Jude Collins

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

About not getting it

One of the most revealing statements of a summer full of revealing statements was that by DUP councillor William Humphrey. He said that the Lord Mayor would not have been attacked at Woodvale if he’d listened to them. How so? Because he said people in Woodvale would not tolerate a visit from someone who’d been involved in tearing down the flag from Belfast City Hall. 

Whoa. That’s the democratic vote that was made at Belfast City Hall to fly the union flag on 18 specific occasions, as is the case at Stormont. But to suggest such a thing, much less vote for it, is totally unacceptable to Mr Humphrey.  So much for democratic politics.

The fact is, there are two communities here (OK, quite a few actually, but two main communities). One has allegiance to the Union flag, one to the Irish tricolour. What to do? What would be fair? Well, a half-wit on a bicycle could suggest that either both flags should be flown or none. But no. The agreement the Lord Mayor and his party accepted was that the Irish tricolour should not be flown at all and that  the Union flag be flown 18 times a year. That sounds to me like a decision tilted in favour of unionism.

Uh-uh. It’s outrageous, because it’s not totally, completely and without murmur made a 100% unionist decision. 

It’s a hard thing to say, but there are elements of  unionism that simply don’t get the idea of parity. I got a strong sense of that when I visited the UUP HQ and suggested that there was some sort of equivalence between republican honouring of their dead and unionist honouring of their dead. I believe William Humphrey was sincere when he said what he did about the Lord Mayor being to blame for the attack on him at Woodvale. I believe some unionist are sincere when they say the flying of the union flag 18 times a year is an outrage.  But being sincere, guys, isn’t good enough. Half the population here thinks differently and like it or lump it, you’re going to have to accept them and recognise the things that are important to them. Otherwise you’ll find yourself going back on your Long Kesh/Woodvale word and keeping this “wee country of ours” (copyright Joel Taggart, BBC)  an economic and dysfunctional desert. 


  1. 'Half the population here thinks differently.....' That's the telling paragraph, Jude. Ironic isn't it that the very people who claim to love the entity they call 'their wee country' and love it, are the self same ones who are, by their conduct and language, ensuring it never will be other than a basket case which the second half of this centeury will surely see out without it's existence.[madraj55]

  2. Jude,

    I know where you are coming from with this in terms of the equivalency of both cultures (as per GFA etc.), but surely the corollary of this stance is that when the happy day comes and we are living in the sunny uplands of a UI, it could then be argued by our fellow country men and woman of British ethnicity, that they could legitimately fly the Union Fleg (alongside the tricolour of course!) from public buildings. Not sure if this is desired outcome in the long run?
    P.S. That's why I believe that officially the union fleg should have more "official" importance, but flown on minimal ocasions as a nod to the soon to be Nationalist majority.
    P.P.S. There should be a much more robust approach to the flying of unofficial (mainly PUL) flegs in all public/shared spaces (e.g. minimum quantity, duration, no paramilitary..).

    1. Not really if you wanted to have Union flags flying over public buildings in Dublin in a UI then the true equivalent would be to have Irish Tricolours presently flying over public buildings in London. Pretty sure no-one is making such a ludicrous suggestion

    2. There is no point arguing about semantics...The issue of flags is an issue unique to the North today and needs resolved somehow to everyone's satisfaction (compromise).

      If Jude's view becomes reality, then in the future the issue of flags will permeate into an all (united) Ireland issue in the future.

      Reference to flying the Irish flag in public buildings in London etc. (in order to conjure up equivalency)is indeed a ludicrous and moot point, but your are the one who made it?!
      The true comparator is between the Irish Nationalist (50% of total NI) population in the (North) I.e. can they fly the Tricolour now, and the PUL pop. in the future (UI), 20% of total UI population(can they fly the union flag then (only in UI territory, all 32 counties, not London, Timbuktu etc.). The comparison with London, Irish flying their flag when they represent 2% of that pop. is facile and utterly irrelevant.
      To conclude, my point is that deal with the issue now pre UI (compromising with pending Nat majority), then when full independence has been achieved, fly the tricolour only, simples. P.S. It's still OK to fly the Union flag in GB.

    3. 'If Jude's view becomes reality, then in the future the issue of flags will permeate into an all (united) Ireland issue in the future.'

      No it wont. Northern Ireland is a contested area not Britain and not the Republic of Ireland therefore talk of Union flags in Dublin is as ridiculous as Tricolours in London. What difference does the percentage of the population make, were do we draw the line were one % is a daft idea but another % is a realistic option. 2% of the population of the UK maybe Irish but some 25% are eligible for Irish citizenship and if a UI ever was to happen we may find at that time the Unionist population will be as low as 10%.

      One of 2 things will happen in a UI

      1- A new Ireland is created with new flags and anthems with symbols that please everyone

      2 - If that is not acceptable to the South then the North will be given huge amount of autonomy and we will see almost a reverse of what is happening now ie Unionist councils not flying any flag.

      As for the North and flags today I cant see any solution unfortunately and it will be a case of more of the same. Any attempt to introduce a province wide designated days fudge will be probably be booted out by all sides.

  3. If I as a Catholic am twice as likely to be unemployed as a protestant (still after 40 odd years of conflict) then bring on the desert Jude and at least we'll have parity of unemployment esteem

  4. sorry for being off topic but did you see mcdevitts cringeworthy performance on bbc 6.30 news tonight .admitted paying wife 16 k a year as policing board advisor .doesn't look good after previous scandal re not declaring paying her company out of mla expenses.worth a look if you can get it on i.player

  5. Unionists,but especially the DUP, have a misplaced sense of entitlement.

  6. Scottish independence might transpire before a united Ireland but which flag will the planters want to fly when the Scots vote for independence and the union breaks up and by what name shall we call them then,they aren't British as northern Ireland isn't a part of Britain and can't call them unionists anymore if there's no such entity.

    1. anon[06.37] After the Scots leave the union, unionists might decide they can convince the English to cuddle up to keep them off the ledge of said union, but they will more likely find a country renamed England could reappear and the chancellor might then take a look at the block grant and decide to cut us adrift. All UK agreements would then be null and void and NI would no longer be on the ledge but foundering on the rocks below.[madraj55]

  7. 'Half the population here thinks differently'? 'A nod to the soon-to-be nationalist majority'?

    Excuse me for intruding on this little republican fantasy fest but the Census revealed that 25% of the population had an 'Irish only' identity, and '28% of the population had an 'Irish identity mixed in with something else'.

    Unless we're into some mathematical formula I've never heard of, please show me proof of either of the above quoted convictions.

    1. Thats right I forgot the census asks for political opinion or we could just look at any of the recent elections instead

    2. The greening of the north is happening before our eyes and to deny it is to be truly delusional.

      It is incredulous that this phenomena has not been properly aired, analyzed (afraid of the truth?).

      It is certainly true that as the demographics inexorably move toward a nat. majority in the North that this will cause major upheaval in the now minority PUL community (e.g. fleg dispute etc.)

      Whilst the North is moving into a state of flux, it is also clear that many nats (unicorns) want to have their cake and eat it? Answer this question, do you want to unite with a bankrupt RoI or remain within a cosseted, subsidized UK in the middle of the worst recession in 50 years.

      But gaze into the future, in 30 years time there will be a sizable Nat majority, what would the answer be if the brits pulled the plug and the RoI was thriving, modern, offered real democratic power for all including a large previous PUL pop (20%, holding the balance of power)?

    3. The Census doesn't ask for political opinion because the responses to national identity already provide the answer. As to election results, almost half the population no longer vote for the assorted fruitcakes up on the hill, so how the sectarian carve-up can be in any way indicative of how people would vote in a Border Poll is beyond me and, I suspect, any professional psephologist.

      'In 30 years time there will be a sizeable Nat. majority' LOL! We've been reading these prognostications since the 1960s, so get back to me when your crystal ball shows even the slightest chance of bordering on reality.

    4. Not true as the Northern Irish identity seems to cover a wide range of people and people seem to use the same identity stats for opposite arguments, look only 25% Irish but hey look there are more Irish and Northern Irish than British, its nonsense and although you are correct about voter turnout at the end of the day if a person doesnt vote then they cant have a say and no point trying to second guess their opinion, I also love the way the NILT survey. and its 1000 people questioned holds more weight than an election involving half the population.

      Demographics are changing although at a snails pace. Nationalist will probably never be in a majority because of the growth of others but it is still causing changes or have you been on Mars since the fleggers got upset about the fleg at BCH