UVF campaign of ‘flying riots’ leaves Unionists isolated…

All’s far in love and war. Sammy Wilson’s intemperate allusion on UTV last night to his own Justice Minister being carried around in a police landrover might have landed more squarely if there wasn’t a series of ‘flying riots’  going on around the place. Today there’s talk of more disruption, yet to be confirmed, in Glengormley.

In the meantime, it seems the only paramilitary organisation yet identified by the PSNI are the UVF, whose own political party the PUP at first backed the designated days for flying the Union and then performed a late swerve.  Henry McDonald in the Guardian notes:

The Guardian has learned that members of the Ulster Volunteer Force from east Belfast and North Down have played a key role in many of the violent protests over the last three days. The UVF is not only officially on ceasefire but also is supposedly disbanding its militaristic structure.

An aggressive and sustained Loyalist campaign that has left both the DUP and UUP somewhat clawing for air.

Update: Mark Devenport comments:

…the violence this week shows how easy it is to stoke latent tensions, and this time the Stormont politicians can’t entirely blame a small unrepresentative minority. In contrast to the activities of dissident republicans, this is a dispute in which, one way or another, the main Stormont parties are deeply embroiled.

Update 2: Alisdair McDonnell has been to visit Alliance’s Carrick office this pm.. Peter Robinson has made this long and detailed statement statement, http://goo.gl/WkEmw

A number of months ago commentators were surprised when I put down a clear marker with Alliance’s David Ford that he was not to remove Royal symbols from the Prison Service. Perhaps now they will understand that the DUP realised where meddling with identity would lead.
Let no one be in any doubt, whether it is the Parades Commission, Alliance or Sinn Fein, the DUP believes in and wants to achieve a shared future for Northern Ireland, a shared future within the Union but that does not require and will not involve any diminution of our Britishness.
Britishness will not be progressed by acts of violence. Anyone engaging in wanton violence or intimidation does not defend our national flag but disgraces it.”

According to Mark Devenport on Twitter, recall is likely for Monday with Sinn Fein rolling in behind Alliance’s call:

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  • Caught redhanded and called on it by the CC, Baggot, the DUP and UUP are squirming off the hook in an attempt to extricate themselves from their fingerprints which are all over these riots. Also the UVF should have learned they’ll get dumped on by the same DUP/UUP lot who put them up to it. Nothing learned from past exploitation. The shadow in the background inspiring all this angst, is Tuesday’s census results.

  • GavBelfast

    I’ve read a number of your posts, Daniel.

    Are you enjoying this violence, angst, mayhem and, in the case of the Alliance politicians and their families concerned, even just a little bit? Maybe even you just can’t help yourself?

    You might reflect on how that comes across.

    Be honest with yourself and the rest of us now.

  • Dec

    The UVF’s response to a manufactured crisis is nothing, if not pavlovian.

    Also hearing reports that Catholic Primary schools in Glengormley have closed early.

  • “Eight flag protests expected to take place today: Comber, 3 in Belfast, Glengormley, Ards, Portadown and Ballymena” .. Rebecca Black on Twitter

    Isn’t the UDA by far the largest loyalist paramilitary organisation? Are its members sitting in front of their TVs during these shenanigans?

    David Ford is on a bit of a mismatch by taking on Sammy Wilson; his ‘SF voted for the raising of the Union flag on the Queen’s birthday’ [my paraphrase of UTV interview that included Jeffrey Donaldson] risks the possibility of bringing the Justice post into ridicule.

    On a foot-note, did BCC fail to carry out a risk assessment in parallel with its equality impact one?

  • Banjaxed

    The DUP brought their dogs of war onto the streets by their full-scale leafleted attack on the Alliance Party. That was their sole agenda. ‘Get East Belfast back’. The Flag was a useful MacGuffin. In recent interviews given by Dodds and on today’s Nolan by Poots the mantra was ‘Alliance, Alliance, Alliance’, hammered home again and again.. Wilson was also at it in saying the Alliance Party brought it on their own shoulders. And after a pathetic interview by Billy Hutchinson last week which in fact was a long whinge about being marginalised, he now (Talkback today) seems to have come around to recognise that yet again the Protestant working class have been used as cannon fodder by both major unionist parties who are now, as usual are now crying, ‘Foul’.

    When will they ever learn…

  • Not ALL unionists are isolated.
    John McCallister and Basil McCrea have apparently supported Alliance & SDLP calls to recall Stormont.
    I do not know how many signatures are required (30???) but a recall seems the right thing to do.

  • Haifish

    To answer Nevin’s post querying what the UDA are doing, the UTV film of the original protest at the back of the City Hall clearly showed at least one prominent Lower Shankill UDA figure carrying the large banner with various flags on it; not sure if this is supported by all UDA “brigades” or a shot across Jackie McDonald’s bows by those opposed to him.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    When you read that article something just doesn’t seem right. Its not dissimilar to the articles around lots of rioting in recent years. You see the footage of kids in hoodies standing around chucking rocks and then read about it all being organised by criminal masterminds.

    Would it be unfair to say that the stories tick several boxes, for sure shadowy figures directing violence is more eyecatching than kids up past their bedtime trying stones. Lets parents off the hook ’tis the terrorists fault, I’m a good parent really’. The ex-terrorists enjoy a bit of limelight. And the cops have an excuse for not sorting the mess out.

    Apparently Queen Boadicea nor Alexandra the Great, were really all that ahem great, after been roundly spanked by the Romans, the Romans then wrote them into history as fearsome, and it made the Romans look even more fearsome for having spanked them.

    For sure the current rioters had a bit of political egging on, but it still looks like a crowd of kids and layabouts. Wouldn’t it be nice to grab Baggott and tell him to stop bigging the whole thing up, it’s a crowd of thugs with rocks, paint bombs and matches and to get stuck in and deal with it pronto.

    It might also be an idea to introduce the same policy used in Britain that anyone in social housing caught behaving in an anti-social manner risks being chucked out of their house.

    TBH, this crack is fun for a while on slugger and then it becomes annoying, it was only a sodding flag, again TBH I think it was a good idea to do what other councils do and not fly it, yeah sure unionists are obliged to whine for a bit but do it and move on. So what the SDLP named a park after a Hungerstriker, there’s wee IRA memorials all over NI.

    I think mixed areas should have no tribal markings and if it’s all one crowd somewhere do your stuff there and that includes marching etc.

  • Paulk

    Gav i’d have to disagree with you there and say Daniel is more concerned (rightly) about laying what has happened at the DUP/UUP doorstep rather than letting them off the hook. Yes Nationalists tabled this vote (as is their right) but with their leafleting campaign and stoking of the fires he’s called them out on it. Also rather than now starting to condemn the violence perhaps DUP/UUPers should have engaged their electorate in a more constructive way rather than the traditional show of muscle which resulted in a young family having to move from their home. To be honest no i’m not enjoying the violence that has happened on this farcical “issue” its utterly shameful. What i ‘m finding rather more interesting is how unionism (DUP/UUP) instigated this trouble with their campaign of intimidation on the Alliance position, and are now tying themselves in knots trying to get themselves the hell away from it, while also trying to somehow justify – but not justify, condemn – but not really condemn the violence, an act of escapology Houdini would be proud of.

  • Mick Fealty


    I wonder. The thing that strikes me about it is what happens when our incumbents decided to get politically active. SF try to barge the cops into releasing one of their own, and this happens when the DUP and UUP try to re-engage the local community in a political argument.

    All suggests our situation has some important fragilities…

    BTW, I think you are right in a sense to ascribe some responsibility, though my closer sense of it is that both bigger parties have just been seriously shafted by the PUP and their close associates in the UVF.

  • Thanks, haifish.

  • GavBelfast

    I only responded to Daniel here because it was an early post.

    I have seen this in others … some give the impression of positively salivating at what is happening, when in fact it is disgusting.

    While it is understandable to have a wry smile at the discomfort of political opponents, especially when they contribute to their own discomfort, virtual licking of lips from the haven of the internet keyboard is a bit nauseating to be honest – especially when it is really on Alliance after all (OK, and the Greens here) who have to always had a totally unequivocal attitude to opposing political violence and mob rule of the sort witnessed this week.

  • Barnshee

    If the Union flag is not good enough for Belfast then Belfast is not good enough for my sterling

    Take you money elsewhere and tell the businesses why you are taking it elsewhere

  • GavBelfast

    By the way, if John McCallister and Basil McCrea are supporting Alliance, and therefore defending the political process at this time, all credit to them.

    One does not have to been an Alliance fan or even like them that much to stand with them at this dreadful time.

    There are good guys and girls around in political Unionism.

  • Actually I think one of the better speeches from the City Hall was by John Kyle of PUP (certainly he seemed “reasonable”). If the “close associates” of PUP are involved, then it does seem like a disconnect in attitude.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sinn Fein statement makes no mention of backing the Alliance recall of the NI Assembly: http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/25212

  • son of sam

    Is this recall request for the Assembly to sit tomorrow (Friday)?Will Stormont not be sitting as normal on Monday next?Are a few days going to make any difference?

  • Mick Fealty

    He’s a very sweet guy. But then Dawn was one of the best performing backbenchers in the last Assembly and she had to up and walk in the end.

    Being stuck to the UVF is a curse for any decent politician.

  • Mick Fealty


  • BarneyT

    lets just hope this peters out before the weekend…as this must be playing merrry hell with the rioters work\life balance

    Seriously….lets hope it does abate. Worrying in many respects

  • iluvni

    What the heck is it with all this ‘recall’ business?

    Why arent the 108 MLAs available today to have a debate now, tonight.
    What the hell else are they doing?

  • GavBelfast You could say that about any number of posters from either side from their posts but they’re all anonymous with fake names so you’re none the wiser about their real views. I take no satisfaction in the riots and although I wouldn’t vote for alliance, I wouldn’t want any harm to them or members of other parties including unionists. I apply the same to riots around parades. In this affair, I see loyalists allowing themselves to be used by sly politicians who disappear and wash their hands of what follows. I;’ve no illusions about motives of nationalist /republican parties either.

  • simtrib

    The DUP brought their dogs of war onto the streets by their full-scale leafleted attack on the Alliance Party. That was their sole agenda. ‘Get East Belfast back’. The Flag was a useful MacGuffin.

    The Chief Constable is quite correct that this was so serious because it was an attack on democracy and the democratic process itself. However those who use the above argument are themselves also attacking democracy and and the democratic process itself. You may not like the DUP trying to win an election by publicising a policy of a rival party that they think some current voters for that rival party will disagree with, but that is the very essence of democracy, just as much as non-intimidation is.

    You cannot on the one hand say that the vote of the council was democratic and then say that campaigning for electoral advantage on the basis of how rival parties exercised their votes in it is somehow anti-democratic. That makes no sense at all.

  • sherdy

    ‘Being stuck to the UVF is a curse for any decent politician’
    Mick, what would any ‘decent politician’ be doing within close enough range of the UVF to get stuck to them?

  • Mick Fealty

    Sherdy, we have good politicians who have taken some very odd, non standard roots to office..

  • Peter Robinson: “Let no one be in any doubt, whether it is the Parades Commission, Alliance or Sinn Fein, the DUP believes in and wants to achieve a shared future for Northern Ireland, a shared future within the Union but that does not require and will not involve any diminution of our Britishness.”

    In other words the largest British Unionist political party on the island of Ireland is stating quite clearly to all other communities in this country that it is a “British Northern Ireland” or nothing else. If you live in the north-east you will be part of “our Britishness” or you will essentially be a non-person.

    So it remains as it always has been: the British Occupied North of Ireland and the last remnants of the British colony.

    Good to know.

  • Hopping The Border

    I do not understand how BCC adhering to the flag policy which Stormont and many other councils in NI (and apparently in GB too) use in some way diminishes Britishness?

    The flag came down on Tuesday morning and will come back up for the next Royal birthday. Between now and then does Northern Ireland become less British?

    What a load of rubbish.

  • tacapall

    The antics by Unionism and Loyalism these last few days betrays the underlying truth about the commitments they made in the GFA to abide by the wishes of the majority. It reveals the truth about how they would react if the British government one day approved a border poll and the result was a majority wanting a UI. Unionist politicians have, like in the past, whipped up mass hysteria knowing full well that loyalist paramilitaries would be behind them and the possibility that it could erupt into violence.

    Unionism refuses to recognise a sizeable minority, just like they were pre partition, class themselves as Irish and their goal is the political aspiration of achieving a UI by peaceful means and using democracy to achieve that goal. It is perfectly normal in any society for politicians to use their numbers to enact change that’s what democracy is and what Unionism signed up for.

    It is unionism that’s in crisis, unable to accept the reality that they agreed in the GFA that nationalism was as equally entitled by political means to change the political landscape as they were, politically and by peaceful means keep the status quo.

  • Red Lion

    I hope John McCallister and Basil McCrea speak out and give proper representation to the majority of unionists who want nothing to do with the latest riots, and try to properly influence mainstream unionism to move in a more liberal direction. Perhaps nows their chance to stand up and be counted, the ‘spark’ to reengage so many would be unionists either turned off from politics generally, or from the DUP.
    When the dust settles, I expect the Alliance vote to hold up in East Belfast.

  • Obelisk

    “A number of months ago commentators were surprised when I put down a clear marker with Alliance’s David Ford that he was not to remove Royal symbols from the Prison Service. Perhaps now they will understand that the DUP realised where meddling with identity would lead”

    For all time let this passage be immortalised. Let anytime Peter opens his mouth to talk about an inclusive Unionism or Nationalism in crisis, let these words be thrown back at him. The words of the true Peter Robinson, still at his core the nasty 80’s political hack thriving on division and the poltics of triumphalism.

    How can anyone ever take him seriously again when he gets up and talks about a modern outward looking and pluralistic Unionism? He is as capable of delivering that as I am of being the next man on the Moon.

    The rest of the press release, and Unionist politicians generally just staggers me due to the lack of empathy. They continually and without fail denigrate MY flag and MY language and MY symbols whenever and wherever we can and then have the brass neck to complain when Nationalist politicians don’t show almost servile acceptance of THEIR flag and THEIR symbols?

    You’d think amidst all the outrage one of them would display a little understanding and empathy to what Nationalists have had to see when our symbols are disrespected. Nope, not a bit of it.

    And into this latest fetid sectarian atmosphere what is coming in a few days? The Final breakdown of the census which should confirm the North is well on it’s way to Catholic Majority. That’ll be another shock to the rattled system now won’t it?

  • Banjaxed[3.06] You’d think Hutchinson was old enough to remember why Paisley’s attempt to rerun the strike weapon in 1977 failed since loyalists at the time caused it to fail by refusing to come out especially from the power stations, so it’s baffling that they’ve seemingly forgotten that learnt lesson.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I am normally very critical of Basil but he has been extremely brave in sticking his neck out to say he had no problem with designated days. He was rounded upon for this by all the other unionists. I also appreciated Basil’s condemnation of the violence which sounded sincere, unlike the mealy mouthed waffle that came from Mike Nesbitt who seems more than content to be Peter Robinson’s poodle these days.

    I also appreciated the first paragraph of Robinson’s statement where he condemned the violence and rioting in strong terms. It’s sad that it took him nearly a full day to get a statement out but I welcome that nonetheless. Unfortunately, for me, Robinson then went on to ruin it by spending almost all of his statement talking about why Alliance were wrong to take the flag down. In particular, he went on to repeat the DUP’s misleading half-truths about the nature of the EQIA survey, and went on to spend a full paragraph justifying the DUP’s strategy of circulating leaflets – the principle factor behind this escalation of tensions – yet he failed to explain exactly what the strategy for circulating the leaflets actually was. I visited Alliance HQ today and the staff present there told me that the circulation of the leaflets continued until a few days before the vote.

    In the last paragraph, Robinson saw fit to add a threat when he said “Perhaps now they will understand that the DUP realised where meddling with identity would lead.”. This is the sort of language I’d expect from a Mafia boss, not the politician who – rightly – put peaceful and democratic means at the core of our political settlement. Does this mean that David Ford should step down as Justice Minister due to the several attacks and protests that have been held at Alliance offices over the period since his appointment ? Is Robinson really advocating that politicians should back off in the face of threats of violence ?

    Looked at as a whole, Robinson’s statement is a classic Robinson come-out-fighting bad tempered kneejerk reaction, just like his disastrous interview with Seamus McKee three years ago where he ranted and raved impatiently at Seamus McKee. Perhaps his anger is to do with the fact that his fine talk of outreach and having a vision of sharing is now in tatters, and as I commented here following the DUP conference we are seeing simply that when the DUP hit a bump in the road they react by circling the wagons and going to ground.

  • Comrade Stalin gets this 100% right.
    The debate on Monday will be interesting in respect of who speaks and for how long. I hope it is not hampered by d’hondt rules as I think that Alliance deserve the lions share of speaking time here….Ford, Farry, Dickson, Cochrane and/or Lyttle need to be heard.
    It would be a pity if McCrea or McCallister could not contribute as an alternative UUP voice.

    Ford seems to be making the best of a bad job as he is pushing the line that the DUP/SF have accepted a motion that is “mostly” the original Alliance motion that only attracted 25 signatures……..shamefully.
    This means that the debate will be conducted on (effectively) DUP terms…and frankly that is not good enough.
    Outreach is……dead.
    And to my mind the Stormont Govt is on life support. It will eventually be switched off.

  • Comrade Stalin

    FJH, thank you.

    I am not sure what procedural rules are being followed on Monday but the Assembly has an “emergency statement” process during which all of the party leaders are called to speak. I think it will be more or less predictable. I am sure the debate will be ugly.

    Reading Ford’s motion on the party website I see that he included a specific point committing the Assembly to “note” the democratic decision of the Belfast City Council. I reckon the DUP don’t want their signature going onto anything that could be used to imply they agree with the decision.

    I would speculate that, internally, the DUP are on a damage-limitation footing and their public statements and actions, and decisions about how to approach this matter are being informed not by concern to end violence but by an effort to try to prevent Alliance from taking political advantage – which is really where all this started.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Regarding Stormont being switched off, I hope that does not happen. The losers will be the unionists as the British government will simply do pretty much what Alliance does and try to identify a middle ground, just as they did in the past. And guess which party they’ll draw from to appoint people to run the various quangoes ? To top all that joint authority will be back with a vengeance. We’ll also have to deal with the prospect of a political vacuum being filled by renewed dissident violence.

    I think Robinson knows all this. But I am not sure even he can solve the problem of how unionists appear to be so incapable of choosing their battles.

  • BluesJazz

    “am normally very critical of Basil ”


    He and John McCallister are leading from the front here, Mike Nesbitt take note.

  • After the huns congregated in G/Gormley today, my son’s school phoned us to tell us they were closing the school and he needed collected..His school is also in the same area..

    When I got home, we recieved another call from my Daughter’s school about her school closing in Ballysillan, we’d to rush up and get her, coz Huns were gathering on the Upper Crumlin Rd, they later blocked the road…

    In all, hundreds of Nationalist/Republican families badly affected by their stupid protests not forgetting disruption to kids education…and not a mute from the Shinners or Stoops about it all! Typical isn’t it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I love being able to say that McCrea and McCallister are absolutely leading from the front, in the fashion of statesmen, and it is highly commendable. Meanwhile Nesbitt’s performance as party leader goes from bad to worse. That “brains not brawn” thing is the most bizarre political statement I have seen in some time. I really do not know what the man is about. He’s like a caricature of a cardboard cut-out politician.

    The extent to which the UUP leadership appear to be under Robinson’s control is far greater than I imagined. Here is a clear opportunity for the UUP to put clear blue water between itself and the DUP, and Nesbitt didn’t take it. I am convinced that Robinson and Nesbitt have cooked up some sort of unionist unity deal and Nesbitt has agreed to follow orders from Dundela Street.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I hope the UUP die now as a result of this. Many people watching and listening, really have to ask themselves “whats the point in that party?” Let Basil and John join Alliance, where they really belong.

  • Lionel Hutz

    The question has been asked of some posters of whether they are enjoying this. I think there was a lot of voyeurism on Monday but we are way past that now.

    Listening to Edwin Poots and then Nigel Dodds on the radio today talking about bringing a vote on flags to the Assembly Commission has me buying into this idea that the census figures make bad reading for Unionists. There is a deeper sense of desperation in recent statements and its moved beyond simple electioneering for East Belfast.

    Unionism/Loyalism is disarray. I find it mind-boggling that any one could consider flying the flag only on the important days is an assault on anyone’s Britishness. Or that gem from Tom Elliott today that he finds it offensive to his Britishness that he has to look at Irish language on the letter-headed paper in the Council in Fermanagh. Take the two together and it is clear that their Britishness is dependant on two things:

    – The complete saturation of British symbolism. They have to march down any street two or three times a year, playing as loudly as they want for as long they want and the time they want. They have to have their flags bowed to 24/7 and 365 days a year,
    – The complete absence of any Irish symbolism. The inclusion of this county’s indigenous language is an insult to the Britishness. The flying of the Irish flag could not be countenanced. An exception is sometimes made for St Patrick’s day – but not in Downpatrick.

    Because when you take a step back and really look at what we have in Northern Ireland, you see that all of that symbolism is overwhelmingly biased towards the British. Overwhelmingly so. So you have to wonder, how tenuous is the British connection, when it is so easily chipped away? Why does it require such saturated exclusive adherence?

  • Mick Fealty

    AR, I noticed that too. Perhaps you should consider voting Alliance? 😉

    Seriously though, there’s been a lot of venting, and what I might generously call ‘hun baiting’ going on, but very little in the way of either fit words or action from the bigger parties. Henry McDonald printed the text messaging that Squinter talked about on on Twitter on Tuesday:

    “Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, the union flag has gone missing, the Huns smashed up the town as the crown rag came down, walking in a Fenian wonderland.”

    Ironically, the big winners are probably the Alliance Party. They’ve been drawn out of the mundane nothingness of Stormont and into the clear day and demonstrated that not everything that moves politically has to have a green or orange jacket.

    Naomi, I think, despite all of the controversy, may still struggle in east, particularly in working class areas. I’m not sure she’s had enough time yet even to have partially socialised the vote she got in 2010. But the party has been stress-tested nicely, and it’s brought them back out of their constituencies and into an intense congress with each other.

    And – crucially for a small party that’s normally subject to the press management of Stormont – they have had some genuine political publicity in standing up for the very group they’ve most struggled to attract, as public reps if not as voters, ie, liberal minded nationalists.

    Those who underestimate them do so partly because of the low percentage ratings they get at elections and polls. But since they are largely concentrated in metropolitan areas in the east, they can accumulate decent vote totals in the right areas.

    They may see a bonus come through in south Belfast, where I suspect Big Al will struggle to hold on in a competitive race, and the flag issue will not play so predictably well with a large swathe middle class unionist voters as it will in east.

  • Lionel Hutz


    I’ve seen you comment a couple of times on how the Alliance could pitch for the liberal nationalist and how the SDLP has abandoned it – with the Newry thing?

    In one sense, the Alliance surely had to do this to avoid losing ground with Nationalists. And secondly, whilst the riots have shown the Alliance stand up for something, they have also had to go on the defensive over the issue and have in a perverse way had to show that they are predominantly Unionist (“We saved the flag”?), albeit reasonable and unionist.

    How does this make them so much more attractive to Nationalist’s that they will put McDonnell in trouble in an FTTP election?

    The truth of the matter is, and its sad to see it frankly, this is more likely to cause Alliance to lose their MP and take a backward step electorally than anything. Their vote could slump in Unionist areas in the General Election next time round and who knows what knock on effect that would have on the Assembly elections that follow. The history of politics shows little evidence for anything else

  • Mick Fealty


    I think that’s what a lot of people hope for. I’ve heard people talk about moral panic about next week’s census data. Here’s some of the story from the run in and just after the last census: http://goo.gl/QldP5.

    What’s been going on here on the unionist side, to some extent, is a concerted effort to re-engage with loyalist communities both parties had previously abandoned. The DUP are pushing voter registration in working class areas of low turnout as THE way to become politically relevant.

  • 6crealist


    I found my favourite example of Nesbitt unreality in a UTV online report:

    “UUP leader Mike Nesbitt accused Alliance of using the violence to “portray themselves as victims”.

    He said: “It’s taking the focus off what the Alliance Party has done in terms of the flag of Belfast City Hall and allowing them to portray themselves as victims.”

    Can you imagine the sheer brass neck of those waffly Alliance folk? After having their members’ houses attacked and offices picketed and burnt out, they then had the gall to portray themselves as victims.

    Just unbelievable.

    Nesbitt also seems to be trawling twitter for comments directed at his party – particuarly those that make accusations of incitement – and then warning commenters to retract said comments on the grounds that they’re “defamatory”. The comments aren’t even directed at his twitter handle, nor his party’s handle.

    On a broader point, I think this week has seriously damaged community relations in the north. I can only speak anecdotally, but I’ve been taken aback by the immoderate tone of comments made by several usually unflappable nationalist friends and relatives of mine: those whom Robinson would have you believe are really, even if they don’t know it yet, ‘catholic unionists’.

    As some posters above note, the only logical explanation that I can think of for Ulster unionism’s collective lobotomy must lie in those census figures..

  • Paulk [3.25] I watched the ‘View’ on BBC NI 10.35 tonight and I am indebted to nigel dodds for revealing the real attitude to democracy in the DUP. He said that, regardless of the current arithmetic which has unionists in a minority on Belfast council, he’s determined the DUP will get their way by fair means or foul withiout saying in so many words. Meanwhile, UTV late news tonight claimed that Robbo had said protests must end, but as Naomi Long pointed out on their own progamme, Robbo actually said, ‘protsts must be SUSPENDED only. Why is UTV so close to TUV?

  • Mick Fealty

    I think that losing east is more of a likelihood after the flag. And south a possibility, largely because it is such a split race.

    Alliance would need to build on what they have to get Anna Lo ahead of Al. If SF stand down again that will make things tougher for her.

    But Anna doesn’t really register on the Nat/Unionist range. She is what she is and kind of stands outside some of those definitions.

    In the meantime, the SDLP’s problem is trying to work out what it stands for, and then figuring how they signal that publicly.

    Newry will be forgotten fairly quickly I suspect. It’s the muddled thinking it communicates that’s the problem for the party. And pure lack of voice.

  • I wouldnt interpret sympathy for Alliance……not just on the personal level…..but the fact that they have been treated shabbily…….for support.
    For a start…..too much is still to happen before any election.
    And this week is I think much bigger than anyone realistically anticipated. Some might claim they predicted it all but thats hindsight.
    As to enjoying it all…….no. Youd have to pretty messed up to actually enjoy how this has been playing out since Monday night. And I give people a degree of credit.

    Are there any lessons? I think UUP have come out of this badly. Their supporters will be uncomfortable. They will bleed votes to Alliance and DUP. Indeed Alliance has picked up a defector…a former staffer David Sims ….tonight.
    I think that sets up an interesting DUP-Alliance confrontation in 2015 but I dont think the talk on the doorsteps will be about Belfast City Hall at Christmas 2012.
    The DUP is back to its worst…ironically it does well out of that.
    And my only concern would be that Ford, Farry, Dickson….understandably looked shell shocked. In the cold light of day senior Alliance people will wonder if it could have been handled differently. Frank exchange of views certainly when the Time is right.
    I have tried to analyse it myself and I just cant get the Timeline. Surely the better tactic was to go for the Cenotaph up front.
    SF wont care one way or other.
    Mr Fealty.notes South Belfast. Certainly AP will have a shot aat winning it but really only in the (very possible) context of UUP collapsing. It could even be a three way contest.
    But ultimately there is a another factor here. Is there actually an Alliance constituency office more than 12/13 miles from Belfast.
    There one in Lisburn, Antrim, Carrick, Newtownards,Bangor.
    Conceivably one along the Peninsula and in Larne but ultimately they will have difficulty with that. DUP will pick up UUP seats in west. Possibly Alliance in East but realistically that makes it a liberal unionist party.
    Overall no worries for SDLP.

  • BluesJazz

    There wont be a UUP candidate in S/E Belfast in 2015.

    Deference and consolidation.

    Possible that Strangford is left to one Unionist party?

    Mike would like Westminster.

    However…. Naomi Long was very impressive on UTV tonight, put Nigel Dodds right on a few points. The body language was aggressive, maybe it needed to be.
    Abandoning comfort zones is not easy, but so it goes.

    FJH, the SDLP are the Norwegian Parrot (maybe South Down parrot).

  • Yellowford

    How insecure is Unionism? How can a flag not being flown 365 days a year lessen your Britishness? The tricolour is not flown on any public buildings but I still feel totally Irish. This just highlights the fragility of the British identity in Ireland. How would Protestantism/Unionism/Loyalism take it if the majority wished for reunification? Not too well by the look of it.

  • CoisteBodhar

    Any chance the TUV could see a spike in popularity in the wake of this?

  • Politico68

    There seems to be some criticism of the DUP for failing to grab an opportunity to have Newtonabbey and Castlereagh included in BCC, thereby securing a Unionist majority. However, according to the 2001 census figures the religious breakdown of all three districts combined is 37% Catholic and 58% Protestant. Looks good for Unionism ya? One moment pls, the breakdown when u look at those under the age of ten at the time is 43% Catholic and 46% Protestant. That was ten years ago. So the demographic trajectory is clear, it does not matter where u draw the lines, the Protestant population is rapidly falling and the Catholic Rapidly growing. If Unionism is going to get its knickers in a twist every time a nationalist majority shows up somewhere, it better have plenty of spare underwear

  • Politico68

    Blue Jazz
    The SDLP seat is safe enough in South Belfast, Catholics are flooding into the area and Alliance are eating into Unionist votes, I would be amazed if AM lost that seat.

    DUP could lose North Belfast too. Demographics stacked against them but the SDLP will be in a predicament as to what to do if there is only one U candidate in NB and SB. They may have to do a deal with SF or could get destroyed province wide.


    Yellow ford,

    U are correct. Previous Unionist neurosis was based on seige mentality. This is different, the results on Tuesday are going to be devastating for them that is why they are convulsing. (I am not speculating here either ) We are a whisper away from parity of the communities in terms of population, in fact, the census is two yrs old so we could have parity now.


    Good point there. If there were an election coming soon the TUV would grab a few votes for sure. If this rumbles on (and I think we are going to see a lot more Loyalist Outreach from here out) the TUV could go up a point or two. This is another Prob for Robbo, he has TUV,UUP, UKIP and Alliance sniffing round his feet. Unionism better get fit and soon, or we are gonna be in a bad state before long. I personally feel we have crossed the rubicon in the North, where conflict is itching to ignite.

  • Alias

    “How would Protestantism/Unionism/Loyalism take it if the majority wished for reunification? Not too well by the look of it.”

    They’d take it a lot better than the nationalists would if by weird wave of a wand they were to find themselves in a united Ireland in the morning. At least the British would feel they could escape to the ‘mainland’ but how would the Catholics feel if they had to contribute their pension funds to bailing out French and German bankers in Ireland?

    Their current view is that they have not an iota of intention of doing any of that hard work of nation-(re)building and would rather wait until their ‘fellow countrymen’ have done it for them, and they can then swan in and enjoy the fruits of the labour of others.

    If the Catholics found themselves in a united Ireland in the morning (or any time in the next 30 years), there’d be another civil war with them trying to get back out of it…

    Nationalism is well and truly dead up there. There is just a (post)Catholic tribe that is looking out for its own selfish interests alone.

  • I think too much is being made of the Census figures. It looks to me that expectaions are being managed so that the actual figures wont be nearly as bad for unionists as they expect.
    Irish unity will not come in a generation and will look a lot different to anything that we have thought about.
    Migration will delay it all by a generation and at best (from a nationalist perspective) the limit of the future will be about preparation for the (seeming) inevitable rather the inevitable itself.
    Next week, unionists will be relieved that it isnt as bad as they feared.
    At the end of the day neither community can bind the unborn generations. We can but try.

  • Mick Fealty

    You exaggerate alias, but to good effect. Spot on FJH! I don’t have outmigration figures, but since employment opportunities still privilege protestants over Catholics, I would expect you are right on that.

    Writing Slugger through this same period last time, the paranoia amongst unionists was tangible. People on both sides were, frankly, completely overwrought and it turns out they were wrong, not badly, but badly enough to make the predictions of just days previously look utterly ridiculous.

    I don’t believe the flag issue is a desperate act either, or at least not in the sense you mean P68. The DUP have been trying to engage working class loyalists in the democratic process for years. They are not liked by the paramilitaries who go out of their road to screw things over for them.

    What they are trying to do is inflate the numbers of loyalists who actually vote. Reducing the differential between Republican and Loyalist areas is one of the reasons things are so tight in Belfast. It is the slack in the system they are trying to take up.

    The flag was a line in the sand they can sell on door steps they have struggled to get open for a generation or more. They will get it in the neck from us media types, but it may just tip a few more into engagement mode.

    There are no such problems on the Republican side since the former paramilitary structure is actually in power in Stormont. The DUP are trying to ruck past their communiy’s paramilitary structures to get to the electorate. That comes with a cost and cost is letting the UVF and co off their leash and on to wider liberal society.

  • BarneyT

    Alias – whilst there are economic factors that might make some nationalists stall on a united ireland, it would only be a pause.

    I doubt a united Ireland would trigger another civil war. That analysis is akin to “the medicine will make you sick”. Like it or not the ultimate cure is a Federal Republic of All-Ireland…..of course with a lessened Anglican and Catholic church…

  • Alias

    The “every Catholic is a nationalist” line is one that Unionists are slowly beginning to see is spurious and use to their advantage but one that nationalists see as being the solid logic of Wittgenstein himself – probably because their self-serving bias cannot see any advantage in Catholics declaring themselves as unionists. If they already support the Union then unionism can comfortably forgo further concessions.

  • Mick Fealty

    You mean like, stop apologising for being British, like it was offensive or something?

  • Paulk

    Mick, yes i’d say you are right on the UVF elements hijacking the protest (no pun intended) but the DUP/UUP gave them the green light for this to happen with what they did, this type of baiting needs to stop or these parties need to be put on the spot in the media for what they’ve done, i understand they need an issue to re engage working class unionists but maybe have a proper debate knowing the the Alliance compromise position. Present that to their people then at least claim a slight victory saying that their protesting made a difference.
    danielsmoran, i watched it myself thought Naomi Long performed fairly well just the right amount of anger but kept it controlled. I thought she made a good point on Stormont flying the flag more and it made the DUP seem very petty and vindictive, won’t turn their core support off but might harm their efforts at ‘outreach’ slightly.
    The comment Dodds made about resisting any attempts to diminish Britishness is another subtle intimidation, to be honest might make Alliance think but won’t affect Nats/Reps thinking on the issue one bit. If they have a majority on a council the flag will come down simple as that. Unionists can kick and scream all they like but Nationalists have a mandate to be seen and heard as much as Unionists do so an accomodation with one another will need to be sought sooner rather than later, either more Irish/Nationalist/Republican symbols or less British/Unionist/Loyalist.

  • tacapall

    Alias nationalism has learned the hard way in these parts to transfer the hit and run tactics of guerrilla warfare onto the political stage you cant change anything inside when your outside the door. Yes we are quite happy to accept the queens shilling, like a flea on a dogs back, sucking the financial lifeblood out of Britain, in fact quite happy to want the grass green on both sides of the fence, you call that selfish I call that survival, we learned that from the masters of colonialism.

    You believe nationalism is dead lol, it is only beginning to stand on its feet and for all the talk about Catholic unicorns I haven’t seen any nationalists protesting about the removal of the union flag from BCC 365 days of the year. Perhaps they are too politicised and have learned like politicians to say one thing in public like in a survey but say another privately.

    Perhaps things would have worked out differently today if Unionism had of embraced the spirit of the GFA and implemented the outstanding issues like the Irish language act or accepting that shamrock is green not multicoloured that carrying a Tricolour on St Patricks day is no more offensive to unionism as unionists believe they marching through Belfast in front or behind banners at Orange Order parades commemorating people like Shankill butcher Robert Bates would be to nationalism.

    Perhaps its time Unionism walked on their own feet and accepted the world around us is changing, the status quo will not always be the status quo and for their own survival engage with the nationalist population in a positive manner without the preconditions of our Irishnesss being kept hidden from public view.

  • Alias

    “Yes we are quite happy to accept the queens shilling, like a flea on a dogs back, sucking the financial lifeblood out of Britain, in fact quite happy to want the grass green on both sides of the fence, you call that selfish I call that survival, we learned that from the masters of colonialism.”

    Ah, yes… the ‘bleed England dry’ method of ending British rule (*eye roll*). The British state had a policy in the 70s of increasing the public sector as a percentage of NI’s GDP as that would makes its people dependent on the British state. The logic was simple and effective: people who are dependent on the state for their income will support the state they depend on, not vote to terminate the existence of that state and to thereby terminate their income.

    “You believe nationalism is dead lol, it is only beginning to stand on its feet and for all the talk about Catholic unicorns I haven’t seen any nationalists protesting about the removal of the union flag from BCC 365 days of the year.”

    That’s not nationalism: it’s tribalism. Worse, it’s bordering on mental illness to think that the consolidated British state can disappear if you make its symbols disappear.

    That’s also the depoliticised Catholic tribe being led to think by their leaders that antics such as the Shinners turning the protrait of the Queen upside down at Stormont when they were signing up to assist in the administration of British rule in an internal settlement was cast iron proof that they were hard-core republicans! So, while the sheep may be mad, their leaders are clear-headed and enjoying the full salary and pension entitlements of administering British rule.

    “Perhaps they are too politicised and have learned like politicians to say one thing in public like in a survey but say another privately.”

    That’s right. Like saying “the six counties” to the sheep while signing documents as Crown ministers with “Northern Ireland” on them.

    “Perhaps its time Unionism walked on their own feet and accepted the world around us is changing, the status quo will not always be the status quo and for their own survival engage with the nationalist population in a positive manner without the preconditions of our Irishnesss being kept hidden from public view.”

    Ah yes… this is your theory again that people who are state dependent can’t wait to terminate that dependency.

  • Alias

    “You mean like, stop apologising for being British, like it was offensive or something?”

    Isn’t it the case that the Catholic unionists are more concerned about holding active political and constitutional positions that may place them at direct odds with some of their own community than it is a case of apologising for a passive identity? After all, wars have been faught over issues of loyalty to different states in the past and, gosh, folks have even been hanged for treason.

  • FJH I’d agree that the expectations game is being used regarding the census and given the outcome of the 2001 census there’s an inevitability that it will be used again. However the margin seperating the two sides then was 9%
    and catholic rise from 1991 was 3% so if the catholic numbers are anything less than 3% this time you’d have smell a rat, that figures are being manipulated. There no way that unionists can dress up a catholic figure of 46+ per cent as better than expected and with the underlying figures already out showing a catholic majority up to age 35 at least, this is the end of the 1922 gerrymander.

  • grandimarkey


    “The logic was simple and effective: people who are dependent on the state for their income will support the state they depend on, not vote to terminate the existence of that state and to thereby terminate their income.”

    What exactly are you basing this on? It sounds great and everything but it’s not my experience.

    My own anecdotal/empirical experience leads me to believe that those Nationalists who work in the public sector in NI are just as likely to vote to end the Union as any other Nationalist.

  • LH ‘you have to wonder how tenuoius is the British connection when it is so easily chippied away’

    It so fragile because it is so unhealthily a dependent relationship on the part of unionists, and also because of the knowledge on this side of the Irish Sea that Britain emphatically does not want them and can’t wait to get rid of them and us.

  • streetlegal

    The PSNI would need to get it’s act together in advance of the Saturday protest at the City Hall. Unless lines of riot police get in the way there may be a concerted attempt to storm the City Hall with the aim of replacing the flag on the pole.

  • tacapall

    Alias your betraying your own political bias in suggesting nationalism is somehow backward when it comes to politics and knowing whats best for them, you simply cannot understand that politics is subservient in reaching the goal of a unified Ireland. You presume money is our god, that financial interests override national interests, that using a ladder step by step rather than a rope to get over the wall is madness, how wrong you are. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a Unified Ireland wont be achieved in a day, but bit by bit, and you believing that Britain has consolidated its position in Ireland by allowing us to feed off her financially yet oppose her presence and erode her sovereignty at every opportunity is illogical like 2 + 2 making 5. This is 2012 and the battleground has changed so has the tactics, we all signed up to fight our battles politically and peacefully, unfortunately Unionist politicians when the situation arises jump out of that agreement, we call that bad faith but some people call it consolidating their position within unionism. I would rather call it as it is, bad faith and an inability to accept that the GFA was not a permanent settlement and majority rule is just that, majority rule.

    Dont all politicians and political parties see the electorate as sheep or dogs, haven’t the DUP and UUP done that these last few days unleashing the hounds but unable to control the rabid ones, dogs that they bread, that they fed, that they trained as guard dogs of the union and its time those mad dogs were put down or retrained to accept democracy.

  • Politico68

    Mick, I can assure you with absolute certainty that the difference between the Cat and Prod population is now only 4.5 % points. Or else I cant count !!

  • ayeYerMa

    What a pathetic thread. What we have is nothing other than non-Unionists bashing Unionists for… being Unionists.

    Unionists will always be “isolated” when compared to the Republicans in Alliance, SDLP and Sinn Fein. With not a Unionist voice in much of the media in the last few years (and today the Belfast Telegraph finally nailing its Republican credentials to the mast). Unionists have been “isolated” in most negotiations in the last few decades with little respect given for our self-determination by numerically greater outside powers. What exactly is new?

    As for the UVF, did the police not say there was no evidence for UVF orchestration. Frankly, it should leave Alliance isolated more than anything with this inevitable outcome to a provocative decision.

    PS: when is Comrade Stalin finally going to come out of the closet and admit he is a Republican? (well, I suppose honest viewpoints don’t really go hand-in-hand with Alliance support — that is the whole point) I can’t see anything otherwise with someone who wants to vent so much against people who simply want peace through constitutional stability.

  • Mr Fealty.
    I actually mean two sets of Migration rather than one set.
    The people leaving Norn Iron has usually been Catholic……and although there is/was a brain drain of young Protestants, I think those figures are more or less in balance. Of course we have probably not seen the full effect of the economic downturn.
    But I think that the inward migration of (say) Poles, Czechs makes the “Catholic” figure higher…but not necessarily the “nationalist” figure.
    Put bluntly these people regard themselves as coming to UK rather than Ireland.
    2010/2011 was really the first years these people voted….or more likely didnt vote. They may not be fully embedded in terms of family commitments etc……or they may wish to stay “neutral” as long as possible…..but the influences around them….(where they live, work, their children go to school, the games they play) will have an influence…but a slower burn than the native Catholics.
    There is probably a good dissertation in it for someone when there is new evidence.
    And my understanding is that some communities (Poles) are further along that road than (say) Portuguese (themselves often second generation migrants to Portugal).
    We will have to look on Migration with a new dimension.

  • Kevsterino

    Burning out offices of political figures and parties is not a valid expression of Britishness. Paint bombing a young family, with a toddler in the house, is not a valid expression of Britishness. Death threats to elected representatives is not a valid expression of Britishness. Hurling missiles at policemen and policewomen who wear a crown on their cap is not a valid expression of Britishness.

    But, of course, anyone critical of Unionists involved in the above must be Republicans!?!

    Jesus wept

  • Billy Pilgrim


    ‘…today the Belfast Telegraph finally nailing its Republican credentials to the mast…’

    ‘…when is Comrade Stalin finally going to come out of the closet and admit he is a Republican?’

    What you call republicanism, most people would call common decency.

    As a republican, I wholeheartedly agree!

  • The attack on the Church Of Ireland in Glenavy was totally wrong, secterian and anti-Republican.

    Those involved should immediately desist from these terrible actions and allow all Churchgoers the freedom to worship without intimidation!

  • Blue Hammer


    Presumably that applies to those worshipping at, say, Darkley Gospel Hall, or St Brigid’s Catholic Church?

    I’m guessing they’re different.

  • In my opinion, all Churches should be neutral enviroments chara and worshippers should NOT be targeted, hurt nor killed chara…simple answer really.

  • Blue Hammer

    Pity your heroes disagree.

  • Republicanism is a broad family/church with many differing strands.

  • Reader

    danielsmoran: However the margin seperating the two sides then was 9%
    and catholic rise from 1991 was 3% so if the catholic numbers are anything less than 3% this time you’d have smell a rat, that figures are being manipulated.

    Or you might assume that the several nationalists who posted to Slugger at the time that they had refused to fill in a Census form were actually telling the truth instead of posturing. If you further assume that Slugger Nats are at all representative of the Nationalist population, you can explain any results you want, and believe in any ‘true’ figures you want.
    Without the need for yet *another* conspiracy theory.

  • Politico68

    There is no conspiracy and no massaging of the numbers. Both First Ministers are fully aware of the contents of the census stats, hence the reason SF are calling for a border poll and Robbo is ‘outreaching’.

  • Neil


    Laughed at that. Robinson’s outreach is the only unicorn I’ve come across in years, often referred to in speeches but never seen. The battered, broken corpse of this year’s outreach will be forgotten in time for his next BT interview.

    If we don’t get our way democratically, we’ll call our dogs onto the street, and yes – they bite.


    As for the UVF, did the police not say there was no evidence for UVF orchestration.

    No precisely the opposite. Google it. As for the rest, nice MOPE. Belfast Telegraph, nailing their Nationalist colours to the mast, that’s inspired.

  • Greenflag

    Kevsterino @ 7 December 2012 at 3:07 pm

    ‘Burning out offices of political figures and parties is not a valid expression of Britishness’

    Very true !

    ‘.Paint bombing a young family, with a toddler in the house, is not a valid expression of Britishness.’

    Indeed not at all cricket I say !

    ‘Death threats to elected representatives is not a valid expression of Britishness. ‘

    Unheard of in modern Britain !

    ‘Hurling missiles at policemen and policewomen who wear a crown on their cap is not a valid expression of Britishness.’

    Well you might think that or have thought that once upon a time but now that 30% or so of the PSNI could be ‘taigs ‘ then a loyalist flag waver/stone thrower has a fightin chance of gettin one of themuns 🙁

    ‘Jesus wept ‘

    Indeed -though it did’nt stop the Pharisees from demanding his crucifixion or the Roman Governor from following the herd 🙁

  • “Republicanism is a broad family/church with many differing strands2

    As proven in Glenavy…?

  • Anton Graf von Arco Valley

    I Googled it but restricted my search to news, there are only two sources. 1) Slugger and 2) Henry McDonald of the Guardian

    Picture to prove this by clicking below:


    This was the moment Alliance thought the world had turned with them, but found out that actually it didn’t turn with them at all.

    Even Kate Hoey said she is disappointed at the Alliance view on flying the flag.

    “How on earth can the Alliance state that anyone supporting keeping the flag at the City Hall is ‘not truly devoted to creating a shared society.”

    It’s an uncomfortable and surreal day when the union flag is forced to come down because apparently it is sectarian, a constutionally legit flag; if alliance can’t see that as being offensive within unionist communities it is totally naive and shouldn’t be in the business of politics within 90% unionist areas.

    The significance of Belfast and the violent feedback outside of it is that those outside of the council area largely work in Belfast and appreciated the flag being there, there is a larger unionist population more connected to that area than Lisburn and most definitely Stormont!

    Belfast is the capital city, more employment, more entertainment spots is a major focal point, hope this explains the reason why Belfast, whenever Lisburn passed off ok.

    Another reason why unionists today are seemingly more pissed off and apparently not as tolerant as expected since GFA 98 / St Andrews is that more and more of them are coming into contact with republicans and nationalists in employment, at work. Unionists are finding out that nationalists and republicans are very polite and sound on the matter of flags, why?

    Because they simply would never ever ever entertain the notion of removing the tricolour in some way, wouldn’t even merit a response, you would just get looked at as if you had two heads! That’s why republicans are so calm and collected, they make sure using politics that they never find themselves in that decision-making situation.

    Proof: where is the Nationalist version of Alliance on the Falls Road – there isn’t one.

    Alliance has only itself to blame for the way it has offended unionists and loyalists, the violence rests with those that carried it out naturally.

  • Greenflag

    fitzjameshorse @ 7 December 2012 at 2:56 pm

    ‘The people leaving Norn Iron has usually been Catholics ‘

    Not technically true .There has always been ‘Protestant emigration ‘ going as far back as the mid 18th century when an estimated 250, 000 mostly Presbyterians and some Catholics departed for the New World due to land hunger , rising rents and famine in 1741 and in the 1720s . In modern times post 1920 Catholic emigration from NI has fluctuated around 70% of the total much of it from the rural west of the province . Protestant emigration haD been about 30% . These percentages changed in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the ‘protestant brain drain ‘ has been underway since that time also .Catholics have also their ‘brain drain ‘ although it is less prominently referred to in the media ? The overall impact of this reversal from the usual pre 1970’s picture has been to reduce ‘Unionist ‘ numbers and increase ‘Nationalist ‘ numbers , These together with the conjunction of differentiated birth and death rates for both communities has led to a convergence of numbers . But it would be a mistake to assume that the game is up for the unionist majority . Catholic birth rates are now approaching Protestant birth rates and the death rates for both communities are also narrowing in their difference .

    ‘But I think that the inward migration of (say) Poles, Czechs makes the “Catholic” figure higher…but not necessarily the “nationalist” figure.l

    I agree

    Apart from the fact that Poles and Czechs are largely ‘nominal Catholics – I believe the Czechs rate as Europe’s most atheist ‘nationality’ The other half of the former Czechoslovakia i.e Slovakia was predominantly Catholic .

    The Czech Republic has one of the least religious populations in the world. Historically, the Czech people have been characterised as “tolerant and even indifferent towards religion”.[87] According to the 2011 census, 34.2% of the population stated they had no religion, 10.3% was Roman Catholic, 0.8% was Protestant (0.5% Czech Brethren and 0.4% Hussite), and 9.4% followed other forms of religion both denominational or not (of which 863 people answered they are Pagan) 45.2% of the population did not answer the question about religion.[86] From 1991 to 2001 and further to 2011 the adherence to Roman Catholicism decreased from 39.0 to 26.8 and then to 10.3; Protestantism similarly declined from 3.7% to 2.1% and then to 0.8%.[88]

    According to a Eurobarometer Poll in 2005,[89] 19% of Czech citizens responded that “they believe there is a God” (the second lowest rate among European Union countries after Estonia with 16%),[90]

    Poland is probably more Catholic than the Republic in terms of religious observance but even there it would be a mistake to assume that just because they are or were RC means they will vote SDLP or SF .

    I would hazard a guess that most Poles and Czechs and indeed other immigrants to Northern Ireland must wonder occasionally if they haven’t by some cruel twist of fate ended up in North Western Europe’s alternate Mini Balkan twilight zone 🙁

  • Politico68

    Greenflag, u are incorrect with regards to birthrate, Although the catholic birthrate is balancing out it is still higher than the Protestant 9.3 vs 7.7 and there was a big leap in the birthrate between 2005 to 2010 mainly in Catholic majority areas. As for the death rate you are way off the mark. Unfortunetly for every ten NI souls that depart the province every year, 6 are from a PUL background whilst 3 are from CNR. This years school census shows that primary schools currently have a religious breakdown of 51% C vs 39% P. In the baby making age group 20 to 35. The breakdown is 51% CNR, 44% PUL. So for at least the medium term we can see that in all 3 demographic columns Catholics are on the growth positive scale whilst Protestants are the opposite. As for Czechs, Poles etc; whatever the adults believe in terms of religious adherance it is clear their kids are educated in Catholic schools. 90% of racism directed towards them comes from the Uninoist community which may swing their voting choices when it comes to them turning 18. Finally, there are 26 district councils. In every single one of them the Protestant percentage is declining and there is a bigger difference when one looks at the under ten age group compared to the total population in each district. I am doing a study in this field at the moment. In fact the fall in the Protestant population in NI is quite unique in its severity for the modern age.

  • PaulK[9.57]I thought it was odd that even though Naomi Long pointed out three times that Robinson called for protests to be only suspended, not stopped, Carruthers failed on all three occasions to put this to Dodds, Also on the same programme Clark started by saying that the FM had called for them to end, not suspend. I think UTV editors are running scaredf of the DUP bully boys, or they just are on the side. A point about the intensity odf the riots, could it be the loyalist thugs are being whipped up by being tipped off by unionists politicians who have seen the census figures and that they are worse than even they expected?

  • Comrade Stalin


    PS: when is Comrade Stalin finally going to come out of the closet and admit he is a Republican?

    You misspelled “fenian bastard”. Because let’s face it, that is what you meant.

    I am not inclined to defend myself or my politics to people whose contributions and criticisms of me are rooted not in debate over the issues, but sectarian bile. But I urge you to re-read the other parts of my contributions here outside of the ones you disagree with. You won’t generally find me siding with Sinn Féin or the SDLP on much at all.

  • zemblan

    Can anyone tell me how many Loyalists have actually been arrested since the outbreak of civil unrest? The police were obviously able to record a great deal of video footage over the last few days – so how many people have been placed behind bars?

  • Mick Fealty

    Zem, ignore the yellow. That’s ne on the Android. Chris, are you keeping a tally?

  • zemblan

    Thanks Mick,

    No problem. I’m just curious about the numbers as I haven’t heard much about it on the news. I’m quite sure some disreputable types have been picked up.


  • Neil [8.48] This last week didn’t happen spontaneously but by Robbo’s design as seen in the threats by him to Ford on taking the P&J seat. In other words we may lose power in the chamber but we can tyhreaten and bullyparties with the power. I believe this will end in a return to the old days and for unionist parties , if their wee colony can’t be run by them it might be a United Ireland anyway. NI will have a very violent and messy end but end it will have.

  • Greenflag

    Politico 68 @ 8 December 2012 at 12:53 am

    ‘I am doing a study in this field at the moment. ‘

    Then you probably are more aware of actual numbers and percentages than I am.

    ‘In fact the fall in the Protestant population in NI is quite unique in its severity for the modern age.’

    Compared to what ? Russians ? Italians ? Germans ? Czechs etc -All of the above and others have declining populations .

    Even the Republic’s population would not be replicating itself if the contribution of births from foreign born mothers (23% of all births) was omitted .While some of these numbers have to do with the current economic situation and outlook -others have long standing origins in post World War 2 drops in fertility rates among all developed nations .

    That said the numbers such as they are and those to be released midweek will not have any major political impact for a decade or more ?

    Must check bangordub’s site to see if he has any further follow up after this week’s census release .

    BTW my interest in the ‘numbers ‘ was greater a few years back when I held the view that a fair repartition of Northern Ireland by a neutral outside agency backed by both British & Irish governments was probably the only way to resolve this never ending list of ‘temporary ‘political fixes ‘

    The late Horseman’s numerology finally convinced me a couple of years back that a fair ‘repartition’ would now be impossible and not worth the cost . That of course does not mean that an ‘unfair ‘ repartition could not be imposed by a Balkan like gang of sectarian warlords from both sides in extremis .

    But I tend to remain an optimist that despite this week’s setback over the flag business most nationalists /republicans -unionists /loyalists are not looking for a rematch of the 1970’s or worse !