Among other problems, summer in Northern Ireland is usually a time for controversy about flags. The problem is illustrated on just one lamp-post on the Sydenham Bypass, where flying just above the Union Flag and the Northern Ireland flag, is a flag for the UVF.
That organisation brutally murdered Catholics and despite its claims, it certainly didn’t defend anyone effectively. Now it has descended into criminality.
We can understand the context in Northern Ireland against which young people got sucked into unnecessary violence and carried out acts that they would not otherwise have done. Too many died or went to prison for flawed causes, sometimes inspired by irresponsible language from politicians, but what they did was still wrong and unjustified.
Some of their leaders recognised this and played a constructive role in society and the peace process but we still have an issue with a lack of humility from paramilitary groups that, often literally, got away with murder.
Sinn Féin continues to insist the IRA’s campaign was necessary and justified. Despite the fact that nothing was achieved through violence that could not have been achieved through peaceful means, sadly many people are taken in by republicans’ distortion of history.
The UVF and other loyalist groups continue to mark out territory as a way of asserting control, which rests on an implicit threat of violence. Their actions undermine our constitutional position and blight our community.
If the police won’t deal with inappropriate flags there is an onus on unionism’s political leaders to argue that they must come down. Equally, where nationalist flags are flown to oppress rather than unite, political leaders in those areas must speak out.
Ultimately, it is high time that our political leadership matured and, while respecting the current constitutional position, agreed new symbols that we can all embrace.
Flags are being abused when they fly to assert the ownership of an area by one identity or tradition. By accident or design, Northern Ireland’s place in the UK is secure for the foreseeable future but with great and improving relations across this island and these islands despite Brexit. We should start appreciating the benefits that flow from that and make the most of it.
Holywood, Co Down
Birth of new and purer form of naked sectarianism
The bare knuckle fight in the Westminster election between Sinn Féin and the DUP resulted in the virtual slaughter of their collective political opponents and heralded the birth of a new and purer form of naked sectarianism. Out of the carnage came a very significant fact. There is no need for a border poll anytime in the near or distant future. We’ve just had one and Sinn Féin cannot be happy with the result. The election stats are very revealing.
The DUP won the border poll debate with Sinn Féin by a clear 7 per cent (circa 50,000 votes). A far cry from the much trumpeted 1,200 gap at the assembly elections. Sinn Féin poked the bear and woke it up and now we see the reality. Sadly for united Irelanders with gleeful early expectations the news is worse than just a 7 per cent gap.
When one, realistically, adds UUP, Alliance and TUV to the mix and puts those votes on the DUP side of the equation, the gap grows to 120,000 and that’s assuming that SDLP voters would join, en bloc, with Sinn Féin in any future border poll.
Given the level of arrogance and sheer disrespect by Sinn Féin towards SDLP in recent times, that’s probably unlikely, never mind other practical concerns which might suggest caution.
The numbers are there for all to see – combined SF and SDLP (optimistically) 330,000; combined DUP and above mentioned fellow travellers 450,000.
It is probable that the 450,000 is much closer to reality than the 330,000 – so game, set and match to the ‘keep the border’ brigade and with Sinn Féin variously accused of being ‘cocky, triumphalist and disrespectful’
their task as persuaders looks ominously difficult. Just look what befell Nicola Sturgeon, across the way, when she got carried away with herself.
Randalstown, Co Antrim
DUP hasn’t strayed far from origins
The DUP has its origins in Ian Paisley’s ‘Protestant Unionist Party’ and it has not strayed far from its origins demonstrated in most of its newly elected MPs being Christian Fundamentalists – three of them being members of the Free Presbyterian Church founded by Mr Paisley.
Many ordinary members of the party are creationists who deny the scientific evidence for evolution and some of its leading lights are global warming deniers. Seven of the 10 elected to Westminster are members of the Orange Order which makes up two per cent of our population. The longest serving of its MPs, Jeffrey Donaldson, declares Enoch Powell to be one of his ‘heroes’. Some of its MPs have been accused in the past year of having intolerant attitudes – towards ‘ethnics’ in Mr Wilson’s case and ‘gypsies’ in Paul Girvan’s case. During this election and the previous Stormont election the party was endorsed by the LCC, the loyalist paramilitary umbrella group.
It’s patently evident that the Democratic Unionist Party does not mirror who we are as citizens in Northern Ireland, not even those of us who come from the ‘Protestant tradition’ but they were elected with all their peculiarities because they were perceived to be the most effective cultural defenders of unionism and the union. They are the contrary, as will become increasingly evident as the UK public watch transfixed. Jon Snow of Channel 4 News said they’re ‘One of the most extreme political entities in the British Isles’ and one female caller to London’s Radio LBC asked, ‘Are these people British?’ God help us.
Sinn Féin’s stance on border is backward looking
In 2017 Sinn Féin are pushing for a border poll as Gerry Adams continues with his hateful efforts to ‘break’ around one million of his neighbours.
I can never remember any IRA or SF statement reaching out or even showing respect for loyalist and unionist people. SF are keen to throw this lack of respect and equality at the DUP but where is the tolerance from Sinn Féin?
How are republicans convincing the non-republican people that a 32-county Gaelic, Marxist/socialist state is the answer to all our woes?
For hundreds of years this part of the world has been linked to Britain and we have done pretty well, whereas, until quite recently, Eire has exported the poor and unemployed to England, America and beyond.
Without migration to Britain one wonders how the modern Eire would have stayed afloat.
Truth be told, the British and Irish people have so much in common that SF pushing a leftist separatist border poll agenda is just backward looking.
Instead of stirring up sectarian and nationalist feeling let us simply live our lives and focus on jobs, health, schools and building a peaceful, prosperous society, North Ireland British and Irish together.
Whitehouse, Co Antrim