I have very much enjoyed the comments on my blogs about Parades and St Patricks Day. Last night, I thought I should blog …that it the absence of official recognition for the National Flag of Ireland at say St Patricks Day, nationalists thru Sinn Fein and SDLP leadership might want to display the flag on their own properties rather more often than we do.
I was thinking along these lines even before David Ford was almost endorsing my view at the Alliance Party Conference yesterday. Back in 1964, the Flags and Emblems Act was used to remove an Irish Flag from the election HQ of Billy McMillan..this led to the Divis Street Riots. So we must consider it progress that in 2013,the Alliance Minister for Justice says that his Party respects the right of home-owners and tenants to fly a flag.
I declare a interest. Prior to Easter 1971,and it was still a phoney war period, I transported a newly bought Irish Flag from Ardoyne to Greater Ballymurphy. Indeed riding my motorcycle…well ok it was 50cc But it WAS a motorcycle across Ballygomartin was kinda nervMy parents did not really approve of flying flags. We were on safe ground of course but they felt it would label the house and reveal our politics to Polic and British Army. To be mprecise excise this was the politics of their 18year old son. So at Easter 1971, the Flag was hung from my parents bedroom…my room being at the back of the house.
And it flew in 1972 and 1973,,,and as my father predicted we were raided by the Brits. Thereafter it did not fly. By then it labelled a house as not just nationalist….but by implication a supporter of militant Republicanism.
I should declare that I fly the flag on major sporting occasions. It offends nobody.
The Irish National Flag is. Denied its proper place in Norn Iron SocIETY? Indeed it is denied that place ooh the grounds that it is not “Inclusive” . Of course I am a SDLP member and believe that ycan’t”can’t eat a flag”.I understand the SDLPs timidity in getting involved but they are wrong….it is a civil rights issue. Sinn Fein also seem too timid about pushing this issue but are too keen to display the Flag in a “Party” way. It is for nationalists of both persuasions to put our national flag at the centre of national events.
There is an inevitability about it’s integration. Conflict Resolutionists have pencilled in Easter 2016 as the day it will make a belated appearance in Norn Iron life. Should we prepare the way.
High on the hook of his own making, David Ford is an unlikely ally. Rightly he says that our lamp posts are nt the place for marking out tribal territory. But claims his Party respects the right of home owners and tenants to fly the flag…presumably Irish or British. In other words a serial letsgetalongerist like Ford is giving the green light (no pun intended) to nationalists to fly the Irish flag on our houses.
Of course what Ford is trying to do is get the Alliance Party off the “flegs” hook. But with the “peace walls” targetted to come down in 2022, does it actually make sense for them to come down at (say) Clonard in West Belfast…and have Irish flags at Bombay Street and British flags a few metres away in Cupar Street. This would be as big (but invisible) wall as ever.
Not for the first time, the Alliance Party has not thought thru the “flegs” issue.