What should I tell my kids about the 12th July?

My kids always ask me what the flags are about. They find the black ones scary. But this year they were very impressed by the bunting and fresh Union Jacks in our area. ‘It’s making me feel very British’, said my five year old. ‘Me too, it makes me proud to be British’, added the seven year old. ‘That’s interesting,’ I said, thinking about their Irish passports in the drawer. And the fact that they tried to turn bath water … Read more

I don’t want a shared future, I want a shared now

You know summer is on the way in Northern Ireland, when we get 3 straight days of sunshine, prompting an outbreak of ‘taps aff’. Anyone unfortunate to witness the sight of some local men wandering the streets half naked, knows that a row about flags is just around the corner. A few weeks ago, just off the Ravenhill Road, a part of the world I call my home, four loyalist paramilitary flags went up on lampposts overnight, near a shared … Read more

There is nothing republican about tying identity to a tricolour

“This decision will put back community relations…people are telling me their culture is being eroded, people are angry!” While this quote is reminiscent of the infamous flag protests of 2012, the main result of which being the increase in Jamie Bryson’s Twitter followers, the above comments are actually only weeks old and refer to a Councillor’s response to rumours that a Strabane St. Patrick’s Day parade would not allow the Irish tricolour to be flown. While Derry and Strabane District … Read more

Soapbox: Respecting the constitutional position endorsed by all the people 1998 is fundamental

Trevor Ringland responds to Chris Donnelly’s proposal to co-opt the Irish Tricolour as the only way of resolving the raft of flag disputes. He argues that the issues left unresolved by the longest period of sustained political violence in Irish history cannot be addressed by returning to old arguments, but by creatively breaking new ground within the terms of the historic Belfast Agreement.

Recognising the Tricolour in NI is central to resolving flags dispute

There will be no resolution to our vexed flags dispute unless and until the Irish National flag is afforded formal recognition within Northern Ireland. Three years ago today, I posted about a Platform for Change public discussion on the theme of Flags and Identity. Three years later and, apart from the loyalist flags protest dying out, nothing has really changed in northern Irish society in relation to the wider flags stand-off.

A history lesson from Ruth Patterson

During this week’s Belfast City Council debate on the placing of the Union Flag on driving licences (something that the council has absolutely no control over), firebrand DUP Councillor Ruth Patterson decided to enlighten all those present with her interpretation of history and how it relates to the vexed subject of ‘flegs’. Scholars may be somewhat alarmed by Councillor Patterson’s interpretation of history as indeed may some of her creationist colleagues in the DUP who subscribe to the view that … Read more

The Flag Dispute – Anatomy of a Protest seminar – what, who, where, how and why? +audio +video

The researchers from QUB’s Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice behind The Flag Dispute: Anatomy of a Protest report [PDF] held a seminar in Queen’s University this morning. [Gladys Ganiel blogged in detail about the report when it was published in December.] Two of the six researchers behind the report introduced the main findings. Paul Nolan quickly revisited the background to the protest (the “archaeology”). The PSNI gave researchers open access to operational logs from the … Read more

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,” The report states “It was this, more than anything else, which inflamed the mood at that point” listen to ‘Ownership of leaflet that provided ‘catalyst’ for flag protests confirmed by DUP councillor’ on audioBoom // The protests as … Read more

Friday thread: Flags make a difference to how we think and feel…

Via Peter Curran with a h/t to Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. Fascinating piece of quick and dirty research on the Scottish Sunday Politics Show regarding the effect of flag displays during a detailed online questionnaire from last week… It’s well worth watching the whole way through, but the findings themselves are at the beginning and are interesting enough on their own. They provide, I suspect some very important cues for a very complex soup of identities in modern Britain. Not … Read more

Kennaway: Resolving the Parading Conflict

Brian Kennaway served on the Parades Commission from 2011-13-an essay similar to this has also been published in the Newsletter POLITICS Politics in Northern Ireland does not reflect any real understanding of what it means to be a political representative in a democratic society. When any politician is elected to represent a particular parliamentary constituency they are to represent the totality of that constituency, not a sectional interest within it and certainly not only those who may have voted for … Read more

McCann meets…@LADFLEG Part 2

Pints nicely topped up, we began round two of our interview. I began by putting to them the criticism they get most that they are one sided and only go after Loyalists. Ron responded that there are plenty of occasions where LAD has criticised Sinn Fein citing the imagery they created when Gerry Kelly stepped in front a PSNI land rover last year. I followed up by asking them if they feel that they have ever stepped over the mark … Read more

Haass – Larkin unrepentant, Allister is on the attack, but where oh where is the DUP critique?

Now hold on, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.  Inevitably most early reaction to Haaas is about the overall political verdict without going  much into detail. And you know how we can’t be bothered  to go into detail if we can stick  it into them instead. But hush!  Jim Allister QC has spoken. People tend to overawed by Jim’s legal expertise. But lawyers are advocates – even when they’re not self -interested  politicians –  and so should be taken with … Read more

He’s back! Haass is returning to NI

Who said Haassmas comes but once a year? Our very own international problem solver Dr Richard Haass will be returning to get a deal that eluded him earlier in the week. Question for our posters-if you were Richard Haass how would you approach these talks and what concessions would you seek to get from the parties? If I were him, I would get the British and Irish governments more involved, Haass enters the talks with no carrots and no sticks. … Read more

Cartoon – ChristmHaass carve-up

Enjoy the cartoon and have a Merry Christmas and happy new year. Full acknowledgements to James Gillray and his infamous piece, ‘The Plumb Pudding in Danger’. Martin Rowson also gaves his take on it recently here. Morten Morland has his take on it with Cameron and Osborne here. Brian SpencerBrian is a writer, artist, political cartoonist and legal blogger. Actively tweeting from @brianjohnspencr. More information here: http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/ http://www.brianjohnspencer.com/

“The parties were told not to bring in any phones or other communication devices, nor to leave with any copies of the draft.”

Richard Haass’ attempt to ensure confidentiality during the on-going talks between the five Northern Ireland Executive parties – on the past, parades, and flags – failed to survive first contact with Sinn Féin.  Today the Haass team presented their first, complete, draft proposals to the parties.  The BBC report notes his latest attempt at ensuring confidentiality. While the parties examined the proposals at Stormont, talks chairman Dr Haass had travelled to London to meet the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers and … Read more

Interview with Loyalists Against Democracy – will @LADFLEG’s second year in existence be their difficult second album?

Like them or loathe them, Loyalists Against Democracy will have been around for a year on Tuesday 10 December. They’ve become a local online phenomenon with their mix of parody, banter and acerbic attacks. It started out as one man trolling “ridiculous” loyalist flag protesters online. Early daft parody protest ideas like complaining about Aer Lingus flying over East Belfast have grown into a collective producing sophisticated graphics, videos, music, a musical for the Edinburgh fringe as well as caustic … Read more

McCann meets….Arlene Foster MLA #dup13

I took a trip up to the DUP Conference yesterday to interview some of the key figures within the party. I spoke with several Ministers namely Simon Hamilton, Edwin Poots and Arlene Foster. Just after her conference speech I spoke with the Enterprise Minister and possible future leader, Arlene Foster. We spoke about a variety of issues from the European elections to her feud with Phil Flanagan MLA and her shift from the UUP to the DUP. Below are some … Read more

Where have all the moderates gone?

Well he’s back; Jamie Bryson made his first appearance on Nolan this morning since his restrictions on public speaking were lifted. I listened to Jamie talk about the need for more protests (he did say they should be peaceful in fairness) and how he believed the last round of protests had actually achieved a lot. Last time I checked their number one goal of punishing the city council into submission hadn’t worked as the flag is still not up and … Read more