Union Flags and Tricolours — 14 Comments

  1. Ian, This Englishman would like to know how a collection of Scots men could be described as “Anglo-Saxon” …

  2. The Protestant working class in NI is alienated and leaderless. Traditional industries have closed and unemployment and loss of hope endemic in some of these communities. Their politicians just seem them as ballot fodder and seem to do little to improve their lot. Your earlier piece about the lack of engagement by clergy in talking to loyalist paramilitaries suggest that many clergy don’t want to get involved either. They have more important issues to face like discussing human sexuality for example. I dread to think who might fill the leadership vacuum

  3. Is the vehemence of the protests not the same as when the Sunningdale agreement was being opposed? – As for the Orange Order not being PC; I am white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant and male with no desire to murder or be murdered. I don’t consider myself to be politically incorrect. Others may of course. Perhaps then it is other characteristics apart from those mentioned that illicit the illiberal response you speak of. Regarding the tricolour, I have never been comfortable with it’s hijacking by murderers and I would have thought many who honour the Union flag would not appreciate it being used as an excuse for violence and thuggery, whether they would like it to be flown over a public building or not.

  4. Opposition to Sunningdale was something coherent, there were leaders who could articulate the demands. The political class represented by that leadership is now well represented in the corridors of Stormont, the Loyalists now on the street are a left behind group, without leadership and without coherence. Were they any other minority, I think there would be a greater attempt at understanding them,even if we felt no sympathy for their cause.

  5. Ian,
    (And I know that this is a side issue, Martin) I was using Scots to mean “Native Celts of Ulster and thence Scotland”. No way are Peter Robinson, Mr Nesbitt and similar Anglo-Saxons. We must not be misled by faux-English surnames, either ! D.

  6. The Orange Order originated in an area of English plantation – it was, and remains, explicitly Anglo-Saxon and not Celt.

  7. @Perhaps the Orange Order has been its own worst enemy, perhaps it suffers from falling into the politically incorrect categories of being white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant and male, but the reaction it elicits in some quarters suggests a very illiberal liberalism.

    It is not by accident that the Orange Order falls into the politically incorrect categories. They don’t welcome anybody else into the group. If you are negative towards others, expect the same back. Ten years ago I was in Ghana and shocked to find Orange Order, although they were not all white, hatred of Catholics was expected.

  8. The qualifications of being an Orangemen explicitly prescribe “…ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions or sentiments, towards his Roman Catholic brethren”.

  9. I had that same moment of seeing the tricolour flying in a non-contentious way – I was walking through south Dublin and saw the flag flying on a police station. Instantly I tensed up. Then realised it was just a normal thing. Just the one flag. No big deal. It took me longer to realise that the building was a police station – not the same as those up north of course.

    As for giving up the tricolour – I could imagine the red, white and blue being flown wherever and whenever on official buildings in Great Britain (as long as the Scots don’t mind), the green, white and orange in the same way in the 26 counties and some restricted day arrangement for both flags north of the border. Does that sound like a double compromise? (Hmm – maybe not.)

    And of course, it could still leave streets festooned all year round with whatever combination of colours, fresh or tatty.

  10. I think there should be a total ban on flags (and election posters!) being attached to public property and that bunting should be allowed for a limited period, otherwise everywhere just looks tatty.

  11. There were two immediate causes of the Flegs trouble, Republican/Nationalist politicians on BCC proving a point to “themmuns” and the deep cynicism of the DUP and UUP circulating a leaflet designed to do political damage to Naomi Long MP. While NI is locked into the view of British and Irish identity being an “Either” /”Or” thing, this will continue to be a fundamental problem. The other aspect is that Northern Ireland’s politicians appear quite happy to have thousands in a situation where education and opportunities appear to be non-existent. Would it be too cynical to suggest that situation entirely suits loyalists and republicans so that a simmering sense of rage against “themmuns” can be maintained?

  12. It doesn’t sound cynical to me. Politicians in many places seem to have been content to allow poor conditions to endure and so ensure electoral fodder at the ballot boxes.

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