A few of you have taken me aside at Christmas parties and asked when I’ll address the “flegs” issue.
So here goes…if somewhat belatedly.
In common with most “news” stories the flags story has largely gone away. The protestors are currently more focused on getting their lager in for Christmas. Perhaps, once Santa has been and gone, the protests will resume.
Here’s my tuppenceworth.
- The protestors mostly look a tad malnourished. I’ve had a look at the few protestors who have mustered outside the Alliance offices in Lisburn and they look chubby and spotty – implying that they imbibe too much crisps and don’t get their 5-a-day.
- The protestors are mostly dressed inappropriately for our rainy weather and their Union flags always look a tad sad when rain-sodden.
- Naomi Long doesn’t really help her argument or help us muster sympathy for the Alliance plight by singularly failing to lose weight and by remaining ginger.
More seriously, I’m not really sure I understand what the problem is or what the protestors want to happen. They piss off the bulk of the local populace by blocking traffic in the midst of the Christmas shopping madness and make us all look incredibly foolish in the eyes of those nice German people manning the Christmas market stalls. Neither the general populace nor the German market stall holders are responsible for removing the flag from atop the City Hall – so we’re not quite sure why we’re being held to ransom by chubby disgruntled “Loyalists”.
However, I am broadly supportive of the general opprobrium being aimed at the Alliance Party (but certainly not the violence) – largely because of that Party’s tendency to witter on incessantly about “shared future” this and “shared future” that. It’s an annoying cop-out contrivance that, when boiled down, equates to namby-pamby, politically correct, Little-Ulster craziness. “Shared future” essentially means neither British nor Irish but, rather, vomit-inducingly saccharine “our wee Ulster” homogeneity that just fails to deliver citizenship at any level. It’s pointless, bland and creepy.
Very few of us care if the Union flag flies every day or to commemorate the birthday of every minor royal. Most of the time the flag is stuck sodden to the flag pole in the drizzle and people have difficulty looking up to see it (unless they use those trendy see-through 1970s style umbrellas that are making a come-back).
As to whether Northern Ireland is any less British or any more Northern Irish, Irish or shared-futurish as a result of reduced flag-flying over City Hall – I think not. Fact is that this place depends on vulgar levels of state hand-outs that no other nation but Britain could afford or countenance. Ulster is British – and the British Treasury, for one, knows the cost of that – even if Loyalists, Shinners and Naomi frequently forget.
Flags aren’t the issue. The issue is who pays the bills. If they keep getting larger and Moodys downgrades our credit rating to the junk status of Ireland’s then the cost of Northern Ireland and its petty squabbles may get unbearable even for our greatest and most dependable benefactor. For that reason people should behave, order should be restored and Naomi should go on a diet. Because discipline, more than anything, is what’s needed these days.