The Flag Dispute: Anatomy of a Protest published by Queen’s

flag protest reportToday saw the publication of a report by researchers from the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University Belfast, ‘The Flag Dispute: Anatomy of a Protest.’

It offers two key recommendations:

  1. A review of the outcomes of single identity work, coupled with additional programmes in loyalist areas that promote engagement with people from different backgrounds.
  2. In the absence of leadership from political parties, reconciliation bodies and civil society organisations should articulate a ‘people’s peace plan’ with ‘a clear vision of how reconciliation can be achieved.’

The launch of the report coincides with the second anniversary of the vote in City Hall which restricted the flying of the union flag to designated days. The full 145-page document ‘looks at the origins of the protest, the way in which it developed and spread, the tactics of the police in managing the demonstrations, the arrests and sentencing of protestors, and the political reactions. It also considers the legacy of the flag protest for politics, society, the economy and community relations in Northern Ireland.’

The authors of the report are Paul Nolan, Dominic Bryan, Clare Dwyer, Katy Hayward, Katy Radford and Peter Shirlow. The research was funded by the Community Relations Council and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

According to the Introduction to the ten-page summary report, the study involved ‘interviews with approximately 60 people (and conversations with hundreds), a comprehensive trawl of print and broadcast media, an examination of social media, the extensive use of PSNI records, and the creation of a detailed data base of all events during the period December 2012 and March 2013.’

I’ve not yet had time to carefully read the entire report, which will be available in print form in January.

But what struck me the most was the report’s analysis of the impact of the flag protests on community relations. This is best described in sections 9.3 and 9.4 of the summary report:

‘We suggest that there are two key facts to be considered. One is that within the loyalist community the most frequently voiced concern is that ‘no one listens to us’. Any long-term planning of community relations work must attend to this key reality. The other is that the desire to be heard is not accompanied by any desire to listen. We have found a striking lack of interest in the concerns of the nationalist neighbour, or any willingness to concede that nationalism has also had to make compromises during the peace process.

In this context the retreat into ‘single identity work’ may represent a step backwards. The desire for ethnic affiliation and the reinforcement of national identity may not assist the process of reconciliation. Indeed the evidence suggests that the more that a sense of national identity increases, the less interest there is in understanding other perspectives.’

The report also includes the perspectives of the protesters, including direct quotes from interviews. These effectively convey the emotions involved and underline the challenges for a conclusion of the protests. Take these examples (p. 96-97):

In this society you are discriminated against if you’re Protestant. There’s no ifs or buts around it. It’s a fact. (21 year old male protestor)

We feel we have no rights. Our rights are being stripped from us daily. (70 year old female protestor)

And this conversation with a 19 year old interviewee from North Belfast (p. 97-98):

The Good Friday Agreement has not materialised. It has not brought the promises that it said it would. I obviously didn’t sign the Good Friday Agreement – I certainly wouldn’t have signed it. I certainly wouldn’t have recognised the Patten Reforms.

Interviewer: What age were you in 1998?

I was 4.

Interviewer: So you have grown up in what everyone has told you is Peace. Would you see this as Peace time?

Peace? I haven’t grown up in Peace. You can’t live in a peaceful society when your national territory is constantly under threat. When your identity is constantly under threat and when your life is subsequently under threat.

Interviewer: Do you see your British identity being eroded?

It is being eroded and it’s a callous attempt by Sinn Féin to sterilise Northern Ireland and to show the Republican movement and their grassroots support that there is no longer a British presence in the 6 counties.

At the same time the report details some of the consequences for youth who did take part in the protest. As a female community worker from North Belfast said (p. 89):

we have a young generation of kids in prison because of the flag protest … Now most of the ones that I have spoken to that were criminalised are saying to me, “The flag wasn’t worth it. … I was unemployed before, but even more unemployable now.” These are people who’d have had careers in front of them, were ready to get married and have babies; [they] have now thrown away their lives because of what happened in that spur of the moment.

With the poor turnout at this past weekend’s second anniversary protest at City Hall, it may be the case that the flag protests are beginning to run their course. As Paul Nolan put it today in The Detail, the protests ‘have had zero success’:

What resulted? If the flag protest were to be judged in terms of its declared objective then it could be shown to have had zero success. The flagpole at Belfast City Hall remains bare for 347 days a year. The celebrity leaders have faded back into obscurity. Their electoral mettle was tested in the May 2014 elections when the ‘parties of the protest’, suffered meltdown – in fact, the meltdown occurred even before the elections took place. Willie Frazer’s Protestant Coalition fell apart almost instantly, while Jamie Bryson’s attempt to raise £5,000 to run as an independent ended when with revelation that he had only succeeded in raising £165.

But the deeper, underlying issues behind the flag protests very much remain – along with many difficult questions.

Can politicians show any leadership on these matters, especially given the opportunity of the current talks process? Or can we only hope that a ‘people’s peace plan’ to help address those issues will actually materialise? Who would organise it? And how would loyalist alienation be addressed?

There are, at least, a few hopeful words from Dominic Bryan in the QUB press release, when he spoke about how a symbol was chosen for the Northern Ireland Assembly:

“… a piece of creative thinking resulted in the adoption of the flax motif, now accepted by all sides as an elegant symbol for the devolved parliament.

“This is the type of creative thinking that will be required in the future.  There will be other symbolic issues which could ignite similar passions. The politicians and civil society have a duty to work together to make sure that that they do not. That means they must do more than simply express grievances; instead they must work to find solutions.”

 

  • kalista63

    I know Morpheus and Foremen saw me mentioning an organiser from the leaflet campaign finally admitting that it was (members of) the DUP and UUP behind it.

    I think the lack of numbers last Saturday is indicative of how off they were.

  • Ernekid

    I wonder if the PSNI had been let loose and allowed to crack a few heads on the first nights of the fleg protests would it have nipped it in the bud or would have made things a whole lot worse?

  • Mister_Joe

    “I was unemployed before, but even more unemployable now.”

    People are responsible for their own actions of course, but many who now find themselves in this situation were actively encouraged and led astray by certain politicians. I wonder how many of those politicians feel sorrow, let alone guilt, for causing the mayhem in the streets and in those young people’s lives, while they draw their comfortable salaries and expenses up at Stormont for doing essentially nothing worthwhile.

  • The Lagan

    Willie Frazer’s Protestant Coalition fell apart almost instantly, while Jamie Bryson’s attempt to raise £5,000 to run as an independent ended when with revelation that he had only succeeded in raising £165.

    If they gave us one thing, it was a good laugh lol

  • kalista63

    I think they’d a month or so before the peelers did ought.

  • kalista63

    And I recall Mike Nesbitt being all, Jamie Bryson this and Jamie Bryson that. Then there was the RAF kid who was meant to be the smart one, ended up in the PUP.

    Meanwhile, the astonishment at the tolerance of what was going on resulted in LAD.

  • Zeno3

    “The research was funded by the Community Relations Council and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”

    How much did it cost?

  • kalista63

    I’d guess, less than £22 million.

  • Mister_Joe

    I like the idea of the flax motif, it having paid such a large part in early industry. But looking at the present situation, others might suggest the Titanic as a motif. Bah.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Johnny Harvey. Never heard of again.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It is not news that the DUP were behind this. Alliance became aware of it well before the decision (link).

    It is difficult to believe that the decision to distribute the leaflets went ahead without clearance from the DUP leadership.

  • JoeHassit

    Yes, everybody knows that security crackdowns are great at nipping public disorder in the bud. Like Ferguson, Missouri. Or Belfast 1969.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m thinking more London, August 2011.

    Or indeed, Belfast, early 2013. As soon as the police began arresting the ringleaders of the roadblocking efforts, the organized protests and blockages all stopped.

  • Sharpie

    Apathy wins again. Here and Platform for Change – It’s so Northern Ireland – whether progressive or regressive movements – the only thing that triumphs is apathy. The death of these movements confirms that the only game in politics town is status quo.

    The only think more potentially depressing is that people stop trying to create movements of any sort. The vast middle which hoovers up extremes and middles of the two constitutional positions is suffocating.

    Every now and then they co-opt the interesting stuff that emerges and carry on as usual.

    People who can do stuff do it under the radar in social enterprises, in community organisations, in sport, or in business where they don’t have to confront the dinosaurs blocking the path.

    The lessons are probably that if you are mad keen to get involved in progressive stuff it is more fruitful to be a single issue movement and seek to find inch by inch progress within that than anything too broad or noticeable to the politicians.

  • JoeHassit

    I take your point Comrade (and Ernekid). I would argue that while police action was effective in both your examples, the biggest factor in ending those protests was a lack of inertia. Security crackdowns can be counter-productive. I think the PSNI handled it all very well. I have, however, a few doubts over the effectiveness of the PPS.

  • kalista63

    And Joe, isn’t that a modern lesson for what happened to all of those thousands of kids, especially the loyalists, who ended up in gaol back in the day?

    See the blatant hypocrisy of those who refused to ‘sit with terrorists in government’ standing side by side with loyalists during the dispute, watching kid’s futures knowingly damaged, who are now signed up in an alliance with their representatives.

  • kalista63

    I’m pretty sure that most of those headline sentences, in GB, were overturned on appeal.

    I’m more than happy to be put straight if I’m wrong.

  • kalista63

    Well, they did pay for it out of party coffers.

  • Denis Loretto

    The report makes a genuine effort to understand the real feelings and motivation of what they describe as (for want of a better word) the loyalists while setting out what seems like a pretty accurate and detailed account of what happened which is in effect a devastatiung making loatnd is a devastating critique

  • Denis Loretto

    Sorry – I pressed the wrong button! Let me try again –

    The report makes a genuine effort to understand the real feelings and motivation of what they describe as (for want of a better word) the loyalists while setting out what seems like a pretty accurate and detailed account of what happened which is in effect a devastating indictment of the behaviour of the “unionist parties”. As so often in the past these parties are seen as misleading people who they regard as their voting fodder and then slinking into the background and doing a Pontius Pilate job. They have never tried to explain properly to their audience the real benefits of the Good Friday Agreement. Why didn’t they say – “Look guys, we’ve won. After all those years of violent republicans throwing everything they could at us Northern Ireland is still part of the UK and only a majority of NI people can change that. Of course there is a price for this victory. It has to be a rather different Northern Ireland where everyone whatever their religion or race has an equal say and fair treatment and we need to learn not to stir up old enmities by provocative behaviour. Actually we as politicians very much need to change our behaviour and we’ve signed up to that. We also need to sort out the whole question of symbols, flags and all that sort of stuff.

    And another thing – as the nationalists realise how much better this is, the likelihood is that in any future referendum more and more of them will actually vote to stay in the UK . After all there are a lot of good economic reasons for that. So don’t believe the stuff about this being some sort of route towards a United Ireland. If we play our cards right it will be the exact opposite. Come to think of it this new set-up is something we could all very much learn to like.”

  • Neil

    It is difficult to believe that the decision to distribute the leaflets went ahead without clearance from the DUP leadership.

    Given the target of the leaflet was the occupant of “Peter’s” EB seat, and the fact that the target was not even on BCC and had no vote on the flying of the fleg, I would say it’s impossible to believe. Why the UUP allowed themselves to be used in such a transparent way is beyond me.

  • Morpheus

    ‘Allowing themselves to be used’ hints at incompetent buffoonery – from the radio interview yesterday they were very much willing participants, contributors and distributors

    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/northernireland/talkback/talkback_20141203-1357c.mp3

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think when you perceive you’ve lost out, you want reaffirmation of this, support and help towards getting a fairer deal. There is a lack of interest in what other people have gone through because it feels like another excuse for your needs not being addressed. We saw something very similar in working class nationalist communities in the Troubles, when the narrative remained firmly about its own issues – meanwhile, terrorists from that community were ripping up the rest of society. There was a shrug at best. So it’s an issue really about how perceiving yourself as disadvantaged can really shut down empathy for groups you regard – possibly wrongly – as advantaged.

    It’s quite a natural human reaction but it needs to be challenged, (1) by making social data simpler and disseminating it more smartly, to dispel common myths; and (2) actually showing clearly that resources and sympathy (the emotional side is crucial too) are allocated fairly on the basis of need.

    I think there is also a point though about the “mood music” of the political process since 1998. Huge damage was done in the first 5 years after the Agreement to unionist sentiment towards it, because of how both British and Irish governments repeatedly prioritised keeping SF on board; it’s then been considered ‘bad form’ to ‘hark on about the Troubles’ or point out the Troubles mainly consisted of Republican terrorism. This affected amnesia in the public space has left the whole process with a massive credibility problem for a lot of Protestants (see Dr Kirk Simpson’s fantastic ethnographic work on this).

    It was seen as a calculated risk by the Blair, Powell etc that hacking off unionists would be worth it to keep Republicans inside the tent (constitutional unionists weren’t going to start killing people; Republicans could go back to doing so). So the government knew what it was doing. The flags protest is really the outworking of that. It’s incumbent on the government I think to try and make up to unionists for letting us down after 98 – and in particular for hanging the leader of moderate unionism out to dry over decommissioning in such a humiliating manner. We are owed one.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Why didn’t they say – “Look guys, we’ve won. After all those years of violent republicans throwing everything they could at us Northern Ireland is still part of the UK and only a majority of NI people can change that”.

    Because it’s not true. For a start the retention of NI in the UK was not the real objective, but merely a necessary step towards keeping NI Unionists in full and preferential employment.

    Yet the flag protesters themselves complain of passing from unemployed to unemployable. Such preferential treatment of Unionists as there once was is rapidly disappearing. As the protestor says “In this society you are discriminated against if you’re Protestant.” This may not be true, but it means he is not receiving the preferential treatment he thinks is his due.

    Secondly, even the feeble and secondary objective of a NI kept in the UK is now largely in the past. You’ve had 16 good years: in 25 months time there will be a Catholic majority in NI, and then things can only go from bad to worse. Time to reinvent yourself.

  • Neil

    by making social data simpler and disseminating it more smartly, to dispel common myths

    But the Unionist parties seem to build their strategy around not dispelling those myths but repeating them and capitalising on them. Hence the inaccurate mopery about housing, jobs and so on.

    it’s then been considered ‘bad form’ to ‘hark on about the Troubles’ or point out the Troubles mainly consisted of Republican terrorism

    You wha? Hardly bad form, more like standard response.
    Also ‘mainly’ is a bit woolly, let’s get specific: republicans – 2,058; Loyalist & security forces 1,389. So Republicans 60%, Unionists 40%. Republicans may have killed the majority but if you’re trying to paint Unionism on it’s usual moral white horse, I think you may be selling your community a touch short, having ‘only’ killed 1,389 people.

    It was seen as a calculated risk by the Blair, Powell etc that hacking off unionists would be worth it to keep Republicans inside the tent

    How could Unionism have been anything other than hacked off? Coming as they did from a uniquely special position, they could only lose. What did you expect, Blair as a sweetener to Loyalists would have encouraged additional discrimination against nationalists maybe? Or given Unionism’s prior ability to hold marches at will in Nationalist majority areas/towns/villages they would have been given additional abilities to parade up and down the Falls?

    Unionism/Loyalism had everything it’s own way, they could only lose. The DUP and UUP did their best to blow everything out of proportion to capitalise on the disenchantment. “We cannot march where we want, when we want any more. Look we’ve already lost half a dozen marches out of the many thousands we hold! It’s the end, we’re doomed!”

    The Unionist working classes bought it hook line and sinker. “Look, themmuns get all the jobs”. Nonsense of course but it might help the DUP keep their vote up.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I stand by my point on the need to disseminate clear, easy to digest information on social issues more punchily. It’s not a unionist or nationalist point. What you’ve said about unionist mopery now could equally applied to nationalists now but especially in the Troubles, when it was at its most galling.

    ‘Mainly’ isn’t woolly, it means more than half, which 60 per cent is. That’s pretty clear.
    I’d also take major issue with your turning 3 actors into 2 by eliding the security forces (the principal targets and victims of Troubles terrorism) with the terrorists themselves. A soldier in the Army is not a ‘unionist’. You could say both Loyalists and the security forces were in a sense both ‘British’, but that is to miss the fundamental natures of both – one tasked by Parliament with law enforcement and stopping terrorism, including Loyalist terrorism (and they had considerable success in doing that – see how Loyalist terror reduced after mid-70s); the other a terrorist organisation. In any case, the statement holds that the Troubles mainly consisted of Republican terrorism because on top of the actual killings, Republicans were also responsible for the vast majority of bombings and non-lethal shootings. I didn’t say Loyalists weren’t also terrible – I just said Republicans did the majority of the violence of the Troubles, which is unquestionably true. (And quite a big majority when we consider bombings, often forgotten about in the 60/30/10 split, which also has the flaw of treating security forces’ killings all as murder, when only some could be so classified in reality). I don’t have the figures but it’s not fanciful to suggest Republicans may have been responsible for somewhere in excess of 75 per cent of total Troubles violence, including killings, non-fatal shootings and bombings. If anyone has data that can clarify that, I’d be interested to explore it.

    The idea that ‘unionism had everything its own way’ during the Troubles is patently absurd. Stormont went in 1972, which leaves you another 26 years before 1998 without unionists having any meaningful political power (nor nationalists either). Meanwhile the government repeatedly flirted with Irish involvement in the province, most notably in 1985 when we were excluded from any involvement, at a time when the SDLP were centrally involved. That AIA dispensation continued well into the 90s, leaving us entirely out in the cold while nationalists had a direct influence through Dublin. To see us as wielding more power is absurd. Even earlier, look at Sunningdale – another scheme most unionists didn’t want but that was pushed by the British and Irish governments regardless.

    On unionist ‘dominance’: Catholic social disadvantage needed to be addressed for sure, as well as discrimination (which went both ways but left Catholics in relatively weaker position) and it’s good that’s improved a lot. Since the early 90s, the figures say there has been no differential in employment discrimination between the two communities. On housing, there actually never was such a big issue of differentials between the communities, as Henry Patterson has shown.

    Unionist ‘advantage’ was a fact but one that has been much exaggerated. We’re talking about the poorest and second poorest groups in the UK here. The last 100 years have not exactly been a bonanza for Northern Ireland Protestants. The fact Catholics did even worse is bad but isn’t the only significant thing to say about supposed Ulster Protestant wealth and ‘privilege’. Mostly they were struggling economically, only marginally less so than Catholics.

    I do agree unionists have had some adjusting to do to think of NI as something other than a unionist-dominated place – because it did used to be, in numbers and in the public sphere. There is a feeling of loss associated with that; but we shouldn’t have too much sympathy with those slow to adjust. What is also true is that unionists have also been very poorly treated by both the British and Irish governments during my lifetime (I was born in 1969). We have been in turn ignored, patronised, frozen out, overridden, portrayed as ‘intransigent’ for not sharing others’ preference for a united Ireland and our politicians treated as the opposite numbers of terrorist leaders. This all has political and social consequences. To pretend otherwise is to ignore what’s going on in NI society today.

  • kalista63

    Yep. Nesbitt was on Nolan giving Jamie political weight while most of NI were laughing their heads off at him or posting videos and links of him breaking the law and approving of racist groups.

    I really, really don’t get the UUP are nicer than the DUP crap. There were as many UUP guys protesting as the other crowd. Just because they’re not a party of climate deniers doesn’t make them moderate.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Do you genuinely think our British loyalties are just a means to an end of some kind of social advantage? Really?

    I suspect if we offered to support a united Ireland tomorrow, we’d have money chucked at us left, right and centre. Don’t see it happening though. So I think your analysis may have a flaw …

  • Denis Loretto

    What makes you think all the Catholics will vote to leave the UK, Paddy? All opinion polls show a growing number content on balance with the status quo – if not exactly dressing themselves up in red, white and blue. Even in the Border Poll in 1973 (at a highly polarised time) 57.5% of the Northern Ireland electorate voted to remain in the UK. Do you really think every one of those voters was Protestant? You will recall that Sinn Fein and SDLP both called for a boycott and there were therefore
    few voters against but the percentage I have quoted here is of the entire electorate.

    I repeat – if the pro-union people play their cards right the position of NI in the UK is a lot more secure than you think.

  • JustOneMoreTimePlease

    Yes. And to your point on the likelihood of a United Ireland, for all that SF applaud themselves for playing the “long game” – merely an ex-post rationalization of the demographic trends- their biggest problem is their complete failure to understand the implications of a rising middle class of Catholics who are as frustrated by “identity politics” limitations as many Protestant Ulster people are.
    Its easy to despise “letsgetalongerism” but that is actually the real-politik. Our political parties with their vested interests in identity politics are struggling with this, and don’t really know how to engage in meaningful ” conventional” politics of the type that one sees all over Northern Europe. But the realpolitik is in the demographics, and its just a question of whether that plays out over a longer period… or whether we go further with the bitter politics of identity affirmation and perhaps even further partition.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You say this about Northern Europe but in Finland, both the Swedish population and the Sami population have politicitized their identity voice here.

    We in Northern Ireland should not lament identity politics or constituitonal politics as some unique problem to ourselves.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Actually I didn’t say anything about leaving the UK. I said “Things can only go from bad to worse.” According to our flagger informant, “In this society you are discriminated against if you’re Protestant.” Another informant states “You can’t live in a peaceful society when your national territory is constantly under threat. When your identity is constantly under threat and when your life is subsequently under threat.” And that is under the current regime, where Gregory Campbell believes it his right to treat the Sinn Fein agenda as toilet paper.

    Imagine a NI where Martin McGuinness is first minister. Might there not be some who find an Irish Republic with a Fine Gael Taoiseach preferable?

  • JustOneMoreTimePlease

    Kevin, you may have a point, I don’t know enough about clan politics and administrations in the Arctic territories to begin to know why this would be apposite.
    But surely you appreciate how ill-matched the appeal of (vicarious) “identity politics”, or its utility, is to modern, industrial democracies ?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Don’t see it happening though.

    In this we are in agreement. But as you are resident in your ‘Mainland’, you wouldn’t be eligible for it.

    My study of history relating to the 1707 Act of Union and then the 1801 Act of Union suggests to me that the English bribed the Scots and then the Irish with their own money. A lot of Scots had their estates confiscated and then restored to them when they showed their loyalty.

    Another useful trick is to take some perquisite such as state employment away from an Irishman who proves unco-operative and give it to one who is prepared to compromise. Thus a country can be bought without shelling out a bawbee.

  • Paddy Reilly

    Even in the Border Poll in 1973 (at a highly polarised time) 57.5% of the Northern Ireland electorate voted to remain in the UK. Do you really think every one of those voters was Protestant?

    In a word, yes. Brian Faulkner at the time came out with some ridiculous story about this percentage showing substantial Catholic approval, but if this were the case it would also show substantial Protestant indifference. Actually the turnout reached near 100% in the Unionist population, as it does when something very important is being voted on. But we can not show this because the Government repressed all data from polling stations and drove the urns to Belfast to be counted, so that there should be no data as to which areas had not voted for the UK.

    All opinion polls show a growing number content on balance with the status quo – if not exactly dressing themselves up in red, white and blue.

    The problem is not with the polls but the optimistic way in which they are interpreted by certain parties. A substantial percentage of the population accepts the status quo as it is now, because that is what was voted for in the GFA. But that does not mean that they will always feel so.

    When Martin McGuinness is 1st minister and the majority of Westminster seats are held by Nationalists, it will be obvious that it is time to start the Reunification Process.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    good luck with that 🙂

    Looking forward to your showing any polls at all anywhere you can ‘interpret’ in any way other than most people don’t want a united Ireland. It’s a deeply unpopular idea.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Drat, because my national identity is of course available to be switched in favour of the highest bidder. That’s how we Prods think, we’re all about the money. We have no real souls, you know.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    An academic study I was reading yesterday though on the success of different security tactics in terms of impact on reducing terrorism showed that Operation Motorman worked effectively. The Falls Curfew didn’t, nor did Internment. This was based on statistical analysis of patterns of violence following major anti-terror initiatives.

    But basically, terrorists always have the upper hand. The rest of us are left running around chasing shadows. It’s not through any great skill on their part, just the cowardice of terrorist tactics and their disregard for human life. Almost impossible to stop without actually getting agents inside, turning operatives, running informers. Luckily, British intelligence services managed to run rings around the IRA in that way, which was ultimately much more effective than any of the head-on tactics. That and the fact SF aren’t all there intellectually.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    there’s also the hypocrisy of those who helped orchestrate much more aggressive street action on their own community’s issues, now castigating another community for doing the same.

  • Denis Loretto

    @JustOneMoreTime Please

    Your points are well made but just a word for the Alliance Party who don’t quite deserve your ” Our political parties with their vested interests in identity politics are struggling with this, and don’t really know how to engage in meaningful ” conventional” politics of the type that one sees all over Northern Europe.”

  • Kevin Breslin

    Two excellent recommendations virtually inextricably linked.