|Belfast City Hall|
I’d almost feel sorry for the Loyalist protesters complaining about their Union Jacks no longer flying proudly over Northern Ireland were it not for the fact that they had it so good for so long -- and still do in terms of lording it over nationalists when it comes to symbols.
Danny Morrison, writer and former Sinn Fein political figure put it beautifully recently when he compared the place names of Belfast and showed just how dominant the unionist tradition remains.
If you’re a nationalist in his imaginary board game he says “You can't use the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, the Queen's Bridge, the Albert Bridge, the King's Bridge, Victoria Street, Prince's Street, Queen Street, King Street, Albert Street, the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital, a helicopter from the Kings Hall, Lower Windsor Avenue, the fields behind the Royal Academy. Nor can you be disguised as a prostitute from the Albert Clock, a student from Queen's, a worker with Royal Mail, a violinist with the Royal School of Music, a Queen's Counsel, a (former) member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a screw of Her Majesty's Prison Service, a soldier with Her Majesty's armed forces, a Crown Court judge. Nor by boat up Victoria Channel to Albert Quay, Victoria Wharf or Alexandra Jetty. You must use the Queen's English on the Queen's Highway or else you'll be in breach of the Queen's Peace.”
So there. Nice job Danny.
And how many nationalists names are there around Belfast? Not many that I can think off unless you count Ballymurphy. The Falls Road means in Gaelic, district of hedges-- hardly revolutionary stuff!
When you consider that Ian Paisley essentially sparked The Troubles when he charged up the nationalist Falls Road in the mid 1960s to remove a lonesome tricolor flying in an local building there my sympathy for the Loyalists lessens a little.
Remember we are not talking about flying the tricolor side by side, which would be warranted given the fact that the population numbers are now equal and Belfast City Hall has a Nationalist /Alliance majority .
We are talking about flying the Union Jack about 15 days a year instead of every day and no Tricolor. The Loyalists want to party like it is 1922 all over again and a Protestant state for a Protestant people.
Alas for them, that ship sailed a long time ago now and there can be no flag of convenience any longer that does not recognize both traditions.
So Loyalists should just get used to the new era, not try and fly yet another kite.