Speaking of elephants, back in the baseland of East Belfast UVF, an Alliance councillor is too fearful to return home:
McNamee said she was too frightened to return to her house in the Sydenham area near Belfast city airport. The Police Service of Northern Ireland had warned her she and other councillors from the centrist non-sectarian Allliance party were under threat.
The loyalists opposed to any change in the flag policy are targeting prominent Alliance members because the party holds the balance of power on the council. It was their compromise motion – that the union flag would be still be flown on top of city hall on days such as the Queen’s birthday – that led to the union flag no longer being a permanent fixture on the council building.
“The police have told me not to go home until further notice. It is a horrible feeling but as a public representative you expect a backlash but only in terms of politics, not physical threats. They [the police] had us on a high alert from the weekend,” McNamee said.
“I don’t want to be indimiated but I am not stupid because I live on my own and if they are determined enough who knows what they would do? I really don’t know when and if I can go back to my house as itt’s important to feel safe in your own home,” she said.”
And for the record, here’s the PUP’s initial submission to the Belfast City Council’s consultation:
The Progressive Unionist Party’s view of the flag’s issue cannot be divorced from their vision for the future based upon the parameters of the GFA. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom as per the will of the people.
It is the view of the Progressive Unionist Party that while this needs to be respected there is no requirement that all day every day this glaring fact is appreciated. However the flag of a nation is a constitutional symbol and is also internationally recognised, a flag identifies its people and territory.
With these facts in mind, it is our opinion that the Union Flag should fly on a permanent basis outside Belfast City Hall. If this is not possible, our position is that the Union Flag should fly outside Belfast City Hall, Duncrue Complex and the Ulster Hall on the 15 ‘flag days’ as in the rest of the UK and those 4 days exclusive to Northern Ireland (New Year’s Day, Easter Day, 12 July and Christmas Day).
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty