Unionist politicians and the non-starter flag



I can do no better than quote from my friend Squinter this morning. He tweets: “I have come to the conclusion that the local media is not even aware of its total focus on unionist concerns when reporting Haass”.

Despite the fact that we’ve been told that people are only concerned with bread and butter issues,  the DUP clearly thinks otherwise and has successfully nuked any possibility of the Irish Tricolour being flown from any public building here for any reason. If you ask, they’ll say that Northern Ireland is part of the UK and the Union flag is the flag of that ‘country’. Nobody I know is disputing that – all that is being asked is that the Tricolour might on special occasions  be flown on a government building. But no. Did you dare to limit the number of days during which the Union flag flies? Give me a half-brick or a petrol-bomb, somebody. Did you dare suggest that the Tricolour fly at any time on any public building? Give me a half-brick or a petrol-bomb, somebody.

You may think that’s exaggerating. Unionists wouldn’t resort to violence if this timid recognition of the loyalties of about half the population here were given expression. Not so, according to the good Lord Kilclooney, who emerged from the forest again this morning and spoke on Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster. Were such a thing implemented, it would be disastrous – explosive, highly dangerous – I can’t remember his exact word but that was the message.

So why is unionism so opposed to Haass’s suggestion? Well there are a number of possible reasons. One, which I personally find pretty convincing, is that they are determined to hold on to their backwoodsmen and the flag-protestor constituency, and they figure that by showing some red-white-and-blue cojones, they’ll get that rabble to fall into line behind them. The second possibility is that the reaction has historical roots. Unionism has always felt under siege. If you lower the draw-bridge even a tiny bit, raise the portcullis by the smallest margin, it may give the enemy the chink of hope they need and it’ll be no time until they’re in the castle, raping and pillaging. So play hard-ball, guys, or next you know they’ll be wanting to name a street after one of their republican icons. And that would be entirely unacceptable.

The Haass talks will produce nothing, some people say. I disagree. Even if there is no progress made on flags, parading or the past, one thing will have been made totally clear: unionism is a view of the world that is exclusive, intolerant of difference and dominated by a we-are-the-people world-view. But hey – think positive. Not everybody will be depressed by the ramming home of this lesson. Dissident republicans must be doing cartwheels of delight: all they’ve ever argued is being proved to the hilt.

27 Responses to Unionist politicians and the non-starter flag

  1. Paul December 20, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    Couldn’t agree more Jude let’s hope sinn fein and the SDLP have the cojones to withstand the usual unionist threats and state clearly that Irish nationalists will be given overdue respect for our cultural symbols otherwise what is the point of the good Friday agreement

  2. daniel moran December 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    I am in full agreement that if Haass intiative falls it will expose the spurious claims of unionists that they are democrats. They must know, but presumably don’t care, that insisting on the flag being flow the year round despite being a minority on the council that the world and his partner sees their anti democratic attitude for what it is. Why don’t Robinson, Nesbitt and Allister put out a joint state admitting what everyone else knows, that they want repartition to gwet back their 1922 fix.

  3. Jackson December 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    See the way, you like to call a spade a spade, Can you now and forever more just refer to Unionists as Protestants? It makes it less PC, closer to the truth and fires the imagination as to what the Ulster Protestant’s will do next? Especially if the walls have been breached and come tumbling down, 17th Century style.

    • Jude Collins December 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Thanks for thoughts, Jackson. I know saying ‘Protestant’ rather than ‘Unionist’ is less PC. It’s also less accurate. There are Protestants who are nationalist/republican, just as there are Catholics who are Unionist. And to be frank, I find it easier to think about what Unionists will NOT do next rather than what they will do. They will NOT accept that the Troubles involved cruelty and injustice on both sides during the conflict and they will NOT accept that nationalist/republican emblems/flags/culture deserve equal respect alongside those of Unionists. Or is that too bleak? I hope so but I fear not.

  4. Colman December 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    it is not just ‘dissident’ republicans who are watching with interest. Those of us who once supported Sinn Féin but who have become disillusioned with their abandonment of Irish Republicanism and morphing into a constitutional nationalist party are expecting another historic ‘compromise’ on flags and parades in return for a safe passage for past indiscretions.

    • Jude Collins December 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      Yes, Colman, I’m sure that’s true. We probably should stop using ‘dissident republicans’ as a synonym for present-day physical force republicans. There are a sizeable number of people – like yourself? – who see the Shinners as having sold out. I wouldn’t agree but it’s a valid position to adopt and argument can be made for it.

      • Jackson December 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        Another thing, every time I go to type your name in a search engine, frequently I end up with Jude Law. I have no interest in finding Jude law, but where did the name Jude come from? It’s not very Gaelic. Likewise Collins is very Anglo-sphere too? If someone was to say the name, ‘Jude Collins’, you would not automatically be thinking along the Irish lines

        • Jude Collins December 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

          Hahahaaa – very good, Jackson. (Mmm…Jackson. Funny name that). I’m not interested in Jude Law either – I hate the way people keep making comparisons between his looks and mine. I don’t think theirs anything particularly Gaelic about Jude – St Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases and as my mother was pretty worried about her final pregnancy (me) of eight, she was devoted to praying to him. So I got Jude. Used to hate it, now I like it. Collins – mmm. I think they may have been Scottish originally, but they’re a very common Irish name. Mainly found down around LImerick and Cork. I seem to remember a Michael Colllins was doing something or other around the early part of the twentieth century. But no, you’re right, Jackson, I’m very impure both nominally and factually. But enough about me – let’s talk about you….

    • Jackson December 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      And so what is your remedy? You as a disaffected Republican, to go back whining into your camp and come back armed and fully loaded. Just as I, a Union OK Loyal man, go back into mine to do the same. Both of which has the hope and ultimate aim of putting the other 6 foot under before the other one does.

      • Jude Collins December 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

        Jackson – I am not a disaffected republican, I don’t why, I don’t carry arms loaded or unloaded, and I have no wish to put anyone six feet under. You may speak for yourself.

  5. Colman December 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    If you mean by ‘sold out’ that Sinn Féin have changed from a party that opposed British Rule in Ireland, even violently at times, to one happy to administer it on their behalf, then yes, you could say they have ‘sold out.’ And if you mean that they are now a party that once cared about the people, to being a party out for selfish interests and protection of their power grab, then yes, I believe they have sold out.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect you to agree with me. I have trolled back through endless blogs you have written, looking for a critique of Sinn Féin’s leadership or their policies but stone the crows, I can’t find any deviation whatsoever from what they say, and what you write.
    On the other hand, I can imagine why you wouldn’t want to disagree with the Sinn Fein party line or question its leadership.

    Ask your good friend Squinter what happens to political commentators who openly question the merits of the Sinn Féin leadership and their achievements, or the lack thereof.
    I’d love to provide the direct link to Squinter’s article articulating many west Belfast constituents concerns back in the day about the ineffectiveness of the local MP, but it was removed from the website within days after appearing in print. Some say it is because Squinter merely had a change of mind, but I guess it was more to do with the fact that Squinter received a visit from some burly men associated with said MP, who let Squinter know that sort of commentary was most unnecessary and suggested he reconsider his opinions.

    Consequently, the bould Squinter quickly drafted a full apology which featured in his paper, has refrained from critical thinking ever since, and is as obsequious to Sinn Fein as Mary McAleese is to the English Queen. You can read about it here on your other mucker’s website, http://sluggerotoole.com/2008/03/28/blink-and-youll-miss-it/

    No, Sinn Féin don’t handle internal dissent. To quote their one time nemesis, it’s out, out, out, if you don’t follow the official party line. Bernice Swift, Peadar Toibin, and even Francie Molloy are all examples of very capable political activists who were all ceremoniously dumped for daring to speak on issues that contradicted party leadership. A full sackclothes and ashes retraction is the only way for redemption in their eyes.

    As a former college lecturer yourself, who must in your teaching years have exhorted students to think for themselves and not to be fearful of expressing their opinions forcefully on paper or in public, even you must be embarassed by the fascist nature of Sinn Fein. Stifling of thought and political expression is wrong no matter what country or party practices it, wouldn’t you agree? You’d oppose it in Britain, America, China or North Korea. Why not here in your own backyard?

    We should be saluting the courage of Moyle councillor, Mary McKillop who resigned from Sinn Fein because she was unable to establish a “mechanism to question party policy, and that a culture of bullying and innuendo accompanies any desire to engage in reasoned political debate.”

    One would expect a critical analyst such as yourself to be most circumspect in advocating support for a party where “Instructions are delivered from the leadership in a series of meetings and are to be carried out without examination or query.”

    That is the cruz of the matter for many of us departing from Sinn Fein in greater numbers and seeking an Irish Republican alternative that does not involve the redundant use of violence. Confidence in Sinn Fein is so low now that many expect SF negotiators in the Hass talks to make choices on what is best for Sinn Fein, and not for what advances the political rights, culture, and traditions of the Irish Republican and nationalist community. We will watch and see what more Sinn Fein are prepared to concede of their fading Republican credentials for a Stay Out of Jail card.

    • Jude Collins December 20, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Wow Colman – can I take it from that that you won’t be voting SF next time round? Your story of the stifled commentator may have been Squinter but my recollection was that it was Gearoid O Carroolain ( pardon spelling). I’m sorry to have wasted your time trawling through my blogs (actually I think they’re things of beauty and a joy forever, regardless of whether someone agrees with them or not) and not finding an anti-SF line. Two things on that: (i) Don’t you think there are lots of people only too willing to remedy such an omission? (ii) Did it ever strike you that I might think they are doing as good a job as can be expected? The fact that one agrees with someone doesn’t mean they’ve put their brain in deep-freeze, any more than loving someone means you’ve put your heart in deep-freeze. You praise Mary McKillop because she disagrees with/denounces them. Is that not something of a reflex response – which you seem to attribute to those who see merit in SF. Finally, isn’t the proof of the pudding etc? I have heard people who have said people were intimidated into voting SF but I was usually laughing so hard I didn’t hear the end of their sentence. How could you intimidate someone in a secret ballot? So as I say, if SF really have abandoned people, I’ve enough respect for their intelligence to believe they’ll stop voting for them. That doesn’t mean their perfect – as I say, the critics are only lining up to point out those flaws – but the average nationalist voter seems to think they’re doing OK. I’d agree.

  6. Mick Fealty December 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    It’s Flat earth news Jude. What goes in comes out barely processed. The Shinners have been uncharacrteristically quiet this time out. They’re the usual beneficiaries of the great press round.

    • Jude Collins December 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

      Mick – you jest. I know you jest. “They’re the usual beneficiaries of the great press round”?? Or do you mean ‘press’ in some other sense. I’m not sure SF have been that quiet – they were at first but lately I’ve been hearing quite a bit of Gerry Kelly. And I think it’s time that the meejah pointed up the fact that the Shinners are talking in positive terms whereas the DUP are making with the steam through the ears every inch of the way. Like it or lump it, that imbalance in response to Haass proposals should be highlighted. But it ain’t. Finally, I can’t BELIEVE that the word is flags are the sticking point. Good grief. Flags. Is it that the DUP have whipped up such not-an-inch on flags from months and months back, they feel they have to keep it up? Even John Taylor prophesying the end of days if the tricolour were ever flown. Jesus wept.

      • Jackson December 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

        18 days per year. Special ”Fleg” for special occasions, wind yer neck in an’ stop yer yappin’

  7. Dan December 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I do think it’s time we had a proper debate on Flag Flying over the whole Island of Ireland. To fly the Tricolour in Private down South is to be associated with certain brands of republicanism. As described in “Take It Down from the Mast” 1923 by James Ryan. Maybe as 2016 approaches its time to review all Flags to keep in line with Political Progress.Just saying.

  8. Kevin December 21, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Just to be clear Jude, you describe Squinter as your friend and he has obviously been your editor at the Andersonstown News and previously Daily Ireland over many years. Are you saying through your reply to Colman that the amazing and much-discussed episode which became known as Squintergate rings no bells whatsoever with you ?

    • Jude Collins December 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      Oh dear, Kevin – I feel as if a bright light was being shone into my eyes….I use ‘friend’ in a loose sense, I promise you. I know him and I think he’s a very good writer but nothing much beyond that. For the record, he was never my editor on Daily Ireland. But I definitely can promise you, hand on heart and boy scout’s honour, I never heard anything of the episode which has clearly snagged your attention. I have – and have had – a life to live…

  9. michael December 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    I have to laugh at these Colman types.They pretend to have no time for the dissidents but then surprisingly are found at their laughable commemorations.By the way I think Ms McKillops “seeing the light” might have something to do with not making it onto the ticket for the super council elections!

  10. Colman December 21, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    You have to laugh at these Michael types who bury their head in the sand and pretend there is freedom of thought and expression in Sinn Féin.

    Just as Irish Republicans faced down the ‘criminal’ label in the past, so will be denied modern constitutional nationalists in Sinn Féin trying to parlay the ‘Dissident’ term used for armed groups on the growing opposition to their acquiescence in administering British Rule, and supporting the harassment and internment of former Republican activists. They have no shame.

  11. michael December 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    If you don’t want to be portrayed as a dissident, then stop running around with them!

    • Jude Collins December 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

      Oh dear. You’ll have to identify some, Michael. I run around with a lot of people…

  12. michael December 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    Jude ,Ive seen people like Colman who see nothing wrong with SF strategy until they become embroiled in petty rows with other SFpeople. Suddenly overnight they become super republicans and within days can be seen at pickets (etc) surrounded by a motley crew that they would previously have avoided at all costs.

  13. colman December 22, 2013 at 8:03 pm #


    It’s carthetic to be free to chose ones own ideas, political beliefs and political friends.  

    You’d be a much richer person if you surrounded yourself with people who think for themselves and not be pigeonholed by a dictatorship that controls every utterance oftheir members.

  14. michael December 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    It would be a right while before id choose as my”political friends” the collection of ner do wells that I have seen at the dissident demos.A large swathe of them are bar stool mouths that are old enough to have been active during the conflict but never lifted a finger.Conversely my local SF reps gave it their all,on the streets and in the jails-modern day Dan Breens and Tom Barrys but who also knew when the time was right to embrace the peace process.These people have the overwhelming respect of my community.

  15. Caroline December 22, 2013 at 10:06 pm #


    Could not agree more. The vast majority of “dissidents” are fuelled only by their absolute hatred of Sinn Fein and very little to do with political beliefs. How long, do you reckon, before we see them at the TUV conference?

  16. michael December 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Caroline,many of them are little more than green Johnny Adairs imagining they have some kind of power and standing whilst in reality they are a laughing stock.