#Flegs: Small scale, disruptive, contained and with few options to grow…

So here’s my interview with Russia Today, erm, last night on Skype. I apologise for a major cock up on the old statistics front. At the beginning quote transposed figures of Catholics and Protestants (which given what I’ve been saying about the census may amuse some of you).

The thrust is roughly that this protests are contained, small scale and politically at least are going no where. But it does show too that our system has no really strong means for expressing opposition in any controlled parliamentary way.


  • Comrade Stalin

    “contained” ? They’re shutting down Belfast city centre every Friday evening. That’s not contained.

  • Toastedpuffin

    As someone who works in Belfast city centre, I can confirm the traffic is somewhat heavier of late on a Friday. “Shut down” it certainly ain’t.

  • The major point you make Mick is that there is no democratic outlet for this anger.
    That is true at Stormont.
    No argument there.
    However is that the case at City Hall?
    Jackie McDonald highlighted the fact that until there is a political change on the council then people (ie the people who are protesting) shouldn’t get their hopes up.

  • galloglaigh


    Have you heard about ‘Operation Standtill‘, organised for this Friday?

  • Neil

    Organised for every Friday. At a cost to my employer, so far, of at least 40,000 pounds (having allowed everyone to leave early bless them).

  • Mick,
    I’ll let the aul stats mix up go 🙂 we’re all human. If the trouble is small scale why is political Unionism now in the midst of a full blown panic attack, which I think they are, why has TV Mike gone missing in action now that the going is getting tough? (And I think he is suddenly looking like a serious lightweight) and as for your contention about a serious opposition, this is an internal Unionist crisis. The SDLP and Sinn Fein have kept out of it largely. Surely the opposition or dissenting voices should come from other Unionists, TUV perhaps (who only seem to be capable of one message these days- anti power sharing). Where now for Unionist unity?

  • David Crookes

    Good interview, Mick. Thanks for letting us watch it.

    Agreed, Bangordub. Political unionism is indeed in the middle of a panic attack.

    Two governing unionist parties are afraid to govern.

    For its part a third unionist party is supported only by right-of-right unionists, so it feels unable to condemn the rioters specifically, unequivocally, and robustly. (Trying to link the tired old ‘terrorists-in-government’ line with the present loyalist violence is a mark of moral and intellectual bankruptcy.)

    Sic transit gloria integritatis.

    Tonight I feel a certain gratitude to the #flegs campaigners. Their campaign has revealed the calibre of quite a few people. By so doing it has shown the need, and helped to prepare the ground, for a new political movement.

  • BluesJazz

    Ah yes
    The old Friday Lunchtime phone in bombscares.

    Everyone (with a car-minority back then) went home, or went to the pub.

    Now we all get to go home early.
    Great stuff, what’s the problem here? It’s a win- win.

    Hoping this continues …

  • David,
    Obviously I am not a unionist and am therefore not quite in tune with thinking on this but it appears to me that a “crisis” is also an opportunity. I think this episode is chrystalising unionist thinking to an extent and that is evident in the statements of the likes of Basil McCrea. Opportunity is the key word here. Will anyone grasp it? ” Oh opportunity, thy guilt is great” to fire a quote back at you 😉

  • David Crookes

    Bangordub, I’m a transmuting unionist who sees a monarchical unitary non-federal Ireland as the way to go, and I agree with you altogether. Here is a great precept.


  • David lol,
    No answer to that I fear!
    In general I am in agreement with you, I think

  • David Crookes

    Good-oh, Bangordub, if in general we agree with one another, then neither of us can be a complete weirdo.

    It’s supper-time! (Again.)

  • tacapall

    As the deadline to the UVF supergrass trial gets nearer the tactics being used by the flags protestors will adjust, no doubt get a lot closer to interface areas where nationalist youths might hopefully be drawn in, there is just too much connections between Willie and Jamie to the UVF to think anything else, but the real worry is the connections between British intelligence and the leadership of the same UVF who are directing the violence, you kind of wonder who’s pulling who’s strings. The scenes of loyalists attacking British police with hatchets and sledgehammers would certainly not be tolerated if it were nationalists, the attackers would have been like tea bags on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds from various police officers.



    I agree to a certain extent with you about the difference in approach by the PSNI towards the rioters as much as i detest the anti-social, criminal scum that ‘defend ardoyne’ every year the PSNI tend to be very quick to react with water cannon, plastic bullets, batons etc whereas they have been a lot more restrained with the loyalist rioters, old habits die hard i suppose.

  • galloglaigh

    It would galloglaigh

    Ach the oul fleg up, where she belongs for some rich girl from england who up until last year wasnt even a royal and the loyal people of 6 county ulster will gather like sheep later to cheer at its hoisting.

  • galloglaigh

    At least now we know when it’s some special one’s birthday. But why can’t they do what the rest of us do, and send them a card? Or even write a message on their Facebook wall?

    It is after all, the 21st Century!

  • Mick Fealty


    Good point. I think the democratic deal in Belfast is clear enough. They got a majority fairly and squarely and no one is going back on that.

    The democratic problem is that we have two inflexible parties working in an inflexible system. Result? Big politics reduced to a spat over a #fleg.

    I don’t mean to denigrate national feeling one way or the other. But I mean, if we had something like an agree approach to social exclusion, economic development and education, would anyone really be out stopping traffic and intimidating their neighbours?

  • Mick Fealty

    The demography, I think I set out to mention the Belfast figures which is a slight edge (though not a majority) Catholic population, but was unclear on the matter.

    Trying to think too hard.

  • galloglaigh

    Of course they would Mick. I’ve said here many a time before, N.Ireland’s troubles are only starting. The last conflict started over unionist insecurity at the 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising and Civil Rights demands.

    Imagine what is going to happen when the campaign gets under way to rid Ireland of the Union?

    We could see the UN here quicker than we think. Sinn Fein this year will start the agitation for a UI.

    We could even see them end abstentionism. Westminster’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity; and not for the first time. Remember Parnell and Redmond were able to use a weak Westminster to their advantage. It would be foolish for Sinn Fein to do otherwise. They need to sell this to the electorate, who quite frankly are more educated than their unionist cousins in general.

    We could be in for an interesting conclusion to the 2010s!

  • Mick Fealty

    What grounds make you so certain Gallo?

  • galloglaigh

    For conflict:

    Loyalists will not go the democratic route in a UI campaign. That is evident. Look what happened over a flag!

    No grounds for the end to abstentionism, but it is something that is in nationalism’s interest. The SDLP are weak in Westminster, and SF could gain on their mandate, by showing balls in parliament. I personally would like to see this happen. As I’m sure would many nationalists.

    Westminster is at it weakest in decades, and it’s up to our elected reps. to take advantage. The SDLP don’t seem to see this. But I’m sure SF do???

  • galloglaigh

    How they will, or could sell it, without being seen as selling out on principal, is difficult though. That is a hard nut to crack. But it’s not the first hard nut SF have cracked over the years. They cracked the hardest nut of all, Thatcher, at the ending of the Hunger Strike in ’81.

  • galloglaigh

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks for the video of Jim… I’ve embedded it so that people can watch it directly here on Slugger…

    Worth noting that just after he finished speaking that Cllr Lee Reynolds intervened to say there was no such voting down of an anti poverty strategy, by anyone.

    Both parties have failed to come up with a single policy so that in six years they have been unable to agree one to vote on.

    This is a #DoolittleorNothing administration, that thrives on petty fictions.

  • Framer

    You make a welcome change Mick, on Russia Today, from dusty Trotskyite Professors interviewed in their bedrooms in Brussels or Baltimore.
    Perhaps you can tell us why it is so relentlessly and crudely anti-capitalist given it is funded by Russian capitalists, or is it the KGB/Kremlin?
    The ceaseless anti-Americanism I can understand, just.
    And you weren’t even snooty about the protesters.

  • Mick Fealty

    Consider though that I may never get another gig after this thread… 😉

  • malairt

    RT is funded half by the Russian Government, half by companies friendly to the Government, aaccording to Wikipedia.

    From personal experience it’s very loyal to Putin, especially in the news bulletins, second only to Channel One in showing the people what a marvellous job Mr. Putin does.

  • RegisterForThisSite

    “that thrives on petty fictions…….”

    “A battle a day” I believe is what Peter Robinson promised unionists, and unionists duly lapped it up, guess you should be careful what you wish for.

    Speaking of Peter, how come his (and her’s) little bit of (alleged) surgery in the US isn’t deemed worthy of discussion on Slugger and Gerry’s is?

  • Mick Fealty

    Wrong thread…

  • RegisterForThisSite