Ownership of leaflet that provided ‘catalyst’ for flag protests confirmed by DUP councillor

Today on BBC Talkback, DUP councillor Lee Reynolds finally publicly confirmed that the DUP and UUP had paid for and distributed leaflets described by authors of the QUB report as having a ‘catalytic effect’ in the run-up to the city hall vote,”

Alliance

The report states “It was this, more than anything else, which inflamed the mood at that point”

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The protests as of September 2013 were a ‘contributory factor’ in costing the Northern Ireland economy over £50m (as of September 2013) and over £20m in policing (by March 2013).

The release of the joint statement also provided the catalyst for Basil McCrea‘s departure from the UUP and before that John McCallister.

In December 2012 McCrea described a joint decision by the two main unionist parties to take the flag dispute to Stormont’s Assembly Commission as a “stupid idea” and said on BBC Talkback:

You cannot take a photograph of the city hall with a flag and a photograph of the city hall without a flag and and put 40,000 of them out in Alliance colours and say ‘these people are responsible’ and not expect a reaction

Basil McCrea

Basil McCrea

Speaking to Slugger tonight Mr. McCrea told us he been assured by the Executive of the UUP that a report explaining the production of the the joint leaflet would be commissioned.

No such report has ever been made public.

The full QUB report can be read and downloaded here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/isctsj/News/Title,481122,en.html

 

Read in depth analysis of the report here: http://sluggerotoole.com/2014/12/03/the-flag-dispute-anatomy-of-a-protest-published-by-queens/

 

 

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  • By the way, John left UUP before Basil.

  • Bryan Magee

    It’s an offensive leaflet: should be “whom” not “who”.

  • kalista63

    Didn’t the executive of the UUP not know they were behind the leaflet in 2012? Was the money nicked out of their coffers?

    Anyone know what Alliance are saying about this confirmation, considering how the DUP and UUP scoffed the accusation at the time?

  • Bryan Magee

    He left NI21 first too!

  • Dec

    Amazing what 700 quid can get you nowadays.

  • kalista63

    1400 ransom strips, if the right guy does the deal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The DUP admitted back in 2012 that they circulated the leaflets; this is nothing new.

    I believe the UUP were persuaded by the DUP to help with leaflet distribution but I don’t believe they were in the driving seat. They are, of course, culpable for their role in escalating sectarian tensions.

  • tmitch57

    It was written in American English.

  • tmitch57

    Under American RICCO anti-racketeering laws the UUP and the DUP could probably be prosecuted for conspiring with the illegal demonstrators–if this had happened in America. I think you need more robust anti-racketeering laws that would make it illegal to create a deceptive leaflet if the intention was to produce illegal protests and rioting.

  • Robin Keogh

    The DUP and the UUP are fully aware that behaviour like this inflames the loyal mobs and inevitably leads to conflict and injury. Its a tactic they have employed for over a hundred years so why anybody might be shocked by it is beyond me

  • Thomas Girvan

    I don’t know what the big deal is.
    It is perfectly legitimate to put out political leaflets.
    As for The Alliance party, they decided to change the system which meant that the flag came down at the City Hall. They were entitled to do so if they wished.
    Obviously they would be aware that other people have a right to oppose their decision.
    The leaflets were a democratic tactic used to try to prevent Alliance voting as they did, and in the event of them voting as they eventually did, that they would be held responsible in future elections.
    It is a free country.
    What’s the problem?

  • Dan

    Alliance helped deliver the Sinn Fein Trojan horse.
    Gullible fools.

  • Morpheus

    Typical. A report showing that the DUP and UUP were responsible for a cowardly, disgusting attack on a fellow political party and elected representative which was the ‘catalyst’ for over 55,000 incidents, the attempted murder of a police officer, death threats, prevention of constituency work, millions upon millions in policing costs, all those police officers injured, dozens of arrests and dozens of convictions and it is largely ignored. Quelle surprise.

    One thing is for sure the whole ‘flegs’ debacle gives a real insight into the mindset and incompetence of the DUP/UUP. In order to cover their tracks and hide the fact that they did absolutely nothing to prepare their electorate in the preceding 10 years since the council voted to look into the flag flying policy after advice from Senior Counsel in 2002 the best thing they could think of was to distribute these cowardly leaflets – genius – and not even having the integrity/balls to put their party logos on them as they were supposed to.

    All those people who have racked up the convictions – people the DUP/UUP are supposed to represent – must be looking back now and wondering if it was worth it. Billy Hutchinson was on talking about stopping the loyalist people being ‘taken up to the top of the hill and left there’ well they have another example to add to their list.

    The story of Natalie Graham and Migle Seilute was all but ignored this week as well. Quelle surprise. No political capital to be made there eh? Yet another perfect example of how victims are used and abused when politically expedient and ignored when they make the wrong sort of waves. All that feux ‘moral outrage’ when there’s something to be gained and silence when there’s not. It’s vomit-inducingly repulsive for us decent and right-thinking people to watch.

    This is who the Governmental reigns should be handed over to? Please.

    But anyway, back to reality…those Shinners eh?

  • Morpheus

    They were a democratic tactic? LOL.

    1. The DUUP didn’t even have the balls to put their party logos on them like they are supposed to
    2. The cowards denied all responsibility until they made their ‘shock’ announcement yesterday
    3. The leaflets targeted someone who wasn’t even on Belfast City Council ffs!

    The DUUP were covering their ass, pure and simple, making as much noise as possible to distract their electorate from the fact that they failed them yet again by doing absolutely nothing in preceding 10 years them to prepare them for a change in the flag flying policy. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

    Had DUUP an ounce of wit they would have sold this as a win for unionism but noooooo, that would be too much like common sense. They could easily have prevented all that trouble, all those arrests, all those convictions, all that money wasted if they had engaged their brains instead of fanning the flames.

    PS.The system did not change, the flag flying policy did. It changed to be in line with Stormont (no fuss made there), in line with other unionist dominated councils (no fuss made there), in line with the rest of the UK, in line with recommendations from The College of Arms, in line with advice from The Equality Commission and in line with advice from Senior Counsel. What’s the problem? Why the fuss?

  • Morpheus

    Using equality as a Trojan Horse was a terrible analogy to use and GA is an idiot for doing so. It’s more like a tidal wave – it’ll push forward no matter the defenses put up against it

  • Morpheus

    I don’t think anyone is shocked by it Robin, as you say, par for the course. But it’s amazing how they are simply let off the hook. No debates at Stormont (yet, I hope), no calls for judicial inquiries, no line by line analysis of the report, hell it hasn’t even made Nolan yet! Just brush it under the carpet and keep looking for that smoking gun that will bring down the Shinners is the order of the day, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose..

  • chrisjones2

    If it was North Korea they could have been shot …so what ….pick your jurisdiction and your law

  • Comrade Stalin

    What’s the problem?

    A very simple one.

    Why didn’t the DUP/UUP circulate leaflets in Lisburn or Craigavon to stop the change to designated days on those councils ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    If it is a Sinn Féin trojan horse, then the DUP are also guilty, as they delivered it quietly in Lisburn and Craigavon, and also up at Parliament Buildings.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Inciting riots or public disorder is already a crime.

    Circulating political leaflets without including a name or address is also a criminal offence.

    Unfortunately the police and the PPS do not take violations of this aspect of electoral law very seriously. This is commensurate with their general response to the disorder, which was initially to sit back and wait for it to blow over.

    I have some sympathy for the police position as if they act too swifty and too harshly they risk being accused of taking sides. However I hope they’ve learned lessons from the whole thing.

  • Neil

    It is perfectly legitimate to put out political leaflets.

    It is. If you have the balls and honesty to put your party’s name on them.

  • kalista63

    I love seeing NI21 mentioned.

    It’s like when you see a Starbar on the chocolate display.

  • Thomas Girvan

    At the end of the day the response was not the cause of the problem.
    The cause was the decision to go against the wishes of the people of Belfast, as was recognised in the poll taken,
    As regards the leaflets, I live in Belfast. I never got a leaflet, but I recognised that, if you are going to do something so contentious then you would need to recognise that it is going to create a serious reaction.
    We are coming out of an extended period of conflict, is this what we need?

  • Morpheus

    Again you are looking at this all wrong, try leaving the flegger logic behind and think objectively. Try to get it into your head that the current flag flying policy is a win – despite the epic fail that political unionism turned it into.

    The policy in nationalist-dominated councils is neutrality, welcoming to all, so for them to change that policy to back the Alliance policy in Belfast which, as said above, is “in line with Stormont, in line with other unionist dominated
    councils , in line with the rest of the UK, in line with recommendations from The College of Arms, in line with advice from The Equality Commission and in line with advice from Senior Counsel”
    was a win. A protest was the last thing that was needed, imagine if a party was held?

    And don’t underestimate the importance of the new policy being in line with legal advice from Senior Counsel and The Equality Commission.

    Imagine Alliance had ignored their research over the preceding 10 years (where was DUUP’s?) and all the legal advice and opted for neutrality? Imagine they abstained in the vote? Rather than attacking them the fleggers should just say thanks to Alliance for showing strength and integrity (where was the DUUP’s?) and jog on.

    “if you are going to do something so contentious then you would need to recognize that it is going to create a serious reaction”

    It is blindly obvious what the intentions behind the leaflet were:
    1. To distract the electorate from seeing that political unionism had let them down again by not preparing them for a possible change in the flag flying policy and
    2. To attack the sitting East Belfast MP, someone not even on Belfast City Council, so they can take back the seat/salary/pension/expenses for one of their cronies.
    3. To vilify Alliance so they could be wiped out of Belfast City Council (fail)

    As the report concluded the lack of leadership and the leaflet was a ‘catalyst’ for all the trouble, all the injuries, all the death threats, the attempted murder of a police officer, all the arrests and all the convictions There was no excuse for it and as you said, we are just coming out of an extended period of conflict and it was not what was needed.

  • Morpheus

    I wonder if the printers said “Er guys, I think you are legally obliged to put your logos on these things”

  • Morpheus

    Oh good grief…got a new buzzword have we? What happened to ‘chip chip chip’ or ‘cultural war’? The fact that it is everyone else’s fault is….well it’s very, very boring…

    I’ll spell it out for you. The constitutional position of Northern Ireland has NOT changed one iota. The flag of Northern Ireland has NOT changed one iota. What has changed however is a flag flying policy within a council area – nothing more, nothing less. As stated several times on this thread the policy has changed to be “in line with Stormont, in line with other unionist dominated councils, in line with the rest of the UK, in line with recommendations from The College of Arms, in line with advice from The Equality Commission and in line with advice from Senior Counsel”

    Read it again a few times and let it sink in. It was a win despite what political unionism turned it into.

    Personally I have no issue with all council buildings being neutral and welcoming to all but I also appreciate why SF/SDLP changed their policy: Belfast is still a capital city within the UK and as such deserves special treatment. And it got it. What’s the problem?

    Crucially, why does the same problem not exist in the other unionist dominated councils who have exactly the same policy?

  • carl marks

    And the funny thing is that unionists will carry on claiming the moral high ground! Just a few days ago one of our unionist posters accused me of insulting the membership of the DUP/UUP etc (who in his words kept democracy alive during the dark days) when i pointed out the shared history of the Unionists and loyalist terror group’s.
    But rest assured this will be forgotten or excused, the fact that other Unionist council’s and stormont only flew Flags on designated day and it was the East Belfast MP targeted and not a councillor ,

  • AMORR86

    With all this talk of a leaflet I almost forgot that SF, SDLP and Alliance simply ignored the results of the public consultation on the topic and removed the flag anyway. Maybe that might have got things a little heated under the collar no?
    In reference to democracy I do remember David Ford calling for ALL protests to stop, even those which were legal. I don’t suppose that provoked even more to come out in protest? Probably too awkward to admit.

  • Morpheus

    I suggest a read of the EQIA. Pay particular attention to the submissions from Senior Counsel and The Equality Commission.

    As an FYI, Alliance didn’t ignore the public consultation. They made it very clear:

    “Many responses were signatures on a petition collected at the Covenant Centenary Celebration event. It is important to note that
    Government Departments take no account of such petitions (e.g. the
    Planning Service)

    When more substantive responses were considered figures of 350
    responses in favour of continuing to fly the Union Flag 365 days a year,
    350 in favour of flying the Tricolour alongside the Union Flag and 150
    preferring no flag or a neutral flag, emerged from the public
    consultation.

    The Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) is very clear that the
    consultation stage of this process does not act as a referendum. Under
    the EQIA process the outcome of the consultation has to be weighed
    against legal and equality advice.

    There was also very low attendance at the two public consultation
    events held by Belfast City Council with 2 people attended one event
    along with representatives from 2 Belfast based organisations and 1
    person attending the other.”

  • kalista63

    We live in a representative democracy. That means that the vote of the council represented the majority of people, who voted.

    I live in Newtownabbey and the union flag flies 365 above the Valley Leisure Centre and I respect that as it represents the local community. Conversely, Derry and other towns, with a majority who do not want the flag flown don’t fly it.

    For decades, unionists and the DUP in particular, claimed Belfast City Hall as their’s, sticking up ugly banners that proclaimed every brain fart they could manage. Those days are gone,mill never return and from their perspective, will get ‘worse’. Therefore, it’s up to unionism to do what they should have done 15-20 years ago and adapt to changes, to the inevitable.

  • Morpheus

    No they won’t. Alliance will cite The Equality Commission advice among other contributions including legal advice from Senior Counsel, advice from the College of Arms plus their own analysis of the flag flying policy of 400 councils throughout the UK.

    Please don’t pontificate about balance. It is very misplaced.

    You do know what would’ve happened had they abstained because of the disgusting, cowardly bully-boy tactics of political unionism, right? Just say thanks to Alliance for showing strength, integrity and bravery and get on with your life safe in the knowledge that Belfast City hall is that bit more neutral and welcoming to everyone but still gets the respect it deserves as a capital city within the UK.

  • Morpheus

    Well I know a flagpole that begs to differ.

    Even if the tinfoil hat stuff regarding the ‘rights sector’ were true then how do you explain the legal advice? How do you explain EXACTLY the same policy in other unionist councils? How do you explain the College of Arms?

    But the biggest question: How do you explain all those other UK councils with EXACTLY the same policy?

    As for the Derry bit you added in after, then exactly the same situation is present…the council democratically decides what the flag flying policy is. Same as Omagh. Same as Strabane. Same as Castlereagh. Same as Coleraine. Same as Newry and Mourne. Same as all the other ones. Some vote for designated days, some vote for 365 and some vote for neutrality. Get over it.

  • Thomas Girvan

    We now have the benefit of hindsight, so I would be more inclined to judge it by the outcome, and not all that bullshit that you always ramble on about.
    Maybe you should contact the College of Arms and let them know the shit we have been dropped into over a flag/fleg that nobody gave a toss about until someone decided it was contentious.
    If you had the wit to recognise it, it has the smell of Trojan horse all over it.
    (Do they still do “Pseud’s Corner” in Private Eye?
    I think you would be a prime candidate!)

  • Morpheus

    The right decision was made for the right reasons no matter what incompetent, dangerous spin the DUUP put on it.

    Surely using that exact same hindsight even you can see that the loyalist peoplewere used and abused by political unionism yet again to cover their sheer incompetence.

    Regardless I suggest you build a bridge and get over it. It’s boring

  • Thomas Girvan

    I think you are talking to the wrong guy.
    The post was submitted by a Fireman and the main contributor was some bloke called Morpheus.
    Now he is boring, I think he is a member of the Rambler’s Association.

  • Morpheus

    Did that make sense in your head before you pressed submit?

  • Thomas Girvan

    Yes.
    If you have a problem understanding I will try to explain it to you.
    If it is the reference to the Ramblers Association, it was, I thought, a witty pun, referencing someone who goes on and on, usually thinking, erroneously, that people are taking him seriously, with someone who goes on countryside walks, usually in an unplanned fashion.
    I think the main point was that Morpheus, (the Pseud), was suggesting that Thomas, was the one going on about something ad nausea, when it was Morpheus who was going on and on and on and on and on etc, about something he finds boring!
    (By the way,If you didn’t figure the reference to the Fireman he was the guy who submitted the original post.)
    I hope that clarifies the situation.
    I know it is something of an oxymoron that someone, such as yourself, who finds something boring, continually involves himself in it, but I would suggest that you watch, “Deal or No Deal”, on the telly.
    Believe me,t is really boring and would, I reckon, suit you down to the ground!

  • Morpheus

    Good grief.

    Thomas, you’re done – you have been for quite some time. 🙂

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Christ on a trike.

    There are numerous reasons why I could strangle Gerry Adams with my own feeble hands but reason of the moment is this ‘Trojan horse’ buzzword.

    The fleggeratti and moperatti just love some crumbs to be thrown in their direction: “quack! Cultural war! Trojan horse!” or “Quack! 1000 years of awpresshun!”….

    To blame everything on a Trojan horse is to show an utter lack of comprehension.
    (A proper example of a Trojan Horse is new Northern Ireland flag: delivered on the basis of equality but with the effect of harming nationalism. Alas, very few unionists can grasp this concept).

    As Morpheus is trying to get ram through your skull it was SF who initiated this move.

    They did so suspiciously soon after unionism reached out to Catholics ( http://sluggerotoole.com/2014/11/28/heres-to-you-mr-robinson-for-keeping-nationalism-alive/ )

    Unionism did what unionism did best:
    impotently take to the streets and ruin the lives of working class unionists with no gains to show whatsoever.
    Alliance cited the equality commission as their foundation for this decision.

    The British government is seemingly satisfied with this body.
    Yet as they gave the ‘wrong decision’, that is to say a decision upheld in unionist Lisburn and Craigavon they are now ‘nationalist dominated’.

    I agree that the Union flag should appear in Londonderry.

    If I recall correctly an Alliance spokesperson derailed one of Arlene Foster’s foamy, frowny, eye-rolling tirades by agreeing (on TV) that this should be the case.

    A flag flying policy applied to the whole of NI is sensible:

    let the flag fly in Strabane as it does in Carrick: NOT from lampposts or telegraph poles but on one or two public buildings 17 days a year.

    Unionism has had decades to make the Union Flag more appealing (or neutral) to Northern Irish Catholics.

    We have not done so.
    Reap what we sow.
    Simple.

    There is no divine hand to intervene and make everything better for ‘the loyal’.

    It is time to play ball, not take a dive every time we think the referee isn’t looking.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Agreed Morph, this Trojan horse nonsense is doing my coupon in, it’s like something from Red Dwarf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu2y38IIFTc

  • Morpheus

    The decision to look at the flag flying was taken back in 2002 after advice from Senior Counsel AG, I don’t think the timing of the vote 10 years later to coincide with PR’s reach out can be landed on SF’s door.

    I would not be in favor of imposing a policy on all councils as a result of what happened in Belfast. Stinks a bit of changing the rules mid game. Each council should democratically decide their policy instead of having one forced upon them.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well we’ll just have to disagree on the flag rules Morph;

    If councils want to democratically deliver a two fingered salute to their minorities then I think they should have their wrists slapped, it’s no way to treat them and makes a mockery of other out reach gestures.

    Why bother letting Orangemen march in Derry if they can’t fly their flag 17 days a year?

    It rings of hollowness.

    Might as well be honest and throw it into the Foyle along with the applications to march.

    They either respect the unionist minority or they don’t, no point in half measures.

    And you know I apply the same rules to unionist behaviour (lest someone jump in with a whataboutery).

    The unionist minorities west of the Bann shouldn’t feel like they’re being swallowed up and the nationalist minorities east of the Bann shouldn’t feel like they’re being lorded over.

    They all want cake but I’d feed them lemons.

    When I take over and rename Derry ‘Amghobsmachtograd’/Амгобсмактоград it will be so….

  • Morpheus

    OTT AG. Flag flying policy in nationalist dominated councils like Derry, Omagh and Strabane is neutrality. ..not as a “2 fingered salute” but to treat everyone the same. It doesn’t come more equal than the same policy for all.

    How do you think the councils who currently vote for 365 will take to having a designated days policy imposed on them?

  • Morpheus

    Point of order AG, Alliance didn’t just cite The Equality Commission. ..they also cited legal advice PLUS college of arms advice PLUS they contacted 400 UK councils to see what their policies were. They well and truly covered their arses which is why they didn’t deserve what they got

  • carl marks

    so let me get this right,
    DUP/UUP/PUP/TUV all knew that a vote was coming up about the flag (for ten years) before it happened. and in no way prepared their electorate for the event.
    thanks to Alliance the outcome was not total removal but the same solution that unionists in unionist controlled council’s agreed on but that wasn’t acceptable in Belfast (never heard a unionist explain that) for some reason.
    DUP/UUP produce leaflet (illegally no details of authorship) blaming the local MP who was not involved in the decision.
    Loyalists go ape on the streets supported by DUP/UUP/TUV and it all nationalists and alliance fault.
    right got it, tell me ever thought of doing standup, the empire i believe has a night were you can turn up and get a chance of ten minute on stage you should bring your work to a larger audience!

  • carl marks

    Trojan horse makes a pleasant change from homeland, we should open a book on the next buzzword!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kalista, that’s fine, but if you press the Alliance on why they took the flag down they will cite equality advice from the Equality Commission, arguably without it they might have opted for no change on the basis that it was turning into more trouble than what it was worth but felt compelled to act.

    No, because Alliance councillors (along with the unionists) would have been held liable for legal costs if a council employee had sued the council over workplace neutrality.

    This is also why the UUP voted through designated days in Lisburn and Craigavon (and why the DUP did not vote against those decisions).

    If the DUP and UUP had majority control in Belfast they would have been forced to vote through designated days for the same reasons they were in other councils. Their status as a majority conveniently allowed them to advocate a policy they were not able to advocate on the other councils they controlled.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Morph

    My understanding of most nationalist dominated councils is a preference for ‘2 flags’, a move that I am bitterly opposed to as I believe it to be very divisive.
    If I recall correctly a Shinner summarised it as a “2 flags or no flag” ultimatum

    “How do you think the councils who currently vote for 365 will take to having a designated days policy imposed on them?”

    They would probably go fleggy and squeal a lot and claim a stripping away of their Britishness all the while oblivious to the fact that such a move would raise the flag in places west of the Bann that haven’t seen it in a long time.

    Coming from a unionist background west of the Bann seeing the flag go ‘up’ would potentially help soothe the paranoia that we’re all being slowly ‘swallowed up’.

    I don’t think it’s a lot to ask for from either unionist or nationalist controlled councils.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Right.

  • Morpheus

    So changing the rules to take away the rights that the councils have always had to impose a flag flying policy on them all to share the ‘pain’ ? Who ‘wins’ in that scenario?

    Is neutrality so bad?

  • Thomas Girvan

    I am just pointing out that it would have been better left alone.
    Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
    The outcome self evidently shows that the issue would have been best left alone.
    It wasn’t a big deal for 99% of the people of Belfast, for whom it has been a disaster.
    Of course there are those who want to stir things up, for their own motives.
    It is easily done in Belfast particularly by those Trojans who follow an equality agenda.
    By the way I have done bit of stand up, and If I may say so myself, I’m not bad.
    Mind you I wouldn’t be as good as Gregory Campbell, he’s a real hoot!

  • ..

  • Guest

    Does keeping with neutrality challenge nationalist attitudes and make nationalists do something different that they would rather not wish to do, but do anyway in order to recognise minorities and the existing Union? Designated days has clearly confronted unionism and had an impact on attitudes, it is something that they would rather not have to deal with but have been compelled into confronting. There does seem to be a lack of this within nationalism, a lack of compulsion to confront things they would rather not have to confront whereas within unionism it seems standard fare.

    You might argue accepting designated days in Belfast was a compromise but the reality is the context is much different than say being forced to switch away from neutrality to designated days in a position of strength to resist. In contrast, Belfast, where accepting an alliance amendment got you 95% of the way there, this from a position of relative weakness lacking a majority, as opposed to a nationalist dominated council chamber with a big majority to do what you want. Basically if nationalists didn’t compromise they lost out by 100%, a compromise got them 95% of what they wanted. Beautiful compromise I’d take those sort of compromises any day, a compromise that is really a win going by another name.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think in NI when everyone loses it’s usually the closest thing we have to everyone winning.

    Everyone interprets a victory for one campaign as a defeat for the other.

    Neutrality in this sense is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. If you are a unionist minority somewhere then neutrality = ‘no flag’ which is seen as an attack on the flag and places neutrality in a negative light.

    Fr’instance, Willie Frazer’s outrage at Magherafelt district council and all the apocalyptic stuff he comes out with regarding them is faded into nonsense when one sees that the council still allows the union flag to be flown in the Diamond year round.
    (At least it was when I was last there).

    If the councils can’t treat their minorities with a bit of respect by either flying flags in their faces/not all or naming play parks after terrorists then yes, I think they should have their wings clipped a bit.

    Same goes for garish giant sized crowns on roundabouts and midget sized statues of King William III…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I propose some sort of buzzword bingo:

    The first one to notice ‘Trojan horse’, ‘SF, ‘civil and religious liberties’, ‘liberals’, ‘flag taken down’ and ‘culture’ on the same thread can claim victory by shouting “FLEG!” instead of “house!”…

  • Morpheus

    You know my feelings on the naming of the play park after a terrorist AG – I find the decision just as repulsive as you do. The park should’ve been given a neutral name and made welcoming to all, as all public and shared spaces should be.

    This ‘respect for the minorities’ argument is a bit strange. In what way is a neutral policy disrespectful to minorities? If anything it is the polar opposite as everyone is welcome and treated the same. With that in mind I think this whole thing stinks a little bit like “we didn’t get our way in Belfast so now the rules must change all over Northern Ireland to ensure that everyone suffers the consequences.”

    In an ideal world there would be no need for flag flying policies but we don’t live in an ideal world. Few visit Manchester, Liverpool or London and grrrrrr when they see The Union Flag but we live in a Northern Ireland where flags have been used and abused for decades to mark out ‘no go’ zones, to remind minorities of their place in society etc. The flag should not be contentious but the reality is that it is very contentious and those who have gone before us are to blame.

  • Morpheus

    I read your comments below and I suspect they will be met with the derision they deserve. To suggest that The Equality Commission, the legal sector, the ‘rights’ sector, the courts, prosecutors etc are all dominated by nationalists really is tinfoil hat stuff and is beyond laughable.

    In what way is designated days used ‘against unionists’? As has been pointed out numerous times in this very thread designated days is exactly the same policy chosen by councils all over the UK and backed by the same guys who set policy for the Monarchy – is Northern Ireland more British than the British?

  • carl marks

    It would have been better if the DUP/UUP give leadership, remember they knew this was coming for 10 years.
    Ignoring it for nine and a half years then coming out with a leaflet (without putting their name on it) with emotive language which raised emotions which resulted in widespread street disorder.
    Now your claim that it wasn’t a big deal for 99% of the people of belfast, well for nationalists it certainly wasn’t as important as Education, housing or Jobs but rest assured it was on our agenda.and from the numbers of protesters as a percentage of the unionist population (about 2%) the compromise wasn’t a big deal either!
    So you suggest that the policies of council should be based on the possibility of violence from about 1% of the population of the city!
    Im sorry but things have changed and the threat of the “Unionist backlash” is over Nationalists will have no problem compromising with unionist’s but we will not be blackmailed with the threat of unionist violence, or delayed by the inability of unionist politicians to lead!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Yes Morph, I know you weren’t impressed with the park debacle, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

    The ‘neutral’ idea is one of those ones that’s a bit deeper than the initial presentation methinks: whilst it’s fine to say “look, no flags, everything is grand” it nonetheless involves a certain degree of loss for unionism.

    Now, before we go off on a tangent about how unfairly stacked the unionist end of the banqueting table was I want to point out that I acknowledge that.

    But there are ways and means of redressing this imbalance without behaving like a post-colonial revenge filled society.

    So, taking two major points that are floated whenever parading and flags are mentioned:

    1/ The designated day policy is a recommended stance (at least for Belfast) and one adopted by many councils across the water

    2/ Nationalist back-slapping (not unjustifiably) for their tolerance to parades in places like Derry and other ‘outreaches’.

    So, why not combine this tolerance with the designated days stance and have the flag flying in councils west of the Bann/border areas?

    (of course, I only recommend this if designated days is adopted by all unionist councils or even some sort of lamppost-fleg purge if need be thrown into the bargain).

    You asked who wins, I ask “who loses?”.

  • Morpheus

    Who loses? By imposing a flag flying policy on all councils and taking away their right to choose, a right they have always had, then we all lose. If the councils in Derry, Strabane etc vote to implement designated days then 100%, absolutely no problem whatsoever. I also have no issue with those who choose 365 or choose designated days. That’s their choice and taking it away because things didn’t go unionism’s way in Belfast is wrong.

    I honestly don’t see it as “post-colonial revenge” AG. In fact I would go the other way and say that it would be fantastic in the short-term if ALL our public buildings and spaces were neutral and welcoming to all.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well Morph, we’ll not agree on this, I’ve too much of a “what would Tito do?” way of looking at it (bar the secret police, disappearances etc).
    I agree with neither 100% flag nor 0% flag.

  • Thomas Girvan

    You may be right.
    Just to convince me, could you list the benefits that the people of Belfast have got a result of changing the flag policy?
    (Don’t be making it too long, I ‘m ready for my beauty sleep!)

  • carl marks

    Certainly,the main benefit is that the City is now in line with what is considered correct protocol by just about everywhere else,
    the city hall is a more neutral place and the democratic will of the electorate is fulfilled,
    But now you tell me what was different between belfast, Craigavon.Lisburn and stormont, that brought about loyalist violence and unionists to print leaflets talking about ripping down flags at one and not the rest?
    I believe this has been asked of several unionists (yourself included ) and it never seems to get answered.
    Oh and what were he benefits of having the flag there 365 apart from stopping loyalists throw tantrums!

  • Morpheus

    Don’t forget it stops the Council from getting its ass sued!

  • Thomas Girvan

    I still haven’t figured out what benefit the people of Belfast have experienced.
    What you consider benefits are political perceptions that do not have a bearing upon the welfare of Belfast’s citizens.
    The first point about being in line with correct protocol etc. etc.
    What does that mean to the man in the street?
    As regards the democratic will of the people being fulfilled, that is not the case it was the democratic vote of the Council.
    The expressed wishes of over 90% of the people did not wish to have the flag flown on designated days.
    The difference between Belfast and all the other towns you refer to is that Belfast is the capital city there are sensitivities which apply uniquely to Belfast, (it has been subject to severe sectarian violence for 30 odd years) The flag policy has been established since the inception of the state.
    That being the case it would be highly offensive to a majority or at least a very large minority who consider that, to remove the flag would be a provocative act, not in keeping with the declared objective of consensus politics as perceived in the GFA.
    It would, more than likely cause a lot of sectarian strife that the city could do without, which is what has happened.
    It just was not worth it.

  • carl marks

    point by point,

    what does correct protocol mean to the man in the street, well it means it done properly and as morph pointed out if that isn’t enough it also means that the ratepayer and council members don’t have to pay the cost of losing a legal action.

    Now you still haven’t explained how belfast is different Belfast is the capital city true but Stormont is the Parliament why should it be Different, your point is moot about 30 years of sectarian violence (sectarian violence around flags is much older than 30 years, indeed it has being going on since before NI was formed and was not exclusive to Belfast) so perhaps you could tell us how it differs from Craigavon (long history of sectarian violence there) perhaps you could go into greater detail?

    A lot of things were put in place when NI was formed this does not set them in stone!

    you act as if this was a sneaky move pulled off in locked rooms, but it was first brought up ten years ago, Unionist politicians just ignored it until they seen a opportunity to attack Alliance (the MP not the councillors) I dont understand where you are getting This”The expressed wishes of over 90% of the people did not wish to have the flag flown on designated days ” show your proof that over 90% of people expressed this

  • carl marks

    Sorry posted too early,
    your only consistent point is that you seem to place the mob above the ballot box,
    during the relevant council elections the majority of people elected Nationalist councillors who made no secret of were they stood on the flag issue

  • Thomas Girvan

    The Equality Impact Assessment carried out by the Council clearly showed that people who accessed the City Hall did not have a problem with the flag flying,
    Here’s a contemporary quote,
    “Ulster Unionist Party group leader, David Browne, who was also at the committee meeting yesterday, said the results of the consultation were clear, that the vast majority of people were not demanding the removal of the flag.

    “We spent £10,000 to do an Equality Impact Assessment, and it showed that the majority of people who use the City Hall – 96 per cent – are not vexed by the flag,” he said.”

  • Thomas Girvan

    And, of course, they also use the neutrality concept when naming their playparks such as the Raymond McCreesh park, after the well known humanitarian, so well remembered in Kingsmills.