Compromise: a middle state between conflicting opinions or actions reached by mutual concession or modification.
We’re told that the sticky one is the flying of flags. That’s a turn-up, given that everyone was telling us that the past would be the really difficult matter to resolve. I still think that’s the case, regardless of what Haass comes up with. But let’s stick with the flying of flags. I’m not usually into prediction, mainly because I’m so bad at it. But I hereby confldently predict that the outcome of the Haass talks on the flag issue will not be a compromise. That is, if we accept the dictionary definition of a compromise as listed above.
Nationalists/republicans have stated that their preferred option would be one of two things: the flying of the tricolour alongside the Union flag or no flags at all. Unionists have said that they want – no, sorry, insist – that the only flag to be flown must be the Union flag and it should fly 365 days a year (366 when there’s a leap year).
Only here’s the thing. Both flags or none actually isn’t the preferred option of nationalists/republicans. Their preferred option would be that the tricolour should fly on public buildings throughout Ireland. If it’s not, why are they calling themselves nationalists/republicans? What it looks like is that nationalists/republicans, in stating their preferred option to be both flags or none, are already starting from a compromise position.
So if that’s their half of the mutual concession thing, what concession can we expect from unionism? The words “inch” and “not” come to mind. Having created the flag brouhaha with their response to the democratic vote in Belfast City Hall, the DUP, even if it wished – which it doesn’t – could not back off and start compromising. And of course, not wishing to appear soft, the UUP is trailed in its wake.
So that’s my prediction. Even though nationalists/republicans will almost certainly offer a second compromise from the both flags/no flags position, unionist politicians will declare that second compromise totally unreasonable and will turn their back on any concession on this matter. In short, there will be no compromise.
Mind you, I really hope I’m proved wrong (again). But I have this feeling in my water…