The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?
Over at Belfast City Council (BCC), Nationalist parties have brought forward a motion calling for the removal of the Union Flag from City Hall and two other venues (Duncrue Complex and Ulster Hall). The flag is flown on the three aforementioned buildings 365 days of the year as opposed to on designated days as is the case with government buildings.
A lot of ink has been used over at the Bele Tele about the issue where it was noted that the proposal was raised at a meeting of the policy and resources committee and supported by the Alliance party who would prefer the flying of the flag on designated days.
The decision will go to the council chamber for decision on December 3rd where the main groupings, DUP and Sinn Fein, are lining up their arguments accordingly.
DUP councillor, John Hussey, of East Belfast notes how the Alliance are jeopardising the flying of the Union flag in Belfast:
‘Alliance insists that they don’t know what the outcome of the flag vote will be. This is either foolish or misleading. Everyone knows that the Union flag will be torn down from the City Hall on all but a few days of the year unless the Alliance Party change their position.‘
Serial columnist and semi-liberal unionist, Ed Curran, doles out his usual mournful stuff of ‘why can’t we all just get along here‘, without taking into account the nature of the North, how it came about etc. and wonders if we will ever have a flag we can both aspire and honour in the future? Something I have always enjoyed and laughed/ridiculed is his usual sycophantic nonsense regarding Lizzie Windsor and how she views her subjects, you would think we never had the Enlightenment here in Europe many, many years ago.
‘As the Scottish and Welsh might testify, expressing regional or national identity in this way within the UK does not necessarily mean disrespect to Queen and country. On the contrary, the Queen might be first to commend us for showing more mutual understanding of one another.‘
Honestly, I nearly vomited when I read that (bit harsh?), not because he is self-identifying as British, but because in it and many, many of his pieces he shows an unwillingness to show thought and reasonable intelligence of his own and would defer/prefer the opinion of a monarch. Ask yourself this, if Lizzie Windsor told Ed Curran to put his hand in the fire would he do it?
Moving on, the editorial in the Tele/Sunday Life on Sunday (imagine that) asks for ‘sense to prevail’ in relation to this issue. That is all well and good but how do they define ‘sense’ in this instance then? Accordingly, they note:
‘Such cynical and blinkered behaviour does not impress the ordinary citizens who are asking why the councillors are wasting time and energy on such tired old issues, when they should be concentrating on bringing jobs to Belfast and on helping the city’s beleaguered retail sector.‘
With all due respect to the editor, who are the ‘ordinary citizens’ of Belfast in this instance? If that includes say someone on the Grosvenor Road, up at the Fellons, over near Cliftonville Road, Lower Ormeua or elsewhere then I am sure they would rather be rubbing their hands at the fact that their city hall, along with everyone else’s, is being made into a neutral venue, free from divisive flags of either side. As for what powers BCC has to bring jobs to the City, my answer to that is feck all more than central government, but let’s not stop the editor from throwing a hissy fit and pretending that his deadwood outfit is above the ugly fray.
Of course, the editor does not see it like this and is also able to contradict himself all in one piece.
‘Sinn Fein claims … that this would make the City Hall a neutral place, and the SDLP is also naive to think that this would help the Council to share the City Hall with all the people of Belfast.
This proposal, if passed next month, will alienate the majority of the population from the City Hall and will cause more trouble. Inclusion demands compromise, but a total victory for one side amounts to exclusion.‘
The above begs some scrutiny:
i) Who are the majority of the population? Are the votes of those outside of BCC’s jurisdiction to be taken into account then?
ii) What is a ‘total victory’ for a Nationalist party then in this instance? The removal of all flags or the placing of the Tricolour on the roof of City Hall? I think we all know the answer here, right?
Whilst I do not like to see BCC in the news due to ‘sectarian’ issues, I have to commend SF, the SDLP and Alliance for having the cajones to finally tackle this awful issue. The days of BCC being a unionist bastion are long gone, yet the DUP, UUP and PUP still play a game where they feel they hold all of the leverage when they have nothing. The demographics and trends of the City are completely against them, yet instead of seeking compromise and try and get a win:win for the City they dig their heads in the sand and hope that when they reemerge it will be the late 60s all over again.
We have had FJH discuss on his blog the similarities between Peter Robinson’s ‘Kafflik outreach’ and that of Terence O’Neill back in the 60s too. It was seen as a sham in the 60s and when we have matters such as what are happening with unionist councillors over the flying of flags at City Hall or even an Irish language Christmas Greeting, it is easy to see that it is merely hot air on Robinson’s part actually aimed at attracting ‘liberal’ unionism. The question is, who shall fall for it?