To Ballyclare journeyed I earlier this week, reviving memories of the summer of ’94, when I spent a few months visiting the bars and clubs of rural Antrim and Down replenishing cigarette vending machines, including in the Ballyclare region.
Ballyclare’s loyalists are clearly fond of their flags, and it took little time to mentally tally a total figure of lamp post flags in excess of 100 in the small town. Intriguingly, the five flags fluttering in unison above one of the roundabouts in the town centre included one for the UDA and UVF each, as well as what appeared to be a British Army regimental flag and welcome ‘our’ troops home flag, all flanking the Union Flag. A mural in the Grange area which faces the Sacred Heart Catholic Church made reference to loyalists ‘standing alone together,’ which I found somewhat oxymoron-ish in the same manner the incorrect translation of Sinn Fein as ‘ourselves alone’ makes one pause for thought.
Several flags with a Star of David in the centre were also on display in the town, as well as the customary nod to Scottish brethren through the fluttering of Andrew’s Saltire.
On only one lamp post did I note two flags, and that was the lamp post directly in front of Sacred Heart Catholic Church on the Doagh Road- which also faces the Catholic Maintained Tir Na Nog Primary School. Furthermore, I noted only two locations with on street red, white and blue bunting: outside the Orange Hall and, secondly, directly outside the PSNI Station, suggesting either a PSNI keen to involve themselves in the festivities or an eagerness on behalf of local loyalists to continue goading the now remorseful PSNI (I’d bet on the latter.)