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

Do we really need another debate about flags?

Tonight our esteemed elected representatives in the Northern Ireland Assembly are due to debate driving licences. Good news – I hear you cry – at last some action may be taken to address the disparity in the cost of driving licences between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Last week there was much consternation when it was revealed that learner drivers in Northern Ireland pay nearly twice the price for a provisional licence compared to elsewhere in the UK – £62.50 … Read more

A Cuba Libre and, er, a Union Jack manbag please?

The flag that splits some people in Belfast right down to their base national loyalities, is enjoying an almost shocking level of popularity in, of all places, the Republic of Cuba… Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

OFMdFM: Political leadership, what’s that then?

So where’s big politics in all of this flegs crisis. Answer: It is getting smaller and less apparent every day that passes. So far OFMdFM have issued two statements. The first was as follows: The First Minister Rt Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA have this evening spoken to the Speaker of the Assembly to ask him to bring forward the Plenary sitting of the Assembly on Monday 10 December in order to … Read more

Take Alliance seriously.They represent what most people want, the politics of compromise

Even to their own supporters the main parties are hardly coming out of the flag disorder looking impressive. When the chips are down the smiling cross community stuff isn’t quite cutting the mustard where it matters most. Nice people pocket the gains – they might even group around a new Northern Ireland, Peter still has a point even if he puts it provocatively.  But he and Martin still have to settle with their respective enemies within. The easier bit of power … Read more

Inside a war of words; outside traffic disruption, flag burning, brick throwing and storming the City Hall

Democracy in action tonight. A decision made (democratically) in a Belfast City Council committee – not with everyone’s agreement but a decision following the procedures nonetheless – was brought to the full council for debate and ratification. While the exchanges could be described as a war of words, a democratic process was followed and a recorded vote taken. The vote 29/21 passed Alliance’s proposal to fly the Union Flag on designated days only over Belfast City Hall (and not over … Read more

Who really leads the DUP..?

“THERE is new political space developing in Northern Ireland,” Peter Robinson told the South Antrim DUP at the weekend. “It is the DUP’s aim that unionism will own it and lead it.” But it can’t. Tonight, “the new political space” will be seen at the front of the City Hall, where I doubt those mingling in the Christmas Market will care too much about any flag flying above them. Round the back, will be the “old” political space, full of … Read more

Who needs bus lanes when a flag might block the Belfast traffic?

The Continental Market at the front of the City Hall will be open until 8pm on Monday evening, enticing visitors and shoppers to wander around the stalls and feel good about Belfast. Around the back of the City Hall, a rally will be held at 5.45pm on Monday evening to protest at the likelihood that the full Belfast City Council meeting at 6pm will vote to reduce the number of days that the Union Flag flies from the civic building. … Read more

“are you serious?” – redux

Having taken umbrage previously at the sight of the Union flag on a bit of turkey in his local Asda store, the now Sinn Féin councillor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, is bemoaning the lack of eggs “produced locally” in Sainsbury’s.  Or so he claims…  [He has photographic evidence! – Ed]  Indeed.  As he says in the Andersonstown News How did I know the eggs weren’t local produce? That was easy: every box had a mini-Union Jack. [In Sainsbury’s!? – Ed]  Of course, “we’re not part … Read more

St Paddy’s Day flags that don’t matter?

Belfast City Council fly the Union flag 365 days a year from City Hall. St Patrick’s Day is one of a few special days when they also fly the Union Flag from the Ulster Hall and the Duncrue Complex. This isn’t the choice of an individual councillor, this is council policy. It doesn’t attract any interest from the media. Numerous other Government buildings across the north also use St Patrick’s Day as one of the days when they can display … Read more