour on the top plus – get this – an effigy of a guy in a balaclava nailed to a massive cross. Below that a sign is marked “culture b4 cash”. There are tyres the whole way around the bonfire.

    The Linfield Road bonfire is covered with Sinn Fein election posters, topped by Martin McGuinness’ poster and a tricolour. No tyres, just lots of rubbish.

    There is nothing positive whatsoever about these displays. I can’t think of a direct correlation on the republican side where people so outwardly display their hatred for the opposite politicians and flag.

    Nevin,

    CS, you don’t seem to be much troubled by PRM hypocrisy.

    Why would I talk about PRM hypocrisy on a thread about loyalists and the 12th ?

    keano:

    The Good Friday Agreement, St Andrews Agreement et al, has come and gone and these (thousands) of people will srill be hurling sectaraian abuse as they pas St Matthews Chapel on their homeward journey tomorrow night. Perhaps Slugger should run a bus to that destination instead of Clogher and witness a piece of ‘living history’??

    Why don’t you do one better and make a video of the incident, and then stick it up on youtube ?

    drumlins rock:

    As for Ballyclare, reading between the lines “community representatives” have told the police and politicians they can turn the violence on and off if they want, to most the price of taking some of the blame is a small price to pay to prevent things escalating, its a dangerous game but better than the alternative.

    eh ?? What happened to traditional law-abiding unionism ?

  • There is something about the Mad Month or even this Mad Week that brings out the worst in people, including possibly myself.
    And just occasionally it brings out the best…….
    Nineteen years ago I attended my uncles funeral in a small Protestant dominated village (perhaps significantly in the light of the reasonable stance of Drumlins Rock above) at the edge of the Clogher Valley.
    The local “Orange” folks could not have been more respectful. I think I have previously paid tribute to them on Slugger O’Toole.
    Good manners.

    In my little village, I will not see an Orangeman. Which with respect is one of the reasons I actually live here.
    Two miles down the road there is a small Orange Hall.
    They walk about 200 metres to their bus every Twelfth. As far as I know, nobody bothers them. Good manners.
    Several years ago some Orange band staged an impromtu late night walk thru the village and made a run for the bus. Not locals apprarently.
    Bad manners.
    Alas it was the local Orange folks who “suffered”.
    The next year they made their traditional walk to their bus………thru what might be called politely……agricultural waste product.
    Spreading that liberally…….actually very liberally ……was bad manners.

    But theres a fault line here. Its not just geographic….east and west of the Bann. Its a fault line of attitude.
    And the epicentre is on Garvaghy Road.
    I live a short distance away.
    And thats where it all went wrong. Marching where you arent wanted and actually enjoying and revelling in the fact that you arent wanted is bad manners.
    And the Orange Order lost a lot of respect….except among its own supporters at that time.
    The curious spectacle of “decent” Orangemen from small villages in Tyrone and Fermanagh being invited to support the Drumcree brethren (people that most decent Orangemen would be wary of) was one that backfired in Tyrone and Fermanagh, concentrating bad mannered folks in villages using Drumcree as a stick with which to put pressure on local Orangemen who had been unbothered for years.
    Certainly in the early and mid 1960s my chosen holiday destination was Coalisland in County Tyrone. I recall the local Orange Parade very well. Unbothered by locals.

    Yet the over-reliance on the “Queens Highway” and now seemingly that the ground outside Ballyclares Catholic Church as being as “British as anywhere else” is the same kinda arrogance which is just plain bad manners.

    There is a faux “lets get alongerism” as always. Presenting the Twelfth as a Mardi Gras wont work. Not on the Garvaghy Road. And not in Ballyclare.
    Im not really going to say that “Ballyclare” is the real Orangeism. My own positive experience of Caledon, County Tyrone nineteen years ago cant allow me to say that.
    But suffice to say that Orangeism at this time of the year (and arguably the response to it) brings out the best and worse….in people. In “us”.
    Certainly there is no progress available if traditional bonfires burn Irish flags and symbols. Or indeed Polish ones.
    Bad manners.
    “Faux lets get alongerism” does not confront this.
    It invites only the “British” norm.
    Roll on next week.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I like that idea. Good manners. When the problem has been resolved, that has been how it has been done. eg Derry.

    I wonder who exactly is impressed with the notion of “Orangefest”. Not the people who do not celebrate the 12th .. and almost certainly not the diehards who would no doubt see it as a watering-down of the glorious spectacle to some sort of inoffensive shopping day out.

  • wee buns

    keano
    ‘I dont think it matters a single iota that there are country parades in exclusively Unionist towns which will pass off peacefully. Why the hell would’nt they?? Is’nt that what all parades should do…?’

    Of course. Rossnowlagh is a glimpse of a what a normal Orange parade looks like (a first for me in 45yrs; I even attended voluntarily).
    People who use the ‘normal parades elsewhere’ argument to excuse loyalist aggression in the S Strand, Garvaghy etc, are absolutely blindly caught up in their own agenda, whatever that may be, but usually it involves avoiding criticism.

  • “That requires us to trust the police to do their job, and use the accountability mechanisms provided by the DPP, the Police Board and through our elected representatives when we believe they do their job badly”

    CS, you still appear to be very naive when it comes to political policing. For example, the actions of Dublin Ministers and civil servants in relation to policing policy and day-to-day decisions are NOT subject to the accountability you refer to. Do you suppose AP leader and Minister of Justice is equally underinformed?

  • Hopping The Border

    Excellent post FJH.

  • Comrade Stalin

    CS, you still appear to be very naive when it comes to political policing.

    You seem to be trying to bend every single thread to your off-topic agenda, Nevin. I’m sure that’s what has had you repeatedly carded lately.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “my chosen holiday destination was Coalisland”

    I never imagined I would ever read about Coalisland as a holiday destination! poor poor FJH, such a deprived childhood. 🙂

    OK being a bit cheeky there, Coalisland has loads of redeeming features. Will think of something soon, in the meantime the difference in rural and urban is one of the greatest cultural divides in the world, transcending and infecting every culture. We don’t do bonfires, and I have only started attending one in recent years (family owns adjoining property to one so go to keep an eye on things) and don’t like burning flags of any country, although would not regard it as a “blasphemy” even if it was the Union Flag, however there is sometihng in almost all of us that is fascinated by fires and it is hard not to cheer along when it all light or or eventually topples over.
    Locally the number of fires has dropped from six to only two now I believe, and both of these are unlikely to continue for many more years as the ground they are on is redeveloped. In some ways it will be sad to see a part of the culture and traditions die, but in other ways much of that culture has to go for the good of everyone.

  • Rapunsell

    On holiday in England yet strangely addicted to local news. Profoundly depressed mind you. NI remains a fucked up place.

    What sort of society do we have when illegal paramilitary organisations instigate violence with impunity, their ex prisoner member organisations ( who any of us who have ever worked with ( and the funding bodies) always assumed current membership ) receive substantial public funds and not its reported on slugger won’t be playing any role to prevent tension turning into violence at Ardoyne?

    What the fuck is going on when the police apologise to a community for taking down flags? When I suggested to local police a few years ago that i’d personally take down illegally erected flags in my village that they and DRD declined to deal with( the flags protocol was designed precisely to enable NIHE, PSNI, DRD and others to avoid taking down flags) they informed me that I could get arrested for breach of the peace. This was in a mixed village where the flag erecters came in the middle of the night and put up fags.

    What’s going on when I can’t dump waste tyres ( even 1 or 2 ) , small amounts of silage wrap, plasterboard or contaminate my blue wheely bin with the wrong type of plastic bottle in the local council amenity site – yet – some people can gather and burn hundreds of tyres illegally causing serious environmental pollution, destruction of public property, risk to the homes of some of their own neighbours.

    I’m worried that people are going to get injured and/or killed in the coming days and from what I can see on the web etc I see precious few people telling people to wise the fuck up.

  • CS, when you talk demonstrable nonsense about accountability in policing it needs to be challenged, not least when you align yourself with the Alliance Party, the party that holds the justice portfolio.

  • Just for the record, I brought a visitor to Derry (via that god awful Ulster-American Folk Park) in August 2009 and there was a bonfire being prepared to go up in smoke near the Bogside Inn.
    It was festooned with several orange flags, British flags and at least one Israeli flag.
    There is a certain bad mannered symmetry to it all.
    And therein lies the crux of it al……damned bad manners.

    Im not a big fan of burning flags. They mean something to somebody.
    Of course lecturers in the dark arts of Conflict Resolution have a habit of producing Irish and British flags like Paul daniels and threatening to burn them for gullible 18 year olds and even more gullible American exchange students……..and inviting us to believe that they are mere cloth and “symbols”.
    Huh……ya dont say Sherlock. Symbols are er symbols. Thats almost profound.

    But the fact of the matter is that burning a flag shows disrespect not just to what the flag symbolises. It shows disrespect to the people who value what it symbolises.

    For the record the worst example of nastiness that I saw at bonfore time was at Seapatrick near Banbridge. A very large sign saying “Neil Lennon RIP”. Very very unpleasant.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, I have no interest whatsoever in your black helicopter theories or your attempts to drag the discussion off topic. The mechanisms that exist are not perfect but they are there and with the right will they can be made to work. I do not buy into your cynical perception of the world. That may make me naive in your book, I rather prefer to believe that there are ways that problems can be solved (because I’ve seen it done) rather than sit around all day moaning and grumbling about how things will never change and it’s all a big stitch up by London and Dublin.

    FJH – indeed. As I mentioned earlier, the bonfire in Rathcoole has a massive crucifix with an effigy wearing a balaclava on it. To me there is a deeply sinister edge to someone who would conceive and implement something like that. That’s not a family day out, that’s akin to a KKK ceremony.

  • orly

    Whats the problem with flying the union flag anywhere and everywhere?

    In Canada you can’t walk for more than a couple of minutes in any half built up area without spotting one of their national flags on a house, a shop, a government building or even attached to the aerial of a car. They’re all over the place.

    Back home you see them too rarely.

  • orly

    oh, and they’re on flagpoles in front of, or attached to the roof of every McDonalds in Canada too.

    Imagine.

  • Indeed. Im sure that the new Mayor of Newtownabbey, former tax officer Billy Webb is as outraged as you and me. Is Rathcoole in his DEA?
    Im sure he has already made representations to Glengormley PSNI?

  • Orly,

    That is true but the Canadian flag unites and doesn’t divide. And, I’ve rarely, if ever, seen a tattered one.

  • And, many places fly the USA flag too even though they are but our neighbours.

  • orly

    Seen many tattered/damaged ones. There’s a car repair place with one in the window across from where I am now and it’s nearly pink it’s so faded.

    As for division – should we not be allowed to fly the national flag because some people get “offended” by it? It’s the national flag for christ sake. Imagine if these sorts refused to pay their taxes or didn’t want any coins in their pocket with the Queens head on it. Quelle surprise if they couldn’t take their dole money for the same reason!. Should we re-arrange to suit in these cases?

    Perhaps they should, to use a popular online gaming phrase spoken to whiners, “cry a wee river, build a bridge and get over it”

    I agree that paramilitary and tricolour flags should be removed as a matter of course.

  • “I do not buy into your cynical perception of the world.”

    CS, I ask questions; I exchange views with those who are practitioners; I present the evidence; I leave it to others to draw their own conclusions.

  • SK

    “I agree that paramilitary and tricolour flags should be removed as a matter of course.”

    Why should tricolours be removed? Because some people are ‘offended’ by it? Perhaps they should, to use a popular online gaming phrase spoken to whiners, “cry a wee river, build a bridge and get over it”

  • orly

    Same reason a union flag would be/should be removed in Louth or Kilkenny.

    It’s not rocket science SK

  • SK

    Orly,

    Tricolours are not illegal, a lot of people seem to really like the thing, so why should it be removed?

  • JM

    Orly,

    I take it you haven’t been to Quebec to check out the flag situation then? Not too many Maple Leaf flags flying there!

  • orly

    Spent a little time in Quebec. It’s a bit “2nd world” but, just like NI (and now the ROI) it milks the national government for billions in transfer payments. Even Quebecers can play the “it’s not really Canada” just like some can play “It’s not really the UK”.

    It’s like a white supremacist deciding to holiday in South Africa but, on arrival, declares all black people should be removed from sight because he finds them offensive lesser life forms.

    You’re in the UK – fly the flag.
    When I go to the south, fly a tricolour
    Same for every other country. Fly your flags…just make sure you’re in the right country first before you hoist them.

  • SK

    “You’re in the UK – fly the flag.
    When I go to the south, fly a tricolour”

    _

    It’s not so much the flag as the intentions of the person flying it.
    The people waving the union jack on the 12th are often the same tossers who were buring the tricolour the night before, so it’s not difficult to see where your simplistic “stick them up everywhere” approach falls a wee bit short.

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘Shoot,if you must,this old grey head,but spare your countries flag,’she said.

  • ayeYerMa

    “compares with AyeYerMa’s assertion on another thread that the only way to deal with those offended by the purposeful intimidatory flying of the Union flag was to offend them further with more of the same. ”

    Great bit of twisting my words there to suit your own agenda Rory Carr!

    I’ve repeatedly spoken out against paramilitary flags. I’ve also made the point that the UK flag is generally seen as benign by 90+% of the population (all but a vocal extremist minority). I’ve therefore already said as part of this thread (if you actually cared to read my words) that both those being offended, and if indeed any Loyalists are actually trying to intentionally offend, then the Union Flag is not something that can be seriously considered an offensive symbol, NOR SHOULD IT BE MADE ONE.

    My main point (where you haven’t been listening either) has not been in relation to individual cases on the street, but been more concerned with the respect that the flags of the country receive at the top. If the sovereign flag that represents us ALL is not given respect in the one place where it DESERVES to be given respect in government (such as the recent antics from Sinn Fein to remove the Union Flag from City Hall under this false guide of “equality”) then no one can really use the “respect” argument to encourage flag reduction elsewhere.

    The aggressive shit-stirring antics that Sinn Fein carry out on this issue at the top only encourage many out there to feel the need to put up more and more flags. If the naive do-gooders out there do bow to such Sinn Fein antics and make out that the Union Flag is “offensive” full-stop, then I’d only encourage all Loyalists out there to absolutely plaster every single lane, alley, street, hamlet, village and town in as many Union and Ulster flags as possible (and that’s saying something as there are already a lot!). I’ve never personally felt the need to fly a flag from my property, but trying to portray the sovereign flag as “offensive” in clearly inoffensive situations only makes me want to put a giant one out 365 days a year.

  • Nunoftheabove

    ayeYerMa

    Does anyone ever actually feel the need to fly any flag from their property ? Feel the need ? Need ?! Honestly ?

    Why should anyone esteem the feelings or opinions of anyone with cognitive wiring quite that faulty ?

    And in what respect/s does any sovereign flag anywhere actually represent anyone ? Represent ?! You think so ?

    “….only makes me want to put a giant one out 365 days a year.”

    Makes you ? Makes ?! Giant one ? Giant ?! Like….really really really, like, massive ?

    I believe that this comment tells as quite a bit about what you think and, more importantly, how you think. So thanks 🙂

  • orly

    SK,

    Not everywhere but a bit more would be good overall.

    Taking a dander around this fairly residential area in Ottawa and can, in the distance most people would walk their dog, see about a half dozen flying from various locations.

    Could walk for miles back home and not see a single one. Depressing stuff.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FJH:

    Indeed. Im sure that the new Mayor of Newtownabbey, former tax officer Billy Webb is as outraged as you and me. Is Rathcoole in his DEA?
    Im sure he has already made representations to Glengormley PSNI?

    I’m sure if you cared you would just send him an email.

    ayeYerMa:

    In a shared space there shouldn’t be any flags flying. If you have some sort of primordial need to look up and see the right bit of coloured cloth overhead in order to feel safe, then you have issues.

    There are lots of areas that are mostly Protestant where you won’t find any flags, and indeed where people will resist them being erected. You’ll find that they generally don’t go up anywhere people care about things like property values. You might want to ask yourself why that is.

  • SK

    “Taking a dander around this fairly residential area in Ottawa and can, in the distance most people would walk their dog, see about a half dozen flying from various locations.”

    _

    Facile argument. Ottawa is not a divided society still reeling from several decades of civil conflict.

    Why is it always emigrants who are the most hardline when it comes to things like this? Absence makes the heart grow stauncher?

  • Comrade Stalin @ 11:52 am:

    You’ll find that [flags] generally don’t go up anywhere people care about things like property values.

    Which concisely underlines a theme running through the QUB study I noted above. Yet it goes further than any “Helen’s Bay syndrome”. That QUB study has this:

    Perhaps the most striking results came from the question of whether people support flag flying on lampposts in their area. In 2008 a resounding 84% said that they did not. If these figures are broken down, even among groups that might be expected to be supportive of such practices, such as people from Protestant working-class backgrounds, the majority of people said that they did not want flags in their area. This suggests that there are no areas of Northern Ireland where people are fully supportive of displays of flags on lampposts and that in most areas a majority, or large majority, of people would rather flags did not fly on lampposts.
    Whilst this in no way delegitimises people’s right to express their identity, it does remind us that community support for such practices is limited. Most people, in most areas, would rather there were no flags flying on lampposts, or that flag flying was limited to shorter periods of time.
    This is reflected in figures that suggest nearly four in 10 people are less likely to shop in areas where they see such displays. In other words, survey evidence suggests that the flying of flags has a detrimental effect on the economic well-being of certain areas.

    It’s the problem I have with the local feral fox: it insists my lawn is part of its territory and repeatedly marks it accordingly. I’m not taken by this attitude; but I’m unable to see the bugger off.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Malcolm, indeed. I wonder how many of the people here defending the hanging of Union Jacks both own their own property, and approved the setting up of bunting and flags outside their own window.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Malcolm

    Not Basil Brush’s fault he’s bothering you my dear; to the contrary – you want to catch you intolerant self on and show a bit of consideration for the rights of decent, hard-working family-loving tax-paying Mr Fox….blah blah blah….if you choose to live within, say, 100 miles of a hen house then…. blah blah…provocation..blah blah blah….systematic anti-fox media bias….blah blah….shared garden space…hunting with the hounds….blah blah…orchestrated Fox-Seagull propaganda….blah blah…negative stereotyping about canidaes culture……rights and traditions long recognized within the fox community…chickens are no angels, let me tell you….blah blah…foxes have been here for hundreds of years…. blah blah……often unfairly characterized as cunning…..blah blah….vulpes discrimen…blah blah..occasionally led astray by the demagogic Mr Roy….

  • Nunoftheabove @ 1:11 pm:

    OK: I accept I am insufficiently multi-species-ist.

    So, what about the lily beetles that are doing for our (yellow) ones? Is Bug Blaster politically-incorrect?

    [Which reminds me. Very tangential to this serious topic.

    Years ago, here in darkest Norf Lunnun, I encountered my kids’ CofE primary-school teacher working behind one of my favourite bars — which tells you more than you need to know. This threw me, so I asked why.

    He — yes, one of those endangered males working in junior schools — said he had walked out. He had been told his maths-teaching was “not sufficiently God-orientated”.]

  • Nunoftheabove

    Numeracy is not much more than a thinly veiled communist-atheist front, as literally all prevailing evidence permissible within the Creationist teaching fraternity confirms. ‘Innocent’ bartender today, the very divil Himself tomorrow, you mark my words (but not my decimal points if it’s all the same to you). If the Almighty had Intelligently Designed us to worship numbers after all he’d have had his Word scrolled onto spreadsheets rather than papyrus. C’est simple.

    Bug Blasting on the other hand is a fiendishly popish plot carried out by the colossally perverted Jesuit agents of Rome operating through the Fourth-Green-Field-hunting pollutants, pox and weasels of the Republic of Ireland, as is well established and indeed scripturally ordained. Yellow ones have taken an appalling drubbing over the years at the hands of the unSaved gardener and darned the bit of help they’ve had from the eco-Lundy fraternity in Westminster, many of them in the pay of bloodlusting snails and unrepentent worms.

    That so-called Diarmuid Gavin has a very great deal on his conscience, I can tell you.

  • Alas Comrade Stalin, the current Mayor of Newtownabbey is not on my friends list. Perhaps you know him better than I do.
    I have not seen the offending bonfire (actually I dont suppose it matters now) and I am not perhaps as personally vexed about it as you.
    I merely point out that there is posturing and actualy trying to do something……and that Mayor Webb might actually be in a position to do something.
    On the other hand as he got loyalist support for his election as Mayor, he may decide not to bother.

  • SK

    ” If the naive do-gooders out there do bow to such Sinn Fein antics and make out that the Union Flag is “offensive” full-stop, then I’d only encourage all Loyalists out there to absolutely plaster every single lane, alley, street, hamlet, village and town in as many Union and Ulster flags as possible (and that’s saying something as there are already a lot!). ”

    _

    AyeYerMa,

    You seem to swing wildly between abhoring tribalism and reveling in it. I know it’s silly hat day and everything, but try and maintain a bit of consistency.

  • Greenflag

    It’s at times like this that Greenflag regrets somewhat his choice of moniker . On the other hand there’s no flag like the Greenflag

    http://flagspot.net/flags/ie-green.html

    Erin go Bragh and all that and why not 🙂