Lord Empey attacks Alliance Party for flags, participation in Irish Constitutional Convention and issues warning to Dublin government

Listening back to Lord Empey’s opening statement at today’s UUP conference, his comments seemed worthy of a post on their own.

Lord Empey at 2013 UUP conferenceIn his nine minute address he predictably attacked the Alliance Party’s role in the Belfast City Council Union flag vote, explained why they shouldn’t be viewed as Unionist, and questioned their role in the Irish Constitutional Convention.

He also laid down a white line over allowing Northerners to vote in Irish elections that the Irish Government shouldn’t cross if they wanted unionist cooperation in existing cross-border bodies.

Lord Empey began by contrasting the peaceful Ulster Covenant commemorations with the flag protests and then laid the blame firmly at the door of the Alliance Party. Referring to last year’s conference he said:

Many were privately voicing fears that the huge demonstration that would be held to commemorate this event could lead to trouble on the streets and set the tone for the other centenaries to come. To our great relief – but no surprise – the celebrations and demonstration went off peacefully. This held out the prospect that even the most contentious of anniversaries could be held without fear of trouble.

Little did we know that our hopes would be dashed in a few short weeks when a non-unionist coalition in the City Hall would vote to pull down the Union flag after 106 years. This sparked off a series of rallies and demonstrations. It is sad that with so many problems concerning the economy, education and health to be confronted, we found ourselves back dealing with flags and emblems.

How did this happen? We have known for over thirty years that Sinn Fein has been trying to get the Union flag off every building it can as that party is in denial about the settlement on the constitution contained in the Belfast Agreement. The SDLP should have known better as well. However neither of these two parties, even acting together, could have delivered the outcome of last December 3rd. The party that delivered the decision to pull down the Union flag for 350 days per year was the Alliance Party. They too should have known better.

The Alliance Party’s decision on the Union flag taken as it was in the busy run up to Christmas was a major mistake. At best that party was used by Sinn Fein and sucked into a disastrous decision that has continuing implications for city trading in Belfast.

No mention of UUP councillors’ involvement in the leafleting – something that happened without the knowledge or retrospective approval of Mike Nesbitt – nor that the timetable of voting on the flag issue was pushed by unionists to ensure Alliance would be forced to choose in the Covenant anniversary year. If the UUP had had more than three councillors, the balance of power might have been very different. Also worth remembering that unionists at Westminster were always happy to hold the balance of power in tight votes in the Commons. That’s democratic politics.

This decision came on the same evening that Newry and Mourne council reiterated its decision to name a child’s play park after an IRA gunman who had in his possession a weapon that was used in the Kingsmill massacre. Unionists – especially in Belfast – believed that there was a major campaign launched to attack our culture and identity. But worse was to come that evening. Truly a triple whammy against unionists.

Alliance leader David Ford weighed in just after the flag was pulled down. on his party’s official website he put out a statement claiming victory for the decision. And I quote: “Tonight’s result has been a clear victory for the Alliance Party. Through the dedicated work of Alliance councillors the image of a shared future has prevailed in Belfast.”

The statement is still on the Alliance Party website, and given that Alliance voted in line with their long-established policy on flags, perhaps the language is understandable, even if “victory” was stupidly waving a red, white and blue flag at an angry unionist bull.

It’s a long time since we heard a statement that was so utterly divorced from reality. The image of Belfast since that night has not been an image of shared future prevailing. It has been one of deepening divisions and civil unrest.

No mention or condemnation in Lord Empey’s analysis of Alliance offices being destroyed, or the death threats on Alliance (and other) politicians. Democratic action more worthy of critique than anti-democratic action. Lord Empey moved onto other aspects of Alliance’s behaviour that worry him.

Some people have the idea that Alliance is somehow a moderate unionist party. Alliance is not a unionist party of any description. It is agnostic about our constitutional status. By way of underlying my point, did you know that the Alliance currently has a representative on the Irish Constitutional Convention in Dublin [Ed – The UUP and DUP declined to fill their places, though the UUP had previously participated in other fora] advising the Irish Government on possible changes to the constitution of the Republic. Among the subjects being discussed are the length of the term of the President of Ireland, the electoral system, and the latest wheeze, that Irish citizens living abroad should have a vote in presidential elections.

If that was were the proposals stopped that would be their business. But it is not. The proposal is that all residents in Northern Ireland should have such a vote in elections whether we want it or not. That conference includes you and me.

This is dangerous stuff.

Being given a gift that you can freely ignore is dangerous? It isn’t like unionists have a history of 100% turnout and not choosing at times to stay away from the polls! It does feel like scaremongering given that Sinn Fein are only publicly interested [see today’s speech by Gerry Adams in London] in Irish diaspora being able to vote in Presidential elections (at least at this stage). By the way, diaspora voting may well be a Roman invention.

It will be seen as Articles 2 and 3 coming in by the back door and will bear directly on the Strand 2 provisions of the Belfast Agreement which was designed to give nationalists practical and political expression of their Irish identity. If this current proposal was successful conference, how could a proposal to allow people in Northern Ireland votes in Dáil elections be resisted?

Given that constituency work would be impractical, can’t see the Dáil offering to host TDs that would have to sit on their hands!

Alliance has no problem sitting on a body like that looking at the constitution of the Republic as that constitutional framework could be just as acceptable to them as the Union. People who support the Union who then decide to vote Alliance are no longer counted as supporters of the Union and become in Stormont terms ‘Others’. The future of the Union is secure if people vote for parties that support the union. [Ed – not ‘our party’, but ‘parties’!] That was the result of the 1998 Agreement.

Sinn Fein is already calling for a referendum on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland. So we need to be aware of acting in a way that encourages Gerry Adams and his cohorts. We have felt for some years that the arrangements we have with the Irish Government have been working well. I sincerely hope that is how they will stay.

But if proposals to involve all electors of Northern Ireland in Irish Republic elections are pursued, this will undermine the Strand 2 parts of the Belfast Agreement and could lead to a review of the nature and extent of future unionist participation in these institutions.

Dublin would be wise to steer clear of any confrontation on this issue.

Alliance will listen to Lord Empey’s speech and hear a party chairman who is rattled by the electoral chances of a (smaller) rival. It wasn’t a great demonstration of confident unionism.

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  • wild turkey

    yeah, well i know about Goodwins Law. and i might be blackcarded. But WTF, following a funeral of a good friend in Connecticut, i am jet lagged. And definitely back in Belfast.

    Fuck

    blame the Alliance?

  • Republic of Connaught

    If Dublin wants to give the right to Irish citizens outside the state to vote in its presidential electoons, it’s nothing to do with Reg Empey or the UUP.

    He doesn’t want to participate in the constitutional convention, but he wants to dictate who the Dublin government can give a presidential vote to? Cheeky bast&rd.

  • SK

    Using ‘flegs’ to rile up his community didn’t improve the UUP’s electoral prospects, so Reg has gone to plan ‘B’ and raised the spectre of the southern bogeyman instead.

    “Dublin would be wise to steer clear of any confrontation on this issue.”

    Scarey stuff. It’s like listening a ginger kim jong il.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The party that delivered the decision to pull down the Union flag for 350 days per year was the Alliance Party. They too should have known better.

    No, the UUP delivered, with cross-party agreement, the Flags Order 2000 which institutionalized the designated days policy on public buildings in NI. The UUP then went to vote for the implementation of designated days in Lisburn, Craigavon, and a bunch of other places.

    I thought Empty was supposed to be one of the constructive ones. Turns out he’s a nasty hater who circulates falsehoods.

  • Republic of Connaught

    CS:

    “I thought Empty was supposed to be one of the constructive ones. Turns out he’s a nasty hater who circulates falsehoods.”

    He’s certainly a dinosaur, still trying to turn back time and stop the inevitable changes that are happening and will continue to happen on the little green Isle.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I suspect Reg’s speech was pitched at respectable UUP voters who desperately want to believe that the mess over the past 12 months wasn’t their fault.

    Of course, nobody’s buying it – not with video footage and photographs of Nesbitt attending flag protest marches organized by faceless “loyalist” protest groups (such as this or indeed the time when UUP MLA Michael Copeland marched with others (including DUP MLA Sammy Douglas) from the Welders to protest outside Naomi Long’s office, a number of weeks after the attempted murder of a police officer there.

  • Reg is a joke. He thinks Alliance should be unionist. They ARE unionist , just not as unionist as Reg would like. The UUP are sleepwalking into oblivion and Reg is master speaker at their wake. Peter Robinson’s only achievement in 40 years in politics is to deal a death blow to a party [the UUP] which was already dead. He might as well have stayed in Clontiberet for all the good he’s done the duplicity party. Unionism is slowly dying just like the Republican Party in the US. All for whites[US], All for Prods[Unionism]

  • aquifer

    Orange Onionism running on Empty, peeling back layers of bitterness to reveal more white bile.

    Alliance is all set for a seat on the Executive.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “How did this happen? We have known for over thirty years that Sinn Fein has been trying to get the Union flag off every building it can”

    I lament (more so) when I read statements like this from Unionist leaders. They’ve known what to expect for decades yet did hee-haw about it:

    TV INTERVIEWER: “So mr Unionist leader, it says here that you suspected that Nationalists would try to take down the fleg for some time,is that true?”

    UNIONIST ‘LEADER’: “It is yes. Decades actually”

    TV INTERVIEWER:”So with that in mind what steps did you take to soften the image of the flag within the nationalist community?”

    UNIONIST ‘LEADER’: “What?!”

    TV INTERVIEWER: “Well, obviously, if it suffered from an image problem or had political and historical baggage attached to it then common sense suggests that as a ‘defender’ of said object one would take whatever steps necessary to protect it”

    UNIONIST ‘LEADER’: “I’m sorry, I don’t follow, we did gerrymander a few districts once upon a time if that’s what you mean?”

    TV INTERVIEWER: “No, it wasn’t. Did you consult a PR form?”

    UNIONIST ‘LEADER’: “Don’t be ridiculous!”

    TV INTERVIEWER: “Surely you must have asked the Orange Order and Band scene to refrain from behaviour that disgraces the flag?”

    UNIONIST ‘LEADER’: “Why!?”

    TV INTERVIEWER: “Surely to goodness you publicly condemned the widespread use of hammering cheap flags to lamp-posts in Unionist areas as a way of marking out territory?!”

    UNIONIST ‘LEADER’: “Right. That’s enough of this nonsense, interview is over!!”

  • Great post, Am Ghobsmacht.
    Some people here are saying or agreeing that Empey is a dinosaur. Unfortunately he is not the only one. Robinson’s lapdog, Nesbitt, is another prime example. There is a vacuum of leadership, as you have been saying for many months. There can be a good future for all but probably not until the dinosaurs on both main sides are finally consigned to the dustbin of history.

  • DC

    Perhaps John Alderdice would have seen belfast city hall flag motion for what it was – nothing other than crude, ethnic triumphalism, pan-nationalism on display, which alliance helped to further. attempted complete total removal made it – the motion – at least from a good relations point of view – pretty toxic.

    therefore, entertaining change in flag policy in that context had attendant risks, risks that didn’t need the ‘benefit of hindsight’, well not those claiming to be or presenting as professional politicians.

    the union flag, it was claimed by some, had been an ‘issue’ since 2003, however even with all that time passing alliance still couldn’t find a way to get a new flag off the ground, perhaps one to represent the emerging northern irish identity – a new flag for this supposed ‘new city’, newness which it purports to represent.

    No, sadly for alliance it couldn’t get agreement on a new flag to go up after the union flag was made to come down – and that looked bad in terms of failing to visualise a symbol that reflected a new way of life for belfast.

    the way designated days was implemented looked more zero sum than win win.

  • SK[11.45]And to think Reg was a reformer back in the 60s when he bewailed the rightwing tendencies of his party back then. This is where he’s really at. Reg wants to send us back to the Prod party for a Prod people. There’s no hope for unionism, fortunately.

  • Of course the party of Empey have followed on the coat tails of the DUP in certain decisions in recent times. They have backed the DUP in adopting an all Ireland approach on certain areas of policy and debate, when the Alliance, SDLP and even Sinn Féin have wanted to adopt the same measures as the rest of the UK.

    Clearly the UUP of Empey is not unionist when it comes to the PUL LGBT community. So the only self indentifying ‘unionist’ party that has stood up for the LGBT people of protestant/unionist extraction is the PUP, so much for leading unionism.

  • DC

    ”So with that in mind what steps did you take to soften the image of the flag within the nationalist community?”

    Clever. but let’s go deeper.

    take for example reform of the RUC – parties that signed up to the belfast agreement signed up not for removal of all britishness from the NI police, parties to the agreement didn’t sign up for a neutral police service with 50:50, but for a commission to look into the RUC and deliver reform.

    The commission made recommendations that were then handed over to the two governments to act on and act on it they did – bearing in mind while this was going on stormont was stop go or more stop than go and no democratic debate was allowed or provided due to the fact that the IRA didn’t wind up till 2005 – therefore the governments decided to remove all association with britishness over the heads of the politicians and people. Even if stormont was up and running police was in the hands of westminster and no one not even the patton commission went about *after* its proposals were backed by the british who implemented change, not unionists. so that would be an example of a false argument you are putting over am gobsmacht. there is a lot of resentment out there with the way these things have been handled and much of the change unionists would roll back and then have that debate you would like to have but i imagine nerves are frayed and temper short as is the case within nationalism i am sure, perhaps less so.

    Restricting irish nationalist identity has gone hand in glove with removal of british identity and association with the union, the annoyance for unionists is that despite having won the constitutional battle for now and into the future it is denied having the identity that would go along with that.

    the two governments sat down and thought cleverly in their eyes – oh look it has been a war over constitution and therefore let’s remove all associations with those constitutional identities as far as possible – isn’t that so so clever they thought, they being those in commissions in detached offices in detached bureaucracies working on behalf of the British and irish government. No better example than the PSNI and with patton.

    if you take decisions over the heads of people regionally and people feel dis-empowered and sense a lack of genuine control over identity and issues such as that then the output if not blow back is application of control where control can be applied – usually locally on street – and no better example than an explosion of union flags in unionist areas.

    the point i am making is that key issues around identity have already been taken by the two governments when stormont was mothballed or suspended – even the flags order 2000, that is a good example of identity issues being settled by the british.

    the british government was complicit in removing associations of britishness not out of belief in doing the right thing but out of political expediency esp pre-2005-07 in order to encourage the IRA to go away and to stop its hurtful campaign. hurtful socially, politically, personally and economically.

    softening the image – surely the british government where it has implemented change has a duty to lead on its own change, than asking unionists to come to terms with change not of its own making, which is what alliance asked unionists to do as well re belfast city hall!

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Nasty piece of work.

  • aquifer

    The Union flag can be used, but not in a triumphalist manner because it reminds many in the state of a time when their equal rights as British citizens were undermined by a sectarian cabal.

    What exactly is the problem here?

    A shortage of cherry pickers?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    DC

    “Clever. but let’s go deeper.”

    Deeper?!

    You’ve just changed subject, not went any deeper.

    Unionism has had decades to make itself and the Union Flag more inclusive and representative of all.

    It has not done so.

    Most changes have been strong armed in by big brother in London.

    There is nothing false in that summary whatsoever DC

    You’ve got yer filter on.

    The gestures touched upon in my spoof interview above would have helped a bit.

    They wouldn’t be magic cures but they could have helped a bit.
    It’s taken to 2013 for any Unionists to come forward and highlight such a mess (NI21).

    Lest the whataboutery commence, I would apply the same criticism to the GAA although they have made some effort but not enough to ‘do the job’ (a more difficult task now that Mr Brolly has been seen to ‘let the mask slip’).

  • As I suggested previously, there are obviously at least two people posting under the name “DC”.
    Anyway, ..”there is a lot of resentment out there with the way these things have been handled”.
    What that means, essentially, is that “we” cannot accept under any conditions that all citizens are equal. “We” desperately need to go back to the situation whereby “lemmuns” have to accept that “they” are inferior and need to lie down.

  • weidm7

    Am Ghobsmacht

    What do you think the GAA or any nationalist organisation (including the Irish government) could do to improve the image of the tricolour among unionists? Particularly moderate unionists / garden centre prods?

  • Weidm7,
    Sorry to butt in, but if you read Ag’s many (valuable) posts on his blog, there is no way that any existing flag can be acceptable to all sections of the populace. There needs to be some way that a new flag can be designed that most people can agree accomodates every (most) people’s desire to be equal and inclusive.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    weidm7

    Good question.

    One that I’m mulling over as we speak.

    In my own experience the negative association with the tri-colour came from Republicanism.

    Republicans ruined it for me. They did for the tricolour what Orangeism did (does) for all manner of flags.

    I can’t really say much about the Irish government as it’s their flag.
    They don’t abuse it as such.
    Pinning it to telegraph poles or tower blocks to mark out territory (as is the Northern fashion) helps to undermine its appeal.

    As does the insistence of the GAA’s flying of it.
    There’s a lot of chat regarding the flying of the tricolour along side the Union Flag as a token of respect and equality.

    I’d like for those same people to call for NI GAA clubs to endorse a similar path and fly both flags in a respectful tandem. (yes, I would like to see the 3 flag idea extended, but this neither the time nor the place).

    I’d like for the GAA to accept that things are different up north and stop pretending that Ireland is Ireland and what’s good for Kerry is good for South East Antrim.

    IF the tricolour and Soldier’s Song are a big turn off then I’d like them to acknowledge this and deal with it.
    Not a ‘like it or lump it’ approach.
    Like Stormont mk I.

    When I lived in Dublin I had no problem with it.
    It seemed (rightly) ‘natural’.

    Seeing it in NI or Glasgow made me think of it as something more malignant.

    Personally, I much prefer the old Irish flags of the harps and ‘Erin go Bragh’.
    I could stand behind those flags as an Irishman.
    I could only stand for the tricolour in a contrived sense of clenched-teeth getalongerism.
    No heart in the matter.

    And BTW, I’m very well aware of mixed GAA teams so don’t anyone bother posting such links in the belief that it’ll undo all my points.

    On the contrary, if the GAA can get kids on the Shankill to play hurling then think how many others might have joined had the GAA been more accommodating.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Thank you Mr J! 🙂

    One fleg is no good: 3 flegs uber alles!

  • “We have known for over thirty years that Sinn Fein has been trying to get the Union flag off every building it can as that party is in denial about the settlement on the constitution contained in the Belfast Agreement.”

    @Alan,

    Empey is certainly confused here and in his entire speech I suspect. In the above sentence the word AS has the meaning of BECAUSE. So in effect he is stating that the Belfast Agreement is over 30 years old–they’ve been doing something in the first half of the sentence for over 30 years because of their interpretation of the Belfast (GFA) Agreement. So Reg thinks that the GFA dates back to at least 1983–so then why were he and Trimble and the rest of the UUP and DUP so upset about the Anglo-Irish Agreement? It’s just mind boggling.

    The Alliance Party has NEVER claimed to be a unionist party and has in fact denied this when others like Republicans make this claim.

    Trimble moved on from his Vanguard days; Empey seems to still be stuck in them.

  • GEF

    Don’t know were Lord Empey got the idea the Alliance Party’s political position was either Unionist or Republican.

    Alliance Party:
    Ideology ————————Liberalism Non-Sectarianism
    Political position ————————–Centre
    International affiliation——————–Liberal International
    European affiliation ———————— Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party

  • Morpheus

    “SF…is in denial about the settlement on the constitution contained in the Belfast Agreement.”

    “Settlement”? Does it not worry anyone else that in 2013, 15 years after it was signed, senior Unionist politicians still do not have a grasp of the key principles of The Good Friday Agreement?

  • Yes.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Am Ghobsmacht

    “I’d like for the GAA to accept that things are different up north”

    Ok what is culturally different between Donegal and Tyrone?

    “There’s a lot of chat regarding the flying of the tricolour along side the Union Flag as a token of respect and equality.”

    I have not come across that particular view. More interestingly the GAA is a world wide organisation who do the same thing in all countries.

    I do love your idea that for every British flag that one uses one must put up an Irish one.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Mc Slaggart

    Why do you want to go down this path?

    It’s so boringly predictable.

    I’ll struggle to come out with differences between the two counties that you chose (i.e. bloody Tir Connell…) and will start to come out with examples that are poles apart e.g. South East Antrim and County Clare.

    At which point you’ll ignore my valid point and squirm on to the next slippery point of pedantry that you can conceive.

    “I have not come across that particular view”

    Really

    Well, it’s been bandied about, on the TV, radio, t’interweb and on this very site.
    Even Maskey had both flegs up in his office to illustrate the point.

    FYI, we’ve also sent men to the moon, discovered a big massive continent in the Southern hemisphere and our industrious sea-men have found a way of staving off scurvy.

    Is there anything else that has passed you by?

  • Neil

    The image of Belfast since that night has not been an image of shared future prevailing. It has been one of deepening divisions and civil unrest.

    I.e. shared future = Unionists getting exactly what they want.

    Who listens to this guy now anyway. I’d have thought he’d have been at risk at the UUP conference due to the fact that he probably did more to destroy the party than any other person. When his pact with Davy Ervine went tits up he went searching for his next gimmick and came up with UCUNF. Such political nous, even the name sounds like a cross between a far right organisation and female genitalia.

  • Granni Trixie

    GEF
    Just a detail but the USP of alliance is An ideology of ANTI sectarianism.

    Plus Stephen Glenn
    don’t know how LGBT got into this post but for the record,diversity is also valued in Alliance hence we have many people coming through the ranks who publically label themselves as such (yes,Andrew Muir,Lord Mayor, is not the only gay person in Alliance). And for th record I have weighed in myself for equality for this community as when ken McGuinness made his disrespectful remarks re “beastiality”.

    And Stephen whilst I’m with you if whAt
    you are getting at is that political parties ought to show leadership by welcoming LGBT, I equally believe that they ought not to pander to sectarianism as a vote catcher,

  • Mc Slaggart

    Am Ghobsmacht

    You do know that Tyrone and Donegal are beside each other and both meet your criteria of ” accept that things are different up north”. Donegal has Orange halls and Orange men.

    “South East Antrim and County Clare”

    “Clare outclass Antrim 2-28 to 0-12 in Saturday’s All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling final”

    BBC sport.

    It is sort of funny you pick the one Ulster county which is actually close to Clare in GAA terms.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Of course I know this Mc S, I’m from Mid Ulster.

    What’s your point?

    My point is that the GAA can’t expect people to react up North (in general) as they do in general down south (in general) specifically in terms of fleggery

    Whats the chances of finding some one in the Irish Republic having beef with a tricolour?

    Slim, I would imagine.

    What are the chances of finding some one in Co Antrim that has beef with a tricolour?

    Fair to middling to dead cert in some areas.

    You know this,

    And as you know this then surely it stands to reason that perhaps exceptions could be made with regards to flegs, anthems and wot-not.

    I accept fully that Unionists for decades ignored nationalist concerns and interests.

    I’m putting to you Unionist concerns and interests in 2013 and you’re either not listening or ignoring me.

    How enlightened.

  • Greenflag

    If poor Reggie were king he could be accused of committing reggiecide but he is’nt .Dublin would be wise to do exactly the opposite of any advice tendered by Messrs Empey and Elliot. These folks just don’t get it and never will . And I thought Reggiie was one of the more enlightened ‘Unionists ‘ 🙁

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart, you asked for examples of the differences between Donegal and Tyrone. Do people in Donegal routinely quote the BBC for their GAA results rather than RTE ?

    DC – I’m not sure how any of your extensive arguments deal with the fact that the UUP spent 12 years supporting and implementing designated days, apparently willingly and without protest, up until December 2012. The truth is that the DUP decided they were going to set the agenda for electoral purposes and the UUP and PUP lacked the stones to stand up to them.

  • DC

    comrade

    That would be OK if Pinky and the Brain – the SDLP and SF – didn’t attempt to remove the flag altogether in doing so sectarianising the whole thing – and i would consider myself to be progressive enough for designated days but not off the back of attempted total removal by pan nationalism in Belfast City Hall. of course i speak in hindsight, but i am not a professional career politician whose task it would be to weigh up the outcomes when moving forward on these kind of topics and adapting to ‘events’ – such is the money paid to councillors you would have thought that given the time that had passed since it being an ‘issue’ that they could have come up – in advance – with an approach that didn’t upset. You would have thought belfast city councillors could have come up with a way to change the flag that didn’t start with total removal.

    a good start is half the battle and that was not a good start…

  • Barry the Blender

    CS was your party perfect in every way on the flags?

  • Morpheus

    What is your issue with neutrality in the absence of equality DC?

  • DC

    neutrality ignores the reality of the current constitutional position and the union flag should fly as a symbol to represent this situation on behalf of the majority – who seem to want things to stay as they are for the foreseeable.

  • Master McGrath

    CS very valid points here well made.
    My problem on my side of the water (Scotland) is an awful sense of childishness to grown up politics being employed by the UUP, DUP, PUP and the rest of the non-Nationalist side generally.
    In a democracy you have to go along with the numbers and the numbers were in favour of changing the number of days the flag would be flown.
    Grown-up politicians would have taken the message to their supporters, including the unthinking and over -reactive ones that we lost the vote but we have to get more elected members to get our way.
    Really there are parallels with the way the Tea Party is wagging the Republican dog in America when it can get the Government to close to attempt to frustrate a democratically taken vote being implemented.
    The back lash from that is already damaging Republican chances for the next election.
    My suspicion is that the chances of the UUP et al are already damaged ,again, and the turnout and vote will be smaller next time and Alliance and NI21 will increase.

  • DC

    In a democracy you have to go along with the numbers and the numbers were in favour of changing the number of days the flag would be flown.

    Grown-up politicians would have taken the message to their supporters

    The same way the Tories went to Labour at the time of the Poll Tax ‘back us you know it makes sense’ – NOT!

    The great unwashed are rioting why didn’t the Labour party lead on this with us and attempt to tame these beasts!

    is that the kind of approach you are advocating?

    Sounds like one party democracy you want – heil!

    As for america – big business and financialisation has run that place into the ground to the point that no one wants to pay for obama care.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Am Ghobsmacht

    “My point is that the GAA can’t expect people to react up North ”

    If the issue is flags then get an overall agreement on it and I am sure the GAA will support the outcome. The GAA has other more important things to get sorted before trying single handed to tackle that issue.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    Take a holiday in Donegal its actually quite nice.

    For a long time places in Donegal only got BBC.

    I did have discussions with some people in/from Donegal about the panel on the BBC coverage (they was better than RTE).

  • Master McGrath

    Don’t be silly DC – Labour did not say to its supporters to back the Poll Tax but rather when they got into power they would end it.
    They did not support rioting or back their political options into increasingly small corners where they could not get any room to manoeuvre out of.
    The exact situation in the stand-offs at the City Hall and Twaddle.

  • DC

    your approach sails pretty close to that though Master McGrath – obviously i am exaggerating to stress a point in terms of labour backing the tories on the poll tax to try and quiet disorder.

    but some have been calling out shame that the Unionists did nothing to help lead on this kind of change, my point being why would they whenever it is a change that they did not want to see happen, understandable given the context of total removal, therefore it was resisted all the way.

  • “the Flags Order 2000 which institutionalized the designated days policy on public buildings in NI”

    That’s not my understanding, CS; perhaps you can clarify.

    The Flags (Northern Ireland) Order 2000 was made in May 2000 and deals with government buildings, not public buildings. The Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 [pdf file] was made and brought into force in November 2000; it specifies the seven government buildings in Belfast and Bangor to which the regulations apply.

  • aquifer

    If somebody invites me to vote for their government it is none of Reg’s business. Is he going to send a couple of loyalist thugs around to my house and stop me? or interfere with the Royal Mail, a criminal offense?

    He has long arms, longer than Mr Burns for sure and possibly stronger, but does he not know the meaning of overreach?

  • Morpheus

    “neutrality ignores the reality of the current constitutional position and the union flag should fly as a symbol to represent this situation on behalf of the majority – who seem to want things to stay as they are for the foreseeable.”

    Belfast City Hall is for the people of Belfast – ALL of them – and it should be representative of all the people of Belfast and should be filled with crap showing its history dating back to The Bronze Age, not the last 100 years of unionism. The Union Flag to many is deeply divisive because of how it has been used and abused for decades so they have every right to demand neutrality. A neutral city hall is welcoming to all so I don’t see the problem.

    Why must Belfast City Hall be different to Stormont, Lisburn and most of the other city halls in the UK? Why can it not be neutral and welcoming to all?

  • DC

    Why must Belfast City Hall be different to Stormont, Lisburn and most of the other city halls in the UK? Why can it not be neutral and welcoming to all?

    It is neutral because it is the constitutional flag, it is nationalists who still seem to attach heavy ideological baggage to it when no such baggage exists imo (as nationalists do to the orange order as well eg protestant ascendency crap whenever it is just a bunch of working class lads looking to get up the road home out of tradition). There is no need to attach heavy ideological baggage to british symbols any more especially not after the peace process and us all being friends now living under the union flag as one big happy family, eh?

    belfast can be truly neutral should the majority so wish to leave the UK but seeing as belfast is the capital city of NI still in the UK then it should have the union flag up on a publicly significant building close to the city centre, such as the city hall.

  • It’s almost a year now since the designated days policy was introduced in Belfast. Time to have a break.
    Incidentally, should Scotland opt for independence, what flag will we fly on designated days?

  • Morpheus

    That’s taking things into the realms of the surreal don’t you think?

    The Union Flag doesn’t carry heavy ideological baggage eh? These images beg to differ

    I won’t dignify the OO comment with a response but sticking to the flag issue The Union Flag has been used as a weapon, a KEEP OUT marker, a cape and a disguise while rioting so you can look to things like this when you want an explanation as to why it is divisive.

    Belfast doesn’t need to leave the UK to be neutral. It can be neutral, open and welcoming to all right here in the UK like most of the other other UK city halls who fly on designated days – why should Belfast City Hall be any different? Why should Belfast fly 365 days a year in contrast to Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield etc?

  • Comrade Stalin

    DC,

    The logic of your theory is that the DUP and UUP would support designated days under different circumstances. Both parties are decrying the whole idea of designated days in direct contradiction of their stance in the past.

    it is nationalists who still seem to attach heavy ideological baggage to it

    You can’t seriously be claiming that unionists attach no ideological significance to the flag.

    McSlaggart, genuinely, I find it interesting that the BBC coverage of GAA is held to be better than that of RTÉ. But back in the days of yore that you describe when RTÉ didn’t reach parts of Donegal, I’d have been sure that the BBC did not even cover GAA.

    Nevin,

    You are of course correct in that I got that detail wrong, the Order applies to government buildings.

  • Red Lion

    How on earth did this party the UUP ever form with others the Good Friday Agreement?

    They had a massive influence in delivering relative stability in NI through the GFA – one of their biggest achievements.

    And rather than be proud of this fact and work to bring it forward, they seem to blank it from their history and seem determined to undermine it with the street politics of fear and civil strife.

    NI21 had to happen, it was inevitable.

  • Red Lion,,

    Their hearts never seemed to be in it. I think they agreed because behind the scenes they were told that if they didn’t agree, the alternative (Plan B ?) would leave them out in the cold in a Joint Authority Ireland. Same as was done to Paisley a few years later. Trimble certainly didn’t sell it..

  • Mc Slaggart

    CS
    “McSlaggart, genuinely, I find it interesting that the BBC coverage of GAA is held to be better than that of RTÉ. ”

    The BBC often had better people doing the half time talks this year.

    Kiearn McGeeney was excellent.

  • Republic of Connaught

    CS

    “McSlaggart, genuinely, I find it interesting that the BBC coverage of GAA is held to be better than that of RTÉ. ”

    Held by who to be better? BBC NI is available across Ireland. I don’t know any down here who watch their coverage of GAA rather than RTE.

    If they thought it was better they would.

  • sherdy

    When I was young kids in our area would sit below the gas-lit street lights of a dark evening and scare each other witless/shitless telling tall tales of ghouls, ghosts, spirits, banshees and any other subject we could before going home for our supper.
    Had I been aware that such entertainment was still available in this modern technological age, possibly without even an entrance fee, I would have gone along to this conference.
    Then again, I might have been thrown out for guffawing uncontrollably – but it would have been worth it.

  • Jack2

    Lets examine this emotive sentence.
    “Little did we know (pleading ignorance) that our hopes (we were positive) would be dashed (they were negative) in a few short weeks (weeks are always the same length) when a non-unionist (them-uns) coalition (they are grouping up on us) in the City Hall would vote to pull down (likely it was lowered and not pulled, very emotive term) the Union flag after 106 years (we always had it this way).

    It is loaded with a hostile undertone, Empey is turning the rabble rousing up to 10 and it is unbecoming of him. Cant believe I actually voted for this nasty self serving piece of work.

    Yes – I was a unicorn.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Mc Slaggart

    “If the issue is flags then get an overall agreement on it and I am sure the GAA will support the outcome. The GAA has other more important things to get sorted before trying single handed to tackle that issue.”

    Jesus wept.

    The GAA would save a lot of time and effort with regards to its numerous community outreach schemes if it could ‘sort out’ the fleg issue & anthem.

    It is a mighty stumbling block.

    It is the he mightiest of stumbling blocks (at least as far as Nationalists can do anything, the other stumbling blocks are Unionist mentality, but such an advance will help to start the change on that side of the fence).

    I don’t know why this is so difficult to comprehend.

    I mean, here’s DC pretty much acting as the mirror image (more or less) with regards to the Union flag. “baggage? What bagage?”

    The tricolour too has baggage.

    Some fella on twitter suggested to me: “how about no flags at GAA games except of course the counties flags that r playing. That would make most sense to me”

  • Mc Slaggart

    Am Ghobsmacht

    “if it could ‘sort out’ the fleg issue & anthem”

    Ok they will play Ireland call along side the Irish flag and anthem. sorted

    What you forget is the GAA operate in England without the issues that Unionists have on their flag etc.

    Most GAA people would consider if they removed the flag and anthem the next issue would be the use of Irish.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Republic of Connaught

    I was specific on that it was “the panel on the BBC coverage” which due to the fact that “The BBC often had better people doing the half time talks this year. Kiearn McGeeney was excellent.”

    The Pat and Joe show on RTE was good for comic value but it did lack depth.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Ok they will play Ireland call along side the Irish flag and anthem. sorted”

    Why not just forget about the anthem and use county flags instead?

    What would the resulting loss to Irish culture be?

    Who would lose?

    Why would it be unworkable?

    You’re sounding like a flegger now:
    “yes, we’ll compromise. If we compromise our way”

    Perhaps Irish would be an issue, but, the sympathy of a lot of people would be lacking perhaps to the extent where such objections would lose all credibility.

    If objections to the tricolour and anthem had no credibility then do you not think there might be more Protestants in the GAA than there are presently?

    Of course you don’t, that would involve seeing some one else’s point of view…

    A flag and an anthem are political more than they are cultural.

    Do you understand that?

  • Mc Slaggart

    Am Ghobsmacht

    “Why not just forget about the anthem and use county flags instead?”

    I have no personal objections but its not an issue the GAA is going to address on it own. I am left to wonder if Unionists will tell baseball to take down their flag next.

    We will be singing “Faith of Our Fathers” in no time.

  • Republic of Connaught

    McSlaggart,

    I like that RTE have a Connaught presenter and three pundits from Ulster, Leinster and Munster. That covers the whole country and gives different provincial opinions and accents.

    BBC NI tends to be mainly Ulster centric which would need to change to gain more viewers across the country. Though I think it’s right that many GAA people from Ulster watch it because otherwise BBC NI will say they aren’t getting the viewers to continue covering it.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Republic of Connaught

    “BBC NI tends to be mainly Ulster centric ”

    I would agree.

    Pat was a great footballer but has become a parody of himself. Joe can sometinge makes good points but I do not like the way that he expresses them. For example he attack on the Armagh manager for doing the things he praises the Dublin manager for.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Republic of Connaught

    “BBC NI tends to be mainly Ulster centric ”

    I would agree.

    Pat was a great footballer but has become a parody of himself. Joe can sometimes makes good points but I do not like the way that he expresses them. For example he attack on the Armagh manager for doing the things he praises the Dublin manager for.

  • carl marks

    We should respect DC’s honesty, he has informed us that flying the flag only on designated days was all right with him and his objection is that Nationalists agreed to it as a compromise, specifically that they wanted the flag down altogether and agreed to a compromise and this what has provoked so much anger.
    I’m sorry if that sentence above sounded like the ravings of a madman , he got the policy he supported but doesn’t want it now because the dirty taig nationalists’ had the cheek to disagree with him.
    So his problem is really the whole democracy thing, and we can understand his point, along with Reg and most unionist politicians he is concerned that the fenians (as we know, good Catholics don’t want to vote, and bad ones don’t deserve it ) are taking this electing people thing far too seriously, not only are they voting for people who are not Unionist’s but those people insist on voting in ways that the people who elected them want them too, disgusting!
    So what is the solution, do we let those trying to go back to the good old days (bring back the B-men) dictate how we run the country or do we ignore this group of knuckle draggers and join the rest of the world in the 21st century?

  • At least I’m first in with the Poppy threads!

  • DC

    Carl Marks

    i am saying the issue was, as a result of the attempted total removal, sectarianised and therefore not seen as being done in the spirit of good relations, it wound people up and you know the rest, the leaflet etc.

  • DC,

    At least keep your promises, a number of times, that you have given your last word on the subject of the flag and protests. Perhaps make a resolution that it will stop on the first anniversary. It will give us something to look forward to as the season of goodwill once again approaches.

  • DC

    well events joe, got to comment on events.

    i thought it was dying out but then this comes along…

    besides what goes on in the comments zone is not a matter of honour or being legally bound, it’s sport – knock about to get the day.

  • DC,

    Fair enough; one of “yesterdays men” kicked the ball back on to the pitch.
    Funny how some of that particular breed pretended to like the GFA but, once they lost power, now want to go back to the olden days.

  • carl marks

    DC (profile)

    21 October 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Carl Marks

    i am saying the issue was, as a result of the attempted total removal, sectarianized and therefore not seen as being done in the spirit of good relations, it wound people up and you know the rest, the leaflet etc.

    And yet strangely enough as AG pointed unionists in general knew this was coming and done nothing to prepare people for it, instead preferring to whip up the cannon fodder with leaflets.
    for someone who supports a political party who represents some of the worst terrorists this country has ever seen, who are still active in criminal activities and organising illegal protests would indicate that you have little or no respect for the flag beyond its use to annoy taigs., the misuse of the union flag by the PUP/UVF/OO/DUP/UUP/ is sectarian in the extreme .issue all the groups and parties mentioned use the “National Flag” as a sectarian symbol, tying it to lampposts in a similar way in which dogs use a streetlight to mark their territory, waving it as they disrespect their neighbours while marching were they are not wanted .
    As for no consultation , this vote came with plenty of advance notice and instead of preparing for it (perhaps as AG said unionists could have stopped using the flag as a sectarian rag) they sent out rabble rousing leaflets and brought the scum onto the street.
    Now DC when
    We strip down your argument and it has nothing to do with respect for the fleg since those protest regularly disgrace their flag and nothing to do with consultation it was offered, that leaves us as you yourself have stated it was all about sectarianism, you and your elk simply refuse to admit that nationalists should have the right to decide anything, and as I have said before why should we let a few hundred bigoted dickheads drag us back to the 16th century.

  • sherdy

    Carl, – ‘You and your elk’. Dear deer!

  • carl marks

    Carl, – ‘You and your elk’. Dear deer!

    Oops

  • DC

    here dickhead did you just call me an elk!?

    lol

    someone who supports a political party who represents some of the worst terrorists this country has ever seen

    SF?

    Because you certainly can’t be talking about the People’s Party.

  • carl marks

    DC (profile)

    21 October 2013 at 10:54 pm

    “here dickhead did you just call me an elk!?

    lol

    someone who supports a political party who represents some of the worst terrorists this country has ever seen

    SF?

    Because you certainly can’t be talking about the People’s Party.”

    I think you know who I mean but since you seem to have your Orange tinted glasses on I will explain, I’m talking about the PUP, led by a double sectarian murderer, financed from the earnings from drug sales and the political reps of the UVF. You get nasty(second time you have done this on me so I must be getting something right) when someone explains the whole democracy thing to you is this a cultural thing?

  • sherdy

    Carl, – Sorry, juvenile I know, but couldn’t resist it.

  • carl marks

    sherdy

    don’t be sorry mate,silly mistake by me!

  • Seamuscamp

    In the Forces for many years, I happily served under the Union flag. The current associations are shameful. Was I wrong?